Whatever the reason, the end result is impressive. The Tracy Horgan rink kicked off a new season of bonspiel play, capturing the prestigious AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic over the weekend in Brockville.
Horgan and her rink of Jennifer Horgan, Jenna Enge and Amanda Gates knocked off Eve Muirhead of Scotland 5-1 in the final, breaking open a super-tight game with a steal of one in the sixth and two more in the seventh.
This marked their best finish in four appearances at the Jenkins Classic, after picking up runner-up status in 2010. It is also the local ladies' first win in a World Curling Tour event.
"The start of the competition was a bit challenging, having not stepped on the ice yet this season, however we really found our groove in time for the playoffs," skip Horgan said.
Horgan and company did indeed start slowly, falling 5-2 to Marie-France Larouche of Quebec on Thursday, before bouncing back in doubling Jaimee Gardner of Ottawa 6-3.
Victories over Robyn Mattie (10-2) of Ottawa and Chrissy Cadorin (8-3) of Toronto helped to offset a loss to Sherry Middaugh (7-5) in the final draw, securing the locals the fourth and final spot in the top four.
That gave the Horgan quartet a second kick at Middaugh in the semis, with the northern ladies picking up two in the seventh to pull even, and a steal of one in the eight, securing an 8-7 win and a spot in the championship affair.
"This was a great way to kick off our season and will help toward our goal of qualifying for the Olympic pre-trials next year," Horgan said. "With this win, our ranking moves us into the top 20 teams in the world, our highest world ranking to date."
The team is back in action on Thanksgiving weekend, heading west to Calgary, site of the 35th Annual Autumn Gold Curling Classic, the first stop in the women's Grand Slam events.
On the men's side of the draw in Brockville, John Epping of Toronto defeated Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba 5-2 in the final, taking top spot in a field that included Kevin Koe, Brad Gushue, Guy Hemmings and Brad Jacobs from Sault Ste. Marie.
Jacobs dropped a 5-4 decision in extra ends to Epping in semifinal play after posting a record of 4-1 in round robin play.