Kirk Muyres in action at the 2018 Boost National in Conception Bay South, N.L. (Anil Mungal)

Muyres wraps up 1st season as skip in hometown

April 22, 2019, 12:17 PM

If getting to the Humpty’s Champions Cup is the icing on the cake for Kirk Muyres, then the fact the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season finale is in Saskatoon is the cherry on top.

The homecoming event caps Muyres’ first season on tour as a skip and a lesson that hard work does indeed pay off. Muyres went from starting the season green to wearing the coveted green Saskatchewan jacket representing his province at the Tim Hortons Brier and guiding one of the top teams in the country.

Team Muyres also won the Tour Challenge Tier 2 to earn a promotion into the top ranks of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling earlier this season. It turned out to be the title that just keeps on giving as the victory also earned them a spot into the Humpty’s Champions Cup, which starts Tuesday at Merlis Belsher Place.

“When we won the Tier 2 in November there we figured we’d probably have enough points to qualify for this one but it’s really neat because other than the World Curling Tour event that we get to play in Saskatoon every year, I’ve never got to play in an event in Saskatoon,” Muyres said. “I’ve never got to play in a Brier or a Grand Slam ever in Saskatoon.

“It’s pretty neat to actually play in your hometown, where you call home, it’s the place where I’ve lived for the last 10 years and now we get to play a Grand Slam event in a new arena, a big, beautiful new arena, it’s a great way to end the season and it’s a great way to end our first season together.”

Muyres had previously thrown third and second stones for skip Steve Laycock. He made the move up to the captain’s deck this season when Team Laycock split up following the conclusion of the Olympic cycle. Muyres continued to play with his brother Dallan Muyres at lead and added another brother duo, twins no less, bringing in Kevin and Dan Marsh at third and second, respectively.

Things started off slowly as Muyres adjusted to his new role and they didn’t make the playoffs in their first four events. Patience was the virtue though as the wins started piling up in October and they finished runners-up in back-to-back events in Medicine Hat, Alta., and Morris, Man., leading into the Tour Challenge Tier 2 where everything clicked in place. Team Muyres found their form going undefeated with a 7-0 record in the Thunder Bay, Ont., event.

Muyres believes what led to them reaching that next step was embracing his role as “Captain Kirk” and being the leader his teammates needed.

“I learned what the other guys on the team wanted me to do and they wanted me to take control,” he said. “They wanted me to make the decisions, they wanted me to be the leader and listen to everybody but at the end of the day it’s my decision and go with it. I really learned that and decided I was the leader and the one that had to control the ship moving forward.

“I took pride in that, that was the moment things switched around for me and we started winning some games and putting rocks in good positions. That’s really what I’m going to need to focus on and continuing to do as we get better here into next season.”

Muyres had represented Saskatchewan at the Brier before with Team Laycock but doing it this year — defeating former teammate Matt Dunstone in the provincial playdown final — was even sweeter as a skip.

“For us to qualify for the Brier, get into that Brier, get some of that experience, it’s so cool,” said Muyres, who finished within the final eight championship pool. “Every time you get to wear the Saskatchewan colours, that’s what we grew up watching. That’s what I grew up wanting to do when I think about curling. When I wanted to curl I always wanted to represent Saskatchewan.

“Any time I get to do that it’s obviously pretty special but the neat little part about that is I was the skip now, I was the one making the decisions and throwing that last rock. It just added a little extra layer of intensity, which made it all that much fun.”

They’ve reached the top tier of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling but there’s still room for improvement in order to ensure they stay among that group. Consistency to qualify is one area they’ll look to work on as they either reached the final at events or missed the playoffs completely this season.

“I think it’s just a matter of taking away maybe three or four things from the season some of the other teams ahead of us do well that we don’t do well and get better at them,” Muyres said. “We maybe need to be a little better technically or strategically and there are a few other things.

“It’s just a matter of finding our weak spots, attacking them and getting better at them so when we go and play events we can have consistency. We’ve proven we can play with anybody and we win on any given day but we have to do it more often and we have to find ways to be more consistent going into next year and that’s really what we’re going to focus on throughout the summer here.”

While the Humpty’s Champions Cup will finish Muyres’ season with his men’s team, his mixed doubles campaign with Laura Walker continues with the Curling World Cup final event in May. The whole mixed doubles experience has taken on a life of its own for Muyres, who won the Canadian mixed doubles title and world bronze medal last year, and he said it’s totally not what he ever expected.

“It’s been a wild ride and it is a boatload of fun,” he said. “I just love playing in it. It’s almost a totally different sport than four-person curling. It’s just totally refreshing to go out there and play mixed doubles after a few weeks of men’s curling.”

Muyres begins play at the Humpty’s Champions Cup in Draw 2 Tuesday night against Team Brad Gushue.