Na­tional pro­gram big boost to curlers

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - TED WYMAN [email protected]­ Twit­

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.

Casey Schei­deg­ger

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