For the third year in a row, the same two teams played down in the same championship and same team won.
Team Smallwood defeated Team Balsam to win the Yukon Mixed Doubles Curling Championships on Saturday at the Whitehorse Curling Club.
The husband and wife team of Robert and Jody Smallwood will now represent Yukon a third straight time at the Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Trials for the world championships in Ottawa next month.
“I always want to go and give it our best effort, see if we can get a little farther up in the standings,” said Robert. “Our first year was pretty good. Last year … we fell short of a playoff situation.
“This year we’ll see if we can come out of the gate with more wins that are needed for the playoff spot and move on to that next round if we can.”
The Smallwoods, who reached the quarterfinal of the world trials in 2013, defeated the team of skip Herbert Balsam and third Corrine Delaire for the spot.
Team Balsam scored four in the seventh end Saturday morning, but the Smallwoods put two up in the eighth to win 8-5.
The Smallwoods then scored three in the seventh end to win 12-2 and seal the deal in the best-of-three playdown.
“The first game, I thought we played pretty good. We were down one coming home – we had a good seventh end, came back, scored four. That was all right,” said Balsam. “In the second game, I think we curled well, they
just got the breaks. That’s the way curling goes sometimes: you get the breaks.
“But that was the third year they’ve beat us, so we’re getting a little discouraged.
“It seems like it’s like that all the time: we play well in the first (game) … In the second game we get blown out for some reason.”
The Smallwoods have already had plenty of success on the sheets this season.
Robert and Jody, along with Yukon teammates Nicole Baldwin and Wade Scoffin, placed 10th at the 2015 Canadian Mixed Curling Championships in November. The team finished with five wins and four losses for the first winning record by a Yukon rink this millennium.
Robert was also the winning skip at the Yukon Men’s Curling Championships last month and will compete at his third Brier – the Canadian men’s curling championships – beginning Feb. 28 in Calgary. On board with
Robert are Scoffin as third, second Steve Fecteau, lead Clint Ireland and fifth Scott Odian.
The same Smallwood team went undefeated at the Polar Eyes Optometry Cashspiel in Whitehorse at the end of November.
The winning mixed doubles team at the trials next month will go on to represent Canada at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships in Sochi, Russia, this April. The first world championship for the relatively new version of curling was held in 2008.
“It’s a lot better game than people think,” said Balsam. “It’s very strategic and it’s a lot of fun, actually. It’s just a fun as (regular) curling and it really develops your game too because you’ve got to be right on the money … It really makes you concentrate on your shot.
“You get lots of rocks in house, lots of plays, tap-backs – you’ve got to make finesse shots.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org