Shorty Jenkins Classic showcases Canadian Olympic curling hopefuls
Brad Jacobs takes World Curling Tour win, gains momentum before national qualifiers
It wasn't the Olympic curling qualifying tournament, but the weekend’s Shorty Jenkins Classic in Brockville, Ont., was a good benchmark for the country’s top skips.
Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott won the men’s and women’s events at the World Curling Tour event, which sheds some light on many top Canadian rinks are as they prepare for Olympic qualification.
The following is a roundup of the results for each Canadian team that has already qualified for the Olympic tourney (Roar of the Rings in Winnipeg, Dec. 1-8) or that will take part in the pre-qualifying tourney (Road to the Roar in Kitchener, Ont., Nov. 5-10):
Teams already qualified for the Roar of the Rings (Olympic Trials):
- Kevin Martin – The new-look Alberta rink (Dave Nedohin was added as the team’s newest third in May) started the tourney with a surprising loss to Wayne Tuck Jr. but recovered by rattling off four straight wins, including a win over Niklas Edin. But the reigning world champions from Sweden ousted Martin in the quarter-finals with a 6-1 victory in four ends.
- Jeff Stoughton – Went a perfect 5-0 through the round-robin before knocking off Glenn Howard and Brad Gushue in the playoffs. However, the Winnipeg skip fell to Brad Jacobs in the final, spoiling a chance to take his fourth title at the event.
- Glenn Howard – The results in Brockville were less than ideal, for Howard’s rink, which chases its first Olympic berth. The team went 0-2 against qualifier opponents, losing to John Epping in the round-robin and Jeff Stoughton in the playoffs.
- John Epping – The Toronto-based rink beat Howard, but failed to reach the playoffs with their 3-2 record.
Teams that still need to go to Road to the Roar:
- Brad Jacobs – They still need to secure their spot with a top-two finish in the Road to the Roar in November, but Jacobs’s foursome has looked impressive lately. Not only did they beat Jeff Stoughton in the final of Shorty Jenkins, they got some revenge against Niklas Edin in the semis. The Swedish skip defeated Jacobs in the final of the curling worlds in April, but on Sunday the Sault Ste. Marie foursome beat the Swedish rink in the semis.
- Brad Gushue – The 2006 Olympic champion from is looking to get back in the Roar of the Rings and his St. John’s rink looked sharp compiling a 4-1 record and scoring a win over eventual champion Brad Jacobs in the round-robin.
There were also seven other men’s teams that have spots in the Road to the Roar that competed at the Shorty Jenkins Classic: Mark Kean, Joe Frans, Jake Higgs, Bryan Cochrane, Jean-Michel Menard, Rob Fowler, and Greg Balsdon; however all failed to make the playoffs.
Homan hitting her stride
On the women’s side, Rachel Homan -- Canada’s 24-year-old superstar skip from Ottawa -- made it to the final with a 4-1 round-robin record. Her only loss in that round came at the hands of Mirjam Ott, the eventual champion, who also bested her in that final.
Meanwhile, the only other women’s skip with a secured spot in the Roar of the Rings, Sherry Middaugh, went 5-0 through the round-robin, including a win over Scotland’s Eve Muirhead. Middaugh lost to Homan in the semis.
Tracy Horgan, the 2012 Shorty Jenkins champion, will be looking for success at the Road to the Roar as well, but found little at the weekend’s tourney. Her Sudbury, Ont.-based rink failed to win a single match over the weekend.