A post by Dean Hewitt, a member of the 2018 Mixed Doubles Curling team that represented Australia at the World Championships in Östersund, Sweden competing with his Mum Lynn! This was their second World Mixed Doubles Championships appearance.
It’s not your typical preparation for World’s that teams in the northern hemisphere would envisage. We hadn’t played a game together since Nationals in October 2017. Heck, we had only been on the ice for three hours over the past five months. But there was no way we were going to make excuses from being an Australian curler, we were only creating advantages. We spent numerous hours training in the gym and outdoors and staring at the bathroom floor whilst sweeping. Living in the same house gave us unlimited opportunity to watch games, discuss strategy and plan for the event. Dinners are becoming a little boring now without the endless strategy and travel arrangement discussions.
Getting on a plane to Europe in April, we felt as prepared as ever. We were stronger, fitter and more mentally tough than ever before. After landing in Copenhagen, we hit the ground running… somewhat because it was raining but mostly because we were eager to get on the ice in Tårnby. Over the course of our four training days in Tårnby we progressively built on our technical side of the game. We also threw in a practice match against the Danish team to evaluate our technical skills under pressure and time constraints which proved valuable leading into Riga.
The World Curling Tour Event in Riga was a fantastic preparation tournament with some of the fastest ice you’ll get to play on in a club and against some of the best teams in the World. We learnt a lot about how we had to approach some of these teams, particularly since we were playing Latvia and Switzerland at the Worlds. The added advantage of this event was playing under time clocks where we could experiment with how far we could push the boundaries before needing to make up time and how that would affect our playing percentages. There was no better way to lead up to Worlds than this competition and one that we’d highly recommend.
After several games in Riga, Stockholm was all about rest, relaxation, recovery and rejuvenation. More importantly, we met up with our final member of the team, Coach Pete! After the first day in Stockholm, we realised what a great decision it was to ask Pete to coach when he started speaking Swedish to locals. We soon found out that he completed his PhD in Linguistics and could understand a lot of other teams we were competing against on and off the ice!
Next stop, the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships in Östersund, Sweden.
After a couple days of practice, catching up with teams and organising all the logistics, we were ready to go for our first game against Italy. We had a slow start and were unable to claw back the margin despite finding our game after the second end. We were looking forward to playing Switzerland after narrowly losing to them in Riga. Once again it came down to the final rock, tied up, where we unfortunately feathered the guard with our draw to the button. Although this is a loss in the books, we achieved our goal by playing to our desired percentages and putting ourselves in the driver’s seat to win the game. In our rematch against Latvia, after going down to them in Riga, we came out on a high note. We led almost all the way, eventually winning in the extra end 8-6. This was a great win for us because we knew we were playing a great country which went undefeated in the round robin last year and were undefeated coming into the game against us. We continued to play hard in the following three games against Slovenia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, managing to win all three 8-6, 8-2 and 12-4 respectively.
We moved on to our final match against a strong USA outfit, needing to win to make playoffs. It was back and forth the whole way and a big highlight being Lynn’s double to score 4 in the second end. We reached the extra end in control of the hammer. After the USA made a great shot on their last, we were left with a draw to the button for the win. Unfortunately, our rock finished up just a few centimetres away from making the shot and reaching the playoffs. Despite being a tough way to finish, we improved on our win-loss record from last year and put ourselves in winning positions on many occasions.
We now move on to the New Zealand Winter Games alongside another team from Australia, Kim Forge and Jay Merchant, where we look to improve on our record again from last year. It’s back to the gym for us and back onto Australian ice at O’Brien Group Arena!
Special thanks go to the Australian Olympic Committee for assisting with travel costs relating to Worlds and the training and tour events leading up to Worlds. Once again, thank you to Balance Plus and Dynasty for assisting with our second to none equipment and uniforms. Finally, thank you to all the support from family, friends and other curlers. It truly means a lot. We had a blast!
– Dean Hewitt