CAMROSE, Alta. — A new Grand Slam women’s champion will be crowned at the Meridian Canadian Open with Chelsea Carey taking on Michelle Englot in Sunday’s title match.
Carey bested EunJung Kim 6-4 and Englot triumphed 10-4 over Jennifer Jones during Saturday’s semifinals to advance to the championship game.
Englot fell to Edmonton’s Val Sweeting in last season’s Tour Challenge Tier 1. Carey made it to the final of the 2012 Masters with her old Winnipeg-based squad losing to Rachel Homan and was also runner-up this season in the Tour Challenge Tier 2 division dropping a decision to Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson.
Coincidentally, Einarson defeated Carey in the first round of the Meridian Canadian Open triple knockout. It would have been understandable if they had continued to slide from there following a heartbreaking couple weeks with Carey, playing with Colin Hodgson, and second Jocelyn Peterman, teaming with Brett Gallant, falling short at the Canadian mixed doubles trials followed by a semifinal finish at the Alberta Scotties.
“We’ve had a tough couple weeks with Jocelyn and I at mixed doubles trials and then provincials didn’t go the way we planned,” Carey said. “It’s nice to have a good run here and put together some wins.”
Team Carey didn’t show any signs of fatigue or mental drain though and got on the right track winning five consecutive games including their B-qualifier over Englot 8-1.
“We weren’t particularly sharp in the first game but we bounced back really well and we did what we wanted to do,” Carey said. “Today we had a couple slow starts but stayed patient and made some shots late. Grinding out those wins is a good feeling and that’s what we want to be doing.”
Kim was in charge to start the semifinal forcing Carey to a single in the opening frame and making an outstanding angle raise with her first skip stone in the second to set the table for a score of three. Another lone single for Carey in three looked like Kim was still in control until she gave up a steal in four that tied it 3-3.
The teams traded singles in five and six to keep it tight and Carey finally pulled ahead stealing two more points in seven.
“I don’t think she missed for the first three or four ends,” Carey said. “We were going, ‘OK, well if we don’t get some misses out of her we’re not going to win this game.’ But then we started putting some rocks in some better places and putting more pressure on them and we got a couple misses and were able to translate it into a win.”
Carey and Einarson will face off again on the eve of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in the wild-card game next week in Penticton, B.C., for the final spot in the Canadian women’s championship.
Meanwhile, Englot had a roller coaster event winning her first couple games and then losing back-to-back qualifying games to fall into the last-chance C brackets. It could have been A-B-C-you-later but they bounced back and have now won three consecutive matches.
It’s been that kind of year for Team Englot as third Kate Cameron acknowledged they haven’t played their best at times but are looking to turn things around as they gear up for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
“We came out here and wanted to be loose,” Cameron said. “We didn’t really have any expectations. We haven’t had a great season. Going 2-0, I think we were pretty excited and then we kind of fell downward from there. I think we were putting too much pressure on ourselves to try and perform and we weren’t performing.
“We came into our C-qualifier, we hung out the night before, we relaxed, whatever, it is what it is. We wanted to get that win and I think we’re riding from there.”
Englot, who finished runner-up at the Scotties last season, received the Team Canada auto-berth with reigning champion Homan heading to the Winter Olympics instead.
Jones opened the semifinal scoring a deuce and with singles back-and-forth in two and three, the nine-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champion retained the two-point advantage up 3-1.
Englot took control from there with a three-ender in the fourth and a steal of one in five to extend her lead 5-3. Jones was forced to a single in six to close the gap to one, but it was all over after seven when Englot poured on the pressure big time tacking on a game-breaking five-ender.
“We were up one and Jenn is an aggressive curler, so I know that she’s going to get her steal or force us at best. You can never count them out,” Cameron said. “They’re so good, right? They’re so good at placing rocks and figuring plan Bs.”
The Meridian Canadian Open was tabbed as an Olympic preview and the men’s final is going to be just that between Peter de Cruz of Switzerland and Sweden’s Niklas Edin.
De Cruz booked a spot in his first-ever Grand Slam final with a 5-2 victory over 2014 Olympic gold medallist Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., while Edin edged Canada’s own Olympic rep Kevin Koe of Calgary 6-5 in an extra end.
Edin is a three-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champion winning his trio of titles in 2016-17 to also secure the Bonus Cup. The Karlstad-based club qualified via the C-side with an extra-end victory over Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and also needed overtime to solve the quarterfinal match with Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen.
The Geneva-based De Cruz crew went through the B brackets and beat Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher in the quarterfinals.
The women’s final goes down Sunday at Encana Arena at 10:30 a.m. MT (12:30 p.m. ET) followed by the men’s final at 2:30 p.m. MT (4:30 p.m. ET). Watch on Sportsnet and online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) or gsoc.yaretv.com (international).
The Meridian Canadian Open is the fourth tournament — and third major — of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season. The preliminary round featured a triple knockout format where teams had to win three games before they lost three in order to qualify for the playoffs.
NOTES: Winners of the Meridian Canadian Open earn berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup running April 24-29 at Calgary’s WinSport Arena. … Points are also up for grabs for the Bonus Cup, awarded to the overall season champions.