For The Morning Star
Twenty-eight elite women’s teams and eight men’s teams put on an exciting brand of curling right until the end at the $59,000 World Curling Tour’s Prestige Hotels & Resorts Curling Classic at the Vernon Curling Club.
The event crowned two new champions Sunday afternoon.
Langley Walnut Grove’s Team Marla Mallett, who only came together as a team in June, pocketed $8,900 with a 7-1 five-end win over former Olympian Cheryl Bernard’s Calgary rink in the women’s final.
“It was unexpected,” said Mallett’s second Brette Richards. “I don’t think anyone expected to win the bonspiel. This was the first games we’ve played together as a team.
“I think because we didn’t have any expectations, that we weren’t really focused on results. We were just focused on the process and trying to figure out as a team what it’s like out there. When you can take that pressure off, it’s pretty easy to hit shots.”
She added that the team also consisting of third Shannon Aleksic and lead Blaine Dejager were able to keep the strategy pretty simple and make adjustments as the cashspiel progressed.
“At the start of the weekend, the draw weight was a little erratic,” said Richards.
“We kind of just tightened that up a bit and that seemed to help make shots a little more consistent.”
Team Mallett’s path to the championship included a opening draw 5-4 loss to Kerri Einarson of Winnipeg before reeling off seven straight victories. They edged Val Sweeting of Vegreville, Alta. 7-5 in the quarterfinals, while knocking off Karla Thompson 5-2 in the semis.
Bernard, who grounded Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque 7-3 in the other semi, pocketed $6,500, while Einarson and Thompsone ach earned $4,250.
Rocque clipped Corryn Brown of Kamloops 8-7, Bernard bounced Cathy Overton-Clapham of Winnipeg 6-1, Mallett upended Sweeting 7-5 and Thompson rattled Shannon Kleibrink of Okotoks, Alta. 7-1 in the quarters.
Meanwhile, on the men’s side, Langley’s Tyler Tardi trimmed Japan’s Yusuke Morozumi 5-4 to claim $5,000.
Tardi, supported by third Sterling Middleton, second Jordan Tardi and lead Nicholas Meister, won a bronze medal at the Canadian Junior Men’s Championships last year.
“It was a real back and forth game,” said Tyler Tardi. “We’ve been sticking to a plan all week long and it’s been working out for us. (We’ve) just been patient with it and hope for a mistake and capitalize on it.”
Morozumi’s lead Kosuke Morozumi said despite the loss, they gained an education along with $4,000.
“The ice was really good, and the teams play at a high level,” he said. “We had two or three chances to get two or more points but we couldn’t.”
Tardi, who earlier lost 7-3 to local favourite Jim Cotter 7-3, rebounded with a 6-4 semifinal win over.
Cotter, who had Ryan Kuhn subbing at third for Johnny Morris, took home $3,000. Ty Griffith and Rick Sawatsky ran the front end.
Stephen Schneider of Vancouver, with Jamie Sexton of Vernon throwing third rocks, bowed 6-4 to Morozumi in the other semi, winning $3,000.
“The event was successful; everyone was having some fun,” said curling club manager and ice-maker Dave Merklinger. “The draws were not too tight and players were making it exciting by making some great shots.”