National program big boost to curlers
Like all the other top skips in Canada, Casey Scheidegger is taking part in the Grand Slam of Curling stop this week in Truro, N.S., competing for a healthy $125,000 purse in the Canadian Beef Masters event.
Until the last couple of years, the closest she and her teammates came to such an elite event was watching on TV.
“In the past, our focus was just playing in Alberta events and we used to watch the Grand Slams on TV and say how cool it would be to be there,” Scheidegger said in a phone interview from Truro. “When it finally happened, it was really cool to be there. We’ve learned so much and we’re a far better team than we were before and a large part of that is due to the help we received.”
That help she’s talking about comes from her team’s involvement in Curling Canada’s National Team Program.
Scheidegger’s team, based in Lethbridge, Alta., is one of 15 across Canada (eight women’s and seven men’s) included in the program this season. Nine mixed doubles teams are involved.
The teams receive funding based on a tier system from Sport Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee as well as access to things like highperformance coaching, sports science specialists and health and nutrition consultation.
For Scheidegger’s team, which includes third CaryAnne McTaggart, second Jessie Haughian and lead Kristie Moore, the funding and the access to coaching are the reason they can compete on the Grand Slam circuit.
“They’ve done a lot for us,” Scheidegger said. “I would say in all ways.
“For a team like us it’s super beneficial. The funding obviously helps and we’ve been able to come to places like Truro and Chatham, Ont., and Thunder Bay because of that assistance. We wouldn’t have been able to pay for our flights to the next city if that wasn’t the case. It has definitely taken some of the pressure off.”
The National Team Program is nothing new. It’s been around for years with the goal of identifying Canadian teams that have potential to represent the country internationally and support them in their quest to do so.
“Once the team that wins the Brier or the Scotties is now Team Canada, if it’s one of your national teams, at least you’ve had a good working relationship with them for the last few months,” said Jeff Stoughton, the new men’s coach of the National Team Program.
“Then you sort of slip into a team leader role, because most of these teams have a coach already, and that role is to ensure that everything that goes on with World Curling Federation is smooth and everything is done properly for Team Canada.”
All the big names are part of the program, including two-time defending Brier champ Brad Gushue and Olympian Kevin Koe, world champion Jennifer Jones and 2018 Olympian Rachel Homan.