PADRAIG MAC ROIBEAIRD
Special to The Morning Star
You don’t win two world junior championships without a massive amount of talent and knowledge of the game. All of that was on display in the finals in the Prestige Classic at Vernon Curling Club Sunday, with Kelsey Rocque and Tyler Tardi beating out two of Canada’s premier teams for the top cash.
Edmonton native Rocque won gold at world juniors in 2014 and 2015 and was up against another Edmontonian, two time and current Canadian Scotties champ Chelsey Carey. Tardi, curling out of Langley, is the reigning world junior champion, having successfully defended his prior world championship earlier this year in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. He was up against the Vernon/Kelowna/Saskatchewan team of Jim Cotter, the eight-time and current B.C. men’s champ and one of the very best shotmakers in the world.
Carey started strong in the women’s final. She blanked the first and third ends and along the way stole three single points to go up 3-0 after five ends. Rocque stuck to her game with a pair in the sixth and stole one in the seventh to tie the game coming home. Her team executed the guard game perfectly and Rocque placed her final stone partially behind cover at the back of the four foot and shot rock. Carey attempted a short bump on the Rocque stone, but her backline weighted outturn failed to make good contact with the Rocque stone, rolling off and leaving the 25-year-old Edmonton skip with a 4-3 win and her team as this year’s Prestige Women’s champions.
Tardi is a previous winner of the Prestige Classic, winning it in 2016 when he was 18. He was up against a team with a total of 25 Brier appearances among its members. He started strong with a three-ender in the first, then traded deuces with Cotter in the next two ends before Cotter levelled with two in the fourth and a steal of one in the fifth.
The Langley team came back with a deuce in the sixth, but Cotter was set to level again in the seventh, needing only a short straight back raise to score two. The inturn failed to curl enough. The raised Cotter stone nicked but did not make good contact with the shot rock and Cotter went back to the glass needing three points to force an extra end.
Cotter’s team executed well, and Tardi was facing two Cotter stones partially behind a corner guard on his final rock. These were second and third shots to his wide-open shot rock at the top of the eight foot. Tardi hit what he could see, and Cotter was out of rocks to make the three, leaving Tardi with an 8-5 win.
Tardi and his teammates still qualify for another run at a third world junior championship but have decided to challenge for men’s honours in B.C. this year.
Along with Tardi were third Sterling Middleton, second Jordan Tardi, and lead Alex Horvath. Backing Rocque were third Danielle Schmiemann, second Becca Hebert, and lead Jesse Marlow. Jim Cotter had last year’s third, Steve Laycock, and lead Rick Sawatsky, along with new addition Andrew Nerpin at second.
Tardi went to the final with a 7-5 win over the Daniel Wenzek team from New Westminster, while Cotter defeated Kelowna’s Jeff Richard in his semi-final. Carey defeated Russia’s Alina Kovaleva 7-1 in five ends in one women’s semi, while Rocque needed to score one in the eighth to advance against Germany’s Daniela Jentsch.
Rocque’s team is $7,000 richer on the weekend, while Tardi takes home $4,000.
Cotter went 3-1 in his five-team pool to qualify for the semis. He opened with a 6-5 win over Yusuke Morozumi of Japan, then knocked off Richard 4-3 before falling 7-6 to Tolley.
Cotter advanced to the semis with a 3-1 win over clubmate, reigning B.C. Junior Men’s silver medalist, Erik Colwell, who went winless at the Classic.
Colwell, backed by third Mitchell Kopytko, second Ben Morin and lead Logan Miron, opened with a 9-4 defeat to Tolley, fell 10-3 to Morozumi, lost 8-1 to Cotter and closed with an 8-1 setback to Richard.
In the 18-team women’s draw, Vernon’s Morgayne Eby went 3-2 while Kim Slattery was 1-4.
Eby, playing with third Randi Ludwar, second Kristina Little and lead Melissa Webster, began with a 6-3 loss to Wark, but bounced back to rattle Miki Hayashi of Japan 8-2. Eby then fell 7-4 to Carey, rebounded to defeat Brette Richards of Kelowna 8-6 and ended with an 8-7 over Mariah Coloumbe of Victoria.
Slattery, supported by third Alyssa Kyllo, second Sheila Cowan and lead Shaina McGiverin, opened the Classic with a 5-2 loss to Karla Thompson of Kamloops, then got back to .500 with a 6-4 win over Sarah Daniels of Delta. Slattery lost 8-4 to Kovaleva and ended the event with a 6-4 setback to Rocque.