Lang earns Scott berth

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

Perhaps Marlene Lang should start leaving everything to the last minute.

Lang and her St. Vital teammates earned the final berth in the provincial Scott Tournament of Hearts yesterday, just three days after they were added to the 82nd Manitoba Curling Association women's bonspiel as 11th-hour replacements.

"Most definitely it's a wonderful outcome, especially coming in at the last minute," said Lang, whose team was first on the waiting list for the 32-team bonspiel and only got in when Thistle's Lori Boudreau dropped out Thursday.

'ALL WORTHWHILE'

"We knew that we have the calibre of team that can get to the Scott, so we just kept practising as hard as we did all year to see if we could make that next step. This just makes it all worthwhile."

Lang made the most of her unexpected opportunity by being the highest eligible finisher in the bonspiel. She earned the Scott berth with a 9-6 extra-end victory over Joelle Brown of Fort Rouge in the quarter-final before going on to lose 8-2 to Shauna Streich of Fort Rouge in the semifinal. Lang's win over Brown coincided with the only other eligible teams, skipped by Joyce McDougall of Souris and Jennifer Clark-Rouire of St. Vital, losing in the quarter-finals.

Lang, supported by third Heather Gibson, second Lori Campbell and lead Cathy Gillespie, will participate in her first Manitoba Scott after twice playing in the Ontario playdowns when she lived in Thunder Bay.

After getting into this bonspiel, Lang's foursome got on an immediate roll, qualified for the playoffs through the A-side, then battled back against Brown in the pivotal game yesterday.

"We're totally thrilled," said Lang, a 35-year-old who moved to Winnipeg in 1996. "We're waiting for it to sink in. We came here, and we did what we wanted to do."

As for her trip to the Scott in Thompson, Jan. 25-29, Lang has high hopes for success.

"That's going to be a tough competition, but so was this," she said. "We played against basically the best of the best here, too, and we pulled it off."

St. Vital's Karen Porritt, who already has a berth in the provincial championship, wound up winning the bonspiel with an 8-6 victory over Streich in the final. Porritt, who curls with Janice Blair, Susan Baleja and Lynn Fallis-Kurz, beat St. Vital's Kristy Jenion 8-7 in the semifinal and topped Cassie Johnson of Bemidji, Minn., 7-6 in the quarter-final.

Brown, who was considered the favourite for the Scott berth coming into the weekend, had a chance to win the quarter-final in the 10th end with an open hit for two, but her shooter rolled out of the house and an extra end was necessary.

Both skips said ice conditions at the Granite Curling Club were a major factor.

"We had a shot in 10, and all we had to do was hit it at the back of the house to win and it fell right off," said Brown. "You can't beat yourself up about that because you throw it as well as you can and think you are making the shot and it's good until almost the top of the house before it falls off.

"The ice was not good. I'm sorry to say it, but it was not good for a finesse game, for coming around guards. (Lang) did a great job of coming from behind, and that was impossible to do all weekend because the ice wouldn't move."

Lang felt bad for Brown, who had a couple of easy shots go astray on a difficult patch of ice.

"That path was pretty tricky, and unfortunately there are some falls in this ice, and it happens at around that point," she said. "We had to take the break from there and just go forward."


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