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West: Day 15 – Travel to Saskatoon

Breakfast and morning class at the hotel. On the bus bound for the airport by 9:15am. Everyone is still quite pumped up after such good results in Calgary. Leaving Alberta with such a positive points total was not high on our list of expectations. However, we all played pretty well and it’s no less than we deserved. Our group has bonded together really well and we are working as one great team. Getting Keith on video call last night to sing him Happy Birthday from the bus home was quite an emotional moment.

We said goodbye to Ralph and took the hour long flight to Saskatoon. Unlike our previous flight over the Rockies, this took us across a vast, flat, white expanse of absolute nothingness. Another time zone crossed. Only six hours behind home now. No baggage issues. Bus loaded and we are introduced to Kelly Salmon, our host in Saskatoon. Checked into hotel and have almost two hours to ourselves before we have to go out. The first free time we have had to ourselves since we arrived in Canada. Nap time ?.

We were taken to The Western Development Museum and were surprised by a huge welcome reception from tomorrow’s curlers. We had all seriously thought we were going on a museum tour and were not particularly excited by the prospect. Jerry Shoemaker led the speeches and introduced Eugene Hritzuk. Both of them have multiple Brier appearances between them and a list of National and International curling achievements that I simply couldn’t keep up with. Turns out the room is full of them!!

I googled each of the guys we are playing against tomorrow. Oh boy, these guys have history.

We enjoyed a nice dinner with a choice of chicken or bison or both. I think we have our work cut out tomorrow. From the chat around the dinner tables, there’s a lot of curling experience and achievements amongst our hosts. Some of their players have come from three hours away to participate. They are a great bunch of guys and we have had a tremendous evening. Everybody even took some time to wander around the Museum, which was themed around Boomtown and depicted the lifestyle and development of the early Saskatchewan settlers.

There were a few raffle prizes given out including the brush that Colton Flash used in the Provincials. Alex and Niall both won brushes. Bus back to hotel at 10pm. Tomorrow will be a BIG day.

A few intrepid adventurers hit the pool hall. Turns out our sheriff wields a mighty cue.

Alistair and I have identified a couple of important tips for future tours but can’t remember what they are!

Stephen McClymont