31 Jul 2011 – The final of the NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Dunedin this weekend was a family affair. Ranfurly's brother-sister combo Sean and Bridget Becker took on Alexandra's father-daughter team John and Natalie Campbell. Earlier in the day, both finalists had needed a tiebreaker win to qualify for the playoff rounds.
Sean and Bridget retained their title by the narrowest possible margin, a 7-6 win to record their 4th win in the event's 5 year history.
Nine teams lined up in two pools at the start of the championship on Friday afternoon. A feature was the number of players from the Junior ranks competing – no fewer than 7 of the 18 athletes had competed at the NZ Under-21 event a month earlier. Rather than play teams within their pool, the format was for all of the teams in one pool to play all of the teams in the other.
Most interest on the first day was in the evening match-up between the defending champions and the 2008 titleholders Scott Becker and Brydie Donald. It was to be Scott and Brydie's night as they won 7-3.
Half of the games in the first two rounds on Saturday produced narrow 1-point margins, and it was one of these that produced the upset of the tournament.
Luke Steele and Eleanor Adviento, teammates in NZ's 2012 Youth Olympic side, trailed Sean and Bridget 5-9 as they came into the last end. Unfazed, the youngsters engineered a 4 to tie the match up and then stole the extra end for a 10-9 memorable victory. Their win, and the ever-improving play of their Innsbruck teammates David Weyer and Kelsi Heath, highlighted the big improvements the Youth Olympic side have shown throughout the season.
When the points were tallied after the pool rounds had been completed, Nelson Ede and Marisa Jones topped Pool A with a perfect 4-0 win-loss record. The Becker siblings were equal second at 2-2 with Chelsea Farley and Sam Miller, skips of the NZ Under-21 Women's and Men's teams respectively.
Pool B also had a clear leader in Scott and Brydie at 4-1. There was another tie for second, with Luke and Eleanor having the same 3-1 record as the Campbells.
An early start on Sunday morning was needed to find the second semi-finalist from both pools. Sean and Bridget convincingly took their match against Chelsea and Sam 6-1, but it was much closer in the pool B decider. In the end it was the Campbells who emerged with a 4-3 win to eliminate Luke and Eleanor.
The semis pitted the top two teams in each pool against each other. In both matches, the second placed side beat the top ranked pair.
Pool A winners Nelson Ede and Rissy Jones suffered their first defeat of the weekend, the Becker duo victorious with a convincing 9-4 scoreline. It was tighter in the other match, with the Campbells taking the honours 8-6 against Pool B winners Scott Becker and Brydie Donald.
While the Beckers had their nailbiting one-point win in the title match, on the neighbouring sheet Marisa and Nelson took the bronze 9-5 over Scott and Brydie.
As winners, of the NZ title, Sean and Bridget Becker have first right of refusal to represent New Zealand at next April's 2012 World Championships. If that right is declined by the winning team then the selection of an alternative national side will be referred to the NZCA Executive.