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McEwen finds winning formula in Saskatoon

The top-ranked team in the world found its stride this weekend in Saskatoon. After a respectable semifinal finish at its only other event this year, Mike McEwen’s Winnipeg foursome took home the title at the Point Optical Curling Classic, defeating fellow Winnipeger Reid Carruthers 8-4 in the final.

Mike McEwen and his team from Winnipeg won the Point Optical Classic in Saskatoon. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Mike McEwen and his team from Winnipeg won the Point Optical Classic in Saskatoon. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

McEwen’s run was almost perfect, interrupted only by a loss to hometown favourite Steve Laycock. Other than that A-qualifier defeat, McEwen ran the table, beating the likes of Niklas Edin (Sweden), John Shuster (U.S.A.), and Olympic champ Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.). McEwen, and his team of B.J. Neufeld, Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld, took home $11,000 and 55.17 points on the Canadian Team Ranking System.

The points move him into third place on this year’s Canadian rankings, just two points ahead of Jacobs, who sits in fourth. Brad Gushue (St. John’s) has a hold on first after winning two of his first three events, and losing the final in the other.

Carruthers, meanwhile, uses his 43.35 points for the runner-up finish to move into second place on the CTRS, and into fifth place on the World Curling Tour Order of Merit, both career highs for the second-year team.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones were chasing points (and money) at the Stockholm Ladies Cup. Homan was off to a hot start in this young season, while Jones was struggling out of the gate (by her standards), trying to find the chemistry with replacement players for Dawn McEwen, who is unavailable caring for her new baby. Alison Kreviazuk, former second for Team Homan now living in Sweden, filled in for McEwen at the Stockholm Cup.

While the results for Jones were promising, Homan took home the top prize and roughly $15,750 CDN beating Scotland’s Eve Muirhead 7-5 in the final. Muirhead beat Jones in the semifinal for the right to play Homan, who took down Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson in her semi.

Homan extended her CTRS lead with 49.219 points, which puts her miles ahead of the competition. Jones’s 29.883 brought her back near the top of the rankings, where she sits in fourth place — a vast improvement from the 13th spot where they started the weekend.

Elsewhere on the weekend, Caledon, Ont.’s Alli Flaxey won the KW Fall Classic in Waterloo, Ont., which earned her 29.313 CTRS points and moved her into second place on the Canadian rankings. Last year’s Ontario champion also took home $3,200.

China’s Rui Liu won the men’s side in Waterloo, defeating Ian Dickie (Newmarket, Ont.) in an extra-end final.

About Brian Chick

Brian Chick is a life-long curler and coach, and a frequent contributor to the Curling Canada's multimedia and development projects.