Friday, February 27, 2009

Will anyone step up to the plate?

by Elaine Dagg-Jackson

VICTORIA – Who is going to win this Scotties Tournament of Hearts?

That’s the question everyone is asking here in Victoria as the final days of this 2009 championship unfold.While BC’s Marla Mallett clearly dominated the leaderboard all week, she lost her last two games and, well, we all know that when it comes to the playoffs, anything can happen.

This was clearly illustrated just last year when Jennifer Jones upset the rock-steady Shannon Kleibrink in a stunning last-rock final. With every game on the final day of round-robin play crucial to the standings, there remains five teams – B.C., Quebec (Kruger Products Ltd. photo of Marie-France Larouche by Andrew Klaver), Saskatchewan, P.E.I and Canada – in contention become the 2009 Canadian champs.

For now, a few teams are able to grab some much needed rest. I chatted with one of the athletes who qualified for the three-four playoff last night and while she was clearly elated with a strong finish, she declared “I’m just so exhausted!”

My friend Luann Krawetz, who happens to be a University of Victoria basketball hall-of-famer, watched the game with me last night and her grasp of curling performance always amazes me.

She says curling is the only sport that places such demands on athletes where they need to excel physically, mentally and spiritually over such a long period of time. Where basketball athletes will play one game every other day in a four- or five-game series, curling athletes play two three-hou games per day in a 12-team round robin.

“It’s incredible!” says Lu.

It is much more fun watching the game with Luann, ever since I taught her not to yell “miss!” like they do for a free throw in basketball!

I’ve been more than a little surprised that the field here remains wide open. No one has stepped up to the plate to serve notice that they are really challenging for the title, and the trip to the Worlds in Korea.

From my perspective, B.C. has been the steadiest team this week, demonstrating patience, a calm and focused demeanor, and a full grasp of how to successfully play the conditions.

Saskatchewan has been gathering momentum and P.E.I, Canada and Quebec are all certainly playing well now – particularly the Islanders, who are up 4-2 on Team Canada at the fifth-end break of the tiebreaker!

It sounds obvious, but I feel the team that really embraces the ice conditions and the environment in the final games will come out on top.

It was fabulous to see so many of the teams letting off some steam in the Heart Stop Lounge last night. The music was great, the atmosphere fun and my daughter Steph was kept busy answering those all important questions from the sidelined Scotties participants of what to see and do in Victoria... and where the best shopping was, now that they finally have time to enjoy it!

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