Mixed doubles trials!
2022 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials gets underway in Portage la Prairie on Tuesday
Portage la Prairie, Man., is once again set to become the mixed doubles hotspot of Canada when it hosts the second edition of the Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials beginning this Tuesday at Stride Place.
The event, scheduled from Dec. 28 – Jan. 2, will determine the mixed doubles team representing Canada at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. That winning team will defend Canada’s gold medal in 2018, courtesy of Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris.
Morris (Canmore, Alta.) will once again be competing in the field and has an opportunity to become the first player to win back-to-back mixed doubles curling trials events after successfully winning the inaugural event hosted in Portage la Prairie during the last curling quadrennial. Morris, a two-time Olympian (gold at men’s competition in 2010 and gold at mixed doubles in 2018), is seeking his third appearance at an Olympic Winter Games. 2018 Olympian Rachel Homan (Beaumont, Alta.) joins Morris to pursue a path to Beijing.
But the field is nothing short of incredible, featuring a who’s who of mixed doubles curling in Canada and decorated with Olympians.
Pool A features Nancy Martin (Saskatoon)/Tyrel Griffith (Kelowna, B.C.), who enter the event as the top seed in the Canadian Mixed Doubles Rankings (CMDR) as of Dec. 14, 2021. Martin/Griffith head into Portage la Prairie as the 2019 Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship silver-medallists and one of the most consistent teams on the mixed doubles tour this season.
Brent Laing (Horseshoe Valley, Ont.) and Selena Njegovan (Winnipeg) join them as the second seed in the pool. Laing, who regularly curls with his wife Jennifer Jones in mixed doubles, had to find a replacement partner after Jones earned a trip to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games with her women’s team. Laing called upon Njegovan, who played vice-skip for Team Tracy Fleury and won silver at the 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials, to join him.
Those teams will compete against a talented Pool A field, including 2018 Canadian mixed doubles gold-medallists and world bronze-medallists Laura Walker (Edmonton) and Kirk Muyres (Regina), and two-time Canadian mixed doubles silver-medallists Kadriana Sahaidak and Colton Lott of Gimli, Man. Shannon Birchard (Winnipeg)/Catlin Schneider (Regina), Émilie Desjardins/Robert Desjardins (Chicoutimi, Que.), Lauren Wasylkiw/Shane Konings (Souffville, Ont.) and Kerri Einarson (Camp Morton, Man.)/Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) round out of the field.
The pool features a pair of players who bookend the entire history of mixed doubles curling in Canada. Robert Desjardins is one-half of the inaugural Canadian mixed doubles gold-medallist team. In 2013, he won the championship with Isabelle Néron. Einarson is one-half of the defending Canadian mixed doubles championship team after winning the 2021 championship with Brad Gushue. Einarson forces with Jacobs, the 2014 Olympic gold-medallist in men’s curling, after Gushue qualified for the Olympic Winter Games with his men’s team.
Pool B includes four Olympian curlers vying to wear the Maple Leaf once again. 2018 Olympian Lisa Weagle (Ottawa) and her partner John Epping (Toronto) are the top seed in the pool. The experienced Olympic duo of Homan/Morris is also in the pool. While Marc Kennedy (St. Albert, Alta.), 2010 Olympic gold-medallist and 2018 Olympian, will try and qualify for this third Olympics and first as a member of the mixed doubles team. He’s playing with Val Sweeting (Lottie Lake, Alta.), who was just shy of winning the inaugural mixed doubles trials event in 2018 with Gushue, where the duo fell short in the final against Lawes and Morris.
Weagle and Kennedy are both in unique positions to represent Canada in their respective four-player events and mixed doubles curling, which has never been done by a Canadian. Weagle, alternate for Team Jones, has already booked her spot to Beijing in the women’s competition, while Kennedy was just announced as the Team Gushue’s alternate earlier this week.
Clancy Grandy/Patrick Janssen (Pickering, Ont.), Bobbie Sauder/Brendan Bottcher (Spruce Grove, Alta.), 2014 Canadian mixed doubles gold-medallists Kim Tuck/Wayne Tuck (Strathroy, Ont.), Laurie St-Georges /Félix Asselin (Laval, Que.) and Chelsea Carey (Calgary)/Colin Hodgson (Red Lake, Ont.) round out the field.
The teams play a seven-game round-robin, with the top team in each pool receiving a bye in the playoffs. The teams with the next best four win-loss records qualify for the playoffs.
Round-robin play begins on Dec. 28 at 9 a.m. (all times Central) and concludes on Dec. 31 at 12:30. Playoffs start on Dec. 31 at 4 p.m., with the semifinal occurring at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 2 and the final at 1:30 p.m.
The winning team will join national mixed doubles coach Scott Pfeifer, and men’s and women’s Olympic teams skipped by Gushue and Jones in Beijing for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, scheduled for Feb. 4-20.
The mixed doubles competition begins two days before the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 2, with the gold-medal game held on Feb. 8. An expanded field of 10 teams will compete for the opportunity to top the podium in the second-ever mixed doubles competition at the event.
Canada will enter the mixed doubles event at the top-ranked country in the world in the discipline.
View the full schedule for the 2022 Canad Inns Candian Mixed Doubles Trials here.
Tickets for the 2022 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials can be purchased here.
The event will be streamed live and available through CBC Sports digital platforms: cbcsports.ca, the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices and the free CBC Gem streaming service. The complete schedule can be found here.