It was the ultimate home ice advantage for Team Saskatchewan at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship in Swift Current.
Shaun Meachem, Kelly Schafer and Chris and Teejay Haichert from the Swift Current Curling Club captured the province’s first Canadian Mixed championship since 2015 with a 5-4 win over Kyle Kurz and Team Manitoba.
Saskatchewan opened with two in the first end, but after two blank ends, Manitoba responded a single in the fourth end and then stole one in the fifth to tie the game. The two teams traded deuces in the sixth and seventh to make the score 4-4 coming home with Saskatchewan having last rock. Meachem made a clutch draw to lie shot with his first skip stone, and then Kurz missed the takeout attempt to give the hometown rink the victory.
“That shot was harder than it looked when I was standing down there,” Meachem said. “It’s arguable whether it was the right shot or not. It’s the right shot if you make it, and it made it so that if you make it, then my last shot is a lot easier.”
After losing their opening game against Nova Scotia on Sunday, Saskatchewan went on to win the rest of their games en route to capturing the title in front of their home fans, who came out in droves to watch their team play all week.
“It’s super special,” Meachem added. “This place was stacked, right full. Standing room only for every draw… some people were going home so they could watch it on their computer because they had nowhere to sit. Lots of great support.”
The team will represent Canada at the World Mixed Curling Championship in Aberdeen, Scotland, in October 2024, and it will be a homecoming for Schafer, who represented Scotland at seven Women’s World Championships and three Winter Olympic Games before making Swift Current her home.
“It’s just so special, especially since it’s close to my hometown,” Schafer said. “I’ll be proud to represent Canada and that’ll be a new thing for me.
“It means everything to win at home,” Schafer added. “We have such a great club, all three of us have been part of the host committee and we really wanted to put on a great event for the curlers because that’s what means the most to us, and I think we did that this week… I’ve said for a long time that we have some of the best ice, if not the best ice in Saskatchewan, and then to come out and it’s just been consistent. The crowds have been fantastic… and it’s fun. Everybody’s rooting for you.”
This is the first Canadian championship for Meachem and Schafer, but for Chris and Teejay Haichert, they will return to the World Championship for the first time since winning nationals in 2015 with Max Kirkpatrick and Jolene Campbell.
“We really wanted to win this one for, obviously, Kelly who’s from Scotland and the winner gets a trip to Scotland, so this meant a lot for all of us, but especially nice to get her home,” Chris said. “This field was extremely talented. We had some really good games but we knew the final was going to come down to the wire, and I can’t say enough about the fans. The Saskatchewan fans and the fans from Swift Current that came out to cheer us on, that’s what I’m going to remember most about this entire national event. It touched my heart. The fans and what it meant to hear them cheering us on.”
Haichert, who is the general manager of the Swift Current Curling Club, says they’ll train hard in the next 11 months as they work to bring a World Mixed title back to Canada, but it’s business as usual in the meantime.
“The beat goes on,” he added. “We got the Sunday junior curlers bright and early tomorrow and I might be a little foggy, but I’ll be there teaching the junior curlers.”
Scott McDonald and Team Ontario claimed the bronze medal with an 8-3 win over Nova Scotia in the third-place game at the same time as the final.