SCOTTIES NOTES: Alberta, Selena Sturmay miss on chance to advance

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The nerves and the pressure of the moment seemed to finally get to Alberta skip Selena Sturmay.

It was a tough day at the office — when she couldn’t afford it — Saturday afternoon at the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

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“I think there was a little of both,” said Sturmay after the 6-4 loss in the Page playoff 3-v-4 elimination game. “We definitely came in wanting to play with no fear, but if we were saying we didn’t have nerves, we’d be lying.

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“Those nerves stemmed from a good place, though. We cared about that game, and we wanted to win.”

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Too many misses, especially from the skip herself, kept her from advancing to Sunday’s final day.

That after such a solid week to finish — to many people’s surprise — 7-1 in the round robin for first place in Pool A and through to the Page playoff after an elimination-game win Friday over Manitoba’s Kaitlyn Lawes.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet,” Sturmay said. “We definitely did not have our best game (Saturday), but you’ve got to give props to Kate Cameron’s team — they played really well. And at the end of the day, they were the better team, so they were deserving of that win.”

Sturmay tried to hit-and-roll with hammer to blank the first end but stuck around instead.

Then she flashed on a run-back with her last rock in the third end, giving Cameron a draw for three, which turned out to be the biggest moment of the game.

In four, Sturmay’s hammer throw failed to push an enemy rock off the button, allowing Manitoba to steal one.

And then in both the seventh and ninth ends — with the door cracked open a little for a possible comeback — the Alberta skip couldn’t stick around on hit-and-roll chances to pick up deuces.

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“It sucks that I didn’t have a good game,” said Sturmay, who finished with 84% accuracy, while third Danielle Schmiemann, second Dezaray Hawes and lead Paige Papley wrapped up the game with respective 94%, 81% and 91% totals.

“I feel like it was probably my worst game all week, but that’s just curling,” continued the skip of Edmonton’s Saville Community Sports Centre squad. “That’s the game — you are good some times, and you’re not good other times. So it’s just unfortunate.

“I think we were getting tricked with ice, just over-throwing and under-throwing. I think it was moreso just a precision thing on weight than how we were throwing the rock.”

The performance to end their team debut at the Scotties, however, shouldn’t make her feel any less proud of the accomplishment of the entire week as Alberta’s representative.

After all, it was quite a ride in front of a supportive home-province crowd.

“To do this well in this event, I think we’ve definitely put our name out there,” added Sturmay. “So I think people are going to recognize Team Sturmay from now on. At the end of the day, I’m just really happy with our performance and how everything went.

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“The girls curled amazing all week. It was definitely disappointing to lose in the 3-v-4 game. But we are a first-year team together, looking to build and grow and just look forward to next year.”

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Kate Cameron was the one feeling the warmth of Alberta support during the 2021 Scotties in the Calgary curling bubble, even though there was nobody in the arena to cheer her on due to COVID restrictions.

So perhaps it was strange after that experience and wearing Alberta colours for four years that she was considered the ‘villain’ Saturday at the Calgary-hosted Scotties Tournament of Hearts, playing the part to success with a 6-4 oust of the home-province squad.

“Noooo …” said Cameron, after the elimination game over Edmonton’s Selena Sturmay moved the Manitoba rink into Sunday’s final three at WinSport. “I played in Alberta for so long, and they have such good fan support. So you don’t feel that way.

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“It’s no secret they should be cheering on Sturmay.”

They were, which was admittedly a touch strange for Cameron’s second Kelsey Rocque, a native of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., who’s just a year removed from curling her entire career flying the Alberta flag.

“A little bit,” said Rocque, 29. “The crowd was definitely pro-Alberta, for good reason. Selena had a great week, and they were the home team. We talked about it before the game that we knew that there was going to be huge crowd support for the Alberta girls.

“I said to (lead) Mackenzie (Elias) when we were out there, ‘How cool would it be to be the home province?’ And that part of me, for sure, I always wanted to win Alberta.”

Cameron’s alternate, Taylor McDonald, is Alberta-born, as well, from Lethbridge, meaning the squad from Winnipeg Granite Curling Club has heavy Wild Rose roots and a few other connections to the province.

Perhaps the curling fans at WinSport can pick up on that for Sunday’s routing interests.

“I hope so,” added Rocque. “Tay and I can cover the Alberta bases for Manitoba, for sure. Alberta is a proud part of us.”

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Rocque and Schmiemann spent many years together trying to reach the Scotties as a team based out of Edmonton.

It took a split and joining other rinks to get them to their goal and deep into the national championship.

So it was a strange feeling, indeed, for the good friends to finally meet up in Saturday afternoon’s elimination draw.

“It was hard not playing with her this year,” said Rocque, admitting to holding back tears when talking about their separate curling paths. “We’re both each other’s maid of honours in a couple of months. So that was a really hard game to play.”

Rocque was the skip and Schmiemann the third on a women’s team that consistently flirted with winning Alberta for five consecutive years through the 2022-23 season, after which Rocque moved to Carberry, Man., and joined Beth Peterson’s team and then — ultimately — Cameron’s crew for this run with a pregnant McDonald nearing her due date.

“They had a heck of a week here,” added Rocque of Schmiemann and Alberta. “We kind of joked that we hadn’t had a chance to play each other yet this year. And, of course, it had to be the 3-v-4 game at Scotties when we did. So I will 100 per cent admit that I was nervous for that game just for that reason. That’s a really good friend of mine.”

Rocque and Schmiemann were also Canadian and world junior queens together back in 2015.

Macdonald also skipped under Rocque for six years through junior and women’s campaigns but never in the same lineup as Schmiemann.

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