Curling is almost always a game of inches, but usually it’s the inches during a game, not before, that matter.
Caught in a three-way tie for the last playoff berth at the 2017 Canadian Mixed Curling Championship in Yarmouth, N.S., last week, Team Yukon was sent to the seeding pool through the “last stone draws” system. After warm-up prior to games, teams have a draw to the button measured. Each team has an average calculated that is used, when needed, to break ties for the last playoff spot.
Condemned to the seeding rounds, Team Yukon placed second in the pool to finish 10th overall out of 14 teams at the championship.
“It went pretty good. We didn’t curl as well as we could of, of course,” said skip Robert Smallwood. “That being said, it was a good run for a new team. It was a new team; it wasn’t the same team we had last year. If we stick with that same team I’m sure we would do a little bit better next year.”
Team Yukon, which included third Jody Smallwood, second Scott Odian and lead Shannon Hall, went 2-4 in their first six round robin games, beating Alberta 9-6 and P.E.I. 7-3. Yukon finished tied with P.E.I and Nova Scotia, but since P.E.I. beat Nova Scotia, who beat Yukon, who beat P.E.I., it went to last stone draws to break the tie. Nova Scotia took the playoff spot.
Yukon defeated N.W.T. 17-2 and Nunavut 6-3 before losing 7-4 to B.C. in the seeding pool to finish the championship with a 4-5 record.
Last week marked the Smallwoods’ fourth consecutive appearance at the mixed nationals. Last year Robert and Jody — and then-teammates Nicole Baldwin and Wade Scoffin — placed eighth out of 14 rinks for the best finish on record for a team representing Yukon. (A team representing both N.W.T. and Yukon placed fifth in 2006.)
Northern Ontario took gold with a 5-2 win over Manitoba in the final on Saturday. Team Ontario claimed bronze with a 6-4 win over Saskatchewan.
Robert — the current Yukon men’s champion skip — and Jody will go for a fifth straight title at the Yukon Mixed Doubles Curling Championship early next month in Atlin.
“We signed up again. We talked about not doing it with each other again because it seems like we’re on different pages with the intensity level,” said Robert. “I’m pretty competitive. She’s competitive — she likes to win, of course — but she’s a little bit more laid back than I am.”
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