Photo provided by Ashley Kalk.
From left to right, Coach: Jim Weber, Lead: Ashley Kalk, Second: Cody Bartlett, Third: Erica Wiese, Skip: Warren Cross
One of Hinton’s own curlers is heading off to Quebec this week to compete at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship as part of Team Alberta.
Ashley Kalk took her first steps on the curling ice in Hinton when she joined the junior curling program as a young teen.
“Hinton has a really strong curling community for many, many years and there’s been a lot of great players that have come out of that club. Even my mom curled competitively, so I was introduced to the [sport] at a young age,” said Kalk.
Kalk went on to say that she looks up to great players who came out of Hinton like Glen Hansen and Sherry French, who have curled at nationals as well.
“We’ve had two other Hintonites participate in this event that we’re headed to. They’ve kind of been inspiration for me,” she said.
“I think [Hinton] is a good place to be introduced to the sport and be able to take it seriously.”
Kalk, who curls lead for Team Alberta, competed in high school curling, got involved in Hinton’s ladies league and went on to compete in the ladies juniors, as well as with her university team in Edmonton.
Last year, she took her first shot at the mixed nationals when she headed off to provincials together with current mixed team member, Warren Cross, and two others. This year, Kalk and Cross put together a new team with Erica Wiese from Kalk’s ladies team and Cody Bartlett, from Cross’ men’s team.
Alberta is split into two regions from which teams have to qualify before they can compete at provincials. Out of 13 teams in their region, Kalk’s team qualified for provincials, and after winning provincials, they took the title of Team Alberta. Since then, they played together at the Camrose Invitational Bonspiel, as well as matches with their respective mens and ladies teams.
The national mixed championships start on Nov. 3 when Team Alberta faces off against Team Nova Scotia. Team Alberta will play six matches throughout the week, and finals begin on Nov. 7 until Nov. 9.
“I’m feeling really good. The team is ready, we’ve been practicing, we’ve had some good ice time,” Kalk said.
“Ultimately the goal would be to win nationals.”
Still in the early season of curling, winning nationals would mean they take on the title of Team Canada and compete at the 2020 world championship for mixed curling. Team Canada 2019 from Manitoba recently won the world mixed curling titles in Aberdeen, Scotland, making Canada the first ever back-to-back World Mixed champion. The year before that, Team Canada from Ontario took the world champion title.
At the mixed national level, Team Alberta is one of only two provinces to ever remain unbeaten, in 1965, 1969, and 2016. Team Alberta has won a leading 11 Canadian Mixed titles, followed by Saskatchewan with nine, and Manitoba with eight.