From tenth end despair to extra-end ecstasy.
Manitoba skip Kerri Einarson delivered a precise game-winning last shot when it mattered most on Sunday night in Moose Jaw, drawing to the button to win the 2020 Scotties championship in a heart-stopping finish, 8-7 over Ontario.
But just rocks earlier, Einarson had the same shot to win the Scotties.
Leading 7-5 with the hammer in the tenth end, Einarson threw her last draw heavy, allowing Rachel Homan to steal two and force the extra-end.
It was a stunning twist. And Manitoba had to quickly regain their composure.
“We just said we would take this situation against one of the best teams in the world,” Einarson said.
WATCH | Manitoba wins Scotties in thrilling fashion:
And then she had the same shot in the extra-end.
“I took a deep breath and focused on what I needed to do. I wanted to make it a team shot and bring my sweepers into play,” Einarson said.
This time she made no mistake with all the pressure in the world riding on her shoulders. It was remarkable poise in a position many wouldn’t be able to deliver in with some much at stake.
“Relief. Joy as well. I’m so excited right now,” Einarson said, tears in her eyes.
“This means the world to me. I really wanted to do this for myself and for my teammates.”
Team Manitoba is now Team Canada next month at the women’s World Curling Championship in Prince George.
Einarson raced to her two twins daughters, Khloe and Kamryn, after the victory squeezing them as tears streamed down her face.
“Hugging them after a win means so much more rather than the sad tears. Having them here, my family, my friends surprised me and drove here this morning, means everything. If I didn’t have this support, I wouldn’t be able to chase my dreams,” she said.
Val Sweeting, who grew up in Maryfield, SK., had been to two previous Scotties finals, skipping Alberta to the championship game in back-to-back years in 2014 and 2015.
But she suffered losses in both.
This third time, as the third for Einarson, she finally won the Scotties.
“There were dark days and you wonder how you keep going. You tell yourself one day it’ll pay off. It did today,” Sweeting said, crying.
“I’m very proud of myself and I owe a lot to my teammates. It’s really special.”
Fear and doubt crept into the mind of Sweeting for a slight second in the tenth as she watched Einarson’s rock slide too deep.
“For a second I thought, that sucks but I knew we’d regroup,” Sweeting said.
She was overrun with emotion after the win, reflecting on her journey to this point and thinking about all those people who helped her finally win the Scotties.
“A lot of support from my family. Teammates. And past teammates. You just have to keep going,” Sweeting said.
“My son Jackson. I spend a lot of time away from him but he’s here tonight. This is so special.”
Disappointment continues for Homan
For the second-straight Scotties Rachel Homan and her team from Ottawa have lost the championship game in an extra-end.
Last year in Sydney, N.S., they were in control of the game leading 5-2 at the break before giving up steals in four of the last five ends and a final steal in the extra-end.
And now this.
“It sucks to lose, but it’s awesome to lose to such a good team,” Homan said. “They’re going to be great representatives for Canada and good luck to them.
“We fought right to the end. In the end, she made a great shot.”
Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle were looking to capture their fourth team title.
But despite another difficult loss, Homan provided sobering perspective after the game.
“It means we’re right there. That’s curling. It’s a game of inches and a game of one shot here and there. We’re excited we’re right there. One shot here and there and we’d be the next ones to wear the Maple Leaf on our backs. We’re happy with our performance this week. There’s a lot of teams that would have wanted to be in that final.”
“Really proud of the girls, they battled hard right to the end.”
All-skip team shines at Scotties
Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur all skipped different teams in 2017-18 before joining forces.
Eyebrows were raised across the curling world when they got together, many questioning how successful they could be.
They’ve silenced any critics in a hurry.
They only lost two games all week in Moose Jaw.
Einarson was a skip on a mission and she wasn’t going to be denied at this year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
She curled 94 per cent on Saturday night just to get into the final.
The Selkirk-native put together a highlight reel of sensational shots in the playoffs at the Scotties.
“Out there I’m calm and cool but I’m an emotional person. When I’m on the ice I’m focused and worried about curling,” she said.
Once upon a time during this year’s Scotties in Moose Sask., Einarson and her Manitoba team made history by giving up a jaw-dropping seven ender to New Brunswick, eventually losing the game 13-7.
It was their first loss at the event.
It could have easily been a turning point in their pursuit of Scotties glory. Instead, they brushed it aside.
“What seven,” Einarson said.
They brushed aside one more granite-shaking moment, that shocking steal of two, unfazed by it all.
Now they’re Scotties champions.