WINNIPEG - Sherry Middaugh is a Canadian curling veteran with a hard-luck streak getting to the big game, but she will be playing Jennifer Jones Saturday for the right to represent Canada at the Olympics.
Middaugh fed off Rachel Homan's mistakes to cruise to a 10-4 win at the women's semifinal at the Olympic Curling trials Friday night.
"In the past it's been normally like a missed shot on my behalf, maybe nerves, but the fact (is) that maybe all those experiences have helped," Middaugh said of her record of stumbling before the finish line was in sight.
"I'd certainly give all of those away to win tomorrow."
On the men's side, Kevin Martin and John Morris will be playing Saturday in the semifinal to see who will compete against Brad Jacobs Sunday.
At 47, Middaugh is the oldest female skip at the trials. She's won many provincial championships but had trouble getting out of the national semifinals.
Her biggest national win to date has been the 2003 Canada Cup of Curling.
Ironically, although she started with the hammer, she missed her attempt to blank the first end and benefited from the change in tactics that dictated.
Homan, the youngest skip at the trials and reigning national champion from Ottawa, threw a disastrous runback attempt that gave Middaugh her second three of the game in the sixth end. She said she didn't even forsee that as a possibility.
"It just wasn't our night," she said. "You've got to sum it up like that. There's not much to say about it."
After exchanging singles in one and two, the first few ends weren't the same mistake-free, careful curling that Middaugh and Winnipeg's Chelsea Carey played earlier in the day in the tiebreaker.
Instead, their front ends traded half shots and misses that opened opportunities and Middaugh took an early lead, thanks to a three she scored in the third end. But Homan came back with a deuce in the fourth to keep it close.
The veteran then scored a deuce of her own in five to make it 6-3, with two perfect draws to the button behind cover and a thin hit by Homan that failed to move Middaugh's first counter far enough.
Then came Homan's runback attempt in six that could have netted her two but instead handed Middaugh another three.
"I didn't even think we could do that. I thought at worst case . . . we'd take one."
Middaugh was deadly with her hits and near perfect with her draw. After Middaugh's rink scored another point in the eighth, Homan shook hands.
Homan said she had trouble with the ice.
"The right side of the sheet was just a mountain . . . and the other side was just a valley."
But Middaugh said she has found the ice consistent all week, which has helped her with her draws.
"The ice has been the same all week which is a credit to the ice crew. . . The ice isn't patchy, it's consistent right from the first end all the way through to the end," Middaugh said. "That certainly builds the confidence because you just throw what you've been throwing all week."
She's married to three-time world champion Glenn Howard's third Wayne Middaugh. They live in Victoria Harbour, Ont.
They're just one of four couples at the event.
Edmonton skip Heather Nedohin is married to Martin's third Dave Nedohin. Winnipeg skip Mike McEwen is married to Jennifer Jones lead Dawn Askin and Jones is in a relationship with Glen Howard's second Brent Laing.
Earlier Friday, Martin defeated Morris 7-6 in an extra end to clinch second in the men's standings. But Morris also advanced to the semifinal after Kevin Koe beat Mike McEwen 5-4, guaranteeing Morris a third-place finish.
Martin is hoping he can repeat the feat en route to a fourth Olympics berth. He won gold in 2010 and silver in 2002 and also went to the 1992 Games.
"It will be a tight game again but it was good to get through that one and the hammer in the semi and we'll hopefully play another good game (Saturday)," he said after Friday's win.
"I would have to say we have to play a little better than (Friday) as a team. We were a little bit sloppy on a couple of ends."
Morris was happy with how his team played.
"I think we had a real sound strategy and kept control most of that game," he said.
The exception was the sixth end when Martin scored three.
"If we can just pick it up maybe just a half notch then we can win this thing . . . I like our chances," said Morris, who was born in Winnipeg but has made his name curling for both Ontario and Alberta.
The former two-time world junior champion joined Martin's Edmonton-based rink in 2006 but abruptly left in April to sign with skip Jim Cotter's squad out of the Vernon and Kelowna curling clubs in B.C. Cotter moved to third.
Martin then picked up another Manitoba native, former Randy Ferby's fourth rock Dave Nedohin, to replace Morris.
In other men's action, Jacobs completed the round robin with a 7-4 victory over John Epping, who finished last with a 1-6 record.
Jeff Stoughton defeated Howard 9-3 but both were already out of playoff contention. Stoughton finished 3-4 and Howard 2-5.