#BetweenTheSheets: Rocks Will Spin From West To East
Curling fans have big events to watch in Edmonton and Oakville
Curling fans love September.
Sure the nice summer weather starts to drift away and our days start getting a bit shorter but curling ice is placed and competitive events hit our calendars.
This is one of the top, and most competitive, weekends on the curling season calendar.
Huge events in Edmonton and Oakville featuring top contending teams from across Canada and around the world.
And teams are prepping for an Olympic season.
Ring the bell....the drama is about to begin.
Dreams will be made...and dreams will be shattered.
And it all begins with this weekend *officially*
The blog is ready to get back into the preview and predictions.
So why delay what, hopefully, you have all come here for.
Bring on the previews.
Bring on the predictions.
Bring on the competitive curling weekend.
Saville Shoot-Out (Alberta Curling Series)
2019 Champion: Team Einarson
Format: 25 team RR with 5 pools of 5. Top 8 qualify.
Top Teams Entered: Team Einarson, Team Homan, Team E. Kim, Team Walker, Team Scheidegger, Team Brown
Welcome back to the ice the defending champs. Not just the defending champions at this event but the two-time defending Canadian champs. Team Einarson won the title in Edmonton when the event was last held in 2019. The tour title jumpstarted the success of the team over the past two seasons en route to claiming Scotties titles. So why should we expect the success to end where it started?
Lets also remember Val Sweeting is very familiar with the Saville Sports Center and she is a two-time champion here, having won the title back in 2015 as a skip.
This will be a good litmus test to start the season for Einarson. The draw is not simple. They will face contenders Team Scheidegger and the new look, Sask-based Team Chelsea Carey.
But they are the champs for a reason. They are the favs until someone steps up and knocks them off.
This is a stacked field with big names and experienced teams...but could a past Canadian champ become the flag bearer for #TeamUpset?
Chelsea Carey is back on the ice with a new team, yet again. What happens now?
From Manitoba to Alberta to Saskatchewan, Carey has joined forces with Jolene Campbell, Stephanie Schmidt and NB-transfer Jenn Armstrong to hit the ice for their first event as a new team. Will the new lineup work? Saville will tell us a story.
But lets not think just "big names" can steal the spotlight in Edmonton. Lindsay Bertsch sound faimilar?
At the Alberta Curling Series season opener a few weeks ago in Leduc, Bertsch reached the championship final, losing the title to B.C.'s Team Brown. Can lightning strike twice for the Calgary-based team?
And keep your curling eyes on the #NextGen foursome Team Skrlik.
Many of the teams competing this weekend will be making their season debuts so we do not fully know what to expect. Last season was...well...not *really* a season. For some of these teams and athletes, it has been awhile since they have had the opportunity to step on competitive ice.
Plus we have some new look teams, like the aforementioned Team Carey. Will new teams gel right away? Could the lack of playing last year actually work for a new team as an advantage?
And watch out for those 2 non-Canadian teams in the field. Korea's Team E. Kim and Germany's Team Jentsch are looking to spoil the home ice advantage.
Special shout out to Team Jentsch. Last time we saw them on the ice, they were competing at the world championships inside the #IceBubble dealing with COVID and competing with 3 players.
Welcome back to Alberta, Team Jentsch and, as curling fans, we hope the experience is a positive one. Alberta owes you one!
We also have a few teams competing in Edmonton who are preparing to travel down the Olympic Curling Trials road to Saskatoon as Teams Brown, Rocque, Scheidegger and Walker will be at the Direct-Entry event starting Sept. 22 in Ottawa.
Teams Anderson, Barker, Harrison, Robertson and Zacharias will use this event in similar prep for the upcoming Pre-Trials at the end of October in Liverpool, NS.
Teams Hunkin and Wark will kick-start their season towards Olympic trials qualification as they have invites to the upcoming Pre-Trials Direct-Entry event in a few weeks as well in Ottawa.
All these teams in contention for Olympic trials bids will want to start their season with positive results.
Qualifiers: Team Einarson, Team Homan, Team E. Kim, Team Jentsch, Team Brown, Team Scheidegger, Team Anderson, Team Walker
Championship: Team Einarson def. Team Homan
Stu Sells Oakville Tankard
2020 Champion: Team J. Jones
Format: 10 team RR with 2 pools of 5. Top 4 qualify.
Top Teams Entered: Team J. Jones,
With all due respect to the other 9 teams competing in the field, Jennifer Jones and her team are going to be the overwhelming favourite ro #DefendTheIce from one year ago.
The resume is known. The titles are collected. And this is a big season for the skipper, who many consider the GOAT of the sport.
This is the opening event for Jones, building towards the Olympic trials in November. And we know the questions for Jennifer Jones heading into the season.
Is this the final competitive season for her? If the team fails to win the trials, will we see the dreaded "R" word come into the discussion? The fight is still there. The results against top Canadian and international teams may not be as strong as it was years ago.
All eyes will be on Jones this season. And this is the first slide out of the hack.
Ryerson Rams FTW?!
We have seen this in the past at a few events where a university team enters WCT events. We have seen it with the University of Alberta, University of Manitoba and Wilfred Laurier University. This weekend we will see it with Ryerson University.
The Rams are skipped by Courtney Auld and will be looking to wave the university upset flag in the competition.
To continue to #growthesport we need to continue the build of the CIS curling program. We need to see the university system thrive to help build the #NextGen while also putting importance on education with sport.
Imagine what a victory for the Ryerson Rams team with a run to the championship this weekend in Oakville will do for not only the local program but also draw increased attention to the CIS curling program.
Jones highlights Pool A, joined with other top contenders (and fan favourites) Team Galusha and Team Inglis. With those three teams beating on one another in the RR, Pool B appears to be wide open.
Past Ontario champ Hollie Duncan will be the favourite but there could be a few others ready to make a deep run in Oakville. Jestyn Murphy and Heather Heggestad have been Ontario contenders. Courtney Auld, curling with Chrissy Cadorin, are also familiar names among the Ontario curling scene. And we have our #TeamUpset flag bearers.
Pool A is going to fun to watch due to the big names. Pool B is going to be fun due to the opportunity.
Plus lets remember Team Duncan, Team Inglis and Team Murphy are using this event as a tune-up for the pre-trials event while Team Galusha is preparing for the Pre-Trials Direct-Entry event.
And yes, if you are confused by this convoluted Olympic trials process in Canada...you are not alone. What a mess!! But that is a topic for another blog post.
Qualifiers: Team Jones, Team Duncan, Team Galusha, Team Murphy
Championship: Team Jones def. Team Duncan
Stu Sells Oakville Tankard
2020 Champion: Event halted before playoffs
Format: 22 team triple knockout with 8 qualifiers.
Top Teams Entered: Team Mouat, Team Jacobs, Team Dunstone, Team Epping, Team Howard, Team Paterson, Team Gunnlaugson, Team McEwen
Look at that line-up above under "Top Teams Entered". Yowie Wowie! How do we pick a fav?
Team Jacobs kicked off their season with a tour title last week here in Oakville at the Labour Day Classic. Do we give them an early advantage?
What about Scotland's Team Mouat? Mouat was the hottest team to end last season and kicked off their season with a QF berth at the Euro Super Series in Sterling, SCO a few weeks ago.
And don't underestimate Team Howard. They kick started their season at the Oakville Fall Classic two weeks ago with a championship win.
When we look at those top contenders, the above three might have a slight advantage having stepped on competitive ice already this season and found success with wins.
This event may be held in Ontario but we could see two Alberta teams steal the show.
Team Harty and Team Sturmay are the #NextGen challengers in Alberta and the future may be now. Both teams hit the ice in August at the season opening Alberta Curling Series event in Leduc, with Harty defeated Sturmay in the championship final. Both come to Oakville with positive momentum.
If Alberta falters, could the furthest Western based team pick up Western Pride? B.C.'s Tyler Tardi is another #NextGen contender looking to make the move this season. We saw this team reach the SF last weekend at the Labour Day Classic. Could these be the kickstarter events towards seeing Tardi on the Brier ice later in the season?
And lets give a quick shout out to Mark Kean. A previous Ontario champion, we have not seen Kean on the competitive ice for awhile but he is back this season. We saw Keaner kick off his season with his new team at the Oakville Fall Classic, going undefeated in the RR (including a W over eventual champ Team Howard) before falling short in the SF. The opening round battle between Kean vs. Tardi should be fun.
Speaking of Oakville success, watch out for Team Beuk.
Jonathon Beuk has moved to skip and added Tanner Horgan at vice and this team has hit the ice running with success already. Two events under the sliders. Two finals. Can they continue their magical run in Oakville?
Welcome to the 2021/22 season....and what a field to really give the "official" kick-off.
This field is LOADED with talent. We could make arguments for almost every team in this field being a title contender.
Top teams are going to take tough losses. Top teams may go 0-3 and be quickly eliminated. And we shouldn't be too surprised if that happens.
This field is not only exciting for fans but also a direct message to organizers of this event. Teams come to Oakville to compete at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard for a reason. This is a well-run event. A fun event. And a top contending event.
When we talk about what to watch for at an event, well for this event watch EVERY game. There are no bingo squares in Oakville folks.
Strap in...this is going to be fun!
And whomever hoists the trophy Monday afternoon will deserve it.
Pay particular attention to those teams who are chasing Olympic trial berths as well.
Teams Dunstone, Flasch, Gunnlaugson, Howard and McEwen are all competing here this week and are the same 5 men's teams competing in the Trials Direct-Entry Event in two weeks. Can one of those teams take an early advantage?
Team Beuk, Ferris, Harty, Simmons, Sturmay and Tardi will be competing at the Pre-Trials event in October.
LOTS to watch for in Oakville.
Qualifiers: Team Jacobs, Team Mouat, Team Dunstone, Team Harty, Team Howard, Team Tardi, Team Beuk, Team Epping
Championship: Team Mouat def. Team Dunstone
There are also some great mixed doubles events on the schedule this weekend in Boucherville, QC and Biel, SUI.
The #PowerRankings returns next week after a long delay, due to awaiting for more events to start the season and a little vacation from yours truly.
The rankings should see a shake-up due to the results this weekend...plus what about Switzerland's Team Schwaller, who is crushing the season thus far?
And a special shout out to #TwineTimeFam members competing this weekend:
- Kerry Galusha, Danielle Inglis, Matt Hall, Matt Dunstone, Kirk Muyres, Catlin Schneider, Jason Gunnlaugson, Mark Kean, Bruce Mouat and Tyler Tardi (Oakville)
- Daniela Jentsch, Casey Scheidegger and Laura Walker (Edmonton)
And congrats to Nadine Scotland on the happy and healthy birth of her first baby last month. Enjoy motherhood and we cannot wait to see you back on the ice in the future.
Take note of www.curling.com for some live streaming coverage as well.
For ALL the teams competing this weekend, good luck and good curling!