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Middaugh hoping Trials experience pays off

The pressure of competing in the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto, is old hat to Sherry Middaugh. When the seasoned skip, from Ontario’s Coldwater and District Curling Club, settles into the hack this December in Winnipeg’s MTS Centre, she’ll be taking her fourth shot at the Olympic dream.

The native of Rosetown, Saskatchewan first appeared at the Canadian Curling Trials in 1997. She returned to the Olympic-qualifying event in 2001, falling one win short of the playoffs. Four years later, she finished the round robin in a third-place tie, losing the tie-breaker to Stefanie Lawton.

Sherry Middaugh returns to the Canadian Curling Trials for the fourth time (Photo Michael Burns)

Sherry Middaugh returns to the Canadian Curling Trials for the fourth time (Photo Michael Burns)

After three previous trips to the biggest stage in Canadian curling, Middaugh feels she has learned some valuable lessons. “I think a lot of teams start doing things differently when they reach the Trials. It’s good to think outside the box, but I think it’s also important to get into a routine and follow it every day, in every ‘spiel.”

“One big difference is, for the most part, you’re only playing one game a day, and as competitive curlers, we’re just not used to that. So it’s important to prepare for the schedule and manage the time effectively.”

The crowds will be another factor when the teams take to the ice in the MTS Centre. “It will probably be two or three times what some of us are used to at the Scotties. You have to try not to be too overwhelmed. But, there’s nothing like big crowds in an arena setting… it gives you so much energy.”

Middaugh has also become a familiar face at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, representing Saskatchewan in 1996, before donning Ontario colours for her next six trips to the national women’s curling championship. She served as the alternate for the Rachel Homan team at the 2011 Scotties.

While she has yet to break through to win a Canadian title, she has four bronze medals to her credit.

The Middaugh foursome – including Jo-Ann Rizzo, Lee Merklinger and Leigh Armstrong – started the new season on a positive note with a championship victory at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard, an Ontario Curling Tour event.

“We had a very good weekend,” she said. “We usually have a good September… it would have been nice if they could have found a way to move the Trials to September this year!”

The team has changed up its pre-season training program slightly as it looks ahead to the Roar of the Rings. “We’re doing a few things differently when it comes to off-ice training,” said the skip. “This year we’ve been working with trainers and doing more sport-specific training.”

They have also adjusted their competitive schedule, heading into what could be the most memorable season ever. “There is pressure this year with the Trials, but it is a different kind of pressure… it’s not the event-to-event pressure where you’re checking at the end of every weekend to see how many points you picked up, and who else picked up points.”

The curlers plan on staying a little closer to home over the next few months, with the hopes of taking the journey of a lifetime to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia this February. “We won’t be doing as much travelling… last year we had trips to Norway and China,” said Middaugh.  “We had fun, but it was exhausting. We’re being more selective in our events this season.”

“You Gotta Be There” when Canada’s top 16 teams, eight men’s and eight women’s, battle for the right to wear the maple leaf in the 2014 Olympic Games. Reserve your seats now by clicking here.