Team Harrison (L) and Team Sweeting (R) celebrate their win at the Tour Challenge in Cranbrook, B.C. (Photo: Anil Mungal)

Sweeting secures 2nd career GSOC title at Tour Challenge

November 13, 2016, 4:23 PM

CRANBROOK, B.C. — Val Sweeting righted the ship all the way to her second career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championship.

Sweeting bounced back from a winless run two weeks ago at the WFG Masters and a loss in her opening game of the Tour Challenge to win six straight capped with an 8-4 victory over Michelle Englot and her Winnipeg-based team in Sunday’s final.

The Edmonton native Sweeting said the 180-degree swing means a lot and credits her teammates of third Lori Olson-Johns, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachel Brown with the turnaround.

“The girls were playing so well,” Sweeting said. “I didn’t get off to a good start myself but they held me in there. We just kept doing what we’ve been doing all week figuring out the ice and learning after every shot. We just plugged away and it turned out well for us.”

Sweeting opened with the hammer and looked to blank the first frame, however, she wasn’t able to eliminate Englot’s lone rock in the house on her first skip stone and then — while facing two counters with her last — she flashed past both and right through the rings to give up a steal of two.

The two-spot didn’t faze Sweeting knowing there were still potentially seven more ends left to play.

“You’ve just got to shake those off and I was little unfortunate that my last one curled so much. I was surprised,” she said. “I think we figured it out. You’ve just got to park it, move on and do what you can out there and I think we did a really good job with that. It definitely means a lot we were able to turn things around. The girls did so well out there. I’m so proud.”

Sweeting came up short of a deuce in the second, settling for one, but then took the steal train right through the next three ends into the lead and a three-point advantage. She drew for a perfectly buried shot stone the fourth and Englot was unable to remove it to concede the lead. The pressure was on again in the fifth and Englot struggled by crashing on a guard with her last.

Englot capitalized in the sixth easing her last shot in for two after Sweeting wrecked on a guard. Sweeting made a great shot to score a three count in the seventh and out came the handshakes.

“We had a good idea of what the path was doing because I did that on my first one,” Sweeting said. “The girls managed it really well and it was a great end.”

The Regina-based Englot, a seven-time Sasakatchewan provincial champ, just joined the team of third Kate Cameron, second Leslie Wilson-Westcott and lead Raunora Westcott this season after their former skip Kristy McDonald stepped back from competitive curling. Team Englot was playing in its first career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling final.

Englot advanced out of the tiebreakers defeating reigning Canadian champ Chelsea Carey of Calgary and then upset five-time Grand Slam winner Rachel Homan of Ottawa in the quarterfinals.

Sweeting hammered WFG Masters champ Allison Flaxey of Caledon, Ont., 9-2 during the semifinals and Englot edged Anna Hasselborg of Sweden 6-5 in an extra end to set up the final.

Meanwhile, Jacqueline Harrison of Mississauga drew to the four-foot circle in the extra end to edge Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay 5-4 in the Tier 2 women’s final.

The team of Harrison, third Janet Murphy, second Stephanie Matheson and lead Melissa Foster will move on up to the elite ranks earning a berth to the 2017 Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask.

“It means so much to our team,” Foster said. “The fact that they provide this Tier 2 is really important to lots of teams like us who are trying to bust through the bubble. Our province is really deep and we have to play all of these top teams all the time. It’s nice for us to get a chance to play and not just the elites so it’s wonderful.

“Winning this has been amazing because it secures us another Grand Slam and of course it’s going to give us some confidence and swagger going back home too.”

Harrison stole one in the first as McCarville attempted a double attempt and overcurled to miss the second counter. McCarville clipped a guard with her last in the second end and gave up another single steal. The reigning Northern Ontario champ McCarville made a tap for a single in the third and Harrison counted one in four to retake the two-point advantage.

The teams traded singles in six and seven with Harrison holding the hammer coming home in eight. However, McCarville stole the end as Harrison missed a runback attempt twice to force the extra set.

Harrison made no mistake drawing to the four-foot circle with her last in the extra.

“That’s what this game is all about at this level: being able to calm the nerves and focus on the shots,” Foster said. “If you have a shot left you’ll still have a chance. You can never give up and have confidence in each other and that’s what happened today.”