Homan’s team gets ready for mixed doubles event
BY JOE PAVIA
Rachel Homan during the 2016 Ontario Scotties at the Brampton Curling Club in Brampton, Ont., on Jan. 19, 2016. (Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)
A gold medal is a carrot.
The Canadian mixed doubles championship begins Thursday and a host of Canada’s elite players are competing in Saskatoon. The world championship in this discipline is the first qualifying event to determine the seven countries that will be battling for the gold medal along with host country Korea at the 2018 Winter Games
All members of Rachel Homan’s Ottawa rink are competing. Homan is teamed with Mark Nichols from Brad Gushue’s squad; Lisa Weagle will be playing with John Epping; Joanne Courtney is with Reid Carruthers and third Emma Miskew is paired with Ryan Fry of Brad Jacobs’ team.
“You pick you own partners,” said Miskew. “So people just talked and decided to team up. You never know who is going to work with you. Especially when there is only one other person, you have to make sure you’re a good team.”
Mike and Dawn McEwen are one of the few married couples competing.
“It’s just like an experimentation for a lot of the players that don’t usually play in mixed doubles to just feel it out and see who they need to play with and what kind of style of game they want to play.” Miskew continued.
There are four pools of eight teams each. Courtney and Miskew are in the same one. After a pool round-robin the four pool winners, plus the next best eight teams advance to a 12-team elimination playoff. This leads to a quarterfinal, semi and final.
What if Homan team members end up playing each other? They experienced that earlier this season in Oshawa. Homan played Weagle and Weagle played Miskew.
“You still want your teammates to play well because all in all our major goal is to win as a group of four,” Miskew said. “When I see Rachel or Lisa or Joanne playing well, it motivates me to play well against them so when we play as a team we all play well.”
She explains that there is a difference playing mixed doubles.
“It’s a lot faster.,” Miskew said. “You really don’t have a ton of time to just hang out, you’re on the go a lot and getting up and helping to sweep. You’re moving more and it seems to go by very quickly.”
Does a potential Olympic medal help fill the national field?
“Yeah, I would say so,” Miskew said. “It’s tough to say exactly why everyone is motivated to play. That it’s in the Olympics definitely helps people wanting to play in it. At the elite level, they still focus on four-person curling. The mixed double is something to do on the side because it’s fun and different.”
Other notable entries are Stefanie Lawton with Steve Laycock, Chelsea Carey with Colin Hodgson, Jocelyn Peterman and Brent Gallant and the defending champions — Charley Thomas and Kalynn Park.
The winning team will represent Canada at the 2016 world mixed doubles championship, April 16-23 in Karlstad, Sweden.
The men’s world championship begins Saturday in Basel, Switzerland. TSN’s coverage begins Saturday afternoon at 1 with Canada versus Finland.
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