Alberta’s Darren Moulding skipped his rink out of the Coaldale and Airdrie Curling Clubs to an 8-5 victory over Ontario’s Cory Heggestad in the final of the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship on Saturday afternoon. In front of a packed Rideau Curling Club in Ottawa, Moulding made a hit on his first shot of the tenth end to run Ontario out of stones and claim his first national championship.
For Moulding, the victory came on the same sheet of ice where he lost to Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock in the final of the 2003 Canadian Juniors. “Even today I said ‘I’ve got some demons to clean out of my closet,’” he said. That game a decade ago is still difficult for the Alberta skip: “I missed a double in seven – I remember it like it was yesterday and for five or six years I couldn’t forgive myself for that, so this is kind of redemption for me.”
That redemption didn’t come easy, however, as the Ontario team, skipped by Cory Heggestad, put up quite the fight. The team from the Orillia Curling Club stole a point in the first end and Mouding admitted that his team was a little unnerved early on. “That first end was scary,” he said. “We just needed to get our feet under us a little bit and then all of sudden in the second end it was like we were back to our normal selves.”
Settling down allowed the team, featuring third Heather Jensen [Moulding’s sister], second Brent Hamilton, and lead Anna-Marie Moulding [Moulding’s wife], to score two in the second end, which, according Moulding, “really settled us down.”
The game featured plenty of rocks in play and difficult shots for both skips. In the fifth end, for example, Moulding missed an in-off from the 12-foot which could have led to a score of 5 or 6. Instead, Ontario stole a point and the game reached the halfway point tied at 3.
Up 6-5 in the 9th end, the game turned as Alberta stole 2 to take an 8-5 lead. The end featured a couple of bad breaks for Ontario, as both second Greg Balsdon and third Heather Graham had stones pick, leading to two big missed shots.
“The biggest turning point was stealing two in nine,” said Moulding. He acknowledged that there were “a couple bad breaks for Cory and his team there, but we played a really good end and had a steal set up.”
In the tenth end, Alberta ran Ontario out of rocks to earn the victory. As his final throw removed an Ontario stone, Moulding raised his hands in the air as his team started to celebrate in the house.
With the victory, the team earned two berths (two teams of two) into the Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship, which will also be played in Ottawa. Whether the team will take advantage of the opportunity to return to the nation’s capital in March is still to be seen, however. “I think we’re interested in coming back,” Moulding said, “but with all the time off with work [it’s tough to commit right now].”
As for whether the team will try to defend their title next November in North Bay, ON, Moulding was similarly non-committal: “We haven’t talked about any of that yet.”
Those decisions will be made in the next few months. For the time being, the team is content to celebrate being crowned Canadian champions.