/Casting off curling COVID cobwebs
Former HHSS student Connor Duhaime is in Liverpool, Nova Scotia this week for the 2021 Home Hardware Curling Pre-Trials. His parents, Russ and Joan Duhaime, will be cheering him on. /Photo submitted

Casting off curling COVID cobwebs

By Nick Bernard

Former Red Hawks curling champ Connor Duhaime got the chance to cap off an otherwise rocky curling season with one final slice of normalcy at the 2022 Ontario Men’s Tankard. Duhaime’s team, led by skip Pat Ferris, took part in the event from Feb. 9 to 13, which is the last and largest provincial curling event of the season.

While the rolling COVID mandates made for a spotty season, Duhaime says it was still good to get out on the ice one last time. 

“We weren’t at our best, we were sort of middle of the pack,” he admitted, but said he and the rest of the team still had fun. “We were sometimes playing good, sometimes playing not so good. It felt like it kind of took a little bit of time to get into our groove.”

The 2022 Tankard took place in Port Elgin, which Duhaime says was one of the best iterations of the event his team had been to.

“We thought, it was really well-run,” he said. “The local community there seems really involved … just sponsoring, and donating their time and all that sort of stuff. We kind of suspected it might run really smooth, and it did.”

Pandemic restrictions in the year kept Team Ferris (of Duhaime, Ferris, Ian Dickie and Zack Shurtleff) from being able to practice together, something Duhaime said was mitigated by modified training at home. 

Considering that the health measures to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 affected everyone, Duhaime said everyone else was just as rusty as his team, which meant more of a level playing field, even for curling luminaries like John Epping and Tanner Horgan. Even Glenn Howard felt the strain, with knee problems forcing him to step back, serving as his team’s coach and fifth player.

“I think everybody was in the same boat,” Duhaime said. “The muscles were pretty sore after the first couple of days.”

For the most part, the curling season is almost over, with many of the events winding down. Still, Duhaime will be able to continue practicing for the next season, carrying over some important lessons that were learnt from this year.

“I think just staying focused on the game and trying to come in as prepared as you can with game plans and fitness too,” Duhaime said. “Definitely for me, over the summer, I’m gonna try and amp up the workouts. My teammate Zack, he’s a bit of a beast in the gym, so I’ve gotta, you know, try and look good beside him.”

For Duhaime, there seems to be a path forward for success for next season, barring any more setbacks due to the ongoing pandemic.