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Sports This Week: McEwen/Flasch-led foursome ready for major event in Saskatoon

Mike McEwen said he’s aware of the long drought for a Canadian men’s curling crown for the province -- Rick Folk in 1980.
Mike McEwen is rather excited to be playing a big evet in Saskatoon This Weejk. (File Photo)

YORKTON - The Grand Slam of Curling slides into Saskatoon this week as 32 of the world’s best men’s and women’s curling teams converge in the Saskatchewan city at the Merlis Belsher Place for the WFG Masters, Dec. 12-17.

The event will be something of a Saskatchewan debut for a new team – sort of – that was put together in the spring.

Veteran skip Mike McEwen had been travelling from Manitoba to assume the same position with what had been the Colton Flasch rink.

Flasch moved into the third position with the front-end duo of brothers Kevin and Dan Marsh.

While the team has been together for several events, including a recent one in Swift Current the Masters is the first major of what is essentially home ice for the foursome this weekend.

In an interview with Yorkton This Week Monday McEwen said the team is looking forward to the Saskatoon event, without stressing too much about being a ‘home-province’ favourite.

“I’m just feeling from the guys there’s a lot more excitement,” he said, adding he too feels some added adrenaline – “that competitive drive doesn’t go away. It really gets me going to play in the big events.”

It will be good to play big games in front of large, supportive crowds too, said McEwen.

“It’s kind of the first time for a lot of fans to see us,” he said.

So who does McEwen figure is the team they need to be most ready for?

“Everyone,” he said with a slight chuckle. “There are no freebies on the bingo card here,” he said, adding “you just need to go out there and play well every game.”

“And you can play really well, and still lose too.”

So far the new team has been accomplishing much of what it expected to this season, said McEwen.

“I would say we’re definitely meeting our expectations, maybe exceeding them,” he said,

Headed to Saskatoon the team has been in nine events and qualified in eight, making the quarter finals in one, semi finals in six and winning one.

“We’re extremely consistent,” said McEwen who added a few more wins would have been nice. “For a while it seems we’ve had a semi finals block.”

Still being in the final four of an event means a team is close.

“We’ve been in a great position to win events,” said McEwen.

That said McEwen said the team can be better.

“There’s lots of room for improvement,” he said.

It comes down to fine tuning little things, the finer details that can mean the difference between winning and losing, especially at the bigger events which attract the world’s best teams, said McEwen.

“Right now it’s just small things, having a consistent game,” he said, adding mid-season adjustments come slowly without the practice, training, and review that an off season affords.

“In the heat of battle,” the adjustments are harder to make, he reiterated.

There is also adjusting to a new team and their strengths such as Flasch’s sweeping.

“Just seeing what he can do on the brush is fun,” said McEwen. “Learning how to use that is a lot of fun.”

The Saskatoon event and all the rest are really just the warm-ups in a sense for the team to win the green jackets to represent Saskatchewan at the Canadian Championships in 2024.

McEwen said he’s aware of the long drought for a Canadian men’s curling crown for the province -- Rick Folk in 1980 – but so far that added pressure has settled in.

“First we’ve got to go win the green jackets. That’s the first step,” he said, adding that means the team has “work to do” come January and February.