Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bring it on, baby

One game left. Bring it on, baby. That’s what we’re here for. If it’s meant to be, we’re going to make it happen.
Marla Mallett

We love it. We love playing in these big games. We’re not scared of them, we love them. And we just love being out there together and enjoying the moment together.
Jennifer Jones

by Elaine Dagg-Jackson

VICTORIA – The thing about being a competitor at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts is that once you’ve been there, nothing else will do.

For nine glorious days, real life melts away and you experience a fantasy state of life – living in a beautiful hotel, having three gourmet meals a day prepared for you, a team driver at your beck and call, and enthused curling fans cheering for your shots.

As rookie Scottie participant Kari MacLean – who roomed at the Empress Hotel this week with veteran Lorraine Lang – described it, “Lorraine tried to tell me what it would be like, but now that I’ve been here I get it, and all I want to do is get back!”

Surely that determination is related to some of the amazing matches we have witnessed here in Victoria, where it seemed that no game was in the bank until the last rock was thrown. I witnessed more upsets and comebacks than I have ever seen before, and I thought this year’s field was possibly the most equal of all time.

Team Alberta found a way to get back on the Scotties ice even after being eliminated on Thursday at the end of round-robin play. An enthusiastic but humbled Cheryl Bernard team participated in a wheelchair curling demonstration game against a very capable local team. This took place immediately following the three-four game.

While I am sure Cheryl and company were happy to get back on that Scotties ice one more time, I think they left the ice with a new degree of respect for the skill of those who throw curling shots from a chair!

On that note, congratulations to Vancouver’s Jim Armstrong and his Canadian wheelchair curling team, crowned world champions yesterday afternoon on hometown Olympic (and Paralympic) ice.

Will another Vancouver team become STOH champions tonight?

A number of teams won the hearts of the fans here in Victoria, and Saskatchewan was certainly on of them. In the three-four game on Saturday, crowd-pleasing Stefanie Lawton and co. put up a valiant fight against veteran Jennifer Jones and Team Canada. Every time Canada pulled ahead in the score, a driven Lawton found a way to stay alive.

Team Saskatchewan earned the respect and support of the crowd early in the Tournament and captivated them all week. Enormously disappointed after being eliminated, Lawton and company remained on the field of play long after the game... soaking up every last moment of their 2009 Scotties experience. I know parents/coaches Linda and Bob Miller must have been bursting with pride, watching from back home in Saskatchewan.

The evening game saw more of the same indelible spirit as Marie-France Larouche’s Team Quebec fought back from a 0-5 deficit in the semifinal. Both teams entertained with crowd-pleasing shots all game. In the end the experience of the Jones squad proved insurmountable but Team Quebec won the hearts of everyone here – once again – at the Scotties.

When you’re on the ice competing at an event like this, normal life fades away and for one amazing week, you feel like anything is possible. Tonight the Tournament draws to a close and the 60 athletes of the 2009 Scotties will leave Victoria with memories of competition, friendship and determination to find a way to get back to this amazing event.

Tonight there are only two teams left alive and ten more who are plotting their return. Tonight one team will be crowned 2009 Scotties Canadian Champions – will it be the veteran Team Canada, which has pulled wins out of the clutches of defeat, or the rookie Marla Mallett team from British Columbia, which have revelled in the ice conditions all week here in Victoria?

1 comment:

Tudor said...

Not a great start to TSN's coverage of the final round - we are pre-empted by some goddamn American car race. At least CBC started on time when they took over the finals coverage.
To say the least I am p....ssed off already.