Sports Team Walker earns spot at Canadian Olympic curling trials with win over Team Brown
Road to Canada's Olympic curling trials crowded in Ottawa tournaments
OTTAWA — Jockeying to represent Canada in team curling at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing escalates Wednesday in Ottawa with a pair of events designed to complete the trials and pre-trials fields this winter. Five men’s teams are chasing two berths and five women’s foursomes will compete for three spots in November's Tim Hortons Curling Trials in Saskatoon. Regina's Matt Dunstone, Saskatoon's Colton Flasch, Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., Winnipeg's Jason Gunnlaugson and Mike McEwen will vie to join Edmonton's Brendan Bottcher, Toronto's John Epping, Brad Gushue of St. John's N.L.
The women's and men's fields for the Olympic curling trials in Saskatoon are getting a little more clear after two bonspiels this weekend in Ottawa.
Edmonton's Kelsey Rocque and Laura Walker as well as Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., have all booked their tickets to the prairie city for the trials in late-November after finishing in the top-three of the trials direct-entry event.
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The three teams join already qualified Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., Ottawa's Rachel Homan and Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones.
Scheidegger was the first women's team to earn their spot with a victory over B.C.'s Corryn Brown on Saturday.
"We are ecstatic to be back at the trials. It's been a very long off-season for us, but we did as much as we could off the ice," Scheidegger told CBC Sports.
"With the help of our coach, Joan [McCusker], we worked on team dynamics, communication and mental preparation. I feel as though this really paid off for us, and we are excited to continue building on all that we've started."
After starting 2-0, Walker lost her next two games and needed a Sunday victory over Brown to earn a spot in Saskatoon.
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After dropping the first game to Brown 9-8 in the extra end, it came down to a final showdown between the same two teams later on Sunday to decide the final spot.
But with the pressure on, Walker was able to pick up an 8-4 win and advance to the Olympics trials.
While there were three trials spots available on the women's side with five teams competing, only two spots were available on the men's side.
McEwen, Dunstone lock up spots
Winnipeg's Mike McEwen and Regina's Matt Dunstone both locked up their spots at the Olympic trials with both teams finishing with 5-1 records.
It wasn't easy for both foursomes in their final games with Dunstone picking up an 8-6 victory over Howard in an extra end, while McEwen eked out a 9-8 win over Gunnlaugson.
"This means a lot. This past year I think we all have dealt with a lot of pressure and life anxiety," McEwen lead Colin Hodgson told CBC Sports.
Mike McEwen, Glenn Howard take opening wins at Canadian Curling Trials qualifier
Mike McEwen and Glenn Howard each notched opening wins at the Canadian Curling Trials Direct-Entry Event on Wednesday in Ottawa. Winnipeg's McEwen defeated the team led by Saskatoon's Colton Flasch in a 5-3 match at the RA Centre, while Howard beat Regina's Matt Dunstone in a 9-5 battle. It started with McEwen scoreless, and Flasch on the board with points in both the second and third ends. But McEwen rebounded in the fourth, quickly amassing four points by the sixth end. Both teams were only able to collect one more before the finish.
"Qualifying for the trials relieves a lot of that pressure and gives clarity to what's coming ahead rather than uncertainty. Earning our spot is a massive confidence boost and a relief to know we belong with Canada's best. We were prepared for the direct-entry and we will now prepare for the trials with more motivation than ever."
Dunstone, who curls out of Regina, will no doubt have the home crowd behind his foursome with the trials taking place in Saskatoon.
"After playing in the bubble last year in front of no fans, we are incredibly excited to be able to share this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the greatest curling fans in the world cheering us on and sharing this moment with us," Dunstone told CBC Sports.
'Closer to our final goal'
Dunstone's foursome has finished third in the past two Briers.
"It obviously feels great to get our spot and it allows us two full months to prepare. This has been in the works the last three and a half years and it feels great to be one step closer to our final goal and that is to be Olympic gold medallists for Canada and Saskatchewan."
Walker, Brown cruise to opening wins at national curling trials qualifier
Laura Walker and Corryn Brown earned victories on the opening day of the Women's Trials Direct Entry event at the RA Centre in Ottawa on Thursday. The tournament, which runs concurrently to the men's event, offers entry to three women's teams and two men's rinks into November's Olympic curling trials in Saskatoon . Walker took an early lead on Casey Scheidegger en route to victory, scoring two points in the first end. But Scheidegger got the points back right back in the second. However, it was all Walker from there as she scored five straight points and won 9-4 in eight ends.
Dunstone and McEwen join Edmonton's Brendan Bottcher, Toronto's John Epping, Brad Gushue of St. John's N.L., and Calgary's Kevin Koe.
The final two women's and men's teams that will earn spots to the Olympic trials will be determined at a last-chance qualifier in Liverpool, N.S. in late-October.
The 13 women's teams competing in Liverpool include:
Team Sherry Anderson (Saskatoon)
Team Penny Barker (Moose Jaw, Sask.)
Team Jill Brothers (Liverpool, N.S.)
Team Hollie Duncan (Woodstock, Ont.)
Team Jacqueline Harrison (Dundas, Ont.)
Team Danielle Inglis (Mississauga, Ont.)
Team Krista McCarville (Thunder Bay, Ont.)
Team Jestyn Murphy (Mississauga, Ont.)
Team Beth Peterson (Winnipeg)
Team Darcy Robertson (Winnipeg)
Team Mackenzie Zacharias (Altona, Man.)
Team Kerry Galusha (Yellowknife, NT.)
Team Corryn Brown (Kamloops, B.C.)
The 12 men's teams in Liverpool include:
Team Jonathan Beuk (Formerly Team Scott McDonald; Kingston, Ont.)
Team Braden Calvert (Winnipeg)
Team Pat Ferris (Grimsby, Ont.)
Team Paul Flemming (formerly Team Jamie Murphy; Halifax)
Team Mike Fournier (Montreal)
Team Jeremy Harty (Calgary)
Team Pat Simmons (Formerly Team Tanner Horgan; Winnipeg)
Team Karsten Sturmay (Edmonton) Team Tyler Tardi (Langley, B.C.)
Team Vincent Roberge (Etchemin, Que.)
Team Sean Grassie (Winnipeg)
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