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Hasselborg holds off Fleury to win 6th GSOC women’s title at National

CHESTERMERE, Alta. — Anna Hasselborg and her Swedish squad successfully defended the Boost National women’s championship to claim their sixth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title together.

Hasselborg scored a big four-ender early and fended off a furious rally from Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., to win 9-6 in an extra end during Sunday’s final at Chestermere Recreation Centre.

The foursome of Hasselborg, third Sara McManus, second Agnes Knochenhauer and lead Sofia Mabergs banked $33,000 from the $150,000 women’s purse, 12 Pinty’s Cup points plus a berth into the season-ending KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup in May.

“It feels amazing,” Hasselborg said. “It was a long time that I was this excited about a win. I think we worked so hard to reach the way we’re playing right now.

“We didn’t perform (well) in the first Slam of the season and then we had a great breakdown and good practice week. I think the way we’re learning, it shows the strength of this team. I feel so proud of the way we’re doing things right now.”

Team Hasselborg won three consecutive GSOC women’s titles during the 2019-20 season, including the Boost National in Conception Bay South, N.L.

The pandemic put a halt to their hot streak and they did not qualify for the playoffs when the series resumed with the Champions Cup in the Calgary bubble last April. Hasselborg also missed the cut two weeks ago during the Masters in Oakville, Ont.

“I think the big thing was that we didn’t get to compete, practise, compete and that this is what this team does the best,” Hasselborg said. “I think when we get do that now, we competed and we didn’t succeed but we learned from it and then we practised and then got to compete, I think it shows the strength and it really shows that we really put the great effort into the game. I’m so proud and so happy with the way we played this week.”  

Fleury, third Selena Njegovan, second Liz Fyfe and lead Kristin MacCuish earned $20,000 and nine Pinty’s Cup points to extend their lead in the standings for the season championship reaching a second straight final after capturing the Masters.

Team Fleury entered the final undefeated at 5-0 and started with the hammer but had to settle for a single in the second end as their draw for a deuce came up short of the rings.

Hasselborg went to work in the third end and capitalized after Fleury clipped a guard, allowing the reigning Olympic gold medallist to connect on an open hit to count a critical four points.

Fleury didn’t wilt after the four score and battled back taking two points in the fourth, forcing Hasselborg to draw for a single in the fifth and completing a draw for a deuce in the sixth end to knot it up 5-all.

Hasselborg had to draw to the button in the seventh while facing a tricky triangle of counters, but was able to force Fleury to have to hit and stick in the four-foot circle for just one point in the eighth end to force OT.

With the front door all clear, Hasselborg made an open hit with the last rock of the game and raised her broom in celebration.

“We were a little bit shocked with how that four came out of us and we got it,” Hasselborg said. “We knew Tracy is a great scoring team, so just try to limit them down to two and it would be close. They started with the hammer so they had a one-point lead from the beginning.

“It was a great game. We just kept patient and I was focusing on making something good on my last in the extra end and that’s what I had to do.”

Earlier, Brad Gushue captured his 12th career GSOC title after his St. John’s, N.L., crew defeated Bruce Mouat’s Scottish squad 5-2 to win the Boost National men’s title.

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The GSOC takes a holiday break and rings in the New Year resuming with the Meridian Open, Jan. 11-16, at Encana Arena in Camrose, Alta.