Team Brown found itself in the throes of dumbfounding pebbled-ice desolation on Sunday in Chilliwack, reeling from an extra-end setback that dynamited its aspirations to compete at home next month at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the national women’s curling championship.
“My heart breaks for them,” Brown coach Jim Cotter told KTW. “It breaks my heart for the city of Kamloops. They left it all out there. They played their hearts out. I couldn’t be more proud of them for that.”
Team Grandy of Vancouver Curling Club scored one in the 11th end to prevail 10-9 over Brown in the Scotties B.C. Women’s Curling Championship final and punch its ticket to nationals, which will run from Feb. 17 to Feb. 26 at Sandman Centre.
“The sun still came up, so that was good,” Brown third Erin Pincott told KTW with a laugh on Monday morning, chuckling at her own gallows humour. “The disappointment is pretty raw. I don’t actually fully know yet if it has sunk in. It will be a bit sad when the Scotties are going on here and we’re not a part of them.”
Skip Clancy Grandy, third Kayla MacMillan, second Lindsay Dubue and lead Sarah Loken surrendered five points in the third end, but recovered from the 5-3 deficit to avenge a pair of defeats to Brown earlier in the event — 12-8 in the 1 vs. 2 game and 10-8 in the A Event final.
“It probably doesn’t come around again in my curling career, so that’s probably the part that stings the most right now and will sting over the next however many weeks leading up to the Scotties,” Pincott said.
“I’m sure I’ll go watch. Right now, I don’t want to, but I know I will. I’ve got some friends from across the country that will be playing, so I’ll be supporting them, and Kamloops always shows up for good tournaments.”
Second Dezaray Hawes and lead Samantha Fisher round out the Brown quartet, the Kamloops Curling Club rink whose absence at the national Scotties will do favours for neither ticket sales nor tournament organizers.
“A couple missed, key shots here and there,” said Brown, noting her appreciation for fans and sponsors. “We definitely had our opportunities and, at times, we didn’t capitalize when we needed to. That was really the difference, some opportunities we’d like back, for sure.”
Cotter, a 10-time Brier veteran, took over coaching duties for Team Brown in time for the 2022-2023 campaign and watched the rink roll through the B.C. championship tournament, posting a 4-0 record en route to the final.
“They were, in my opinion, the best team that week,” said Cotter, a Kamloops product who lives in Vernon. “It’s tough to beat a really good team three times.
“One thing about coaching is I’m still competing. You understand how they feel. I felt terrible for them because they played really, really well and could have easily pulled that game out and won it.”
The B.C. Men’s Curling Championship ran concurrently with the Scotties at the Chilliwack Curling Club.
Cotter was on double duty, coaching Team Brown and skipping his own rink, which includes third Grant Olsen of Kamloops.
Team Cotter was ousted in the semifinal round by 2022 B.C. champion Team Pierce, which includes second Jared Kolomaya, a Kamloopsian who is married to Fisher, the Brown rink’s second.
“It’s funny,” Kolomaya said. “Sam made the comment that misery loves company.”
Team Gauthier scored three in the ninth end and held on to scuttle Pierce 8-5 in the men’s provincial final, dashing Kolomaya’s hopes for back-to-back Brier appearances.
“It was a sad drive home, but we lean on each other pretty hard in times like these,” Kolomaya said. “You just have to move on to the next one.
“It’s the joy of sports. Sometimes, it’s great. Sometimes, it’s not great. That’s why we keep coming back.”
Skip Gauthier, third Sterling Middleton, second Jason Ginter, lead Alex Horvath and coach Bryan Miki of Victoria Curling Club will represent B.C. at the Tim Hortons Brier, which is scheduled to run from March 3 to March 12 in London, Ont.
Brown said a heartfelt meeting among teammates followed the devastating defeat, a time to reflect on major strides in a great season that ended in gut-wrenching fashion
“It’s definitely a tough one to take,” Brown said. “Definitely leaning on each other is huge. I know all of us really lean on our spouses. We’re really fortunate to have a really great relationship among our team, Jim included.”
Consequential defeat can stick with athletes forever, moments of misery that fade, but never quite lose their sting.
This one hurts — and the 2023 Scotties will always be the one that got away.
But the sun did show up on Monday morning, as Pincott pointed out, and so did the army of Brown-rink backers who love their team rain or shine.
“It’s tough for the girls,” Kolomaya said. “They were really looking forward to the hometown Scotties. They would have been the toast of the town, those girls, for sure, but it’s just unfortunate.
“Sometimes, they just don’t go your way.”