Canada struck gold at the 23rd Winter Universiade Games in Torino, Italy, thanks to the women's curling team from the University of Calgary.
The Winter Universiade Games are the equivalent of the Olympics for university students. The successful team consisted of skip Brittany Gregor, Katrine Fisette, Heather Hansen and Hayley Pattison and was coached by Colin Blyth. Canada defeated Russia 6-5 in the final on Fri., Jan. 26.
Canada started the tournament with six straight wins before losing to China, Sweden and Russia, but still finished the round-robin by achieving the team goal of going 6-3.
"We started off really strongly," commented Fisette. "We were even a little bit surprised with ourselves winning six in a row."
Fisette mentioned that the team was a little flat and tired in the last few games.
"I think it gave us some motivation in the semi-final and final to face the teams we just lost to," she said.
The team headed into the playoffs with a one day break and managed to regroup, coming up with a huge win in the semi-finals versus Sweden. In a game where single points were traded back and forth, Canada was down three points heading into the tenth end. The team needed three points just to tie and take it to extra ends, but the ladies managed to take four points and win.
"We played the last end really well and kept a lot of our rocks in [the] front [of the house]" said Gregor. "[Sweden] ended up flashing on [their] last chance and we had the draw for four."
Canada then went on to play Russia in the final. Russia was represented by the same team they brought to the '06 Torino Olympics. Just like the semi-final versus Sweden, the match with
See GOLD, page 26
Russia proved to be equally dramatic. Down by two in the sixth, Canada managed to head into the tenth and final end tied at five with the Canadians holding hammer. Gregor had to make her last shot of the game to give her team the victory. The shot was successful and Canada took the gold.
To qualify to represent Canada in Italy, the team first had to compete against teams from across the country at the Canadian University Nationals in Winnipeg.
"We just decided it would be a fun thing to do, so we went [to Nationals]," said Gregor. "When we walked into the actual facility [in Italy], I got goose bumps. There was all the flags of all the countries and it actually hit me that we were playing in Italy."
The team played in the same venue where Canada won two gold medals in curling at the Olympics one year ago.
As the ladies move out of the junior stage of their curling careers, they admitted university was going to be a large focus of their time for now, knowing there will be plenty of years to achieve other goals, including playing at the Scott Tournament of Hearts and ultimately the Olympics.