Alberta rinks swept to gold at the Canadian Seniors Curling Championships on Sunday, but the roads that winning skips Cathy King and Rob Armitage traveled to get there could hardly have been any different.
King is one of Canada’s most decorated curlers, and her 9-5 victory over Newfoundland and Labrador’s Cathy Cunningham at Abbotsford Recreation Centre gave her the career Triple Crown of national titles. It’s an unprecedented feat – she previously won the Canadian junior championship in 1977 and ’78, and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 1998.
“I have the Triple Crown, so I’m pretty excited,” King enthused afterward. “My team played great today. Everybody stepped up the plate, and I’m really proud of them.”
Armitage, in contrast, toiled for decades without ever competing at a national championship prior to this week.
In the wake of his 5-2 triumph over Newfoundland’s Glenn Goss, the Red Deer skip recited the names of the elite Alberta-based rinks that stood in his way over the years – Ed Lukowich, Pat Ryan, Kevin Martin, Randy Ferbey, Kevin Koe.
“I waited 35 years to become a provincial champion, and then within a month, became a national champion,” Armitage marveled. “My team played so well, I didn’t have to be the best player here to win. At the provincials I did, but not here. My team just carried the day. They owned draw weight, they made everything, and all I had to do was clean it up.
“It feels great. I’ve waited a long, long time for this.”
After blanking the first end, Armitage scored two in the second end, one in the fifth and stole two more in the sixth to open up a 5-1 lead that would prove insurmountable.
“This is why we play the game, this is why I’ve spent so much time in a curling rink in my life,” summarized Armitage, whose rink also features third Keith Glover, second Randy Ponich and lead Wilf Edgar. “It’s all come together.”
The women’s final was a back-and-forth affair. King and Cunningham were tied 2-2 through five ends, before King came through with a deuce in the sixth. Cunningham replied with three in the seventh, but King reclaimed the lead with two in the eighth.
King all but sealed the deal in the ninth end when Cunningham was heavy with a draw on her last rock to surrender a steal of three, and the two teams shook hands in the tenth end.
The seniors sweep on Sunday extended a remarkable season of dominance for Alberta. The province has claimed five national titles in 2012, with Heather Nedohin winning the Scotties, and Brendan Bottcher and Jocelyn Peterman winning the Canadian men’s and women’s junior titles, respectively.
“Isn’t that amazing?” marveled King, whose rink included third Carolyn Morris, second Lesley McEwan and lead Doreen Gares. “It’s pretty special. I don’t know what it is. Alberta is just so tough to get out of, it really is.”
The Armitage and King rinks will represent Canada at the 2013 World Seniors Championships at a location yet to be determined.