Cold Lake skip wins Airdrie World Curling Tour event
Though he was pleased about winning the McKee Homes Fall Curling Classic at the Airdrie Curling Club on Oct. 27, Cold Lake skip Matt Blandford was more proud of the fact that he and his team were the inaugural winners of the World Curling Tour (WCT) event.
“Any time that you can win a WCT bonspiel, it’s something that you take a lot of pride in,” Blandford said. “But to win an inaugural event here in Airdrie is something that is pretty unique to accomplish.”
Blandford, who is joined on his team by third Darren Moulding, second Brent Hamilton, and lead Brad Chyz, took home the title and the $4,000 first-place prize that went with it thanks to a 7-4 win in the final over Josh Lambden’s rink from Airdrie.
“We were a pretty steady team throughout the entire weekend,” Blandford said. “We had our ups and downs, but we played well in all of the aspects of the game, and we hung in there to get the win.”
After falling behind 2-0 in the first two ends, Blandford took the lead away from Lambden in the third end, as he picked up three big points.
“We were just all over them in that end, and we actually had a chance to get four points,” Blandford said. “However, we were still happy to get those three points and take the lead.”
The turning point of the contest happened on Lambden’s final shot in the fourth end, as he had to make a draw into the four-foot in order to prevent Blandford from extending his lead.
But as soon as he released the stone from his hand, it caught something on the ice and slowed dramatically, which allowed Blandford to extend his lead to a 6-2 margin.
“The draw was a tough one, but I felt that I could make it and tie the game as a result,” Lambden said. “The stone just caught a bit of a flat spot on the ice and picked, which was disappointing, as I felt that the game could of gone right until the very last shot of the game if that didn’t happen.”
With a win in Airdrie and a quarterfinal finish at the Point Optical Curling Classic in Saskatoon in September, Blandford is hoping to keep up his momentum for the rest of the year, to qualify for the Alberta men’s provincial curling championships in February.
“Any win is a good one, but especially when you have one like this early in the year,” Blandford said. “If we can continue to build on this going forward, we should be in good shape for the rest of the season.”