WINNIPEG BEACH — Colton Lott enjoyed a decorated junior curling career with medals at three different world championships, and his recent success in the mixed doubles game has landed him a chance to play with a former world men’s championship skip in a Grand Slam of Curling event.
Less than 24 hours of Lott and his Winnipeg Beach Curling Club teammate Kadriana Sahaidak dropped a 7-6 decision to Nancy Martin and Tyrel Griffith in the Canadian mixed doubles semifinals in Fredericton, N.B., on March 24, Lott received an unexpected text message from Newfoundland and Labrador’s Brad Gushue.
Needless to say the 23-year-old Lott was shocked by Gushue’s asking him if he was interested to fill in for second Brett Gallant, who teamed up with Jocelyn Peterman to win mixed doubles nationals and earn the right to represent Canada at worlds in Norway from April 20 to 27, at the Champions Cup in Saskatoon, which takes place from April 23 to 28.
Gushue, Gallant, third Mark Nichols and lead Geoff Walker won last year’s Champions Cup with an 8-2 victory over Ontario’s Glenn Howard in Calgary.
“I was pretty surprised,” Lott told The Interlake Spectator after an on-ice practice session on March 27. “You never really expect anything like that and I just looked at my phone and saw an out-of-province number and I thought maybe it was somebody I already had but didn’t put in my phone.
“I clicked on it … and it said, ‘Are you able to play in the Champions Cup with us?’ … I think I’d be able to play.”
Aside from a few fun bonspiel games, the Gimli product hasn’t played in a competitive men’s game since his men’s team, with older brother Tanner at skip, reached the Viterra Championship playoff round before losing 8-7 to William Lyburn in the 3-vs.-4 Page playoff game in Virden on Feb. 9.
Now Lott will be joining Team Gushue at a Grand Slam event, but he doesn’t expect it will be difficult to transition back into after focusing so heavily on mixed doubles over the past several weeks.
“I don’t really find there’s much of a change,” Lott said. “Obviously there’s a lot more complexity with the mixed doubles because of all of the angles and what not, and there’s no hitting until whatever rocks, but it doesn’t really matter to me as long as I just go out there and try to make my shots and be the best team player I can be.”
He feels fortunate to be given this opportunity and chalks it up to the success he and Sahaidak have enjoyed in mixed doubles, which includes a runner-up finish at last year’s nationals and claiming gold in the third leg of the Curling World Cup mixed doubles final with a 7-5 victory over Norway’s Kristin Skaslien and Thomas Ulsrud in Jönköping, Sweden on Feb. 3.
“With mixed doubles, it’s given Kadriana and I the exposure and being in those TV events, and people can see how we play and I think it’s benefited both of us,” Lott said. “For me personally, it’s nice to know that my name is kind of out there, and that teams like that are aware that I’m a good enough curler to play with them. It’s a pretty big compliment to myself from them.”
Lott, who will be joining forces with six-time Northern Ontario junior champion skip Tanner Horgan, as well as brother Tanner and former junior teammate Kyle Doering of East St. Paul in men’s play for the 2019-20 campaign, will be back in the hack for one more marquee mixed doubles event right after his trip to Saskatoon.
By virtue of their win in Sweden, he and Sahaidak will take part in the inaugural eight-team Curling World Cup mixed doubles grand final in Beijing from May 8 to 12. They are in Group B with Olympic bronze medallists and leg two winners Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten of Norway, world champions Michele Jaeggi and Sven Michel of Switzerland, and Russians Maria Komarova and Daniil Goriachev.
“It’s pretty exciting, I can’t wait,” Lott said. “It will be a great event, especially coming off of Sweden. … Just to be with those higher-tier players it’ll be pretty cool.”