Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon almost lost her voice shouting encouragement. Her front end almost suffered temporary paralysis and exhaustion.
All on one shot, Lawton’s draw which barely reached the button to score a deuce and knock off Chelsea Carey of Calgary 5-3 in Sunday’s women’s final of the $54,00 Prestige Hotels & Resorts Curling Classic in Vernon.
“I threw it light enough, but I knew that they could do it,” smiled Lawton, 35. “They dragged it a long ways so I just kept on yelling and hoping that would help them get there. I owe them a good steak dinner and some wine.”
There was a star-studded field of 28 women’s rinks with round-robin wins worth $100. Lawton pocketed $8,400 and jumped from 13th place to fourth on the Canadian Team Ranking System rankings.
A senior inventory specialist with Cameco Corporation, the world’s largest publicly traded uranium company, Lawton earned $4,000 a few weeks ago at the HDF Insurance Shoot-Out in Edmonton, falling to Val Sweeting of Edmonton in the final.
Lawton started the season losing the C qualifier to Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg. Lawton’s sister, Marliese Kasner, is her longtime lead, while Trish Paulsen is the team’s new third with Sherri Singler at second.
“I like what I see,” said Lawton, a mother of two who won the 2000 Canadian junior title with her sister, going on to strike silver at the worlds in Germany. “We’re playing well. Trish is fitting in well with us. She’s a lot of fun to play with so we’re really enjoying it.”
Curling has been a common bond for decades in the Lawton (nee Miller) family. Her father, Bob, tossed second rocks for Paulsen’s father, Art, at the 1985 Labatt Brier in Moncton. The Saskatchewan rink lost to eventual champion Al Hackner of Northern Ontario in the semifinals.
Lawton’s mom coached curling programs involving her daughters, while the family has seen great grandfathers also excel in the game.
Carey, 31, competed with Amy Nixon at third and Jocelyn Peterman and Laine Peters up front. They collected $6,400
Lawton doubled Kerri Einarson of Winnipeg 5-2, while Carey iced Kelly Rocque of Edmonton 5-3 in Sunday semifinals. Rocque cashed in $4,400.and Einarson earned $4,300.
“This was a strong field,” said Lawton. “Carey’s team is great and we were able to get some points when we needed them and were able to win it. Vernon is an awesome place to come: we enjoy touring around here because it’s got great weather, great wine and lots of great people.”
On the 12-team men’s side, defending Canadian champion Pat Simmons of Calgary jumpstrated his season by icing Dean Joanisse of New Westminster 6-1 in five ends.
“We started off pretty slow, but did get a little better as each game went on, and thankfully, we just managed to turn it on in crunch time,” said Simmons, who claimed the Tim Hortons Brier last year in Calgary and bronze at the worlds in Halifax. “We were down in the C event but definitely got better each game after that and today was a great day.”
Simmons, a 40-year-old chiropractor in Moose Jaw, said his foursome chose to rest in September and go hard in October. Taking the tourist route to the final was actually a good thing.
“Typically, you wanna get through as quick as you possibly can, but for us being early in the year, the extra games were great for us. A lot of teams have played two or three events already so we’ve got a little catching up to do.”
Simmons, supported by third Johnny Morris, second Carter Rycroft and Nolan Thiessen, swiped three points in the third end and a deuce in four.
“You take those when you get ‘em. Dean just had a little trouble with draw weight which you wouldn’t expect at all,” said Simmons, a father of two who collected $5,000.
“Sometimes you throw a draw and it doesn’t quite do what you expect and then you kind of get on the wrong side of the feel part of things.”
Team Simmons receive Sport Canada funding of $144,000 over the next two years and face a hectic schedule, starting with the $45,000 Gatineau Cashspiel Oct. 22.
Simmons’ parents managed the curling club in Moose Jaw so he was a serious rink rat, throwing millions of rocks through childhood.
Joanisse, 43, was backed by third Paul Ceske, formerly of Salmon Arm, and a front end of Jay Wakefield and John Cullen. They earned $4,000.
Vernon’s Jim Cotter was the A side qualifier, but lost 9-7 in an extra end to Joanisse in Monday morning semifinal action. Simmons stuffed Sean Geall of New West 6-1 in the other semi. Cotter and Geall each won $3,000. Cotter had Ryan Kuhn, Ty Griffith and Rick Sawatsky aboard.