It's been quite the curling season so far for former Muskie Hailey Beaudry—and it became even more impressive over the weekend.
After claiming gold at the U21 provincials here in late December, having a solid showing at the nationals in Shawinigan, Que., and then helping her Lakehead University Thunderwolves women's rink to a best-ever fourth-place finish at the Ontario University Athletics championships in Sault Ste. Marie, Beaudry teamed up with Evan Chisamore-Johnston (Fort William) to capture silver at the mixed doubles provincials held Friday through Sunday in Atikokan.
The duo compiled a 3-1 record to advance to Sunday's final, where they fell just short of the title with a 6-4 loss to Trevor Bonot (Stratton) and Amanda Gates (Sudbury).
“It's not quite the finish we had hoped for but we still played really well,” Beaudry enthused.
“For myself, I was pleased with our results since it was an improvement from the fourth-place finish in the provincials last year,” she noted.
“Some of the biggest challenges I find with mixed doubles is the difference in the amount of rocks played with, [as] each end only five rocks are thrown per team, so a miss can be more substantial compared to the regular eight-rock curling,” she explained.
The final was revenge for Bonot and Gates after Beaudry and Chisamore-Johnston had beaten them 7-4 on Saturday.
“Another adjustment that you have to make is aiming or shooting the rocks without a target at the other end,” Beaudry said.
"If your partner is going to sweep, they aren't able to hold the broom for a target for that shot.
“I sometimes found it challenging to choose the ice for myself when I wasn't choosing how much ice I needed from the house, as I would normally do while skipping,” she noted.
Beaudry and Chisamore-Johnston opened play Friday with a 10-3 win over Sue and Brian Gates (Sudbury).
Then they cruised to an 8-3 triumph over the host rink of Emma and Philip DeCorte on Saturday morning before falling 6-4 to Jane and Paul Warkentin (Keewatin) to head to Sunday's final with just the lone blemish on their record.
“In mixed doubles, you really have to adjust your weight judgments because the game has a lot of draw shots in it, and a lack of draw weight really makes it harder to get points,” Beaudry reasoned.
"Especially if your opponent has good draw weight.
“Another adjustment I had to make was sweeping a lot of rocks,” she added.
"Usually, the most I sweep in a regular game of curling is six-foot stretches from behind the T-line in the house.
“I enjoyed having the chance to sweep in mixed doubles,” Beaudry enthused.
“I like sweeping and it isn't something I do often in competitive games since I'm always in the house.”
Beaudry also noted how she really enjoys the pace of the game in mixed doubles.
“The ends are quick and you're always moving, and you never really stop thinking about shots because—just like in regular curling—there is thinking time [22 minutes] for a game, so you really have to be diligent and cautious with how much time you're spending,” she stressed.
Beaudry admitted both she and Chisamore-Johnston struggled to read the ice and to get a good draw weight early on in the final.
“We had a few chances that we were just a little bit too wide or too heavy, and we didn't manage to have big scoring ends as a result,” she recalled.
“It's always a learning experience when you're on the ice, whether its practice or competition,” she added.
“So again, moving on from this event, there are so many opportunities that I can look back on to improve the strategy of mixed doubles,” Beaudry said.
“And being in the provincial finals will help to, hopefully, prepare myself and my team for being in another final in the future.”