Mixed doubles takes the stage on World Curling Tour
After Christmas and New Year’s, most people spend the last few days over the holiday weekend sitting on the couch, watching movies and trying to recover from too much food, drink and family time.
Competitive curlers, however, are a different breed. With all the presents and celebrating behind them, many of the world’s top players descended on Canmore and Banff, Alta., for the Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic.
While their four-player teams weren’t in action, stars like Rachel Homan and John Morris, Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing, and Laura Walker and Kirk Muyres turned their sights to the mixed doubles game along with 33 other teams from across Canada and around the world.
Ten of the 36-team field qualified for playoffs, with the top four getting a direct berth to the quarterfinals. Homan/Morris, Jones/Laing, Marlene Albrecht and Matt Wozniak (playing out of Switzerland), and Kristin Moen Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten (Norway) earned those spots. Homan/Morris and Albrecht/Wozniak met in the semifinal while Jones/Laing and the Norwegians fell in the quarters.
Homan/Morris met USA’s Sarah Anderson and Korey Dropkin in the final. Although the Canadians popped a big 5-ender in the second end, the nature of mixed doubles curling allowed for a few big ends and some steals, which led to a tie-game after six ends.
Homan and Morris were able to score two in the seventh, and take two more in the eighth to nail down the championship – which came with an $8,500 payday. Anderson and Dropkin earned $6,500 for the runner-up finish.
Albrecht/Wozniak and Shannon Birchard/Catlin Schneider earned $2,000 for reaching the semifinals.
The World Curling Tour teams that decided to stick to the four-player version were in Scotland, playing in the Mercure Perth Masters. Mike McEwen (Winnipeg) and Brad Gushue (St. John’s, N.L.) were the only two Canadian men’s teams in the field, while no Canadian women decided to make the trip across the pond.
While Gushue lost a tiebreaker to Scotland’s Glen Muirhead and failed to reach the playoff round (with a 3-2 pool record), McEwen went through the round robin with a 4-1 record.
The Winnipegers defeated Scots Ross Paterson in the quarterfinals, then Ross Whyte in the semi. McEwen met yet another Scot, Bruce Mouat, in the final. Mouat took four in the third end and didn’t look back, earning the championship and roughly $12,000 CDN.
McEwen earned $6,880 and 38.575 points – which may be valuable as playdown season approaches. With the abundance of good Manitoba teams, McEwen would still have a good chance to reach the Wild Card game at the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier in Kingston, Ont., should he fail to win the provincial championship.