VIRDEN — This was the third time Chelsea Carey led her rink to the Manitoba Scotties final, and this third one was the charm, sealing her the provincial women’s curling championship she’s craved for so long.
And yet, in the minutes after Carey’s 6-2 victory over Kerri Einarson on Sunday evening, the Fort Rouge Curling Club skip still felt a little numb. It had been such a grind to get there, after playing five games in two days and four of them must-win.
"I’m kind of in a daze," the new Manitoba champion said. "Once I get my hands on that (Team Manitoba) jacket, then it might sink in for me a little bit. It’s just surreal right now."
This was a vital final pair, the sort of matchup some Manitoba curling leaders quietly hoped to see: two spitfire skips, two young teams hungry for their first crack at a Canadian championship. It meant the promise of an entirely new set of Manitoba champions, after two straight years with Jennifer Jones finishing at the top; it meant a chance for Carey to take the next step in a high-pressure season punctuated by the Olympic trials, and for Einarson to make her mark.
It was the first time that Einarson, a provincial mixed champion, made it to a Scotties final.
It all came down to a taut final game. Einarson struck first, taking a single point with the hammer in the first end. Carey blanked the second, and the third. She set the fourth end up pretty well, and could have taken three there; but her draw came in too light, sticking in the red paint on the top of the 12-foot. Still, she took a deuce out of that end, and with it a 2-1 lead.
Carey would get that extra point back in the very next end, on a miss from Einarson: the East St. Paul skip was wide with her double takeout for two and only removed one stone, handing Carey a steal of one. That seemed to shift the momentum: Einarson picked up a single after the break, and trailed 3-2 with four ends yet to play. Carey blanked the seventh, and — yep — blanked the eighth.
Then in the ninth end, Carey pounced.
It was a big one, as the skip, lead Lindsay Titheridge, second Kristen Foster and third Kristy McDonald worked their way out of trouble: Foster hurled a bang-on double peel to clear the house, and after a timeout and a chat, McDonald locked down a key hit-and-roll to bury the shot rock. That opened the door for Carey to score three with her shot: she made it, and rose to a 6-2 lead.
The final was the second win of the day for Carey, who first had to win a morning semifinal against veteran Barb Spencer.
» Winnipeg Free Press