The OUA Curling Championships, held at the Guelph Curling Club Feb. 20-23, came to an unfortunate end for the UW teams. </p>
The UW curling program has a rich history: the men were back-to-back OUA champions in 2012 and 2013 and the women claimed the OUA title back in 2010. Both teams were going for gold this year, hoping to regain their former glory.
Most of the athletes are accomplished curlers who have competed previously in high school or junior leagues. In preparation for the tournament, the teams mostly had practice games; according to curling coach Steven Hertz via email, “We do have practices where we run drills, but those mostly focus on task-specific skills, rather than basic skills.”
Going into the tournament, Hertz said that though he felt good, there is always uncertainty. The curling program does not have a regular season, thus they cannot check out the competition in action. The teams know their strengths, but they don’t know the playing styles of the other teams. In Hertz’s words: “the other teams tend to be a big unknown.”
It was an on-and-off weekend for UW: wins were quickly followed by losses, and vise versa. The men lost against Lakehead on day one, 8-3: a raise takeout to score a deuce in the seventh end was too late to save the game. The women, on day one, won their match 9-3 against Laurentian as they were able to keep control throughout the match.
Photo courtesy UW Athletics
Hertz commented that the tournament progressed, more or less, as he expected: “The top teams from last year [put] up wins and [stayed] at the top of the standings. Both of our teams had ups and downs, never really getting on a hot streak as you’d hope. In the end both teams represented us well, and things bode well for the future of the program.”
Both teams lost their last games on Feb. 22; the men lost 6-2 to Brock, while the women lost 12-9 to Laurier.
WLU proved a formidable opponent for UW. A stunted start by the female Warriors resulted in a score of 3-0 for Laurier in the first end. The second end had the Golden Hawks skip missed, allowing UW to counter and score four. Despite three points in the third end, a deuce in the fifth and two points in the sixth, WLU was ahead at the seventh end. The Warriors were able to force an extra end, but Laurier had put them in a difficult position in the house, and they ran out of time: they were unable to throw their last stone and had to give up three points. Hertz said, “The girls had a truly heartbreaking loss, which can overshadow how well they actually did.”
The men, meanwhile, battled the unbeaten Brock who played relentlessly, taking every chance they could. According to Hertz in a UW Athletics report, he felt as though the game was lost in the second end. A comeback should be possible in such situations, especially since it was still early in the match, but the team had no such luck and were unable to score decent percentages.
Despite the anticlimactic outcome, Hertz is proud of his team, especially with the performance of the two skips, first year Matt Allen and second year Melanie Ty. “They both performed admirably under the circumstances,” Hertz stated via email, “Considering all of the top teams this year had very senior andﾊexperienced skips, they held their own very well.”
Hertz hopes that, for future training and practice, the teams will be able to get more competitive experience, either by internal practice with alumni and veterans or by participating in pre-OUA tournaments. “[They] will help acclimatize us with the conditions the teams will be experiencing in the OUA tournament [and] help insulate us from the ups and downs of the competition.”