First off, apologies to everyone who wondered where I wandered off to. I went home this weekend to go curling in a local bonspiel (tournament) with my team from two years ago. We just lost on the A-side semifinals, and it feels bittersweet to me.
First the good. I'm so proud of the four of us. We can back together after a season away from each other and we took a perennial provincial qualifier right into the last shot of the extra end. We made the semifinals and to get there we beat a different junior provincial champion. We were under pressure from the other teams right from game one on Friday and we held together and kept each other's spirits up, even in the grim moments we had at different points in the weekend.
I've been curling for fifteen years now, and I will never, ever curl as well as I did this weekend ever again. Something changed in me this weekend, and maybe it was the fact that this was supposed to be fun and none of the usual attendant pressure was with me in the competition, but I was utterly at ease and was making shots that world champions hesitate on. I made it look easy this weekend, and for once I didn't get down on myself when I did miss a shot or two. This weekend was a test for me to see if I could honestly compete with people at a provincial championship and who are the top calibre players in the province. The fact that I kept pace with these people made me feel good about myself, and even if it ends up being fleeting and I never get it back, I know that I have that capacity within me to shine and lead the way. As time goes on I'll forget the individual shots that were made or missed, but I won't forget this feeling of being so completely at ease and simply knowing that I could do anything.
My team was magnificent, I couldn't ask for three better people to play with again. All three rose to the occasion and being around people who accept me for who I am made all of this worthwhile. My boys are crazy, but playing with them made a good weekend that much better. A special shoutout to my one teammate who hadn't even played since the last time we were all together, and who shook the rust off in plenty of time for us to push towards playoff Sunday.
With all of the fun that I had and the memories I made, I'd be remiss unless I reflected on the things that just didn't work out.
Losing hurt. Losing by half an inch in the extra end hurt more. The part that kills me is that's on me. A split second lapse in judgment and a second's worth of hesitation cost us a chance at the championship finals. I compounded that error by not pressing the option I had to measure, even though I was pretty sure that we still would have lost. I should have asked for a measure, as it could have given us a win.
There were some ugly misses along with my good shotmaking, and it is to my detriment that I wasn't able to correct those mistakes even during the game. It was a consistent inability to read the ice and get a handle on the weight for the shots being called, and it very nearly cost us our early games as well.
I was disappointed by the amount of drinking done by my teammates. I don't drink, and while I understand that other younger people like to drink on the weekends and at events like this, we're still also competitors. There's no need to have multiple pitchers of beer in a single night, especially when we've got a game the following morning. That couldn't have benefited their play, and of course we'll never know how things could have gone down if everyone had been completely sober.
I'm glad I came down, and I proved a lot to myself this weekend. But I won't deny that this hurt more than I thought it would to get so close and fall short.