Curling fans around the world have been fixated on the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics this season but let us not overlook the Season of Champions. For Canadian curling fans, the Road to the Roar pre-trials will conclude in perfect time for us to slip on our sliders and clean our rocks in preparation for another Canadian big-time event.
Welcome to Swan River, Manitoba and the 2018 Canadian Mixed Curling Championships!
For those unfamiliar, the mixed curling championships should not be confused with the debut Olympic mixed doubles curling event. Mixed curling is a full team of 4 players, comprised of two men and two women with each position alternating between men and women. And the Canadian Mixed Curling Championships have a rich curling history in our fare nation.
You like numbers right? Curling is a sport of numbers. We have the 12 foot, 8 foot, 4 foot. We measure times from hog line to hog line. We fixate on draw to the button numbers to decide hammer or break ties. Numbers, numbers, numbers....but what is in a number? Here are a few Canadian Mixed Curling Championship numbers to fill your stopwatch:
- 1964 - The first event is held in Toronto, Ontario. Manitoba's Ernie Boushy would claim the inaugural championship.
- 55 - The 2018 Canadian Mixed Curling Championships will mark the 55th Anniversary of this event.
- 10+1 - Let me explain here. The Canadian Mixed Curling Championships are the only Canadian curling championship to have every Canadian province claim at least 1 title. In fine Canadian curling tradition, the +1 pays recognition to Northern Ontario also claiming the title 4 times (including last year).
- 42 - As in 42 years the province of Newfoundland and Labrador had to wait to claim its first title. After being the last province to take home the championship banner, Newfoundland and Labrador finally finished at the top of the podium in 2005 led by a very familiar name, Mark Nichols.
- 1 - In the 54 year history of the championships only once has a team led by a female skip claimed the title. Shannon Kleibrink broke the curling glass ceiling if you will in 2004 when she skipped her Alberta team to the championship win in Timmins, Ontario.
- 7 - Only 7 times have the host province been the last team standing. The first province to accomplish the feat was Saskatchewan in 1978, who would do it again in 1984. The most successful is Alberta, pulling the feat 3 times (1992, 2000, 2008). The other provinces to win on home ice are PEI (1987) and Nova Scotia (2002).
- 3 - As in #3peat! Only one skip in the history of the event has skipped their team to 3 Canadian championships. Saskatchewan's Larry McGrath won back-to-back titles in 1967 and 1968 before claiming the historic win in 1971. McGrath is also the only skip to defend the title.
- 5 - There have been only 5 instances where the defending province repeated their title victory the next season. Saskatchewan was the first to accomplish the distinction with McGrath in 1967/1968 only to have Alberta replicate the feat in 1969/1970. Nova Scotia has gone back-to-back twice (1998/1999 and 2002/2003). Saskatchewan also has pulled the feat twice with the other being 1983/1984. Northern Ontario will try to add its name to the history books in 2018 and be the first province to pull the double W since Nova Scotia in 2003.
- 11 - Alberta leads the way in championship wins with 11. Saskatchewan is right behind with 10 victories followed by Manitoba with 8 and Nova Scotia with 7. Newfoundland (2005, Nichols) and Quebec (2001, Jean-Michel Menard) have only 1 championship title to their credit.
- 10+2 - As in the number of provinces + territories who have hosted the championship. Every province has served as host at least once while Yukon (2006, Whitehorse) and Nunavut (2009, Iqaluit) are the two territories to open their curling ice to the nation. Surprisingly Northwest Territories have yet to host a Canadian Mixed event. For 2018, Swan River will serve as host for the first time but this will be the sixth time Manitoba has been host province and first since 2011 (Morris).
- 0 - As in 0 tiebreakers will be held in Swan River. For those who watched the Road to the Roar, you probably had an opinion on the numerous tiebreakers needed to decide the playoff positions (twitter sure seemed to light up over the topic!). No issue at this event! If there are ties following RR play, they will be decided based on head-to-head results and accumulated draw shot numbers.
Canadian Mixed Curling Championships
Swan River, MB
2017 Champions: Team Northern Ontario (Skip: Trevor Bonot)
Format: 14 team RR with 2 pools of 7. Top 4 in each pool advance to Championship Pool while remaining 3 advance to Seeding Pool, carrying over their records from previously played games. Top 4 in Championship Pool advance to 1vs4 and 2vs3 playoff round. Final results determine seeding for #CMCC2019.
Watch Out For: Manitoba's Dean Dunstone is set to make history in his home province. Dunstone will be skipping the Buffalo team looking for a 9th championship victory. But the historic side is more on the Dunstone name. Current curling fans will recognize the name as Dean is the father of current Team Laycock vice, two-time Canadian junior champ (and #TwineTime fam member) Matt Dunstone. Where is the historic side you ask? Dean is the son of Jim Dunstone, the 1980 Canadian Mixed Curling Champion. Should Dunstone and Team Manitoba take home the title, the Dunstone family name would become the first curling family to have a father and son win the Canadian title. Never underestimate the Dunstone name in any curling event!
Dark Horse: Don't overlook Team Quebec this week. Led by Robert Desjardins as skip and Amelie Blais as vice, the team from La belle province could pull out a few wins over the favourites listed above and find themselves right in the championship hunt. The contending "big name" teams in this pool are strong but Desjardins is no slouch to the curling scene either with a strong resume behind him. Desjardins competed in the 2011 and 2012 Brier and won the inaugural Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in 2013. Don't sleep on Team Quebec!
Projected Standings: 1. Saskatchewan 2. NWT 3. Quebec 4. Manitoba 5. Alberta 6. Newfoundland 7. Nunavut
Watch Out For: Team Ontario could be the perfect team to quietly fly under the radar and take home this championship in a week's time. Skipped by Mike Anderson with Danielle Inglis (also a #TwineTime fam member) as vice, this team has played together for seven years and finally broke through at provincials earlier in the year to make their inaugural appearance at this event. While some teams curl together on the ice, this team also happens to be great friends off the ice. In fact, Sean (second) and Lauren (lead) Harrison are husband and wife. The point here being this team may be event rookies but the fact they have known one another for so long and are close on and off the ice could be a huge advantage. Should one player struggle or the team feel overwhelmed by the experience the inter-relationships on the team could carry them through any diversity or wide-eyed moment they encounter. They won't be considered favourites but they should not be overlooked.
Dark Horse: It is not often the curling fans from Yukon get a lot to cheer about but perhaps 2018 is the year of the Territories!? Yukon will be bringing one of their strongest teams ever to Swan River, skipped by Robert Smallwood, who competed at the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier. Smallwood also competed at the 2016 Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Championships with Jody Smallwood, who just happens to be his lead this week. Oh and how could we forget the vice on this team: Sarah Koltun. Koltun finds her name already in the record books as being the first player to compete in EIGHT Canadian Junior Curling Championships. While this team may not be a threat to win the title, don't underestimate their abilities to put together a few wins and make a push for the championship pool.
Projected Standings: 1. New Brunswick 2. Ontario 3. Nova Scotia 4. Yukon 5. Northern Ontario 6. BC 7. PEI
Championship Pool Qualifiers: Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Yukon
Seeding Pool Qualifiers: Alberta, Northern Ontario, Newfoundland, BC, PEI, Nunavut
Playoff Teams: Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Ontario
Canadian Mixed Curling Championship: Team Northwest Territories (Koe) def. Team Saskatchewan (Korte) - The time has come for #PolarPower to take home a Canadian curling championship and this is a very experienced team with the drive, ability and passion to make it happen. Mark one for the history books in Swan River folks!
We should be in for a good week of mixed curling action rock heads and stoners. Remember the winner of this event will go on to represent #TeamCanada at the 2018 World Mixed Curling Championships, at a date and venue to be named by the World Curling Federation.
Plus, for the first time CBC will be providing live-streaming coverage beginning Monday November 13. Head over to cbcsports.ca or download the CBC Sports app to ensure you don't miss any of the action on the ice. You can also find the full streaming schedule HERE. Curling fans can also stay up to date on draw by draw results and standings by visiting the event website. Also, if you want to know more about all the teams competing this week, check out the Five Fun Facts on each team from Curling Canada, including finding out which team had to change a tire in a McDonalds parking lot on their way to their provincial championship.
Don't forget the US Olympic Curling Team Trials are also underway in Omaha, Nebraska. In case you missed it, get caught up on the #TwineTime full event preview HERE.
And #StayTuned.....more event previews will be sliding into your house shortly! In the meantime, enjoy the curling action while I enjoy the warm beach, sunny weather and a few (ok maybe many) cold beverages as I take a little vacation to recharge the batteries and restore some mental health!