A flurry of tour curling results are showing up in fan newsfeeds these days, but in this critical Olympic season, what’s it all mean?
Here are some concepts to ponder as you consume your curling data.
KOE + MORRIS = ?
Calgary’s Kevin Koe scored his second World Curling Tour win in as many outings at Swift Current, Sask. by beating Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs 8-1 in the final. The Koe machine went 8-2 during the weekend, playing four more games than Jacobs, and winning four in a row from the C-side semifinal onward.
This follows a 5-0 run at their first event of the season, in Okotoks, Alta.
It’s a good start for a team that created some question marks during last season’s Bubble Brier, most of them centred on the new guy, John Morris, who replaced Colton Flasch in the lineup. Are Morris and Koe—who were teammates in the mid-2000s when Morris skipped—starting to click again?
Calgary hosted the women’s worlds—in the bubble—back in May. Many of the teams returned this past weekend for the venerable Autumn Gold women’s cashspiel, which saw two international teams in the final. Tabitha Peterson of the United States became the first U.S. winner in the event’s 43-year history by defeating Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa by a 6-5 count.
Peterson, of course, stunned Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg in the bubble to win America’s first women’s championship medal— a bronze—at the worlds since 2006. As pained Canadian fans know, Kerri Einarson’s foursome finished sixth.
2021 U.S. women’s finalist Jamie Sinclair lost the semifinal to Fujisawa, while Chelsea Carey’s new Sasky outfit was the top Canadian finisher, losing the other semi. More internationals from Korea (Un-Chi Gim) and Scotland (Eve Muirhead) made the quarterfinals.
Looking ahead to the first Grand Slam event of the season, Oct. 19-24 in Oakville, Ont., the women’s field is packed with internationals … in fact there are only five Canadian teams in the field, compared to 11 from Japan, Korea, USA, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia.
Five Canadian teams in a 16-team field. In Canada’s flagship cashspiel series.
Danish veteran Madeleine Dupont caused another shocker at the women’s worlds, finishing 8-6 to claim the fourth of six Olympic women’s berths for Beijing 2022. Earlier this month she caused another seismic event by winning the Women’s Masters in Basel.
One thing you need to realize is that Dupont rarely wins cashspiels. She barely plays in them to begin with.
But she and her teammates travelled to Basel and went 2-2 in their pool, squeaking into the quarterfinals. That’s where the magic happened, as the Danes took out Switzerland’s Raphaela Keiser (8-7), Sweden’s Isabella Wrana (8-6) and Hasselborg (4-3) to take almost $14,000 home.
Here is another confounding curling question: is Dupont for real? Does Denmark have a chance at their first Olympic medal since Helena Blach Lavrsen in 1998?
GLENN NOT GOING AWAY
Talking about veterans … Glenn Howard has recently been dubbed the Wizard of Winter and while I’m not sure about that nickname, his on-ice credentials continue to shine.
His team went 2-2 at the Trials Direct Entry Event in Ottawa, and did a few better at the latest StuSells event in Oakville, finishing 5-2 with a loss to Brad Gushue in the championship final.
Back to John Morris for the final thought.
He also captured a title on the previous tour weekend in Banff, Alta. This came with his regular mixed double partner Rachel Homan. They took out the established pairing of Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant 6-5 in the final, and wielded a spotless 8-0 won/loss record overall.
They’ve got an Olympic Trials spot booked for early January. Of course, this comes after the four-player Trials in Saskatoon, where Morris’ Team Koe and Homan’s women’s squad will be attempting to earn Beijing berths.
Fans of the mixed doubles discipline have long wondered if Homan and Morris could win a major like the Trials. Their attempt to win their way to PyeongChang in 2018 was derailed by Homan’s successful women’s team qualification for Korea, and Morris then teamed with Jennifer Jones third Kaitlyn Lawes—and won the gold.
For the following season, Morris declared his focus was now on mixed doubles, and he teamed with a variety of partners to score some decidedly mixed results.
Then he rejoined the world of men’s play, joining the Koe crew.
The fact is, Homan has been Johnny Mo’s true MD partner for a long time now. Will they ever get their chance to wear the maple leaf together…?