Hosts off to hot mixed start

TODD SAELHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

They hope to be the hosts with the most by week's end at the 2008 Canadian Mixed Curling Championship.

But even though Dean Ross and his rink from the Calgary Curling Club are off to a perfect start, they know the ice is laden with potential champions -- Ontario's Bob Turcotte and B.C.'s Bryan Miki among the favourites.

"We have lots of national experience on the team, so if we play to our capabilities, we have a good shot," Ross said. "But it's a strong field, and everybody wants to win here. Everybody's picking Manitoba, B.C. and Ontario as the toughest teams."

The Alberta skip can throw his own rink in the mix, especially after a 4-0 start to the national championship at the Calgary Curling Club.

The hosts, comprised of Ross, Susan O'Connor, Tim Krassman and Susan Wright, opened the event Saturday afternoon with an 8-5 win over the Prince Edward Island squad skipped by Kyle Stevenson then turned around to dump the heralded Ontario team 8-3 in the second draw.

Yesterday, they followed with a 7-3 victory over Quebec's Simon Dupuis and a 10-7 win over B.C.'s Miki.

"I think we step up with this field well," said O'Connor, herself a one-time champion of the mixed championship.

"But we need a lot of two-win days, so two-win days are a good way to start."

The local rink is trying to become the ninth national mixed champion rink from Alberta in the 44-year history of the event and the first team since Shannon Kleibrink and her Airdrie foursome won the title for the province in 2004.

O'Connor herself was on the 2000 championship rink skipped by Kevin Koe that saw Alberta defeat Saskatchewan's Jim Packet in the 8-5 final in Lethbridge.

"Susan's won the mixed before and been in playoffs (with Cheryl Bernard) at the Scotties (Tournament of Hearts)," Ross said. "Tim has national mixed experience, and my wife (Susan) played in three Scotts as a player."

Right from the opening draw, the hosts showed their experience. They shook off a sluggish start and turned the game in their favour in the sixth end. After falling behind 3-2 through five ends, Ross used a nifty raised takeout to score three with the hammer to give Alberta a 5-3 lead.

Against Ontario in the evening draw, Alberta opened up a 5-0 lead through four ends and cruised to victory.

They followed yesterday with another quick start against Quebec, scoring three in the first end for a 5-1 lead through three ends.

Last night, they beat B.C. with three in the 10th end en route to top spot in the standings with a 4-0 record.

Roundrobin draws continue today through Wednesday at noon and 6 p.m. The final goes Friday at 1 p.m.

SCORES & MORE

Yesterday's third draw results: Newfoundland 8, New Brunswick 7; Saskatchewan 6, Yukon/NWT 3; Nova Scotia 7, B.C. 6; Manitoba 9, PEI 3; Ontario 7, Northern Ontario 2. Fourth draw results: PEI 5, Saskatchewan 4; Ontario 6, Newfoundland 4; Northern Ontario 7, Nova Scotia 3; New Brunswick 9, Yukon/NWT 2; Quebec 8, Manitoba 3 ... Draw passes are $10 apiece.


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