A Campbell River curler is beaming after competing against some of the sport’s top names last week.
Karly King Simpson teamed up with Connar Croteau of Victoria for the Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic in Canmore and Banff, Alta. Jan. 2-5. It’s their first season competing together.
King Simpson said the experience overall was “amazing.”
“I love the fast pace of mixed doubles as opposed to traditional play,” she said on her way home from Calgary Monday.
King Simpson and Croteau finished with a 2-3 record, good enough for fourth place in Pool F.
The 36-team tournament saw some of curling’s top athletes competing for a $30,000 purse.
The duo lost their first two games 12-2 to Gina Aitken and Scott Andrews of Scotland and 11-5 to Marlene Albrecht and Matt Wozniak of Switzerland. But came back to win 7-1 over Melanie Puzzie and Scott Moncur of Canmore, Alta. to finish the day Friday.
Saturday’s opening draw saw the team face Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing of Manitoba in a close match. The pair was up by one with two ends left.
It was “a very satisfying accomplishment to keep our own,” said King Simpson. They ultimately fell 9-6.
“Getting to play Jennifer Jones was so unreal for myself personally,” she said. “She’s a fan favourite in my household, so to get that experience was phenomenal.”
In their final draw later in the day, King Simpson and Croteau beat Marie Turmann and Harri Lill of Estonia 12-4.
King Simpson said the Estonia pair was ranked sixth in the world this season heading into the tournament, so “it felt great to get that win under our belt at the end.”
Their 2-3 record wasn’t quite enough to take them to the playoff draw, but they improved on Croteau’s showing of 1-4 with his previous partner last year.
Olympic champion John Morris, who teamed up with Rachel Homan took home the top prize.
Up next for the pair is the Island Playdowns on Jan. 17.
They’re happy to have some momentum heading into that tournament.
“We’re improving every game,” said King Simpson. “I’m very excited to see how the next few seasons unfold for us.”