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World’s best curlers … in the house

I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but there’s a pretty big event coming to the city this month. It’s called the World Women’s Curling Championship, and it brings together 13 of the best teams in the world in one spot.

I heard someone last week describe it as the 13 best teams in the world, and I was thinking that’s not quite accurate. I don’t know which of the 13 teams coming here to start play March 14 would be seeded lowest, but I have a feeling there are a number of Canadian teams who won’t be there who could beat them.

Canada has a reputation for being probably the best curling country in the world. We may not always have the world champion wearing our colours, but if you look at the, say, top 10 or top 20 ranked teams, Canada will have more than any other country.

It is safe to say, though, that at no time did I ever threaten to break into that esteemed company. I curled a couple of seasons back in Alberta, playing what we called “Town and Country Night” curling. It was basically getting in touch with the organizer, telling her you were free Friday evening for curling, and letting her make up the teams.

It was a good system, since she usually had a pretty good idea of the skill levels of each player and could make the teams fairly even. It also gave the curlers, like me, a chance to play with different people almost every week.

It was fun. The different skips I had figured out fairly quickly not to give me any real tricky shots, but to give me a shot where, if I missed it, there was a chance for a good shot.

I did make those accidental good shots on a semi-regular basis.

I was reminded of that last week when I had the chance to do a phone interview with Shannon Birchard, who will be here as part of Team Canada for the Worlds.

During the chat, I told her I had seen a YouTube video of her first shot at the 2018 Worlds. She was there as the alternate player for Team Canada, represented by Jennifer Jones. In the video, she comes sliding out of the hack, and suddenly slips and goes down to the ice, but she still makes the shot.

When I remind her of the shot, Shannon laughs.

“I came down for the fifth-end break to talk with the team, and suddenly Kaitlyn (Lawes) tells me I’m taking over for her for the rest of the game.”

Shannon wasn’t prepared for this, but that wasn’t the problem.

“Kaitlyn gave me her broom,” she says, “and it was a different make to what I usually use. It sat on the ice a bit differently and caught something as I slid out.”

She wasn’t hurt when her leg kind of folded under her, and can laugh about it now.

As I watched the video, I was thinking, “That looks like the way I used to curl. Have things go completely wrong, and still make a decent shot.”

Of course, I wasn’t doing my curling at the world-championship level.

Or on YouTube.

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