It may have been a case of beginners’ luck for an Edmonton-based pair in their mixed doubles win at the OK Tire & BKT Tires Continental Cup.But it also could have to do with the fact the duo were part of a championship-winning mixed team just a few years ago.
Sarah Wilkes and Brad Theissen had never played a game of mixed doubles before they were matched up against Scotland’s Vicky Wright and Grant Hardie.
The rookies prevailed in a 10-4 win, giving Team Canada a much-needed point against Team Europe, which won the other two matches to take a 4-2 lead after Draw 2 at The Sports Centre at Western Fair District.
Team Europe counterpunched with the Swiss duo of Alina Paetz/Sven Michel finishing with an eight-point run in the second half of the game in a 10-4 win over Canada’s Kristin MacCuish (Landmark, Man.)/Darren Moulding (Lacombe, Alta.). Sweden’s Sofia Mabergs/Niklas Edin trimmed Canada’s Emma Miskew (Ottawa)/Colton Flasch (Calgary) 10-6.
“That was may first mixed doubles game and we’ve never played together,” said Wilkes, third for Calgary-based defending Scotties champ skip Chelsea Carey. “We’ve played mixed fours together but never mixed doubles.”
So was it beginners’ luck?
“Maybe something like that,” said Wilkes.
But perhaps a lot of it has to do with the fact that Wilkes and Thiessen won the 2016 Canadian mixed curling title in 2016 alongside Mick Lizmore and Alison Thiessen.
“It was fun. Brad’s easy to play with. We played mixed together a couple of years ago, so we knew how each other throws. It was good.”
Theissen, second for Brendan Bottcher, credits the win to some good advice the team got before the game from Team Canada assistant coach Heather Nedohin and captain David Nedohin, the championship couple from suburban Sherwood Park, Alta.
“We had a few tips, for sure, from Heather and Dave,” said Theissen. “They gave us a bit of strategy advice and advice of pre-game practise. Heather and Dave play all the time, so they’re experts. We relied on their advice quite a bit.”
The duo was well aware European teams embraced the format long before Canadian team leading up to the last Olympics, so they knew they had their work cut out for them.
“For sure,” said Theissen. “Mixed doubles is a lot bigger in Europe. They’ve been taking it more seriously that we have.”
The biggest thing for this duo was holding up their end of the deal for Canada.
“Absolutely,” said Wilkes, as the teams shook hands after seven ends and Wilkes prepared for to rejoin Carey’s team in the evening draw. “The point is good. A little bit of extra rest.”
Throwing up the rookies may have been a bit of a gamble by the coaches, who set up the matches, but there must have been some potential that they saw.
“It was a little bit (intimidating),” Theissen admitted. “We’ve never played mixed doubles competitively, in front of a big crowd, at the Continental Cup. It was a bit nerve-wracking, I guess.”
“We did a good job of it,” added Wilkes. “So, it was good, absolutely.”
The team paved its way to the huge win with a second-end steal of three to take an early 5-0 lead and managed to keep that margin to the finish line.
“That calmed the nerves, for sure,” said Wilkes.
The 2020 OK Tire & BKT Tires Continental Cup continues with a draw today with team play at 7:30 p.m. (all times EST).