Changing of the guard: Bottcher beats Howard to claim last Olympic trials spot

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Brendan Bottcher hadn’t even been born when Glenn Howard already captured his first Brier and world championship, but on Sunday night in Summerside, P.E.I., there was a changing of the curling guard.

The 25-year-old skip from Edmonton defeated the 55-year-old curling legend to earn the final spot at the Olympic trials in Ottawa. After the game Bottcher couldn’t stop smiling.

“Amazing,” he said. “We came into this game and tried to lower our expectations. When you win and you’re in the trials it’s huge.”

It was a back and forth battle until the last shot of the game when Howard attempted to make a miracle shot to force an extra end. His rock careened off the guard, sealing the 9-5 B-Side final victory for Bottcher.

Brendan Bottcher captures final men’s berth at Canadian Olympic curling trials1:01

“They only lost two games all week and those were against us. They had a great week,” Bottcher said. “And that means a lot. I think they put up on the TV here during our game he had been in six Roar of the Rings in a row.”

Howard, 55, said before the pre-trials that this would be his last attempt at making the Olympics for Canada. He will be at the Games however as a coach of Eve Muirhead’s rink.

But Bottcher, alongside third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin now have dreams of wearing the maple leaf at the Games. 

“I expect we can win it but I don’t think anyone else thinks we can win it. And that’s big for us,” Bottcher said. 

Earlier on Sunday, John Morris guided his team to a 4-3 over victory over Bottcher in the A-Side final to book a spot in the trials. It was a back and forth game in which only single points were scored throughout the game. 

It was a pressure-packed scenario to get the win Morris says will serve his team well going into Ottawa.

“I’m proud of my team for hanging in there and gut-checking,” Morris said. “The more big games you get to the more you learn. 

Morris is no stranger to the Olympic trials. He won a gold medal in Vancouver with Kevin Martin at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Four years ago he took a similar path as this year, qualifying through the pre-trials before losing in the trials final to Brad Jacobs.

“We are 100 per cent convinced we can win this or I wouldn’t be curling right now,” Morris said. 

Men’s teams already qualified for Olympic trials:

Reid Carruthers, Winnipeg
John Epping, Toronto
Brad Gushue, St. John’s, N.L.
Brad Jacobs, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Kevin Koe, Calgary
Steve Laycock, Saskatoon
Mike McEwen, Winnipeg

Tippin, McCarville heading to Ottawa

Julie Tippin’s team from Woodstock, Ont., may be one of the newer curling teams on the block, but they did enough to qualify for the trials with an 8-3 win over Winnipeg’s Briane Meilleur in the women’s B-side final

Tippin, alongside third Chantal Duhaime, second Rachelle Vink, and lead Tess Bobbie have really only been playing competitively together for three seasons.

“We’ve played some of the teams there before and we played incredible curling here all week,” Tippin said. “We’ll be right in all the games.”

On Saturday night, Krista McCarville’s rink from the Fort William Curling Club in Thunder Bay, Ont., booked their ticket to Ottawa after defeating Briane Meilleur’s Winnipeg team 7-5.

“I’m so excited. It’s in Ottawa at a huge arena to go to the Olympics. It’s going to be great to be there,” McCarville said after the win.

This will be the second appearance at the trials for McCarville. Her first attempt to wear the maple leaf for Canada at the Olympics came eight years ago in Edmonton. She lost in the semifinal against Shannon Kleibrink.

Women’s teams already qualified for Olympic trials:

Chelsea Carey, Calgary
Michelle Englot, Winnipeg
Alli Flaxey, Caledon, Ont.
Rachel Homan, Ottawa
Jennifer Jones, Winnipeg
Casey Scheidegger, Lethbridge, Alta.
Val Sweeting, Edmonton

The ‘Roar of the Rings’ Olympic trials begin Dec. 2 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.

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