Gold turned into silver for the Deb Santos rink during the ninth end in Sunday’s final at the Canadian Seniors Curling Championships in Summerside, P.E.I.
A draw for four by Colleen Pinkney of Nova Scotia left the Alberta champions from the St. Albert Curling Club trailing by two with one end to play.
Santos, third Jackie Rae Greening, second Diana Backer and lead Glenna Rubin were held to one in 10 and lost 7-6 to the Truro Curling Club team.
“It’s hugely disappointing because we controlled the whole game but that’s curling. That’s sports. It can turn around on a dime and it did,” Greening told the Gazette on Monday morning before flying home.
In nine, Nova Scotia started burying rocks behind a guard in hopes of a big end. With three Nova Scotia counters lined up behind one guard, Santos ticked off attempting a freeze with her last rock and Pinkney had an open draw for four to the other side.
“It was just a bad strategy call in nine that got us into some trouble. I’m sure we’re not going to sleep for awhile thinking about that end for sure,” Greening said.
Nova Scotia tried to pull Alberta into a draw game early in the contest, but was unsuccessful getting corners in place. Santos’ hit game kept Alberta in front until the decisive four-ender.
Alberta opened the scoring with a steal of one in two and in five scored a deuce to lead 3-1.
Nova Scotia replied with one in six and a steal of one in seven. Alberta regained the lead with a deuce in eight to make it 5-3 before things unravelled in nine.
After the tough loss Alberta drowned their sorrows at the awards banquet.
“When you’ve played as long as we have you win some and you lose some, but the (post-game socializing) puts a smile on your face and that’s what curling and good sportsmanship is all about but you really, really do want to break your broom over your own head,” Greening said.
Alberta had the edge in the scoring analysis, 78 to 75 per cent for Santos (68), Greening (79), Backer (78) and Rubin (86).
In the round robin Greening shot 72 per cent and was named to the second all-star team.
“It means nothing, really. We came here to win the championship,” Greening said. “It’s nice to know that maybe I had some consistent play over the week but that definitely wasn’t my goal for sure.”
Alberta rattled off five victories after a three-game winless stretch to finish second at 8-3 in round-robin action at the Silver Fox Curling & Yacht Club.
“We finally figured the ice out. We called it dummying it down,” Greening said. “It was really difficult to do finesse shots so we really simplified the game. With the ice conditions the way they were, you could either hit really well or draw but to play those secondary weights of backboard or hack was real difficult so once we dumbed it down and simplified it that’s when we seemed to really get control of the ice and get on a roll.”
Nova Scotia advanced to the final with a 10-1 record, including a 10-4 decision in seven ends against Alberta that left Santos sitting 3-2 in the standings.
Saturday in the semifinal Alberta pulled off steals of three in the third and seventh ends to beat Lois Fowler of Brandon, Man. 10-4 in eight ends.
As a team, Manitoba outshot Santos (66), Greening (59), Backer (44) and Rubin (73) percentage-wise 66 to 60.
Manitoba was coming off a 7-5 win over Catherine Derick of Thurso, Que. to break a 7-4 third-place tie.
It was a marathon rather than a sprint to the final for Alberta with 13 games in nine days.
“We’re dragging our butts today for sure,” Greening said. “We get here on the previous Thursday night. You practise on the Friday then you’re playing either two games or a game a day.”
The road to the senior 50-plus nationals started in St. Albert. In the Monday night league, Greening skipped her own team and Santos, Backer and Rubin played together on another rink.
At provincials, the foursome finished 8-0 after stealing the winning point in the extra end of the final to edge Cathy King, last year’s senior national champion, 7-6.
Alberta’s line-up at nationals was talented and experienced.
Santos and Greening curled together three times at the Scotties.
Rubin was the lead for Diane Foster’s senior provincial champions from Calgary in 2011 and at nationals they finished 7-4.
Backer, a newly minted 50-year-old, also coached the Canadian deaf women’s curling championship team at worlds recently. Canada lost the gold-medal game 9-7 to Russia in Bern, Switzerland.
Despite the final outcome at nationals, it was a great run for Alberta to make it as far as it did.
“Right now it’s still a huge disappointment losing a game we should’ve won but we still did pretty damn good, you bet,” said Greening, a St. Albert Curling Club wall of fame member and secretary on the board of directors.