Heather Graham joins Canadian Mixed Curling championship rink

MONTREAL—Heather Graham, originally from Gore Bay, but who now lives in Barrie, is a member of the Ontario team that won the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship last Saturday afternoon at the TMR Curling Club in Montreal.

“It was a bit of a blur, it was a long week, but certainly winning was an incredible experience,” stated Ms. Graham on Monday after returning home. She is vice on the team that is skipped by Cory Heggestad, and also includes Greg Balsdon (second) and Amy McKay (lead). The team defeated Nova Scotia’s Brent MacDougall rink 10-3 in the championship game on Saturday afternoon.

“We were certainly well taken care of during the week and it was neat to curl against teams from all the provinces. Everyone was down to earth. It was great to meet new people on the teams and every one of the teams is great; anyone could have won the whole thing,” said Ms. Graham.

The Heggestad team posted a nine-win/two-loss record in the round robin. In their semi-final game they had to play against the home team, Quebec’s Mike Fournier skipped rink. “We played a tight game against Quebec, they were the home team, and people were on the ice cheering and blowing horns in support of them,” said Ms. Graham. “Cory, our skip, is from British Columbia and his family was there, and the teams had all their family members there. My sister Jennifer and mom and dad (Julie and Roy) were there, cheering us on. It was great. After we beat Quebec they convinced some of the fans from Quebec to let them use their horns, so they could make noise in the final.”

The Canadian Curling Association (CCA) website explained, “tonight’s semi final was action packed with terrific shots and unusual scenarios” with the Ontario rink edging Quebec 9-8 in an extra end.

The Heggestad rink fell behind 4-1 after four ends but came back with three in the fifth end to tie the game, and then the Ontario rink took their first lead of the game 6-5 in the seventh end.

Ontario led 8-6 going to the final end, but the Quebec rink countered with two points to tie things up again and force an extra end, where Ontario prevailed.

Team Ontario played Nova Scotia’s Brent MacDougall in the final of the 50th edition of the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship, dominating Nova Scotia in a 10-3 to win.

The CCA website reported, “Heggestad and teammates Heather Graham, Greg Balsdon and Amy Mackay stole a single in the first end then grabbed two more points in the third to lead 3-1. MacDougall had to draw a full four foot in the fourth end for his single, but was light, allowing Ontario a steal of two points to lead 5-1, an advantage they would not relinquish.”

Steals in the fifth and sixth boosted the score to 9-1. MacDougall scored a deuce in the 7th to make it 9-3. Heggestad clinched the tie with a single in the 8th and the game was over at 10-3.

“We all came to play in the final game,” stated Ms. Graham. “This was the best game for our team by far, we weren’t missing anything. We all came together to win. Nova Scotia was first in the round robin, so they had a bye to the final and two days of no curling; so going in to the final they were a little colder than we were, having to play all weekend.”

“This is the first year our team has been together,” said Ms. Graham. “Cory and I have curled awhile together, and Amy and Greg are married. It is amazing to share a moment like this with a team like this, and family, people you love.”

Ms. Graham explained, “our goal was to get into the playoffs, and we had a rough start losing our first game.” A game against Manitoba was the catalyst for the Ontario team, she said. “We were down 7-0 after two ends to Manitoba, but came back to win 10-8. That was a huge momentum boost for us.”

This is only the third mixed championship win for the province of Ontario. The Ontario team had qualified for the nationals, after capturing this year’s provincial mixed championship title in Brockville in April.

 Tom Sasvari