BOW VALLEY – Some of the world’s best curlers are in the Bow Valley this week and fans across the globe will be able to watch them in action thanks to enhanced live streaming.
The second annual Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic from Thursday to Sunday (Jan. 2-5) takes place at the Canmore Golf and Curling Club and Banff Fenlands arena, where 36 teams with brooms and rocks in hand vie for pride and a $8,500 grand prize.
“We’re trying to make sure that we get this out to the world and they have a chance to see it and enjoy it,” said Steve Young, president of the Rocky Mountain Curling Association. “It also brings greater exposure to not only our event, but to businesses in the Bow Valley and what we’re trying to do here … and we want to show that pride to the rest of the world and they see what we’re doing.”
A link to the online live streaming will be available at mountaincurling.ca. The event is also open to the public to watch in person and tickets can be purchased at the Banff and/or Canmore curling clubs.
Of the 36 two-person teams competing in the World Curling Tour event, representing Canmore are the teams of Olympic gold medallist John Morris and Rachel Homan, Karen Dreaver and Mitch Dublanica, and Melanie Puzzie and Scott Moncur.
Curling legends @johnnymocurler and @RHoman89 are part of the incredible field playing in the 2nd annual Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic in @banfftown and @townofcanmore from Jan 2nd - 5th! ❤️🥌 @QualicoYYC @QCWinnipeg #QMDC #banff #canmore #alberta #curling #goodcurling pic.twitter.com/PdqusFABNh— Rocky Mountain Curling Association (@MountainCurling) December 17, 2019
Banff's Anika Villemaire, 14, is competing this year with Ky Macaulay. Not only are they the only team representing the Banff Curling Club, the teens are likely the youngest duo competing.
“Just getting points against these really big teams is a big opportunity and really big learning curve for me,” Villemaire said. “The biggest thing is the head game in this tournament, I think you need to know how to calm down and not let who you’re playing get to you.”
Local future stars Anika Villemaire and Ky Macaulay will be repping @curlbanff for this year’s Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic! 💪 Visit https://t.co/E77b2WzJgi for all the event details! @qualicoyyc @QCWinnipeg #QMDC #banff #canmore #alberta #curling #goodcurling pic.twitter.com/4ZssbVfcTe— Rocky Mountain Curling Association (@MountainCurling) December 19, 2019
Last year, the 14-year-old curler teamed with Japan’s Sora Ishida at the inaugural event and they matched up against Villemaire’s idol and Olympic gold medallist Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing. Jones and Laing are among the elite curlers returning this year, plus new to the tournament is the 2018 Olympic bronze medallists in mixed curling, Norway’s Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten.
“It is hard going into it as a younger team against all these Olympians and amazing curlers, but I definitely think there’s something to prove and scoring points against those teams is amazing,” Villemaire said. “Just going in there and showing everyone you’re not those little curlers from the club anymore.”
In 2019’s inaugural event, the winning team of Korey Dropkin and Sarah Anderson of Minnesota, U.S.A., took home a $10,000 grand prize. This year, the prizes were divvied up more, and the winning team will earn $8,500 and second place takes $6,500.
The champs are back! @AndersonDropkin are part of an incredible field and look to defend their title in the 2nd annual Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic, January 2-5, 2020. For all the details, visit https://t.co/E77b2WzJgi #QMDC #banff #canmore #alberta #curling #goodcurling pic.twitter.com/xTdujTTyOn— Rocky Mountain Curling Association (@MountainCurling) October 24, 2019
With the defenders of the Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic title currently being from below the border, Young says they'll be met by stiff competition over four days.
“Sarah Anderson and Korey Dropkin, they’re great people – how could you not love them?” Young said.
“That being said, I do believe the Canadian teams will want to dethrone them, that’s just Canadian pride, but as we do it, we will do it with humility and that’s what Canadians do as well … but if Anderson and Dropkin win it again we’ll be just as happy.”