It was a double takeout for the Nichols family over the weekend, and while Shelley Nichols was happy for her brother winning a Grand Slam of Curling bonspiel Sunday evening, it was nothing compared to her victory Saturday night at the Re/Max Centre (St. John's Curling Club).
Nichols skipped her team of Stephanie Ledrew, Rhonda Rogers and Collette Lemon to the provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts crown with a 9-8, extra-end decision over Heather Strong in an all-St. John's matchup.
Nichols and Co. will represent the province at the national Scotties Jan. 30-Feb. 7 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
It's the first time in 16 years Newfoundland will be represented by a team not skipped by Strong, Cathy Cunningham or Laura Phillips.
Nichols has been to the nationals twice before, as third stone for for Strong in 2006-07 nationals.
"My dad said to me afterwards, 'You're skipping a team at the Scott!' I was like, 'Oh my God!' It's really, really cool," said the native of Labrador City.
Nichols cruised through the round-robin at 5-0, and had to be beaten twice.
After dispatching Stacie Devereaux 8-5 in the semifinal, Strong, the five-time defending champ, beat Nichols 6-3 in the first championship game Saturday afternoon with a steal of two in the sixth end and another steal of one in the seventh.
In the deciding game, Nichols led 6-3 at the sixth-end break, but had to count one in the 10th end to force overtime. The Nichols foursome then stole the extra end, punching their ticket to the Soo.
"Before this week," Nichols said, "we hadn't beaten Heather in Super League (0-5). We had no idea how to beat her.
"But after we finally got past her in the round-robin, and went undefeated, I was talking to Mark (Nichols) and he said, 'Shelley, it's hard to beat a good team twice.'"
Nichols admitted she was dejected following her first loss to Strong, but a team meeting quickly ironed out any defects that might have crept into their game.
"When you lose a first game, it's hard to bounce back," she said. "You have to dig deep and look for it in you to find that power to win.
"Through the week, we were communicating really well, but all of a sudden we lost that in the first game (against Strong). All week we were there for each other, and that really does change your mood on the ice.
"I was really down on myself, but Rhonda said to me, 'If you can't find it yourself to get back up, think of the three of us who have never before been to a Scotties.' That did it."
Devereaux, the former national junior champ and world junior silver medallist, finished second in the standings following the round-robin at 4-1, while Strong was 3-2. Phillips was 2-3 followed by Cindy Miller (1-4) and Susan Hannan (0-5).
Nichols acknowledges feeling a little more pressure entering the national Scotties as a skip, but nonetheless has enough confidence in her game to make a solid run in Sault Ste. Marie.
2010 Shelley Nichols
2009 Heather Strong
2008 Heather Strong
2007 Heather Strong
2006 Heather Strong
2005 Heather Strong
2004 Cathy Cunningham
2003 Cathy Cunningham
2002 Cathy Cunningham
2001 Heather Strong
2000 Heather Strong
1999 Heather Strong
1998 Heather Strong
1997 Laura Phillips
1996 Laura Phillips
1995 Laura Phillips
1994 Laura Phillips