Anne Pryor, Emily Bartels, Maureen Kind

Arguably rarer than golf’s hole-in-one, baseball’s perfect game, or darts’ nine-dart finish, eight-enders are curling’s perfect end. 

Digging in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s archives, wefound this record of an eight-ender from March 1956. Published in the Wisconsin State Journal, the caption explains, “Group portrait for the Joe Baer rink after accomplishing a rare feat at the MCC’s bonspiel match. The Baer rink laid its eight rocks in the eighth end of its match with the Harold Puetz rink and with the score tied 9-9. Baer then won, 17-9, as Puetz conceded defeat.” From left to right: Elmer Waldvogel, Henry Bruns, Stan Nerdrum, and Joe Baer.

More recently, a Madison team scored an eight-ender during the 2016 Lodi Mixed. Our revered icemaker, Jeff Schliesman, was skipping a team with Penny Clark, David Cobb, and Ericka Balgord. “It was Friday the 13th,” Jeff laughed, explaining that they were playing a pretty inexperienced team from Waltham.

“After the third end, it was 8-0. We didn’t need any more points but it’s kind of rude to throw through that early in the game so we just kept putting them into the house. We figured they’d hit something eventually.” But by the time it was Jeff’s turn to deliver his first rock, the Waltham curlers hadn’t removed any of the Madison stones.

“I told Penny I was going to throw a guard,” Jeff recalled. “I didn’t think those people deserved to have an eight-ender happen to them.”  

But his vice skip’s response was adamant: “You are going to throw the #%*#+! rock into the house!” So Jeff threw a draw but it was light. “Ericka and David swept so hard all the way to the house to make sure it counted,” Penny recalled. The Waltham skip responded with a missed take out.  Then Jeff delivered his final rock, his team’s eighth, into the house. “The guy tried to hit and roll onto the button. It was there. But he was a little bit off the broom and rolled right through.”

Was it a great thing?  “Yeah, sure,” Jeff agreed.  “But it cost me 100 bucks.  I had to buy cocktails down at KD’s afterwards ‘cause I got an eight-ender!”  

And the most recent eight-ender to happen in our club? It was in February 2020, right before the pandemic shut down. It included the curler we’re missing deeply this season, Mary Ann Jerred, in one of her final games.

Kathy Pielage was skipping her President’s Cup team that included Jo Lippitt, Mary Ann Jerred, and Sandii Zylkowski. As Kathy recalled, “I saw it building after the fourth stone.  We were loading up the front of the house and the four-foot.  They went to remove a guard but it rolled in to become a biter. Later they tried to peel the biter but missed.  The other skip tried to draw into a little pocket, curling into the four-foot, but chipped a guard and rolled into the open. I had to hit and stay for eight.”

Just as Jeff had mixed feelings about going for his team’s eight-ender, Kathy also felt conflicted. 

“It was a very interesting feeling.  I didn’t feel like I wanted to go for the eight because it’s your friends you’re going to score it against.  But the rest of my team was emphatic. I checked with them and they all thought we should go for it. Everyone on my team had to make their shot.”

Afterwards, the other skip came up to Kathy and said, with that great grace that is part of The Spirit of Curling, “It is totally fine; I would have done the same thing.” 

While it’s usually the skip who gets the primary credit for such a successful end, Kathy laughed recalling that it was Mary Ann who seemed to get linked with the feat. When word spread through the club about the eight-ender, “It was Mary Ann who had one; it wasn’t me. The club was truly excited for Mary Ann.  The love just shone for her.”

Even though they weren’t curling in a USWCA event, Kathy bought eight-ender pins from USWCA to give to each teammate to commemorate the event.  “Our team went to visit Mary Ann to give her pin to her but she had just been admitted to the hospital. Her daughter brought it to her there.  That eight-ender pin was with her in the hospital. She got to wear it in those final days.”

Poignant or funny, do you have an eight-ender story to tell? Let us know!

Posted by Miranda