Who says crime doesn’t pay?
Not Selena Sturmay and her Edmonton curling team.
Certainly not after stealing the second-to-last and decisive finish of Sunday’s Alberta Scotties championship draw to snatch the provincial title from the defending champions in St. Paul.
“It means everything,” said Team Sturmay, scoring its first provincial victory over Calgary’s Team Skrlik by a surprising 6-5 score to cap the eight-team event. “We have based our entire season around these provincials, and winning them was our number one goal. So for that to come to real life, that means everything; It hasn’t fully sunk in yet.
“Hopefully, he will do it soon.”
The Saville Community Sports Center team has a little time, namely three weeks, to savor the celebration before the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Then jump to Sturmay, third Danielle Schmiemann, second Dezaray Hawes, lead Paige Papley and coach Ted Appelman, by virtue of Sunday’s win, will be busy representing Alberta and competing for Canadian glory at the organized national championships in Calgary, February 16-25.
“Yeah…it was definitely hard work,” Sturmay said. “The ice conditions were a little tricky.”
Kayla Skrlik, the 2023 Alberta queen, found out the hard way as she was heavy in her four-foot tie to two stones from Sturmay with the final stone in the tenth end of the final.
Sturmay also stole one in the ninth end, part of a late burst to recover from a 5-3 deficit in eight ends of the championship draw.
“Yeah, I think with the way the end tenth was formed, all we really wanted was for her to look two with her last stone, which we did,” Sturmay said. “I think both my shots and the previous ones were very well handled. “We made the most of every shot we could make.”
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Team Sturmay came into the weekend with plenty of big-game experience, including Schmiemann, a former teammate of Kelsey Rocque and a perennial threat to the Alberta Scotties, and Hawes, a two-time BC representative at the Scotties Nationals with Corryn Brown of Kamloops in both 2020. and ’21.
Sturmay herself had also faced Skrlik in many important moments.
“Kayla and I have been wrestling in provincial and junior finals for years, so we know it’s always going to be a great match against them,” said Sturmay, 25. “I’m sure there will be many more provincial finals against Kayla to come as well.”
This one, however, is for Sturmay to enjoy.
Sturmay & Co. concluded the round-robin portion of the event on Saturday with a first-place record of 6-1, earning a bye to the finals.
The team then awaited a decision in the semi-final between the team of Saville, Serena Gray-Withers and Skrlik, the respective second and third placed teams with records of 5-2 and 4-3 in the round-robin, which went to Skrlik in 9. -8 fashion in an extra extreme. That game also saw Skrlik give up a late lead (8-5) by allowing steals.
Big swings dominated that Sunday morning semi-final.
After Skrlik counted two in the first set, Gray-Withers came back with three in the second.
It was then another deuce for the defending champions in the third set before Saville’s newly crowned Canada West queens made it one in the fourth to tie it.
After a foul in the fifth end and a one-up exchange in the sixth and seventh ends, in the final eight Gray-Withers missed with a hammer for a steal of three by Skrlik.
But the Edmonton rink responded with steals of two and one to force the extra end, in which Skrlik made his free draw for an open house.
In the championship game it was more difficult to score goals.
First a blank was followed by an exchange of one-point ends and then another exchange of one-point ends.
Tied 2-2 heading into the second half of the contest, the teams again scored singles in the sixth and seventh ends.
It wasn’t until the eighth that a deuce finally appeared on the board, courtesy of Skrlik, but that didn’t stop Sturmay and his team from rushing back to steal one in the ninth and two in the decisive final tenth.
“We just knew that if we put a couple of good wingers together and put some pressure on the other team, we’d have a chance in the end,” Sturmay said. “And that’s what ended up happening.”
Heading into Sunday’s playoff round, Team Sturmay had the luxury of knowing that they had already secured at least a spot in the Scottish Nationals as one of the wild card teams due to their season-long success and round-robin at Clancy Richard Arena.
“It definitely took the pressure off me,” Sturmay added. “However, we definitely wanted to win and represent our own province at the Scotties.
“That definitely meant a lot to us.”
The majority of the field is now ready for the WinSport-hosted Scots next month following the weekend’s provincial action held across the country.
Of course, Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson skips Team Canada and they are the four-time reigning national champions.
Vying to dethrone Einarson and his Gimli Curling Club team are the following provincial champions: Sturmay (Alberta); Clancy Grandy (BC) of Vancouver; Kaitlyn Lawes (Manitoba), from Winnipeg; Melissa Adams of Fredericton (New Brunswick); Stacie Curtis of St. John (Newfoundland and Labrador); Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay (northern Ontario); Heather Smith of Halifax, Nova Scotia; Danielle Inglis (Ontario) of Ottawa; Jane DiCarlo of Crapaud (Prince Edward Island); Laurie St-Georges (Quebec), from Laval; Skylar Ackerman of Saskatoon (Saskatchewan); Kerry Galusha of Yellowknife (Northwest Territories); and Bayly Scoffin of Whitehorse, Yukon.
Two other rinks, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan (Ontario) and St. Vital/Winnipeg/Altona’s Jennifer Jones (Manitoba), were ranked ahead of their respective provinces based on their positions atop the 2022 Canadian Team Rankings. 2. 3.
And two wild card teams, officially unnamed yet but resembling Kate Cameron of Manitoba and Brown of BC, round out the 18-team Scottish field.