|Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing. Photo © NZCA|
29 Aug 2018 – It's not every day we host two of the world's best and most well-known curlers in New Zealand.
Between them, Brent Laing and Jennifer Jones have won 6 Scotties (Canadian Women's Championships), 3 Briers (Canadian Men's), 5 World Championships, and an Olympic Gold medal (Jones in 2014).
So we asked them if they'd like to chat – and they said "Sure!"
So how did you end up here in Naseby at this tournament?
Brent: We got a call from Jeff Stoughton at Curling Canada with the invitation – he runs Curling Canada's Mixed Doubles programme. New Zealand has always been a place we wanted to come to. So we made it work, and it's been fantastic so far.
You have impressive CVs in the Men's and Women's game. How long have you played Mixed Doubles?
Jennifer: We played the last [Olympic] quadrennial in Canada, did really well, we're ranked number 2 in Canada right now. We play quite a bit, and we love it! And it's a lot of fun to be able to play with your spouse.
How do you fit Mixed Doubles in with your other team commitments?
Jennifer: We're pretty lucky, we train together regardless of whether we're with our own Women's and Men's team or as Doubles. That part is easy, and then it's just a matter of setting our Men's and Women's schedules and then figuring out which Mixed Doubles events we can work into it.
Brent: Jeff [Stoughton] has done a really good job of making sure the MD events happen, not conflicting with the bigger Men's and Women's tournaments. He's wanting to encourage a lot of the top players to play, and it's worked out. It's not always perfect, but the main events we can usually go to. We play as much as we can, and we're lucky that Jen's mom can look after our girls. She's great, they're with her right now.
This is our first event of the season, and we have two more of the bigger MD events this [northern] fall. We really enjoy it, it's a great format and lots of fun to play and it continues to grow. We'll play it as long as we can make it work."
Jennifer: We'll give it a go this next quadrennial, and see if we can qualify for our next Olympic trial in Canada and see where it goes from there.
Brent: Same as always, I think it's the same in Men's and Women's and Mixed Doubles – if you enter an event your goal is to win it. This is the first year of the quadrennial so there's not a ton on the line as far as Olympics is concerned, but there's still National and World Championships. Our Men's and Ladies teams are still priority number 1, and this would be kind of 1B. But when we're playing this, it's our entire focus, and let's see how far we can get.
And we didn't prompt these final comments, honest!
Jennifer: Honestly from the time we drove into Naseby we've been blown away by the hospitality, and we're just so thrilled to be here and what a great facility to have here.
Brent: I can't believe what a great curling club you have here. Anton [Hood] told us you have 110 people live here, and you have a double storey, 4-sheet rink.
Jennifer: It's almost like going back in time, the whole character of the town from the early days. The hospitality and the kindness of the people here, we're just honoured to be here.