So, this past weekend was the Meridian Canadian Open curling bonspiel. As usual, I watched as much of the women’s game as I could and very little of the men’s side.
At any rate, this tournament is a bit different from the normal Grand Slam of Curling events but, I am assured by the helpful commentators, is actually fairly standard for most non-Grand Slam and most non-Worlds/national final events. It’s a Triple Knockout format, where in order to make the playoffs you have to win three games and if you ever lose three games you’re out completely. So they start with a round and everyone who wins stays on the A side (livin’, lovin’) and the those who lose stay on the B-side. Those on the A-side then play each other and the losers drop to the B-side, and the B-siders play each other and the ones who lose move to the C-side. If you’re on the C-side you’re in trouble because a loss would, obviously, be your third loss and you’d thus be out of the tournament. Eventually, the ones who survive from all three sides are in the playoffs.
Val Sweeting and Silvana Tirinzoni came through the A-side with perfect 3 – 0 records. But the biggest news here was that after losing her first two games and despite winning an entire game 6 – 0 on steals (steal away the night) and never having the hammer, Rachel Homan missed the playoffs at a Grand Slam event for the first time ever, losing in a C final to Casey Scheidegger. This streak takes us back to 2009.
Which, I suppose, ends up possibly being even bigger news than Homan not making the playoffs, because this was Scheidegger’s first Grand Slam event, and after beating Homan she then went on to beat Jennifer Jones and then Val Sweeting to face off against Silvana Tirinzoni in the finals. Scheidegger beat her 5 – 4, with a steal in the final end after Tirinzoni’s draw to the four foot came up very short, in an end that most of the commentators said was Tirinzoni’s to lose after one of Scheidegger’s early guards ended up way too high and so couldn’t really be used to put much pressure on Tirinzoni. It was, however, enough to hide behind to force Tirinzoni to draw a turn that she wasn’t used to rather than hitting. Thus, the rookie team managed to pull off the upset.
Some other interesting notes:
1) Rachel Homan has been struggling lately, and whenever I watch her team there seems to be frustration setting in a lot. Obviously, they’re all very competitive but I’m wondering if the team dynamic is working as well as it used to, or if they always used to act that frustrated when things weren’t going well (generally, things have been going well for her so there’s not much opportunity to see what happens when they lose). They’re trying out some new things this season which is a good time to do so since if they work they’ll be well in place by the Olympic trials this December, but still they’ve been a bit off, even losing the Scotties qualifiers last season to Jen Hanna.
2) Val Sweeting continues to play amazingly well early in the events but come up short in the playoffs. She has won events before, but really needs a breakthrough soon, as she’s following up great round robins and early playoff rounds with not even making the finals.
3) Scheidegger should be full marks for the win, but she’s tended to win her games because of the mistakes the other team is making. Jones missed something like 5 of her last 6 shots to give Scheidegger the win, Sweeting struggled early in their game, and Tirinzoni had brutal numbers and, as noted above, missed the critical last shot to give Scheidegger the win. They’ve beaten big names before — they beat Eve Muirhead in another tournament to win that one — but a lot of it seems to come from mistakes from her opponents and not great curling on her part. The commentators noted that Scheidegger doesn’t seem to be comfortable with the five rock rule and prefers more open ends, and I wonder if that difference in style might be encouraging the other teams to press harder to try to get more rocks in play, leaving things open for mistakes.
4) Tirinzoni has made the finals in two straight events and lost both, and both were probably games that she should have won. You have to wonder when she’s going to finally stick one of those finals.
The Continental Cup is this week, and then we’re into qualifying for the Scotties and the Worlds.