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This article was published 21/10/2019 (550 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
PORTAGE — Manitoba’s best curlers were in Portage la Prairie this weekend for the Canad Inns Women’s Classic, but home cooking wasn’t enough for any of them to be crowned tournament champion.
Instead, it was a team that travelled over 7,000 kilometres for the event that left with the grand prize of $15,000. The 32-team tournament came to a close Sunday night at Portage Curling Club with Switzerland’s Elena Stern beating Ontario’s Rachel Homan 7-6 in extra ends in the final. Homan, who will have to settle for a $10,000 cheque, had a 6-4 lead heading into the eighth end, but Stern rallied back with two points to keep the game alive. Team Homan entered the final with a perfect 6-0 record and had beaten Stern 8-3 earlier in the week. But when it mattered most for the young Swiss team, they got it done. Stern said Sunday’s final is one of the biggest wins of her career.
"It’s one of the bigger ones," said Stern, who entered the event as the No. 16-ranked team in the world. "I’m really proud of the team and how we performed today. It’s huge for us."
Despite the fact Homan whooped Stern’s team earlier in the tournament, the Swiss skip said her team had full confidence heading into Sunday night.
"I think as the younger team and less experienced team, we had less to lose," the 24-year-old Stern said.
"We could just play pretty freely and without a lot of pressure, and I think that really helped us to play the best we could."
Three Manitoba teams were considered strong contenders heading into the week, but they all made the short trip home from Portage disappointed. Jennifer Jones and her team from St. Vital Curling Club failed to reach playoffs as they ended the triple knockout event with a 2-3 record. Their tournament came to an end Saturday morning as they fell 5-4 to Japan’s Seina Nakajima. Jones’s other losses came against Japan’s Tori Koana and Yellowknife’s Kerry Galusha. Jones has won the Canad Inns Women’s Classic three times in her career, with her last title coming in 2014.
The closest local team to winning it all this weekend was Gimli’s Kerri Einarson. Outside of dropping their second game to Alberta’s Laura Walker earlier in the week, Einarson’s group rolled through the competition until the semifinal where they met Homan. Einarson entered the weekend with an undefeated record this season after starting the year with first-place finishes at the Booster Juice Shoot-Out in Edmonton and the Autumn Gold Curling Classic in Calgary. But their winning ways came to an end as Einarson suffered a 6-5 extra-end loss to Homan. In the other semifinal, it was an all-Swiss matchup with Stern defeating Silvana Tirinzoni 5-3 to advance to the championship game.
Tracy Fleury, the defending provincial champion, saw her tournament end in the quarterfinal. Fleury and her East St. Paul teammates were sent home after Einarson handed them an 8-3 loss. Fleury finished the week 5-3.
Next up for these teams is a trip to North Bay, Ont., for the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Masters, which kicks off on Tuesday. Stern said getting to travel around Canada playing the best curlers in the world is an invaluable experience as her team works towards their big goal of representing Switzerland at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
"For us, it’s really important that we can come here and play against really good teams. The places may be random, but it’s also really nice to see other parts of the world that are really different to where we play usually. We really enjoy the experience."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.