Ok – I’m moving backwards in time, but there’s lots of reasons I want to write a little about the semi-final game at Mixed Nationals. First – it was an incredibly emotional win as it was such a close game and we had very nearly let it slip out of our grasps. Second – Elle LeBeau (plays out of Seattle, but on the Arizona team at Mixed Nationals) had captured video of the final two shots – which was pretty awesome. Third – lots of people have asked us how we stole two in the final end to win the game.
In the semi-final, we were matched against the team from North Dakota. We had lost to them in the round robin in a close match, where their play demanded our best game from us and we, well, we didn’t bring it. They are a very friendly and young team – two sisters and a father/son combination.
As the semi-final got underway – it was another close match. Their game just really matches up well against ours. The first half of the game (the first five ends) went by and we were down by one, but we had the hammer in the sixth end. After the fifth end break – we came out firing – and took three in the sixth. We had control!
And…then, we didn’t. We played the seventh end relatively well, but Derek had a costly miss on his last rock. A relatively open take-out to leave us sitting two and force North Dakota to take one – it overcurled and ended up clipping a guard (still would have been tough to get the shot stone out as the guard wasn’t really covering the stone). Leaving their skip with an open takeout to take four – ouch.
That was emotionally hard on me, as we had been to the semi’s before several times and had never managed to win that game. And now it felt like we may have missed our chance again. The eighth and ninth ends – we played well, but just kept getting our rocks clustered in a way that one of them would make a great double. We blanked the eighth and ended up being forced to take one point in the ninth. So that left us coming home in the tenth, down one, without the hammer. Not impossible – but we figured we’d have to steal and then steal again in the extra end.
Rebecca threw her first – a high guard – it was really light and we pounded it all the way to just get it over the hogline – whew! But it had overcurled somewhat and was about a foot and a half off of the center line. They tried a tick shot and missed it. Rebecca threw a perfect tight guard on her second rock. They tried another tick shot and missed it. So far – we’re in decent shape.
On Nate’s first – we went for the out-turn draw behind the guards. Bad luck – his rock picked badly and didn’t even make it over the hogline. Uh oh – this could be the game… They peeled the tight center and on Nate’s second, we replaced it. They peel again, I put it back up. Their vice’s first shot – she peeled the tight guard. Ever patient – we put it back with my last. On her second, their vice overcurled the peel and ended up ticking the high guard – they rolled out of play and our high guard moved a few feet over. This was our opportunity!
Derek drew right behind the tight guard – back button. Their skip went to peel the tight guard – but his overcurled and he ended up nosing the tight guard – running it directly back on our shot rock. So he just replaced our shot rock with our guard and now we were sitting in front of the button behind the guard (his stone). Wow – this was a big chance for us.
The next two shots are captured on video. We went to draw a second rock behind the guard – it was a little tight and Nate and I pounded it the whole way down the sheet.
Then – they spent a fairly lengthy time discussing what to do. They had a couple of options – play the runback (run their guard back into our rocks and ideally take both of ours out, at a minimum take one out), play a hit around the guard at either upweight (to take both rocks out) or at a slightly lower weight (to try and get to the nose of the front rock and move them both back enough to sit shot). I believe they opted for the third choice. The video shows the shot – watching the boys (Nate and Derek) is probably the funniest part of the video:
At the very end you’ll see Derek and I in a huge embrace. It was an incredibly emotional moment – a tough win that we ground out, the first time we had advanced past the semi’s at Mixed Nationals, and a chance to go for gold. Amazing.