Curlers' provincial dreams put on ice
Curling: Team Libbus bounced from C-event at districts
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013 06:00 am
Diamond Valley curlers saw their provincial dreams dashed at the district stage in High River on Sunday.
There will be no repeat run to the Alberta Championships in 2013 as Team Libbus, out of the Oilfields Curling Club, failed to qualify out of the Southern Alberta Curling Association (SACA) districts on Sunday at the Highwood Curling Club.
“We tried to take extra steps this year to get there, but we don’t expect to get to provincials every year because it’s such a tough field in Alberta,” said skip Mike Libbus. “It’s still disappointing though because our ultimate goal this season was to get back there.”
It was a magical 2012 season for Team Libbus who defied the odds to qualify through a packed field at the southern playdowns to advance to the championships in Camrose.
The Oilfields curlers, this year composed of Libbus, lead Peter Keenan, second Brad MacInnis and new fourth Sean Morris, couldn’t match last year’s success at districts when former skip Matt Blandford was throwing last rock.
“I felt like some of us were playing better this year than in the past,” Libbus said. “But if you’re on the wrong side of the inch, or maybe with some strategy issues or some execution at the wrong time with missing some key shots.
“We’re not totally disappointed in the season in the way we played. It’s just disappointing with the results.”
Team Libbus started brightly in High River winning its opener 6-4 over the Knihnistki rink out of the Calgary Club on Friday.
However, it would be the only triumph on the weekend for the Diamond Valley team.
In the semifinal of the A-event, Libbus was matched up against Senior curler Paul Gowsell. The Calgary-based chucker, infamous as a rebellious force in curling in the 1970s and 80s, showed his two-time World Junior Champion pedigree in soundly defeating Libbus 14-9 on Jan. 5.
The loss pushed Team Libbus to a B-event showdown with Calgary’s Kevin Yablonski. The foothills curlers fell behind 5-1 after five ends, clawed back, but were eventually upended by an 8-4 margin.
“We were familiar with a lot of the teams there,” Libbus said. “A lot of those teams have played on the tour (World Curling Tour). You just have to bring your A-game playing against those guys at any time and we didn’t seem to show up until the second half of games.”
A last chance at qualification through the C-event followed as Libbus and Calgary’s Sterling Hansen met on Sunday afternoon with the winner moving on to southerns.
After a scoreless first end, Hansen dotted the ice with yellow granite in the second and picked up five points in what turned out to be the difference in the 9-5 win for the Calgarian.
“Our goal going into it wasn’t to fall behind early and then we figured we would be okay,” Libbus said. “The second end got away from us. A couple missed shots, a little bit of poor execution and it seemed to fall apart after that. It’s hard to comeback when you give up five.”
The early exit from the competitive playdowns will slow down the next few weeks of action for the Black Diamond team. However, the skip is already eager for a shot at redemption in 2013-14.
“Right now we’re just going to stick locally and try and play in some other events close by and maybe start attending some of the events as spectators,” Libbus said. “We will get everything straightened out and make sure we’re ready to go for next year.”