Curling jet-setters kept busy

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

There's nothing quite like the jet-set lifestyle of the Canadian competitive curling couple.

While Halifax's Heather Smith-Dacey got ready for a trip to this area this week, 2004 Brier champ husband Mark Dacey went on an expense-paid trip to Switzerland.

"Mark left the day of our seventh wedding anniversary, I did get to see him -- barely," said the 32-year-old Smith-Dacey. "He headed to play in the Bund Trophy in Switzerland. The Canadian national champion is always invited there."

Rather than eating Swiss chocolate and fondue overseas with hubby, skip Smith-Dacey and her rinkmates flew to London to compete in the eighth annual Southwestern Ontario Women's Charity Cashspiel.

Play begins today at the London, Highland, St. Thomas and Ilderton clubs. Smith-Dacey took part in last night's opening pro-am at St. Thomas.

She's no stranger to the tournament or the area -- she met her future husband at the 1995 Canadian mixed championship in Sarnia.

"We were playing on different teams and the first words we said to each other were, 'Good game,' " Smith-Dacey said. "He was playing for Saskatchewan at the time and I was with New Brunswick. He likes to bring up that his team beat ours in that one."

Once united, the Daceys became a national mixed force, capturing two Canadian and seven provincial titles. With the women, Smith-Dacey won her second Nova Scotia title last season and competed at the Scott Tournament of Hearts in Red Deer.

That Scott was won by Halifax Mayflower clubmate Colleen Jones, who won the world championship.

Smith-Dacey isn't the only Mayflower member here this week. Current national junior champ Jill Mouzar is also in the field.

"At our club, you have to win a national championship just to get any attention," said Smith-Dacey. "It's one of the best clubs in Canada and everyone's pretty proud of that."

There's a hunger this year in Smith-Dacey that she traces back to her trip to the world championships in Sweden to watch Mark play. Mark and his mates captured the bronze medal.

"The whole experience gets you excited for the coming season -- it shows you that it's very doable to get to worlds and win," she said. "Of course, we're so deep in Canada, it's a battle just to get out of your province."

Winning the Southwestern Ontario spiel won't be a picnic, either. There's a tremendous field for the tournament, which raised $18,000 last year for breast cancer research at the London Regional Cancer Centre.

This year's draw includes 40 teams and the total purse is $39,200 with the winner taking home $11,000.

EIGHTH ANNUAL CHARITY CASHSPIEL

Today-Sunday: Draws begin at 9 a.m. at Highland (279 Commissioners Rd. E.), London (377 Lyle St.), St. Thomas (38 Parkside Dr.) and Ilderton.

Monday: Semifinals and finals at Highland

More info: Visit cashspiel online site at www.sowcc.isp.ca


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