Team Laura Walker (Picture: Curling Alberta) are the 2022 Sentinel Storage Alberta Scotties Champions, after defeating Casey Scheidegger in Sunday's final.
By: Dylan Chenier
Edmonton's Laura Walker is heading back to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, after defeating Casey Scheidegger in the championship final at the Alberta women's provincial championships on Sunday in Grande Prairie.
Team Scheidegger opened Sunday's draw with a score of two in the first end after starting with the hammer.
After a blank in the second end, Team Walker would get on the board in the third, picking up a score of one.
Scheidegger's rink would respond in the fourth end with a score of one, the team from Lethbridge led 3-1 after four ends of play.
Walker would put up her first deuce of the game in the fifth end, tying the draw up a three apiece heading into the break.
Coming back in six, Scheidegger would make the blank before being forced to one in the seventh end.
Team Walker would then go on to score two more in the eighth, taking a 5-4 lead with just two ends to go.
Scheidegger was hoping for a big score in the ninth end, however, the skip would have to settle for one, handing the hammer back to Walker with the game tied at 5-all.
In the tenth end, Team Walker needed just one to take the victory 6-5, earning the rink their second Alberta women's title.
With the win, Team Walker will now advance to the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, where they will represent Alberta for the third consecutive year.
After COVID-19 forced officials to cancel the 2021 provincials, Walker's rink was named to represent Alberta at the 2021 Scotties in Calgary, where they finished with the bronze medal.
This year in Thunder Bay, Walker's team will be looking to improve on their record at the national Scotties and take home their first national title.
The skip, alongside third Kate Cameron, second Taylor McDonald, and lead Nadine Scotland, have enjoyed mixed results so far this season.
At the 2021 Trials direct-entry event in Ottawa, Walker's rink was one of three teams to qualify for the Olympic Trials in Saskatoon.
Team Walker would go on to make the quarterfinals at the 2021 BOOST National GSOC event in November, before suffering a disappointing sixth-place finish at the Olympic Trials.
At the December Alberta Curling Series event in Avonair, Walker's rink went 5-1, before defeating Team Scheidegger to claim the championship title at their final competition in 2021.
At next month's Scotties in Thunder Bay, Team Walker will be hoping to keep their winning streak alive, as they take on some of the best women's rinks in the country.
With their loss, Team Scheidegger effectively saw their 2021-22 season come to a close on Sunday. While the rink was unsuccessful in their bid to qualify for the national championship, they did enjoy some positive results throughout the season.
After qualifying for the Olympic Trials at the direct-entry event in Ottawa, the Lethbridge-based squad enjoyed a strong run at the trials in Saskatoon, where they would eventually fall to Kerri Einarson in a tiebreaker.
With Team Walker taking the crown in Grande Prarie, there is now a bit more clarity as to which rinks will qualify for the Scotties Wild Card game. After missing out at the Manitoba provincials, Team Fleury will likely take the top spot heading into the game, as they remain the number-one ranked team on the women's CTRS standings.
Jennifer Jones at No. 2 on the list will not participate in the Scotties as they will represent Canada at the Olympics in Beijing. With Walker ranked in third-place on the list, Ottawa's Team Homan may earn the second spot in the Wild Card game.
If Rachel Homan is picked to compete in the Olympic Mixed-Doubles competition, then Ontario will send Hollie Duncan as their representative in Thunder Bay. In this scenario, Homan's rink would likely go on to compete in the Wild Card game with a backup skip.
If Homan is not selected for Mixed Doubles, and her team does go on to represent Ontario, Hollie Duncan's rink would likely qualify for the Wild Card game as the sixth-placed CTRS team.
The remainder of the 2022 Scotties field will be finalized in the coming days, especially as Curling Canada is expected to select its Olympic Mixed Doubles team shortly.