Each time Whitehorse skip Bob Smallwood takes a curling team to the mixed nationals they finish higher up the standings.
“Maybe next time we go – if we go – we might come back with a top four finish,” he said.
Two years ago his rink didn’t get past the pre-qualifier and last year they placed 10th.
Smallwood and his Yukon team placed eighth out of 14 rinks at the 2016 Canadian Mixed Curling Championships, which wrapped up Saturday in Toronto.
It’s the best finish on record for a team representing Yukon. (A team representing both N.W.T. and Yukon placed fifth in 2006.)
The Smallwood rink, which includes third Nicole Baldwin, second Wade Scoffin and lead Jody Smallwood (Bob’s wife) – the same team as last year – went 3-3 in the first six games to reach the championship pool, but dropped their next four.
“Out original goal was we wanted to do better than last year and qualify for that top playoff spot,” said Bob. “We did that, we qualified, but we just couldn’t put any wins together afterwards to advance our position.”
The Smallwood crew opened with a bitter 5-3 loss to N.W.T., dropping a 3-0 lead. They then fell 7-2 to Quebec before putting some checkmarks in the win column.
The Yukon rink beat Nunavut 13-2, Ontario 7-6 – scoring one in the seventh and another in the eighth to win it – and 9-4 over Manitoba.
A 7-3 loss to Team Alberta, led by skip Mick Lizmore, stands out in Bob’s mind. The Albertan rink went on to take gold with a 4-2 win over Saskatchewan in the final.
“They are a really good team,” said Bob. “We tried and tried and tried, but they got an early jump on us.
“Once those young curlers got out to an early lead they kept everything clean. There was no way of coming back.
“We quit in the sixth end because it seemed pointless. They were hitting everything.”
Bob, who won last season’s Yukon Men’s Curling Championship, plans to make another run for the Brier – Canada’s men’s curling championship – this season. His rink lost in the Brier’s pre-qualifier last season.
His men’s team this year includes Jon Solberg, Clinton Abel and Scott Odian, all of who have played at the Brier in the past. The rink also includes fifth player and Super League sponsor Dave Rach.
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