The curling cohort of Kirk Muyres and Laura Walker are in the province getting prepped for the Aly Jenkins Memorial Classic in Saskatoon at the Sutherland Curling Club starting this Thursday, November 3 to November 6. The spiel is the second of five Mixed Doubles Super Series events broadcast on the CBC Gem platform. Along with Walker and Muyres will be a host of curling luminaries including 2010 and 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist John Morris and 2018 Olympic Silver Medallists Jenny Perrot and Martin Rios from Switzerland.
The event honours late Saskatchewan curler Aly Jenkins who curled competitively for Saskatchewan and was beloved by the curling community.
Since their decision to enter into the mixed doubles fray exclusively, the St. Gregor native, Muyres, and his Edmonton based curling partner, Walker, have been on a bit of a tear. Walker and Muyres captured first place in Leduc at the Alberta Curling Series Championship and worked their way into the final of the first Super Series event, the Hardline Open in Ottawa. They fell to the duo of Jen Dodds and Bruce Mouat, arguably one of the best pairings in the world currently.
“It’s been a good go,” admits Muyres. “It’s given us confidence in the decision that we’ve made to focus on mixed doubles. It gives us confidence that, going into the next part of the year, we’ve done the right thing and we’re doing the right thing in practice. It’s exciting to see some of that pay off so early.”
Other notables on hand for the mixed doubles format are Rachel Homan, Brad Jacobs, Lisa Weagle and John Epping, along with Humboldt’s own Dustin Kalthoff and curling partner Ashley Thevenot.
The Super Series is the mixed doubles equivalent of a Grand Slam event, but the smaller venues give spectators a chance to truly rub elbows with the greats of the curling world. Muyres admits that it provides curling fans with a unique viewing experience.
“You’re used to watching some of these great curlers, like the John Morrises and Rachel Homans of the world, at big events in SaskTel Centre or Merlis Belsher Place, and you may not be able to get up close and personal. But these events are being played at the curling club and it’s very intimate. You walk into the curling club, and you’re likely to see an Olympian standing in front of you.”
CBC’s entry into the sphere of the sport has been welcomed in terms of growing the audience base. For those who can’t make the trek to the Sutherland CC, the CBC Gem streaming service will carry key matches. Muyres sees the investment of a major media player in the sport as a boost.
“When you get a company like CBC behind you, you know that you’ve got something good. As the series grows and the sport grows, it’ll grow to the main network in a few years or even a shorter time frame.”
Both Walker and Muyres continue with other commitments beyond their mixed doubles endeavour. In Walker’s case, her family of two boys makes for active days, and she’ll dabble again in the four person game as a fill in for Kaitlyn Lawes while she pauses for a maternity leave. Muyres continues his work setting up for the Corr Grain Community Rocks tour that takes their joy and knowledge of the sport to kids across the province.
“Laura and I will be visiting communities throughout Saskatchewan, teaching kids and getting them excited about curling, but also instilling work ethic and confidence and teamwork in the next generation of our curlers.”
Whatever the duo commits to in the curling arena, they do so with passion. That passion will be displayed on the ice starting on Thursday at the Sutherland Curling Club in Saskatoon. For times and further information, consult the Mixed Doubles Super Series website.
Enjoy the full interview with Kirk Muyres.