Posted at 12:09 pm on February 19, 2013
Alberta has a long and proud history of curling in this country, both in the men’s and women’s game. The last decade has seen the province of Alberta boast an impressive record at the Scotties, with names like Shannon Kleibrink and Cheryl Bernard consistently rising to the top of the field. This year’s team, however, has stalled out of the gate. Skipped by Kristie Moore, Alberta has baffled the curling world by sitting at the bottom of the standings, winless after three days of play. We break down the reasons for this.
Momentum is everything in curling. A good team can beat a great team if they’re on a roll. This means that winning games early on in a bonspiel can set the tone for the rest of the event. So when Kristie Moore opened her 2013 Scotties against former world champion Kelly Scott, it was a dangerous situation.
In that first game, B.C. third Jeanna Schraeder posted the most impressive numbers of the two teams: curling 83%. This left Alberta in a tough situation when skip stones arrived. Moore faced with very tricky shots and came away from the game with a shooting percentage of only 59%; not a good game by any standards. Kelly Scott, however, didn’t post great numbers herself. With only 65% accuracy, Scott still managed to edge out Moore and inched away with a 7-6 victory.
Knowing it was a game they could have won, Moore needed to shake off the loss and refocus for another brutal matchup in the next draw. They were taking on the team-to-beat and crowd favorite, Rachel Homan. The Ontario team blasted Moore for multiple 3-point ends, winning the game 9-5.
As this game against Homan wasn’t a game that Moore was realistically expected to win, it would be easy to shake off the dust and move forward. But two games in, Team Alberta had a big goose egg on the leader board and was starting to take a beating to their morale.
The next draw was against Quebec. Though Quebec sent a strong team this year, they are certainly a team that Moore should beat 9 out of 10 times. The shaky start, however, left the Moore team reeling. Weak numbers from lead Amber Cheveldave and second Michelle Dykstra set up messy situations for the Alberta back-end to clean up. Moore was often left facing difficult shots with her last stone, and with 60% accuracy, she was having difficulty bailing out her team.
The fifth end looking like it could be a turning point for team Alberta. They rallied as a team and put together a solid end, being rewarded with a big 3 points. But for a team that had been struggling, the surge of adrenaline caused them to lose focus, and they handed back a 3-pointer to Team Quebec in the next end. The loss of momentum was too much to overcome. The following end, they surrendered a steal of one, and that sealed their fate. Quebec won the game 9-6.
In draw 7, Team Alberta was looking to finally right the ship and get a win. But it wouldn’t be easy. They were taking on Saskatchewan, tied for first place at the time.
Moore posted a personal best shooting percentage of 71%, a good indication of a mentally strong player who is putting the past behind her. The first half of the game was very impressive for Alberta. They grabbed a deuce with the hammer in the third end, following it up with another steal of two in the fourth. They took a comfortable lead into the fifth-end break. The back-half of the game, however, was all down hill. A sign that, yet again, Alberta was getting too comfortable after a few good ends and lost focus. They gave up back-to-back steals of 2 in the 7th and 8th end, destroying any hope of hanging on to that early lead. They limped to the tenth end, coming up just short and losing the game 7-6.
Four games—four losses. Usually, four losses is too much for an event as strong as the Scotties. In some years, a four-loss team may be able to grab a tie-breaker spot and have a hope of qualifying for a playoff spot. While Alberta has some of the tough teams behind them, they still have head-of-the-pack teams like Jennifer Jones and Heather Nedohin left to come. One more loss and its safe to say that Alberta is gone from the playoffs.