Jean-Michel Menard settled for silver in his lone previous appearance at a world curling championship. The 2006 Brier champion is hoping to earn gold in his long-awaited return.
The 46-year-old from Gatineau, Que., will skip the Canadian entry at the world mixed curling championship starting Saturday at the Curl Aberdeen facility in Scotland.
Menard will wear the Maple Leaf with wife, Annie Lemay, at lead, along with second Ian Belleau and third Marie-France Larouche, who are also off-ice partners. They secured a world berth last November with an extra-end victory over Ontario’s Mike McLean in Canmore, Alta.
“We all know the job we have to do and we stick to what we have to do,” Menard said of the team’s approach.
This is the sixth edition of the world mixed playdowns. Canada beat Germany for gold when the event was last played in 2019. Norway took the bronze.
Canada is in Group A with Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, New Zealand, Portugal and Slovenia. Round-robin play continues through Oct. 20 and medal games are set for Oct. 22.
Menard, who fell to Scotland’s David Murdoch in the final of the 2006 world men’s curling playdowns, stepped away from the competitive men’s team scene a few years ago.
He won his first Canadian mixed crown in 2001 at Weyburn, Sask. Only Robert Campbell, who went 22 years between national mixed crowns (1989-2011) had a longer gap between titles.
Menard’s team trained in Montreal before arriving in Europe last weekend. He’s feeling confident that his team will perform well on the world stage.
“There’s no arguments, everyone knows their role,” Menard said Thursday from Aberdeen. “It’s really smooth when we play, I believe.”
There are family connections on some of the other lineups throughout the 35-team field.
The Denmark entry includes Mikael Qvist, his wife Trine Qvist, and their children, Gabriella and Alexander.
It’s also a family affair for the Portugal team. Joe Ribau has his kids on board with Chris at third and twin sisters Bridget and Sabrina in the lineup.
This will also be the first world curling event appearance for a team representing India.
At the end of round-robin play, the four group winners will advance to the quarterfinals. Qualification games will be played for second- and third-place finishers in each group.