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Canadian Mixed underway in Morris

The 48th edition of the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship got underway Saturday evening in Morris, Manitoba.

In the day’s only draw, host Manitoba (Terry McNamee of Hamiota) pounded Saskatchewan (Steven Slupski of Moose Jaw), 10-2; Ontario (Chris Gardner of Arnprior) proved a 9-4 winner over Quebec (Simon Hébert of St-Romuald); Prince Edward Island (Robert Campbell of Charlottetown) edged Newfoundland and Labrador (Gary Wensman of Labrador City), 7-5 while New Brunswick (Charlie Sullivan of Saint John) scored a 6-4 decision over Northwest Territories/Yukon (Steve Moss of Yellowknife).

Twelve teams, representing the 10 provinces plus entries from Northern Ontario and Northwest Territories/Yukon, are competing in Morris, the smallest community to ever host a national curling championship.

Several of the skips are Brier veterans, including Prince Edward Island’s Campbell, who won the 1989 Mixed in Brandon when it was last held in Manitoba.

Nova Scotia’s Paul Flemming of Halifax, who skipped his province to Mixed titles in 1999 in Victoria and 2003 in Abbotsford, had a bye, as did Alberta (Tim Krassman of Medicine Hat), British Columbia (Tom Buchy of Kimberley) and Northern Ontario (Craig Kochan of Thunder Bay).

Last season, Nova Scotia, skipped by 2004 Brier winner Mark Dacey, won the Canadian Mixed in Burlington.

The weeklong competition continues with three draws daily, Sunday through Thursday.   After the final draw of the round robin on Friday morning, the first place team advances directly to Saturday’s final, while the second and third place teams meet in a semi-final following any required tiebreakers.

Alberta leads all provinces with nine Mixed titles since the championship began in 1964 in Toronto.  Manitoba has won eight Mixed crowns, the latest by Winnipeg’s Sean Grassie two years ago when The Mixed was staged in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Two players from the winning team will then represent Canada at the World Mixed Doubles Championship, slated for April 15-24 in St. Paul, Minnesota.