Young mixed doubles curlers excited for the experience large competition brings

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

Adam L’Hirondelle and Emma Tucker will take to the ice in Thunder Bay Feb. 24-26 as part of the second weekend of competition at the provincial winter games, the pair have only started curling as a mixed doubles team over the last few months in preparation for the event.

Both players are skips for their respective Fort Frances High School teams, Tucker throws third stones for the girls.

The team earned a berth into the tournament at the games when the mixed discipline was expanded as there were not enough entries for the wheelchair curling discipline. Because there was no need to qualify, L’Hirondelle and Tucker haven’t played a mixed doubles game outside of practice while also practicing with their high school teams.

Emma Tucker throws a rock in practice last Friday as Adam L’Hirondelle prepares to sweep. Mixed doubles is a new curling discipline for the pair who are practicing for the Ontario Winter Games in Thunder Bay Feb. 24-26. –Allan Bradbury photo

“We’ve learned a lot about different kinds of strategies,” L’Hirondelle said. “Which I think is kind of helpful with the new rules that we’re playing, strategy is a big part of the game.”

One wrinkle in the game is that mixed doubles starts with a rock per team already in play depending on which team has the hammer (last stone) one will be in the house at the back of the four foot ring and the other would be a centre line guard.

“It’s new for us,” Tucker said. “We’re still working through it but I think we’ll get the hang of it.

Despite the learning curve they are both excited for the challenge. The field at the winter games is open to teams under 20 years old so the two grade 11 students will be some of the youngest in the competition.

“I think it will be good to play against so many really good curlers,” L’Hirondelle said. “Because we know all the players are going to be really good.”

“I’m excited,” Tucker added. “It’s going to be a really good experience, and lots of fun, it’s something we’ve never done before.”

The pair will spend the next two weeks preparing for the Winter Games while Tucker also practices with her highschool girls team which will be back in Thunder Bay just a few days after the Winter Games for the NWOSSAA playoffs looking to progress to the OFSAA championships. The FFHS boys team was eliminated in the qualifiers this week at home in Fort Frances.

After squash was removed from the competition, the only other representatives Fort Frances will have are on the boys hockey team. Drake Bodnar and Troy Veldhuisen both won spots on the Northwest Explorers team. Which will also compete during the second week of the games.