Robert Desjardins and Isabelle Néron came up with their best performance to date on Wednesday afternoon at the 2013 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Fredericton, N.B.
It couldn’t have been better timed, either. With the Canadians’ backs to the wall for making the playoff round, the Canadian pair from Saguenay, Que., along with coach Jim Waite, cruised to an 8-4 win over Russia’s Alexey Kamnev and Yana Nekrasova at the Grant-Harvey Centre.
With the win, Team Canada improved to 3-3 and remained in contention for one of the three potential playoff berths from its nine-team round-robin pool.
After winning their opener on Saturday, Desjardins and Néron had lost three of their last four outings, but managed to return to the form they showed in winning at the inaugural Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials last month in Leduc, Alta.
“Yes, it’s a relief,” said Néron. “But we’ve been saying, ‘Let’s stop putting pressure on ourselves. Just make shots and have fun out there.’ And I think we had a lot more fun today.”
Canada was able to take control of the game with single points in each of the first three ends (the third-steal the result of a great double takeout from Néron) and a three-ender in the fifth that was the result of Desjardins’ raise double.
Néron made clutch draws in the sixth (corner-freezing to a Russian rock to cut down a big end) and seventh (cold draw to bite the button looking at two Russian counters) ends to preserve the win.
“I was pretty happy she made that shot (in the sixth),” said Desjardins. “I missed a big one; I had a decent peel-weight double, nothing complicated, and I just flashed it, which was totally unacceptable. She saved my butt.”
The top two teams from each of the three pools move on to the playoffs, along with the next best third-place team based on Last Shot Draw distance (the pre-game draw to the button to determine last rock in the first end). The other two third-place teams will play off for the for remaining quarter-final position.
Canada trails reigning world champions Martin Rios and Nadine Lehmann of Switzerland (6-0), Hungary’s Zsolt Kiss and Dorottya Palancsa (5-1), Italy’s Alessio Gonin and Giorgia Ricca (4-2) and the Russians (4-3 in the standings, but holds tiebreaker advantages on the Russians and Italians thanks to earlier victories.
Desjardins said representing Canada in the world championship has been an eye-opener.
“The thing is, Canada has to start playing this game (on a broader scale),” he said. “Some of the teams we play here this week, they only play this game. Some of them have never played four-on-four curling. They have maybe two or three shots in their bags, but, believe me, they never miss them. They constantly put rocks in front of your rocks in the four-foot and it’s very complicated to find solutions against those teams. We need to get this game into leagues in Canada and get more people to play it and learn how to play it, because it’s tough against these countries.”
The World Mixed Doubles are being held in conjunction with the 2013 World Seniors Curling Championships in Fredericton.
Later on Wednesday, Rob Armitage’s unbeaten Canadian men’s team (third Keith Glover, second Randy Ponich, lead Wilf Edgar, alternate Lyle Treiber and coach Bill Tschirhart) will go looking for its sixth straight win, taking on Denmark’s Bent Juul Kristoffersen (5-2) at 7 p.m. (all times Atlantic). On Thursday, Canada faces unbeaten Karl Nordlund of Sweden (7-0) in a game that could decide first place in their 10-team round-robin pool.
Cathy King’s Canadian women’s team has the day off on Wednesday. King, third Carolyn Morris, second Lesley McEwan, lead Doreen Gares and alternate Christine Jurgenson (Tschirhart is coaching both senior Canadian teams) return to action on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. against Austria’s Veronika Huber (3-1).
For live scores and standings from the World Mixed Doubles Championship, go to: www.wmdcc2013.curlingevents.com/. Selected games from the World Mixed Doubles can be watched online at: www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV.
For live scores and standings from the World Seniors Championship, go to: wscc2013.curlingevents.com/.