Amidst all the shuffling of lineups throughout the curling world, the changes of Team Simmons went unnoticed. Many people in the curling community including Simmons team themselves were not sure what to expect in the 2010/2011 season, but their win in Medicine Hat has them on top of the World Curling Tour money list.
Week 6 on the WCT featured the Meyers Norris Penny Charity Classic which had a battle of past champions in the final. In that game Ted Appelman took on Simmons and they exchanged deuces in first couple ends and were tied 3-3 into the seventh end. The seventh end was the turning point as Simmons stole 2 points and eventually held Appelman to one in eight for a 5-4 win.
The win topped off what has been a strong start to the season for the Saskatchewan foursome. It started well as they qualified in each of their first four events, losing a quarterfinal game in Edmonton and semi-final game in Regina both to Carl deConinck Smith, a team that features ex-teammate Jeff Sharp. Earning important qualifying points for the first Grand Slam, which was a goal for this new team and their semi-final loss at the Westcoast Curling Classic helped secure a berth in the Grey Power World Cup of Curling.
The World Cup of Curling will be a tough task for this new squad that added youth on the front end with 23 year olds Dallan Muyres at lead and Brennan Jones playing second. Furthermore, former lead Steve Laycock moves up to call the game, he was the 2003 World Junior Champion as skip, at this slam event while throwing third rocks and Pat Simmons throws skip stones. The experience on the back end will need to help the front end mature at these major events.
Coming off a 2-5 record at the 2009 Olympic Trials and losses at the last two Saskatchewan provincials combined with the retirement of Gerry Adam, Simmons felt changes needed to be made. Adding youth to the front end goes to show the focus and importance of sweeping and athleticism. The new front end has their own credentials, as both players are former Saskatchewan junior champions. Since qualifying for the World Cup of Curling, the other goals for this rink are building toward the 2014 Olympics while continuing to try and represent Saskatchewan at the Brier. After qualifying in each of their first four events, Team Simmons is on their way to try and accomplish their goals.
Also in Medicine Hat on the women’s side, Scotland’s Eve Muirhead dropped the final to Jessie Kaufman who took home $8,000 while Muirhead earned $5,000 from the Hat. Meanwhile south of the border in the other event, the St. Paul Cashpiel saw newly formed Team George, with Olympians Chris Plys and Phill Drobnick, captured the title defeating Bryan Burgess.
This week has full slate of events, highlighted by the second women’s Grand Slam event of the year in the Manitoba Lotteries Women’s Curling Classic. Defending champion Kelly Scott is back in Winnipeg to try and defend her crown against a world class field including the winner of the first slam, Bingyu Wang.