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Ontario Winter Games are golden for Sudbury curling tandem
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It's been a very busy curling season for the Sudbury tandem of Samantha Digiglio and Brendan Rajala - but a very rewarding one as well, to say the least.

Both teens had previously earned spots at national championships as members of their four person rinks, prior to capturing gold at the 2024 Ontario Winter Games in early March in Thunder Bay.

The Digiglio/Rajala team finished with a flawless 6-0 mark at the event, including a wild 9-8 win in the final over Sophia Barbosa and Jordan Carvalho representing the Donalda Club in North York.

“We kind of went in with high hopes, but maybe not gold medal hopes,” said Digiglio, who partnered with Samuel Dumais to compete at the 2023 Ontario Winter Games in Renfrew County, but had never played with Rajala prior to this year.

“We knew that it was going to be fun and that we would probably do pretty well – but we never expected to win it all.”

The seniors at Lasalle Secondary School were able to draw upon the experience of recent Canadian championships, benefitting from the ability to remain calm in a far less stress-filled environment.

“I already knew a lot of the people there (at OWG) because they are all from Ontario, so it was a lot more relaxed,” said Digiglio. “I was really just catching up with friends that I already had.”

The Sudbury reps swept through round robin play with victories over Jenna Declercq/Duncan McDonald (9-6), Lily Wright/Brayden Sinclair (6-3), Jelissa Reid/Leo Shiozaki (9-6) and Leah Emiry/Hudson Cassidy (10-1), disposing of Karli Hicklin/Jackson Dubinsky in quarter-final action (8-4) and taking down the Wright/Sinclair tandem for a second time in the semis (6-5).

“I was really happy with just how quickly we got our draw weight down,” stated Digiglio. “That’s pretty much all you’re really throwing in mixed doubles.”

From a fan’s perspective, it makes for exciting times, with loads of rocks often in play.

“I do prefer more rocks in play, especially when we’re the ones controlling the house,” said Digiglio with a laugh. “When it’s the other team, I don’t really like it that much.”

Still, that ability to flip the scoreboard quickly would come in handy in the final encounter.

Digiglio and Rajala were leading 5-3 after six ends of play when Barbosa and Carvalho scored five, securing themselves an 8-5 advantage – but not quite taking the wind completely out of the sails of the eventual gold medal winners.

“We just reminded ourselves that we went undefeated through five games – so why give up now,” said Digiglio. “We just decided to throw everything in the four foot. All we needed was three to tie. That’s all we were hoping for, but we nailed our draws and it helped that the other team got a little excited and were not playing to the best of their ability.”