SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Greg Balsdon has a unique bedtime experience that is helping him deal with the pressure of the 2017 Home Hardware Road to the Roar Pre-Trials.
The team is staying at an Airbnb in the Summerside area that features a hot tub, a dog to play with, goats to pet, a horse, and, for Balsdon, a 15-foot climb up a ladder to his loft bedroom.
“I have to be very careful going up at night and coming down in the morning,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s a little precarious.”
It’s not exactly the standard two-queen-bed hotel setup that most of the teams at the Pre-Trials are using, but it seems to be working out quite nicely for Balsdon, vice-skip Don Bowser, second Jonathan Beuk, lead Scott Chadwick, alternate Robbie Doherty [from PEI) and coach Lauren Mann.
The Kingston, Ont., team improved to 2-1 on Thursday morning at Credit Union Place, shutting down Dayna Deruelle (1-3) of Sarnia, Ont., 10-7 to remain in contention for one of the three playoff berths out of Pool B.
Through 11 round-robin draws, only Charley Thomas of Edmonton (3-0) has a better record in Pool B.
“They’re all tough games, and we definitely have three tough games coming up, so going into them at 2-and-1 is definitely better than 1-and-2,” said Balsdon, 40. “At the beginning of the week, we thought 4-and-2 would definitely get you at least a tiebreaker, so putting yourself at two losses with three games to go, your back is against the wall.”
Not that Team Balsdon needed any added pressure; there’s plenty to go around when the word “Olympics” is connected with an event.
“Everybody’s yelling a little harder, sweeping a little harder,” said Balsdon, who won the 2014 Ontario men’s championship. “Everybody’s geared up for this.”
Which is why getting away from the rink, even getting away from the teams they’re battling on the ice, is a nice idea — even if it’s not quite what Balsdon is used to.
“I haven’t touched a goat yet, but I’ve thrown the stick around with the dog; there’s a horse there, a rabbit, some chickens — it’s quite the farm,” he said. “For a city boy like myself, it’s definitely something out of the ordinary.”
In the other men’s game on Thursday morning, William Lyburn (2-2) drew for a single point in the 10th end for an 8-7 win over Pat Simmons (1-2) in an all-Winnipeg clash.
On the women’s side, Julie Tippin of Woodstock, Ont., took over sole possession of first place in Pool A at 3-1 with a dramatic 5-4 win over Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque (2-2); Team Tippin stole single points in the ninth, 10th and 11th ends for the victory. Rocque’s last-rock attempt for the win in the 11th jamming and leaving Tippin with the winning point.
In the other women’s game, Shannon Kleibrink (2-2; Okotoks, Alta.) was a 7-5 winner over Tracy Fleury (1-3; Sudbury, Ont.)
The Pre-Trials teams are seeded one through 14 based on their 2016-17 CTRS rankings, and split into two pools of seven for the round-robin competition.
The top three teams from each pool will advance to the playoffs beginning on Saturday, with the first- and second-place teams crossing over to meet each other in the first round of the A-side. The winners will then meet for the first Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings berth.
The first-round losers, meanwhile, will drop to meet the third-place teams in each pool in the first round of the B-side. The winners of the two games will then meet, with the winner taking on the A-side final loser for the second Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings berth.
The Home Hardware Road to the Roar is the final qualifying event for teams to reach the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, Dec. 2-10 in Ottawa, where Canada’s four-player curling teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be decided.
The 2017 Home Hardware Road to the Roar continues on Thursday with draws at noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. (all times Atlantic).
For ticket and other event information, visit www.curling.ca/2017roadtotheroar/
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2017 Home Hardware Road to the Roar are available at http://www.curling.ca/scoreboard/#!/