Matt Tolley‘s Kelowna-based curling team picked off top team after top team until they reached the final of the Cloverdale Cash Spiel.
Tolley’s opponent after three straight matches on Sept. 18 was the Chinese Olympic team that placed fourth in Sochi. However, it wasn’t until after being told who the team was did Tolley, a member of the Penticton Curling Club, realize who they played.
“I think we were tired because it was a long weekend. A bit of a grind,” said Tolley. “I don’t think we really had time to think about it.”
The Chinese team even had official gear on, but Tolley and his group were focused on the game then who their opponent was. The final slid in China’s favour, 7-6.
“We played well. We had an opportunity to win. We just missed a key shot, which kind of turned the tables against us,” said Tolley. “We had to scrap from behind, which was definitely difficult against a team like that because their calibre is so good. Once they had us in a spot like that, it was going to be a struggle.”
The Chinese rink was very good, said Tolley, and didn’t miss many shots. When Tolley’s side made good shots, they acknowledged it. As good as they were on the ice, they were equally friendly. In following curling tradition, the Chinese rink bought Tolley’s beer.
“For a high-level team like that, it was kind of nice,” he said.
Tolley’s rink won five of seven matches. They opened the first event in the World Curling Tour with a loss to Abbotsford’s Dean Joanisse. The team went into the spiel looking to qualify and play on the final day.
“To make it to the final was nice to see,” said Tolley. “We beat some good teams. Definitely put us on the right path.”