16 Teams – Which Two will be Canada’s Olympic Teams?
With the completion of the Pre-Trials in Prince George, a.k.a. The Road to the Roar, we can get started preparing for the Roar of the Rings in Edmonton! As most of you have probably watched on t.v. you will know there were a number of dramatic finishes and definitely a few surprises. The fist surprise of the week was that of Crystal Webster’s Calgary Winter Club team coming out on the A-side of the womens event. Seeded 7th, the Webster squad pulled off wins against Amber Holland, Sherry Middaugh, Rachel Homan and then, on TSN, two-time Canadian Champion Kelly Scott. Scott and her teammates would later rebound for a C-side berth into Edmonton. Rounding out the four women’s teams is the Ontario powerhouse of Krista McCarville (who made one of the nicest draws for a win against Heather Rankin, in the final end, needing to almost touch the pin…and did!), and Amber Holland and her Regina based foursome. Jones, Kleibrink, Lawton, Bernard, Webster, McCarville, Scott and Holland. Now the men’s – Jeff Stoughton and his team were able to pull through the A-side with some consistently strong play. One of the better games of the week was their A-side semi against Mike McEwen where both skips shot in the 90’s! This team will be a contender if they manage to continue to fire on all cylinders as they did in Prince George. Dropping to the B-side after losing the A-final to Stoughton was Team Simmons. This is another team that looks like they have found the groove again – especially Pat Simmons. They managed to beat the young Mike McEwen squad and advance to their first Olympic Trials as a team. Do not count these guys out of your top picks in your curling pool!! C-side winners on the men’s side were Wayne Middaugh (congrats to fellow Peterborough hometown boy John Epping!) and Jason Gunnlaugson out of Winnipeg. Everyone knows Wayne Middaugh’s resume and having a third of John Mead’s calibre would not qualify these guys as a underdog going into Edmonton….however they are able to fly under the radar screen a bit with all the attention on Martin and Howard. Pay close attention to this team……Wayne was throwing in the 90’s a few games and if they get on a roll….. Jason Gunnlaugson. He definitely makes for good television. His quirky personality and pure passion for the game was extremely evident all week. He quite possibly made the shot of the week with a 4.5 second triple in the 9th end against Kerry Burtnyk in the C side semi-final. This kid can shoot and has a talented group of teammates in front of him. Will they win in Edmonton….well they shouldn’t….but everyone going into Prince George said they shouldn’t win there. Their record against some of the top teams this year is about .500 – so anything is possible!! Martin, Howard, Koe, Ferbey, Stoughton, Simmons, Gunnlaugson and Middaugh. This was a very interesting event to be a part of. You could see the pressure affecting different teams at different points of the week. If you haven’t bought your tickets for Edmonton yet….do so. This will be the best curling in Canada this year – and in the best venue!