Teams from the now-closed Thistle Curling Club and from the Gimli Curling Club have won the Seagram’s Whisky Manitoba Curling Club Championships. They’ll be the Manitoba home-teams at the national championship at Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club.
Kara Balshaw’s Thistle team of Heather Carson, Sandra Carson, Cathy Gingera, and alternate Kim Merasty went undefeated through the women’s division. Gimli’s Derrick Anderson with Justin Hoplock, Chris Sigurdson, and Mitch Einarson stumbled only once in seven games to win the men’s division of the event hosted by the Fort Rouge Curling Club.
Twenty-four teams from across Manitoba began the championship chase last Thursday.
The women’s championship final featured a pair of highlight reel runbacks by Thistle skip Kara Balshaw – one on the seventh end for a three ender and one on the extra end. The latter became the game winning shot as Balshaw did not have to throw her last stone.
Team Balshaw started with the hammer and, after opening with a pair of blanks, Balshaw gave up a steal. She came close to giving up a bigger steal on the fourth end. Facing three, her hit facing three was tight to a guard just off-centre but she got by and stuck for a single and a tie after four ends.
Opposing skip Jennifer Clark-Rouire and her team of Karen Klein, Amanda Hickey, Kristie Moroz, and coach Ron Westcott moved ahead on the next end. A light-weight curling tap-back by Clark-Rouire, with her first stone of the sixth end, set up a pair and the 3-2 lead.
However, a Balshaw final rock double bump takeout on the seventh end put the Thistle team back in front. She had attempted the shot with her first but just rubbed a guard. Clark-Rouire, attempted to place a second guard but slid deep to the face of a Balshaw stone. The hit was just a little bit more open because the guard had been touched and there was no mistake on the last stone. Team Balshaw led 5-3 coming home.
The Fort Garry opponents fought back to score a deuce and a tie – setting up the dramatic extra end by Team Balshaw.
In the preliminary round, both Balshaw and Clark-Rouire had perfect 5W-0L records to earn first place in their respective pools. Team Balshaw had reached the final with a 7-5 win over former champion Stacey Irwin of Brandon while the Clark-Rouire foursome were 5-2 semifinal winners over Lisa Dickson (St. Vital).
The men’s final was controlled by Anderson’s Gimli team who opened the game with a three on the first end. Down four after two, Team Bohn rebounded with a four on the third end. Skip David Bohn (Bryan Galbraith, Dennis Bohn, Larry Solomon, Shane Walker) made an apparently perfect freeze to his own shot stone on the front of the button. With two Anderson rocks behind, a steal seemed certain but the Gimli skip’s deadly accurate big weight hit bounced three rocks out of the four foot to salvage a single and a 5-4 lead at the break.
The big hit moved momentum back to the Gimli side. A steal of one more, followed by a pair for Team Bohn had the game tied 6-6 after six ends but the Gimli foursome kept the pressure on and put a four on the board in the seventh for a 10-6 concession.
Bohn and Anderson had topped the pools in the round-robin portion of the championship. Both had 4W-1L records. Anderson’s Gimli team beat Andy Stewart (Stonewall) 7-3 and the Bohn foursome were 6-4 winners over Kyle Forsyth (Dauphin) in the men’s semifinals.
Thistle’s Team Balshaw and Gimli’s Team Anderson will represent Manitoba at the national Everest Club Championships in late November at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club.