The Tour Life: On the road with McEwen

Team McEwen (Photo: Anil Mungal)
September 9, 2014, 1:36 PM

It’s September and with recent weather events in a few unfortunate places in Canada, summer feels over and maybe we’re skipping fall! So, why not get curling?

We’re not influenced by the weather, but my team started earlier than ever and for that we headed to Ontario for the Canadian kickoff of the World Curling Tour — the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard. An early season co-ed event with great ice at this curling club despite some pretty high humidity and hot temperatures for the first few days. Lots of good teams already looking to play their way into the prestigious Grand Slam of Curling series starting at the end of October.

So, what does an early season four-day WCT event look like for a team like ours? In September and early October there are events that combine some pretty great outdoor activities while being able to compete. These events often don’t have a grinding feel as they’re so much fun until you get home and you’re bagged. Adding up a day of travel and practice, seven curling games, and two golf matches will do that!

Day 0: Travel

Back to the familiar routine of getting up awfully early, catching a cab, airport check-in (odd looks on seeing curling brooms already), security, coffee, and plane boarding. Upon arrival in Toronto we strolled up to our classic curling team rental vehicle: the family-friendly Caravan. I tend to get handed the wheel and we headed out on the short drive to Oakville.

Awaiting us at our hotel was more gear and uniforms arriving just in time. Short trip from hotel to curling club for practice — it was the first steps on the ice this year for us. Success! No spills and shaky slides minimal! Lots of other teams eagerly tuning up that afternoon with an especially large contingent of European teams in attendance having arrived the day before.

First team dinner of the season — surfed some web reviews and found ourselves in a nice place to chow down and sip a few with the boys. Good to be back on the road with friends!

Day 1: Opening Day

We played back-to-back games with good results. It can be amazing how well you can feel so early in the season. Maybe we’re missing our bad habits?! Fairly chill day for us seeing and chatting with some old friends. Throw in an evening workout session back at the hotel gym and we’re bagged and ready for bed. Plus someone booked us an early wake-up call :)

Day 2: Fore!

Curling in September has its bonuses and with a 4 p.m. game start we got up early for an 8 a.m. tee time. Golf note: Denni and I (bookends on the team — lead and skip) were crushed on the course by B.J. and Matt. Having a third that is a golf pro has its advantages and disadvantages, haha! Another satisfying result on the ice and out for dinner with one of our sponsors.

Day 3: Saturday

Sealed up a 4-0 record and lots of activity around the club. Outdoor barbecue setup, kids play area, and Ford tent with lots of test drives happening with donations to charity.

After a brief appearance on CurlingZone’s YouTube livestreaming coverage, I’m off to the dunk tank. Sure enough it’s a lot of teammates looking a bit too vengeful sending their skips such as Murdoch, Epping, and myself into the icy water!

After my “cool down” we hit the links again at the Mississauga Golf & Country Club. It’s not so bad donating on the course to your teammates when you’ve made the playoffs the next day! The Oakville Curling Club stayed busy all day and into the night with live entertainment. Good luck finding your “A” game Sunday morning :)

Day 4: Championships

Up early and quick coffee, bite to eat, and checkout of the hotel. I guess it’s not a “quick coffee” when your team is filled with coffee snobs and you often bring your own grinder, kettle, and press! The liquid morning magic worked today though and it was a nice quick quarterfinal win for us and we managed to get some time to fuel up and rest before the semifinal battle.

Two more victories and it was a very satisfying championship win for us! Some pictures, presentations, and celebratory drinks and then we made the quick turnaround and hit the road to make our flight home. Thanks to Stu Sells and the Oakville Curling Club for the standout experience!

Coming up on tour is the Shorty Jenkins Classic in Brockville, Ont., and following that we’ll be back on the ice in Saskatoon for the Point Optical Curling Classic. These two events will feature some pretty interesting story lines with The Masters Grand Slam qualification deadline looming and some tight races for the last few spots. I’ll be back to highlight who and what to watch as things unfold in the coming weeks!