A Satisfying Long Weekend

My weekend started around 10am on Friday, when I left work to make the first trip up to the curling club.  It would be a long three days.

I was playing with two people I had never met before: Alan, a Canadian who lives in Baltimore and hadn’t played in a while, and Sarah, an Alaskan who has been driving around the east coast and Tennessee playing in various bonspiels.  Along the way, we picked up people to fill in for our fourth spot, who was originally going to be Alan’s wife, since she couldn’t make it.

We had no idea what to expect when we started, so Alan skipped us in the first game and I played third.  We ended up losing that game, not surprisingly, since the other team was playing well, and we had never played together before.  Afterward, Alan asked if I would skip the team the rest of the way, since he was just feeling rusty.  So, thrust into the spotlight, I was put in charge for the rest of the weekend.  The move seemed great when we won our 4pm game fairly easily, scoring 5 points in one end and 4 in another, then playing defense the rest of the way to stay out of trouble.  Our reward? An 8am start Saturday morning, lose and go home.

But before that, I hopped in the car and raced home to get changed for the Girl Scouts’ Daddy-Daughter dance.  Ellie was all dressed up, and I even put on a tie for the occasion.  We do have some pictures to share, but in the hubbub of the weekend, we did not have the chance to get them on the computer (there should also be pictures from the curling up soon).  We had a lot of fun, and I was glad that the schedule worked out to allow me to attend the dance.  Also fortunate for me was the fact that Michigan State didn’t play until after the dance was over, so I got to watch a very tightly played game against Kansas.  The local affiliate was even nice enough to realize that North Carolina wasn’t going to lose a 20 point lead, and quickly switched back to MSU-KU for most of the second half.  A great comeback sent the Spartans to the Elite Eight, and me to bed happy.

Up early the next morning, I had breakfast with Ellie before heading out to the curling club once again.  This time, we were on fire and blew the doors off of our opponent, even though we only had three players (shockingly, no one wanted to get up and play with us at 8am!).  Shortly thereafter, I had to head home to try to take care of a plumbing problem.  Our laundry tub had backed up and flooded the basement.  Conveniently, the same drain also services the kitchen sink and dishwasher.  I managed to take apart some pipes to try to get direct access to the clog, but my snaking abilities were lacking, and despite hours of trying and a trip to Home Depot for more gear, I was unable to fix the clog.  It is still not fixed, so we are probably going to have to call a real plumber.

On to Saturday evening, and we played a team of pretty good players from our club, including my skip from previous bonspiels, and one of the players who filled in for us on Friday.  Things were looking grim as we were down by three points (or was it only two? I can’t remember) with only two ends to play.  Through some good shotmaking, we managed to tie the game going into the last end.  Unfortunately, the other team had the last rock advantage.  My lead and second played their shots perfectly, just how you draw it up: two guards on the center line, followed by two draws around in the house to lie two.  The other team never managed to remove more than one of our rocks at a time, so when my turn came, I was throwing up more guards, and they were left with trying some crazy triple takeouts and a tight draw to try to save the game.  They didn’t make them, and we moved on to play again, at 10:15pm.  Did I mention that the previous two games were lose and go home?  Thankfully, the 10:15pm game, coming at the end of a long day that started at 8am, was not an elimination game, because we were worn out.  Early on, we had some momentum, and actually had a one point lead after 4 ends.  But we started to tire, and I missed some potentially game-saving takeouts and the game was lost, and our opponents went on to win the second event the next day.  I stumbled into bed just after 1am.

Back again Sunday morning at 9am.  My buddy Jeremy was good enough to fill in for us Sunday, and if we won, we would get the privilege of being piped onto the ice for a final game at noon, and be assured of winning a pin.  The problem? Standing in our way was a team that had just lost in the main event’s semifinal. Translation: they were good.  But we turned out to be a bit better.  We played a great game, and again it came down to the last two ends.  We managed to take a three point lead after the seventh end, and all we had to do was keep knocking out their rocks until they ran out.  My team did a great job of this, and when it came to my turn I had two chances to get rid of just one of the opponent’s rocks.  Naturally I choked and missed both times.  Ugh.  Unfortunately, the opposing skip sailed his last shot through the house, and we escaped with a one point victory, not the way we intended though.

On to the finals, our seventh game in three long days.  On the other side, a grizzled veteran from Ardsley, NY playing with some relatively new curlers.  I was a little nervous to start, but got the jitters out quickly once we walked out onto the ice following the bagpipers.  The shot of Drambuie probably helped a little bit with the nerves.  The game went back and forth and yet again, came down to the last two ends.  Things were looking rough for a while, and honestly, I wish I could remember what happened a little better.  I do remember that I managed to make a couple of really great game saving shots.  In particular, I really had my draw weight down pat and was putting the rocks at exactly the right distance that I wanted them to be.  In the final end, we had managed to clutter up the front while protecting our rocks in the house, a perfect setup to steal away the win.  The opposing skip’s last rock came up just short of where it needed to be, and we had won the fourth event final, and I had my first gold “medal” as a skip.  What a fun experience!

And yet, the weekend wasn’t over yet.  At 4:45pm, I had to play in the finals of my regular Sunday league.  So I hung around the curling club and watched the conveniently scheduled Michigan State-Louisville basketball game.  Thankfully, after all the drama of the weekend, MSU handily trounced the Cardinals to advance to the Final Four!  Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to watch the games in Ireland.  The places we’re staying all have cable or satellite, but I’m not sure whether they’ll be showing the games live or not.  Once the game was over, it was out to the ice for one last game.  It was no contest.  The team played great and we were up 8-1 when we decided to have some fun.  We let our rookie players call the shots and see what it was like from the other end of the ice.  It was a lot of fun and a great way to end the weekend.  I got home, got the kids to bed and pretty much passed out from exhaustion.  What a weekend!

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