BOW VALLEY – Getting over the “hump”, that is the Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic for Brett Gallant and Jocelyn Peterman, has become more difficult than hiking up Rundle Mountain wearing 500-pound backpacks for the world-class curlers.
Starting in 2019, only four teams have been to the finals at the mixed doubles classic where three duos have been crowned, and, unfortunately for Gallant and Peterman, they have lost to all three champions.
“Usually it’s always the best team’s here, I find, every year, so it’s something to get to the final, but for whatever reason, it’s just eluded us this far,” said Gallant. “We played some good games; we played some really tough opponents each time we’ve made it to the finals, but yeah, we’d like to get that monkey off our backs, eventually.”
Coming down to the very last rock in the eighth end last Sunday, the team of Marlene Albrecht and Matt Wozniak edged out Gallant and Peterman 7-6 in a back-and-forth affair to win the 24-team bonspiel in Canmore and Banff from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2.
“It’s all about how you finish,” said Wozniak of Winnipeg. “We’ve had good starts in a lot of games and if you don’t finish strong that’s when you lose it.”
The winning team took home the $8,000 grand prize. The runner up won $6,000.
“We didn’t have too many expectations coming into the event, we just like coming out here; it’s a great bonspiel,” said Wozniak. “We were trying to hang in with them there, basically that was the plan, and hope we get lucky, which we did.”
In a testament to their strength as a mixed doubles duo, Gallant and Peterman, the third ranked team in Canada, have been the ironman and woman in the four renditions of the Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic.
“When you’re playing nine or 10 games in three or four days it can be a lot,” said Gallant. “But we’re getting used to it now, we know that mixed doubles is a bit of a grind but we love playing it. It gives Joce and I a chance to play together, which we love doing and it’s a lot of fun with so many good teams to play against and we like that challenge.”
Going into the finals, Gallant and Peterman were undefeated and Wozniak and Albrecht of Switzerland went 6-1 and were coming off a huge win against then undefeated Korey Dropkin and Cory Christensen.
After the first end of the finals, Gallant/Peterman (yellow) had a 2-0 lead, but Wozniak and Albrecht (blue) scored a big three-ender in the second when Peterman’s final throw missed killing two stones in the house.
In the third end, Gallant/Peterman tied things up but fell behind 5-3 midway through the game following another multi-point end for blue.
Fighting from behind, Gallant/Peterman snagged only one point in the fifth end and still trailed.
However, in the sixth, the game turned around in a big way.
Wozniak's throwing went stale, and Albrecht had a crucial missed shot, failing to kill two yellow stones with the hammer. In frustration, the Swiss curler said “no” and sighed loudly as Gallant/Peterman stole the end and went up 6-5.
After blue got one point in the seventh, it set up an intense, final end tied at six with an $8,000 purse up for grabs.
In dramatic fashion, it came down to a final yellow stone.
A high guard was set by blue, defending one stone in the house that rested behind the tee line and just outside the button. Yellow had two stones in the house, one being in the front of the house, centre line.
Team Gallant/Peterman’s strategy was to curl the final rock in on the button just above the blue stone. However, Peterman's throw was too heavy and sailed wide of the mark to end the game, 7-6.
“It was kind of unfolding for us a little bit in six,” said Wozniak. “[We were] just trying to hang on and keep close because if you can keep it close, it’s all you’re really looking for in this game and that’s pretty much how it went.”
Curlers Marlene Albrecht and Matt Wozniak win the 2022 Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic. In the final, the pair defeated Brett Gallant/Jocelyn Peterman, 7-6. #curling #canmore #banff @MountainCurling @CurlingZone pic.twitter.com/CK751Wn5N1— Jordan Small (@jordiesmall) October 2, 2022
Japan’s Chiaki Matsumura and Yasumasa Tanida and USA’s Dropkin and Christiansen shared bronze, winning $3,000 each.
They lost 7-6 to U.S. team Andrew Stopera and Sarah Anderson, who, along with Dropkin, won the inaugural Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic in 2019. Morris and previous partner Rachel Homan won the last two Qualico classics.
In their first mixed doubles event after starting their journey to qualify for the 2026 Winter Games, Morris and Birchard went 4-2.
Australian Olympic team, Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt, who trained in Canmore prior to 2022 Beijing, went 4-2. The duo, which was the 12th ranked mixed doubles team worldwide last season, was eliminated by Matsumura and Tanida, 5-4, in the quarterfinals.