Casey Scheidegger shoots a stone during the second draw of the Meridian Canadian Open on Jan. 9, 2019, in North Battleford, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

Scheidegger all smiles in North Battleford return

January 9, 2019, 12:50 PM

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Casey Scheidegger entered the Meridian Canadian Open aiming for a tune-up heading into provincial playdowns later this month.

As luck would have it, Scheidegger and her crew from Lethbridge couldn’t have asked for a better opponent to begin the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling major event Wednesday morning than Alberta rivals Team Chelsea Carey.

The reigning Alberta Scotties champions Team Scheidegger were victorious 8-3 in a match bookended by three-enders in the second and sixth ends.

“Even better preparation for the Alberta Scotties,” said Scheidegger, who also scored a deuce in the fourth. “I just hope the ice is this good when we get there and I’m sure it will be. It’s always good practice to play people that you’re going to play over and over, too.”

Team Scheidegger also snapped a five-game losing skid in the series after going winless through last month’s Boost National.

“It’s always nice to start off with threes when they’re not against you, so we were happy,” Scheidegger said. “The ice was fantastic, probably the best we’ve played on all year.”

Bad jokes aside, Scheidegger did have some serious praise for the surface as they got off to a good start in 2019.

“It was great ice and great conditions, so we were really happy with that,” she said. “Our goal was just to try to get a good feel for the ice and I think we did that.”

The match featured the past two champions of the event with Carey claiming the title last season in Camrose, Alta., and Scheidegger capturing the Meridian Canadian Open in this very rink two years ago.

It was extra special for Scheidegger, who not only won her first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championship but did so in her top-tier series debut. Scheidegger said it’s really exciting to return to North Battleford’s Civic Centre as the memories have started flooding back (including pieing GSOC videographer Jesse Wachter in the face).

“It brings back so many good memories,” Scheidegger said. “This really was like our breakthrough being here. The volunteers and the fans have been really nice to us so far, too. We can feel the support. … We were reminiscing about pieing Jesse and things like that too after and just driving through town and we remembering the places that we ate at and whatnot, so it’s good to be back.”

Carey, from Calgary, was forced to a single in the third and counted a couple in the fifth.

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Elsewhere in Draw 2, Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa downed Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni by a similiar score of 8-3.

Team Nina Roth of the United States stole back-to-back singles in the final two ends to nip Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., 5-4. Winnipeg’s Team Darcy Robertson also used steals to slide past Team Elena Stern of Switzerland 8-5. Down by two, Robertson swiped one point in six, two in seven and another couple in eight.

In the lone men’s match, Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher doubled down Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers 8-4.

The Meridian Canadian Open features a triple knockout bracket preliminary round where teams must win three games before they lose three in order to qualify for Saturday’s quarterfinals. The semis are also set for Saturday with the finals scheduled Sunday.

Action continues with Draw 3 at North Battleford’s Civic Centre at 11:30 a.m. CT. Broadcast coverage begins Thursday on Sportsnet.

NOTES: The Meridian Canadian Open is the fifth event and third major of the 2018-19 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the globe. … Standard Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling rules apply: games are played to eight ends, the five-rock rule is in effect and teams receive 33 minutes of thinking time plus two, 90-second timeouts. … The combined purse is $250,000 with the winning teams earning $30,000 plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup.