CALGARY - They say victory can be bittersweet, even at the most normal of times.
For Amy Nixon, a late-season win in World Curling Tour competition in Grande Prairie this past weekend was understandably more emotional than most.
Playing third for longtime skip Shannon Kleibrink, Nixon, second Carolyn McRorie and lead Chelsey Matson defeated Grande Prairie’s Renee Sonnenberg 5-3 in the championship final en route to winning the women’s portion of the $50,000 Pomeroy Inn & Suites Prairie Showdown.
The win also marked the soon-to-be official end of the road for Nixon alongside Kleibrink and her Calgary rink.
“It was quite emotional for me,” Nixon said of the tournament in northwestern Alberta, an event that followed her announcement that she will guide her own rink as a skip beginning next season.
“My plan is to skip my own team,” said Nixon, who won an Olympic bronze medal with Kleibrink in 2006.
“It was an emotional weekend for me because these are not only great curlers, but they are great people, too.’
“At the beginning of the weekend, I said, ‘Watch, because I’m quitting, we’ll go out and win this.’ ”
The local rink got past Sonnenberg in the Sunday championship game in what was one of six wins for Kleibrink en route to the WCT triumph.
For Nixon, the GP showdown had two-fold meaning and purpose.
The fifth player for Team Canada’s Heather Nedohin rink, Nixon said playing in Grande Prairie provided her with important game time in advance of the 2012 World Women’s Curling Championship in Lethbridge, which kicks off Saturday.
Nedohin and her rink of third Beth Iskiw, second Jessica Mair and lead Laine Peters open the Worlds with a game against the U.S. Saturday.
Also in Grande Prairie, Edmonton skip Kevin Martin, with third John Morris of Chestermere and lead Ben Hebert of Chestermere, went a perfect 7-0 to win the men’s title.
KOE PROUD OF EFFORT
There’s little doubt Calgary curling fans watched with much interest the final of the 2012 Brier Sunday in Saskatoon.
For Kevin Koe of the Glencoe Club and his rink of third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen, a national title wasn’t in the cards this time around.
Going down to defeat to Ontario’s Glenn Howard in the gold-medal game, Koe told reporters following the defeat he was, in some ways, generally satisfied with his team’s second-place showing.
“We played well enough to win a lot of games, and I’m proud of the way we hung in there for some games,” Koe said. “I guess that’s what I’ll take out of it.”
LIND LOOKS FORWARD
The shake-up of the former Calgary-based Brock Virtue rink is officially in the books, as Virtue competed with his new-look rink for the first time this weekend in Grande Prairie.
Together with third J.D. Lind, second Dominic Daemen and lead Matthew Ng, Virtue was able to get to the championship game of the provincial playdowns in Camrose this season.
However, Lind, Daemen and Ng will now join two-time junior men’s world champ Charley Thomas, who’ll take over as skip, after Virtue’s decision to go in a new direction.
Lind said while the rink’s dismantling is still ‘fresh’ from an emotional perspective, he’s looking forward to a solid 2012-13 campaign with Thomas at the helm.
“One thing we feel fortunate about is that we get to keep a lot of the points we’ve accumulated as part of the pre-Olympic qualification process,” Lind said. “We want to concentrate on winning as much as we can next season.”
Virtue now skips a rink of third Braeden Moskowy, second Chris Schille and lead D.J. Kidby.