Athletics Curling Elite Amateur Sport Hockey

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Short curling season almost produced U.S. national title for Ottawa-raised Jamie Sinclair

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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

WEEKEND WRAP: The unprecedented and strange 2020-21 curling season is over for Jamie Sinclair of Manotick. How strange was it? Well, it started in May and ended in May.

After months of waiting and wondering if the tight grasp of the COVID-19 pandemic would permit the American-based skip any competition, her season started and finished in a month when a normal season was over.

And when Sinclair did step onto the ice, there was no welcome-back bonspiels to ease into the season. Instead, her two 2021 competitions were United States of America curling national championships.

For 11 days in May, Sinclair felt her world had returned to some state of normalcy inside the safe confines of the Wausau Curling Club in Wisconsin. As for the curling, she was almost golden.

After producing six straight round-robin wins at the USA Curling women’s championship and earning a direct entry into the final, Sinclair was eyeing one more victory Sunday to become the fifth four-time champ.

But Sinclair’s new team of third Monica Walker, second Cora Farrell and lead Elizabeth Cousins fell 8-6 in the 11th (extra) end to Cory Christensen of Chaska, Minnesota. It was Christensen’s first women’s title, after being a four-time junior champion.

In the round-robin, Sinclair defeated Christensen 8-2 for her second-most lopsided win and improved to 3-0.

Sinclair used the hammer for one in the first end, but Christensen took control early with three in the second. Sinclair closed within one in the fourth end, but Christensen grabbed two in the sixth to go up 5-2.

Mounting a comeback to even the match after 10 ends, Team Sinclair scored two in the seventh, stole one in the eighth and added a critical one in the 10th, while limiting Team Christensen to one in the ninth.

In the extra end, Christensen used the hammer well. Sinclair froze her final stone to a Christensen rock in the four-foot circle for one. But Christensen’s final rock took out Sinclair’s stone for the title.

Jamie Sinclair. File photo

Sinclair, who was born in Anchorage, Alaska, prepared for the American women’s championship by competing in the national mixed doubles competition May 19-23 with two-time United States champion Rich Ruohonen.

The Sinclair-Ruohonen tandem placed second in Pool D round-robin play with a 4-1 record. But in its playoff qualification match, they lost 6-5 and missed advancing to the quarterfinals.

Gale improves her 400 m record

Meanwhile at College Station, Texas, Lauren Gale of the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club missed qualifying for the NCAA Division 1 track and field championships by one place in the women’s 400 metres.

Needing to finish in the top three of her QF (three heats in total) or have one of the next three best times at the NCAA West preliminary meet, Gale was 13th for Colorado State University, but in an exceptional time.

After qualifying for the quarterfinal with a top-24 time of 52.68 seconds, Gale bettered her personal and school record of 52.22 with a 51.96 clocking.

At the NCAA East preliminary track and field meet in Jacksonville, Florida, Ottawa Lions throws specialist Thomas Nedow of Southeastern Louisiana University placed 38th at 47.74 metres in the men’s discus.

Earlier, Nedow won the All-Southland Conference discus title at 52.15 metres, was a First-Team selection, had personal bests in hammer (54.87 metres) and shot put (16.93 metres) and won the conference indoor shot put title (16.92 metres).

Rattray shines in PWHPA event

Montreal’s Team Bauer defeated Toronto’s Team Sonnet 4-2 to win the first-ever Canadian Secret Cup presented by the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Three Ottawa forwards skated in the top-level women’s tournament.

The three-team, double round-robin tournament featured many of the top Canadian and American players and was created by the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association as part of its push for a high-level league.

Jamie Lee Rattray, a Canadian national team veteran, scored four goals for Toronto, including a round-robin, game-winner against Montreal. Rebecca Leslie had a pair of goals for Montreal. Sam Cogan played for Scotiabank Calgary.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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