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March 27, 2007 > California curlers open some eyes

California curlers open some eyes

By Biff Jones

San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club's (SFBACC) Mixed Team (two men and two women) traveled to Grafton, ND last week to compete in the U.S. Mixed Curling National Championship against seven other teams from across the country. Team California was ranked eighth or last in the eight team competition and wanted to prove that were much better than their ranking.

In the first round of the tournament, called "pool play," SFBACC got off to a slow start by losing is first three games to teams from Washington, Maryland and Wisconsin. After the initial three losses, the team stormed back into contention by beating Alaska, North Dakota, Minnesota and Ohio to end up 4-3 in pool play; good enough for final spot in the semi-finals.

Their opponent would be the Medford Curling Club of Wisconsin, the tournament's number one seed, and the first place team after pool play. Determined to prove their four-game winning streak was no fluke, the three Californians from the land of sunshine and surf along with their loner from the state of Washington, shocked the curlers from the snow north, defeating the Wisconsin club 7-5 to move into the championship game against Vice-Skip Christina Pastula's, home team, Granite Curling Club of Seattle. Pastula was on loan to SFBACC in accordance with U.S. Curling regulations. Now Pastula would be competing for gold against her fellow curlers from Seattle.

In the final, Team California started strong by taking a 4-2 lead after four of ten ends. Now it was the Granite Club's turn to strike as they tied the score 4-4 with two points in the fifth end and took the lead with three in the sixth end. The Bay Area club would get one back in the eighth end to trim the lead to 7-5, but the team from Washington closed out the scoring with two in the ninth end for a final of 9-5. It was a great, great run for Team California. They definitely made believers out of their fellow-curlers and will earn a much better seeding next time around.

Congratulations to Skip, Lyle Sieg of Castro Valley; Vice-Skip, Pastula; Second, Brannon Wells; and Lead, Candace Seip; both of San Jose, on a second place finish at the U.S. Curling Mixed Team Nationals.

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