(CCA) Suddenly, Amber Holland needs a double garage.
The skip of the Saskatchewan team at the 2010 Scotties at the Essar Centre executed a perfect last-rock double-takeout which vaulted her into the driver’s seat of a brand new Taurus in Saturday’s Ford Hot Shots finale.
Holland already drives of 2006 Mitsubishi Outlander, an all-wheel drive vehicle perfect for Saskatchewan winters. Now she also has a two-year lease on the 2010 Taurus.
Holland, who doubles as executive-director of the Saskatchewan Curling Association, defeated Ontario lead Kari MacLean of Thunder Bay 21-18 in the Hot Shots wrap-up. MacLean took the lead on the first shot of the points competition with a draw to the button and the advantage see-sawed back and forth between the two on every subsequent shot.
Holland reaped a five-point reward from her double-kill to complete the assignment. MacLean then drew a blank on the same shot.
So what’s Holland going to do with the new unit and how will she split the spoils with her rinkmates?
“I don’t know,” she said. “I’ll probably drive it. Actually, I guess I get the car pool for the next two years. I’ll be picking up everybody and driving everywhere we go. Sometimes I drive when we’re on the road. Now it’s going to be full-time.”
Holland and lead Heather Kalenchuk reside in Regina while the Schneider sisters, third Kim and second Tammy, are from Kronau, a handful of kilometres southeast of the Queen City. All are appearing in their initial Scotties.
Ironically, the Schneiders’ father and uncles made their only Brier appearance at the Sault back in 1990 and compiled a 6-6 record. They are leading the Saskatchewan cheerleading brigade at the Scotties.
But while Holland considers the Hot Shots victory a good omen of sorts — “why not? she asks — it really doesn’t take away from the Scotties job at hand.
“It’s nice to win the competition, I’m just glad I executed enough shots,” said Holland, who favoured the out-turn on her shots. “I really didn’t expect to win it. But there’s a whole lot of games left to happen. We have to do what we came here to do. It hasn’t got anything to do with winning a car.”
Holland’s wasn’t as lucky in her first game at the Scotties, losing 10-3 to PEI’s Kathy O’Rourke rink (more on this in a later story).
Back at the Hot Shots, Holland tied with MacLean at 16 points in the quarter-finals behind Tammy Schneider (25) and Winnipeg’s Jill Thurston (21).
Eliminated were Friday’s preliminary leader Dawn Askin of Team Canada with 13 points, Quebec’s Brenda Nicholls with 14, Manitoba’s Kristen Phillips with 13 and Territories lead Danielle Ellis with 10.
In the semi-finals, Holland and MacLean set up the tight final by matching 24-point performances. Thurston logged 19 points and Schneider faltered to a mere 12.
MacLean won $2,000 for her runner-up finish while Thurston, the Manitoba skip, claimed $1,000.
The shotmaking competition requires curlers to execute six shots: Hit-and-stay, draw-the-button, draw-the-port, raise, hit-and-roll and double takeout. Each shot is awarded points on a scale from 0-5, rating the success of each.
Sweepers were allowed for the final rounds Saturday but were not involved in the preliminaries.
The Ford of Canada Taurus has an approximate retail value in excess of $25,000. The vehicle features a 3.5L V6 engine with 6-speed automatic transmission.
The only two-time winner in the history of the event was Kelley Law of Vancouver, the B.C. runner-up this year and 2002 Canadian Olympic skip.
Other previous winners:
Kelli Turpin, formerly of Inuvik N.W.T., Sherry Fraser and Kristy Lewis of Richmond, B.C., Marcy Balderston of Grande Prairie, Kay Montgomery, playing out of Prince Albert, Gerri Cooke of Minnedosa, MB, Andrea Lawes of Toronto, Jenn Hanna of Ottawa, Allison (Franey) Farrell of Saint John, Suzanne (Gaudet) Birt of Charlottetown, Colleen Jones of Halifax and last year’s winner and current Olympic skip Cheryl Bernard of Calgary.
For the second consecutive year, Ford and the Canadian Curling Association are promoting an interactive on-line version of the Hot Shots skills competition.
Curling fans have a chance to win a two-year lease on a 2010 Ford Taurus, an autographed Team Canada curling jacket, full event VIP passes to the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier in London,Ont., Nintendo Wii and gift certificates to the Online Store of the Canadian Curling Association’s Season of Champions.
The Ford on-line game culminated last year with a one-game playoff in the Ford Worlds (men’s) at Moncton after approximately 27,000 participants had played a total of over 1.6 million games. Dan Sherrard of Edmonton was the inaugural winner.
Similarly, once the current contest closes on March 14, two finalists will be flown to Swift Current, SK, site of the 2010 Ford Worlds (women’s), March 20-28, for a one game playoff.
All information, including rules, regulations, player registration and game instructions are available at FordHotShots.curling.ca.