Team Simmons – keep an eye on these guys!

The Canadian Team Ranking System is off and running! And with that, the road to the “final 8” Trials spots is slowly becoming clearer – perhaps only a tiny bit clearer at the moment and we are still months away from confirming all of the qualified teams. I had the opportunity to attend the Boston Pizza Shootout in Edmonton this past weekend (September 18th – 21st) and watched a number of great teams in action. Held at the Saville Center in Edmonton this event featured a number of world championship caliber teams from Canada, China and Switzerland – along with a host of Alberta based teams and even a few Saskatchewan rinks! One of those prairie teams was that of Team Simmons who is made up of Pat Simmons, Jeff Sharp, Gerry Adams and Steve Laycock. Team Simmons will be a unique team to watch this year as they have a distinct possibility of qualifying for the “first four” Trials Teams, however they will need some teams to help them out and they probably require a major event titile. If that fails, they are already qualified for a Pre-Trials spot (see qualified team list here). I had the chance to sit down and ask Steve Laycock, the lead and a former World Junior Champion Skip a few questions. — Steve, what is your team truly trying to accomplish this upcoming season? We know going into this year that we need to win a major event (Canada Cup, Brier, Tour Championship) in order to get a spot directly into the trials. With Kevin Martin and Glenn Howard already claiming the first two spots leaving only two remaining, and with Koe and Ferbey having the inside track having won a Canada Cup each, our goal is to break through and win one of these major events to give ourselves a chance at the spot. Aside from that we need to just focus on having a great year and keeping ourselves within striking distance in the CTRS points race. This will also be a really great opportunity for us to try some new things out in getting prepared for next year with the pre-trials and potentially the trials and see what works well and what can be improved. Is there a huge push for your team to achieve specific results? Based on what we need to do this year, we have a few events that will take on a bigger significance. Obviously we need to give ourselves a chance to win the big events, so that means qualifying for the Canada Cup, winning provincials again to get us back to the Brier, and having a good enough season to guarantee us a spot in the Players Championship. In terms of training… is this the year you try to put everything into place that will have you prepared for the Trials and possibly the 2010 Olympics? I hate to say this year is a warm-up for the trials/Olympics year, in 2009/2010, because obviously this coming season is critical to us, but in some ways this is just a year to build towards the following season. It’s kind of nice in a way because I thought we took some critical steps in our team’s development last year, and to have one more year to continue that progress is really motivating. I’m really excited to see what kinds of results we have this year because I feel we will be a better team than you may have seen us be in the past. Arguably one of the most talented leads on tour, and self-professed best looking, Steve is able to give us some insight into their team mindset going into this season. They took one step, in terms of points, this past weekend losing the final of the Boston Shootout to a young upstart team of Ted Appleman from the host Saville Center. You can see the men’s standings here. — One of the most interesting stories from this past week was the play of Team Howard in the Brockville WCT event. With Skip Glenn Howard out because of an operation, third Richard Hart took the reigns and lead them to a bonspiel win over Team Burtnyk (with new third Don Walchuk). The points race is already getting interesting! Talk to you soon – Paul Webster, National Development Coach La Releve Program Manager