Positive cases among athletes force cancellation of Mixed Doubles Trials

(Curling Canada News Release) A rise in positive tests for COVID-19 among athletes who were scheduled to attend, along with the risks associated with travelling, have forced Curling Canada to cancel the 2022 Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Trials.

The event was scheduled to begin on Tuesday at Stride Place in Portage la Prairie, Man., and was to decide Canada’s mixed doubles team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

But the increasing numbers of Trials-bound athletes testing positive for COVID-19, along with the rise in cases across Canada, made it impossible to stage the event in a safe, responsible manner for athletes, staff and volunteers.

Unlike the Calgary bubble, which had months of preparation time and allowed athletes to self-isolate at home, and get tests done prior to their departure for the events, the dramatic rise in positive cases related to the sudden emergence of the Omicron variant across Canada in the past week made those safety precautions impossible to carry out.

Curling Canada’s High Performance staff will consult with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium to decide the best process to nominate a Canadian mixed doubles team that will compete in China. An announcement of the nominated team will be made when the process is complete.

Curling Canada is continuing to consult with local, regional and national health authorities for the remaining events in the 2021-22 season, and remains optimistic that its championship events can be staged safely and responsibly. At this time no further comment is available.

Arrangements are being made for ticket-holders to be refunded.

2022 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials gets underway in Portage la Prairie on Tuesday

(Curling Canada Release) Portage la Prairie is once again set to become the mixed doubles hotspot of Canada when it hosts the second edition of the Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials beginning this Tuesday at Stride Place.

The event, scheduled from Dec. 28 – Jan. 2, will determine the mixed doubles team representing Canada at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. That winning team will defend Canada’s gold medal in 2018, courtesy of Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris. Morris (Canmore, Alta.) will once again be competing in the field and has an opportunity to become the first player to win back-to-back mixed doubles curling trials events after successfully winning the inaugural event hosted in Portage la Prairie during the last curling quadrennial.

Morris, a two-time Olympian (gold at men’s competition in 2010 and gold at mixed doubles in 2018), is seeking his third appearance at an Olympic Winter Games. 2018 Olympian Rachel Homan (Beaumont, Alta.) joins Morris to pursue a path to Beijing. But the field is nothing short of incredible, featuring a who’s who of mixed doubles curling in Canada and decorated with Olympians.

Pool A features Nancy Martin (Saskatoon)/Tyrel Griffith (Kelowna, B.C.), who enter the event as the top seed in the Canadian Mixed Doubles Rankings (CMDR) as of Dec. 14, 2021. Martin/Griffith head into Portage la Prairie as the 2019 Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship silver-medalists and one of the most consistent teams on the mixed doubles tour this season. Brent Laing (Horseshoe Valley, Ont.) and Selena Njegovan (Winnipeg) join them as the second seed in the pool. Laing, who regularly curls with his wife Jennifer Jones in mixed doubles, had to find a replacement partner after Jones earned a trip to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games with her women’s team. Laing called upon Njegovan, who played vice-skip for Team Tracy Fleury and won silver at the 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials, to join him.

Those teams will compete against a talented Pool A field, including 2018 Canadian mixed doubles gold-medalists and world bronze-medalists Laura Walker (Edmonton) and Kirk Muyres (Regina), and two-time Canadian mixed doubles silver-medalists Kadriana Sahaidak and Colton Lott of Gimli, Man. Shannon Birchard (Winnipeg)/Catlin Schneider (Regina), Émilie Desjardins/Robert Desjardins (Chicoutimi, Que.), Lauren Wasylkiw/Shane Konings (Souffville, Ont.) and Kerri Einarson (Camp Morton, Man.)/Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) round out of the field. 

The pool features a pair of players who bookend the entire history of mixed doubles curling in Canada. Robert Desjardins is one-half of the inaugural Canadian mixed doubles gold-medallist team. In 2013, he won the championship with Isabelle Néron. Einarson is one-half of the defending Canadian mixed doubles championship team after winning the 2021 championship with Brad Gushue. Einarson forces with Jacobs, the 2014 Olympic gold-medallist in men’s curling, after Gushue qualified for the Olympic Winter Games with his men’s team.

Pool B includes four Olympian curlers vying to wear the Maple Leaf once again. 2018 Olympian Lisa Weagle (Ottawa) and her partner John Epping (Toronto) are the top seed in the pool. The experienced Olympic duo of Homan/Morris is also in the pool. While Marc Kennedy (St. Albert, Alta.), 2010 Olympic gold-medallist and 2018 Olympian, will try and qualify for this third Olympics and first as a member of the mixed doubles team. He’s playing with Val Sweeting (Lottie Lake, Alta.), who was just shy of winning the inaugural mixed doubles trials event in 2018 with Gushue, where the duo fell short in the final against Lawes and Morris. Weagle and Kennedy are both in unique positions to represent Canada in their respective four-player events and mixed doubles curling, which has never been done by a Canadian. Weagle, alternate for Team Jones, has already booked her spot to Beijing in the women’s competition, while Kennedy was just announced as the Team Gushue’s alternate earlier this week.

Clancy Grandy/Patrick Janssen (Pickering, Ont.), Bobbie Sauder/Brendan Bottcher (Spruce Grove, Alta.), 2014 Canadian mixed doubles gold-medallists Kim Tuck/Wayne Tuck (Strathroy, Ont.), Laurie St-Georges /Félix Asselin (Laval, Que.) and Chelsea Carey (Calgary)/Colin Hodgson (Red Lake, Alta.) round out the field.

The teams play a seven-game round-robin, with the top team in each pool receiving a bye in the playoffs. The teams with the next best four win-loss records qualify for the playoffs. Round-robin play begins on Dec. 28 at 9 a.m. (all times Central) and concludes on Dec. 31 at 12:30. Playoffs start on Dec. 31 at 4 p.m., with the semifinal occurring at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 2 and the final at 1:30 p.m.

The winning team will join national mixed doubles coach Scott Pfeifer, and men’s and women’s Olympic teams skipped by Gushue and Jones in Beijing for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, scheduled for Feb. 4-20.The mixed doubles competition begins two days before the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 2, with the gold-medal game held on Feb. 8. An expanded field of 10 teams will compete for the opportunity to top the podium in the second-ever mixed doubles competition at the event. Canada will enter the mixed doubles event at the top-ranked country in the world in the discipline.

View the full schedule for the 2022 Canad Inns Candian Mixed Doubles Trials here. View the 2022 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials media guide here.

Tickets for the 2022 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials can be purchased here.

The event will be streamed live and available through CBC Sports digital platforms:  cbcsports.ca, the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices and the free CBC Gem streaming service. The complete schedule can be found here.


(December 10) The daughter-father Mixed Doubles team of Mikaylah and William Lyburn would love to play in the Canad Inns Mixed Doubles Trials in Portage in late December.

Mikaylah & William Lyburn, shown after winning the Dauphin Mixed Doubles, are in Brantford competing to qualify for the Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials in Portage.

They know it is a long-shot but they’re willing to make the effort.

“Realistically, we’d have to hope to qualify for the last-chance event in Brantford and try to win one of the spots available,” William Lyburn said between games in late October in Dauphin during the NexusBioAg Mixed Dauphin Mixed Doubles Bonspiel, the second event in the new Cargill Curling Training Centre Manitoba Mixed Doubles Tour presented by Asham Curling Supplies.

At the time, they had a 4W-0L round robin record and were assured of a spot in the bonspiel’s championship game. They completed the event with a clean 6W-0L record and the bonspiel championship.

They had entered the event to get back into the Mixed Doubles frame of mind in advance of playing in the Ototoks Mixed Doubles bonspiel. The Lyburns did ‘just OK’ at that Okotoks event, winning one game and losing two in their three game round-robin series – not good enough to make the playoffs.

Undaunted, they next set their sights on the event underway this weekend in Brantford, ON and they got an invitaiton. There are two direct berths available through the event and the Lyburns are far enough down the CMDR (Canadian Mixed Doubles Ranking) that they probably have to finish in at least the final four or even make the final of the spiel to qualify for Portage. However, there are also eight rankings list berths to be awarded after the conclusion of the bonspiel, so it might be possible to climb up the CMDR to earn one of them.

Mikaylah, who plays third on the Emily Ogg team which led the Manitoba Junior Curling Tour at the time, has serious aspirations for her curling career as a junior and beyond into the Scotties.

At 18, she still has a couple of years of juniors. William, who has been one of the junior team’s co-coaches, likes the chances this year for the young team which played three games together last year but who really have to consider this their first year as a team.

“They have progressed well this year. I think by the time the provincials come around that they are one of five or six teams who have a good chance,” William says.

It is an interesting time for him. The Lyburn clan has been prominent in Manitoba curling circles since the family came to the Brandon area from Scotland about three decades ago thanks to both William and his brother Allan. And now the generational change is beginning with Mikaylah continuing the family legacy.

“I really enjoy Mixed Doubles,” William says. “It’s a fast game and great exercise.” With a smile he adds that he appreciates the fact there is much less organization required than for a 4’s team and hotel costs are lower as well.

He especially likes the opportunity to compete as an equal with his daughter.

“How many fathers get to play a sport they love with their daughter and know they can be competitive,” he says.

“Just as important, how many coaches get to actually compete on the same team as a person they are helping train and observe what skills they need to work on, how they throw under pressure, how they handle game situations,”

For Mikaylah, there is no extra pressure from playing with Dad – just the self-imposed pressure of wanting to do well.

She likes the game because there is more action and anyone can score that surprise three or four ender at any time. As for playing with her Dad, she knows there is a development advantage in playing with an older, stronger partner.

“I think I am probably learning more about the game than I would if I were playing with a partner my own age,” she says.

With a smile, she says it is maybe an advantage maybe a disadvantage that her dad/partner is quite willing to give her “heif” when she needs it. There doesn’t seem to be a definition for “heif” – suffice to say it may be a family word – maybe it is a real scottish or gaelic word that they both understand perfectly.

Is there a future for William outside Mixed Doubles? He thinks so – believing his team can contend this year at the provincial men’s and win him that elusive Brier trip. (NOTE: Team Lyburn was awarded an MCT-2022 Viterra berth based on rankings after the DEKALB Bonspiel!)

Is there a future for Mikaylah outside Mixed Doubles? She hopes so but is realistic, saying only “it will happen when it happens’. Just as it happened for the Manitoban champions she has long admired – Jennifer, Kaitlyn, Kerri, Selena. And for Rachel, a player she has gained admiration for as she has matured.

For now though the immediate focus is Mixed Doubles and that hope, faint as it might be, of a chance to play in Portage in December.


William Lyburn and his daughter Mikaylah have won the NexusBioAg Mixed Dauphin Mixed Doubles Bonspiel, the second event in the new Cargill Curling Training Centre Manitoba Mixed Doubles Tour presented by Asham Curling Supplies.

William & Mikaylah Lyburn (l) defeated Katie McKenzie & Thomas Dunlop in the Dauphin ‘Spiel final

The Lyburns had a perfect weekend, winning six games in what was both a show of support for the fledgling Mixed Doubles Tour and a tune-up for a Mixed Doubles event this weekend in Okotoks, AB.

The Lyburns had a 5W-0L record after the round robin portion of the event and defeated Katie McKenzie & Thomas Dunlop in the championship game.

McKenzie & Dunlop had finished the round robin at 3W-2L, tied with Chris & Lorne Hamblin and with Lisa Hale & Ray Baker. They ranked second based on the tie-break of best pre-game button draws. Hale-Baker defeated the Hamblins in the 3-4 ranking game.

Hannah McQuay & Keith Pottle had a 1W-4L record while Kristen Beaumont & Steve Michaleski were winless after the round robin but defeated McQuay-Pottle in the 5-6 ranking game.

It was the second of two 6-team Cargill Curling Training Centre Mixed Doubles Tour events. The first, played in Morris in September, was won by the nationally ranked Manitoba Mixed Doubles team of Kadriana Sahaidak & Colton Lott.

A total of 10 different teams have now competed in the two Mixed Doubles Tour events. The third event in the series is scheduled for December in Brandon.