Robert Desjardins and Isabelle Neron are making their long road trip to Alberta pay off at the inaugural Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials national curling championship.
The Quebec pair earned its fourth straight victory to open the 32-team competition, scoring one in the eighth end for a hard-fought 6-5 win over Northern Ontario’s Steve Chenier and Courtney Chenier on Friday afternoon at the Leduc Recreation Centre in Leduc, Alta.
The victory left Desjardins, who skipped Quebec at the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier in Saskatoon, and Neron as the lone unbeaten team in Pool D of the competition, which will decide Canada’s representative for the 2013 World Mixed Doubles Championship.
In other Pool D games, Alberta’s Chris Schille and Erin Carmody (3-1) scored three in the first and fourth ends for a 9-3 victory over Stephen Shepherd and Donna Davis of Newfoundland/Labrador (2-2); Alberta’s Deryk Kuny and Erica Ortt (1-3) stole the winning point in the eighth end for an 8-7 win over the Yukon’s Robert Smallwood and Judy Smallwood (1-3); and Mike Armstrong and Ashley Quick (3-1) stole two in the second end to propel them to a 6-2 win over Bob Ziegler and Barb Cressman (2-2) in an all-Saskatchewan tilt.
In other fourth-round results:
Pool A — Ontario’s Scott McDonald and Jaclyn Rivington and Saskatchewan’s Dustin Halthoff and Nancy Martin are the pace-setters, as both improved to 4-0 with victories on Friday afternoon. McDonald and Rivington stole four in the second end to knock off Nova Scotia’s Mark Dacey and Heather Smith-Dacey 8-3, leaving one of the pre-event favourites with a 2-2 record. Kalthoff and Martin, meanwhile, scored three in the first end and stole singles in the second and third ends and two more in the fourth for an 8-1 win over Ernie Daniels and Sarah Daniels of B.C. (1-3). In the other Pool A games, Matt Lang and Jessica Hanson of Saskatchewan (2-2) dispatched Quebec’s Michel Briand and Genevieve Frappier (2-2) 8-7 in an extra end, while New Brunswick’s Avery Hughson and Shelby Wilson (1-3) picked up their first win of the Trials, a 10-3 decision over B.C.’s Norm Richard and Debbie Girard (0-4).
Pool B — Dean Hicke and Chantelle Eberle remained the lone unbeaten team in the pool, improving to 4-0 with a narrow 7-6 win over Newfoundland/Labrador’s Jamie Danbrook and Erin Porter (1-3). In the other games, the Yukon’s Mitch Young and Chelsea Duncan (3-1) won their third straight, stealing three in the fifth end in a 7-5 win over Alberta’s Jason Larence and Melanie Puzzie (1-3); the Saskatchewan/Manitoba duo of Josh Heidt and Jenna Loder (3-1) broke open a tight game with a count of four in the seventh end for an 8-4 win over Derek Owens and Danielle Sicinski of Saskatchewan (1-3); and Cole Tenetiuk and Alison Ingram of Saskatchewan (1-3) picked up their first win, beating Ian Moir and Marta Moir of the Northwest Territories (0-4) 9-6.
Pool C — Jason Ackerman and Colleen Ackerman, like their 2012 Canadian mixed championship teammates Hicke and Eberle, remained unbeaten at 4-0, piling up a 9-5 win over the Alberta/B.C. pairing of Matt Blandford and Darah Provencal (2-2). In other games, Manitoba’s Sean Grassie and Karen Klein (3-1) knocked off Alberta’s Kyle Leach and Cori Dunbar (1-3) 9-5; B.C.’s Tyler Tardi and Dezaray Hawes (3-1) solidified their playoff hopes with a 7-5 win over Lyle Walker and Kristen Walker of Alberta (0-4); and Alberta’s Dale Parker and Janice Parker (1-3) picked up their first win, turning back Manitoba’s Kelsey Boettcher and Kelly Lauber (2-2) 9-4.
The 2013 Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials continue on Friday with games scheduled for 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (all times Mountain). On Saturday, round-robin draws are set for 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., with the first round of the playoffs going at 8:30 p.m.
The winning team in the four-day competition will earn the right to represent Canada at the World Mixed Doubles Championship, April 13 to 20 at the Grant-Harvey Centre in Fredericton, N.B.
The competition format consists of 32 teams (each team consists of one male curler and one female curler) divided into four pools of eight, with the top two from each pool after the round robin plus the four teams with the next-best records advancing to a 12-team single elimination playoff.
The gold-medal game is scheduled for Sunday at 4 p.m. MDT.
For more information on the 2013 Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials, including the team list, standings and draw times, go to www.curling.ca/2013mixeddoubles/.
For more information on the 2013 World Mixed Doubles Championship, go to: www.wmdcc2013.curlingevents.com/