|Winners Pauline Farra, Liz Matthews, Kenny Williamson, Ian Ford|
7 Jun 2011 – The first national title of the season was decided when the 2011 New Zealand Mixed Fours Championship was held in Auckland during Queen's Birthday Weekend.
It was an all-Auckland affair as Kenny Williamson's team of Liz Matthews, Ian Ford and Pauline Farra won the Kath Thomas trophy, beating the Hard Yards side of Al Langille, Glenys Taylor, Peter Taylor and Miriam Tackoor in the final.
The limited ice time meant that the eight teams competing faced a gruelling schedule ahead of them when they lined up for their first round pool games on Sunday evening. After last year's event where teams got a 4 hour break in the middle of the night, organisers decided to trial an all-night tournament with 20-50 minutes between matches.
A feature of the three pool rounds was the number of close games. Nine of the twelve matches were decided by 2 points or less, and many of these could have gone either way. After the three rounds there were 3 teams in Pool A with a 2-1 win-loss record, and the average draw shot distance was used to rank them. Ayrshire Rockers (Ian Craig) and Rockhards (Kieran Ford) went through to the semi-finals while the Dean Fotti-skipped rink were the unlucky team to miss out and join Len Hill's four in the 5th-8th playoff.
Hard Yards (3-0) and Williamson (2-1) were the semi-final qualifiers from Pool B. Team Garion Long and Innsbruck 2012 (NZ's team at next year's Youth Winter Olympics) went to the 5th-8th playoffs.
In the semi-finals Williamson took a 4 in the first end agaist Ayrshire Rockers, but lost the next 4 ends to trail 4-7, before storming back to take the match 10-7. Hard Yards took a big lead early in their semi against Rockhard and hung on to win 8-7.
Honours were even at 2-2 half way through the final. Kenny Williamson's aggressive strategy then paid off as his side stole 3 consecutive ends. They ran Hard Yards out of stones in the last to record a 6-2 championship victory.
Ayrshire Rockers led all the way through the 3rd/4th playoff against Rockhard to win 9-4.
In taking 5th place Team Fotti finished the tournament with an overall 4-1 win-loss record, the same as the top two sides. The young Innsbruck 2012 side ended their first competition together on a positive note, winning their last match to finish 7th.
"It wasn't quite a case of 'last man standing'", said Auckland CC President Al Langille at the prizegiving. "But there's no doubt that all players were feeling the effects of five straight games and curling through the night by the time we finished."
"I must commend all the athletes, from teenagers through to seniors, who supported this national championship and gave it their all. We had some top-class curling out there, right through from the opening round to the last end of the last game. And our sincere thanks also go to the supporters and others who kept us fed and watered, and helped us look after the ice as well – that was much appreciated."
"We look forward to the day when we can host these events on our own rink, with top quality ice and more civilised hours!"
Entries open for NZ Mixed Fours
13 May 2011 – Auckland Curling Club is looking forward to hosting the NZ Mixed Fours Curling Championship over Queen's Birthday Weekend says club president Al Langille.
"We have only limited ice time," he continued, "and after feedback at last year's event we plan to make some changes from 2010."
"In the past, the arena ice at Paradice has not had a good reputation. And to be honest last year it was particularly dire and really not suitable for any curling, let alone a national championship."
"However Paradice have invested in a million dollar upgrade over the summer and this has certainly given us much improved ice conditions. It's unrealistic for us to expect to come up to the standards of MCI's dedicated rink at Naseby, but we're optimistic that we'll have reasonable ice for this year's tournament."
Al explained that the very limited ice time at Paradice also causes some challenges. "Last year we came off the ice after 1:00am on Monday morning and then had to be back by 6:00am to get the playoffs finished by noon. That short time away didn't allow any time at all for rest or recovery."
"So this year we'll just continue on through the night. It's far from ideal, but we have to work with the available ice time. It means we can have a decent break between games, and if people know in advance they can plan accordingly."
"We'll serve snacks and meals between games, and there's no reason why we can't combine a great social occasion with a competition for a national title."
The NZ Mixed Fours championship is open to any team of 2 male and female curlers of any age. They must play alternately (i.e. M-F-M-F or F-M-F-M).