© Photo courtesy Sask Curling
The Swift Current rink of lead Kelsey Dutton, second Carl deConnick Smith, third Kelly Wood and skip Shaun Meachem are competing in the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship hosted at Ottawa's Rideau Curling Club from Nov. 14 to 23.
The Shaun Meachem rink, Swift Current's first ever Saskatchewan Mixed Curling champions, are in Ottawa to compete in the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship.
The Swift Current rink of Shaun Meachem at skip, third Kelly Wood, second Carl deConnick Smith, and lead Kelsey Dutton will be competing at the Rideau Curling Club in Ottawa from Nov. 14 to 23 at the 12-team national championship. They won the chance to go to nationals by winning the 2013-2014 Tim Hortons Provincial Mixed Curling Championship in Eston back in March.
"It's been a long time from the spring when we qualified to now has been a long wait," Meachem said during a send off celebration at the Swift Current Curling Club lounge on Wednesday. "Before it felt like a dream, but now it's getting close so every one's getting pretty jacked up."
Meachem said after a strong showing at provincials, they were inspired to get back on the ice after the summer months.
"We've made a point of playing a lot early in the season. We started our season probably almost a month earlier than we normally would, so we were getting prepared and trying to be in mid season form for the event."
The rink has high hopes despite this being their debut appearance at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship.
"We played so strong at the provincials, and we've been having a really good season so far, and we've got pretty high hopes. We'll have to see when we get there."
"Our team is really well rounded. Our mixed team, I would put up against any men's team. Our girls are really strong and I think that'll show at nationals."
Meachem admitted that while all members of the team are avid curlers, having the ability to take to the ice with world-class curler Kelly Wood boosts their confidence in every game.
"When you stand her resume up beside ours we're a little bit embarrassed because she's got a lot of experience at the Olympics and the World Championships and events like that. This is kind of small beans for her, but it's a big deal for us so we're hoping that we can rely on her to lay a licking on all the other thirds out there," he laughed.
Meachem also knows the field of competitors will also make their 11 game round robin test a challenge.
"It's going to be fairly tough. We know a few of the teams that are there. And the champions from last year are back, so that's always a challenge because they've been there before and they know how it feels to get into the final of a Canadian Championship. So we'll have to keep our nerves in check," he said. "We've got a lot of talent on this team, so we should do well."
The defending Canadian Mixed Curling champion Ontario rink skipped by Cory Heggestad is back in the mix, as is Manitoba's Sean Grassie how won the 2009 Mixed championship and went on to capture a bronze medal at the World Mixed Doubles. The field also boasts Brier veteran curlers in Nova Scotia's Rob Harris, PEI's Rod MacDonald, Steve Moss from the NWT, and Gary Oke from Newfoundland/Labrador.
Previous well-known names to win the Mixed championships include Jeff Stoughton, Rick Folk, Rick Lang, Kevin Koe, Colleen Jones and Shannon Kleibrink. Saskatchewan’s Larry McGrath is the Mixed Championship's only three-time winning skip with back-to-back wins in 1967, 1968 and a third title in 1971.
Meachem also thanked all those attending Wednesday's send off, as it was an important boost heading off to nationals.
"It's pretty exciting. You get to have friends and family out, and a lot of local community support is pretty important for this team. We've got some really good local community sponsors for our team that are helping us make this trip, so it's good to have this kind of turnout."
The Canadian Mixed Curling Championship is being hosted at the Rideau Curling Club in Ottawa from Nov. 14 to 23.
The draw schedule for the Meachem rink is as follows:
Saturday - 7:30 p.m. - versus Manitoba (skip Sean Grassie)
Sunday - 2:30 p.m. - versus Nova Scotia (skip Rob Harris).
Sunday - 7 p.m. - versus Alberta (skip Darren Moulding).
Monday - 2:30 p.m. - versus Prince Edward Island (skip Rod MacDonald).
Tuesday - 2:30 p.m. - versus Newfoundland and Labrador (skip Gary Oke).
Tuesday - 7 p.m. - versus British Columbia (skip Keith Switzer).
Wednesday - 10 a.m. - versus Ontario (skip Cory Heggestad).
Wednesday - 7 p.m. - versus Q2 (winner of pre-qualifer between North West Territories (skip Stephen Moss) and the Yukon (skip Bob Smallwood).
Thursday - 10 a.m. - versus New Brunswick (skip Sylvie Robichaud).
Thursday - 2:30 p.m. - versus Quebec (skip Mike Fournier).
Friday - 9 a.m. - versus Northern Ontario (skip Charlie Robert).