Guest blog by Anna Fowler
Henson Franklyn sponsored England’s Mixed Doubles curling team at the 2017 World Curling Championships in Alberta, Canada. The team, siblings Anna and Ben Fowler, were at their 3rd championships together and were hoping to better their 8th place finish in 2016.
In April, Ben and I headed to Canada for our third World Championships together decked out in our new HF branded kit! The event was held in a city called Lethbridge, which is about 3 hours south of Calgary in Alberta, and there were 39 teams from around the world ready to fight for Olympic spots.
The top 8 teams from the 2016 and 2017 World Championships would earn their place in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where the Mixed Doubles discipline will make its Olympic debut. As the Great British teams – Scotland, England and Wales – compete separately at World Championships, only one team is able to earn points to get Great Britain to the Olympics. The chosen points earners for curling are Scotland due to their historic pedigree in the sport. This means that any Olympic points England earn are not usable, but useful in England’s bid to be chosen for the Olympic team should GB qualify for one of the eight Olympic spots.
Our first two games were comfortably won against France (8-5) and Kazakhstan (17-2), but we then came up against a very experienced team from the USA. Despite a good game, we came out on the wrong side and lost 2-7. We then lost a close game vs a very strong Czech Republic side 4-6. So after four games our record was 2-2.
Our next game was the one we had been really looking forward to against hosts, Canada! The team consisted of Joanne Courtney (present women’s World Champion, Olympic representative for Canada’s Olympic women’s team and arguably the world’s strongest female sweeper) and Reid Carruthers (2011 men’s World Champion). We had a great game and were 6-6 going into the last end with me responsible for throwing the last shot to win the game. Unfortunately it didn’t quite come off and a miss by millimetres meant we lost the game. Later when we got back to our apartment, we turned on the TV and the game replay was being broadcast coast-to-coast across Canada and I was able to watch that miss over and over again! Gutting!
We had a strong last two games, winning against Turkey 10-5 and Germany 9-6. This meant we finished 4th in our group behind Canada (eventual silver medallists), Czech Republic (overall 4th place) and USA (overall 10th place). We were extremely close to qualifying for the knock-outs as the best fourth placed team, but we missed out on the draw-shot-challenge by 8cm despite having the 3rd best in the whole competition. It just wasn’t meant to be!
All we could do now was sit back and cheer for Scotland in their remaining games, hoping that they would finish high enough to secure Great Britain’s Olympic place. Once again we were unlucky with Scotland losing out to Canada in the 1/8th final and then again to last year’s World Champions, Russia. This meant Great Britain had not gained enough points to earn on of the eight places at the Olympics, placing 9th over two years.
Curling is a precision sport which is often decided on millimetres and despite hundreds of hours of preparation, sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. However, we had a fantastic week and put up great performances against some very strong teams. We will be working hard to make sure we are in the mix for the 2022 Olympics!
We are extremely grateful to Henson Franklyn for their support for the Championships. There is a considerable lack of funding for curling, so any support is extremely valuable to us and for the development of the sport as a whole. Thank you!