Flaxey rink not short of confidence as they enjoy breakout season

Allison Flaxey rink a team to watch

COBOURG, Ont. — Canadian skip Allison Flaxey achieved a big goal with her first career Grand Slam title this season. She has her sights set even higher as she looks at the year ahead.

“I think we can win the Olympics,” Flaxey said Thursday. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we have the capacity to do it. It’s just finding ways to be our best when we need to be.

“I think that will be the thing that we’re trying to tackle in the next 12 months or so.”

Flaxey has reason to be confident.

Buoyed by her victory at the Masters, the 31-year-old from Caledon East, Ont., has risen to third in the Canadian rankings. Her team of third Clancy Grandy, second Lynn Kreviazuk and lead Morgan Court also hold the No. 7 position on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit.

Not too shabby for their second season together as a foursome.

“We’re a fierce team, we’re resilient,” Flaxey said. “We can bounce back like nobody else. So I think just that drive and that willpower, nobody I think out there wants it more than us in my mind.

“We’re willing to work to do that. So I hope you see more of us. That’s our plan.”

Coach Caleb Flaxey, Allison’s husband, said the team set some big goals at the start of the season. They wanted to break through on the Slam circuit — and win at that level â€” while aiming to qualify for the national championship and Olympic Trials.

“The girls in a sense are fearless, almost to a point of being almost too overconfident at times,” he said. “They want to be the best and they want to play the best. Getting to the top is what they want to do.”

The team’s breakthrough came last October when Flaxey defeated Olympic champion Jennifer Jones, national champ Chelsea Carey, European star Silvana Tirinzoni and 2015 event champion Rachel Homan en route to the Masters title.

“It was huge,” Allison Flaxey said. “Just showing that you can beat anybody out there. I think we ended up beating the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 teams in the Order of Merit during that event.

“So that was a huge win for us and it just showed us what we’re capable of if we really get on a roll.”

Flaxey is off to a decent start at this week’s provincial championship at the Cobourg Community Centre. At 3-2, she was tied for third in the eight-team field after 11 draws.

The Ontario winner will play as the home province at the Feb. 16-26 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in St. Catharines. Defending champion Chelsea Carey headlines the field with 2006 Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink of Alberta, Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville and Manitoba’s Michelle Englot.

Flaxey, a Winnipeg native, played in Alberta for a few years before moving to Ontario in 2011. Her first provincial title came in 2014 and she finished in a tie for ninth at the Scotties that year.

The current lineup strives to maintain consistent routines while making minor tweaks to their game as needed.

“Our execution can be better, I think we’ve seen,” Flaxey said after dropping a 7-6 decision to Cathy Auld in the morning draw. “But we’re finding our way and I think we’ll finish strong.”

Flaxey, who curls out of the Brampton Curling Club, has already qualified for The Players’ Championship in Toronto and the Humpty’s Champions Cup in April.

“With how hard this team works, they’ve made giant leaps just in the last year, year and a half,” said Caleb Flaxey. “I believe come this fall, this team can be the top team coming out of Canada.”

The Ontario playoffs start Saturday and the final is set for Sunday.

The men’s Ontario Tankard is also being played this week at the same venue. The Tankard winner will represent the province at next month’s Tim Hortons Brier in St. John’s.

The Olympic Trials will be held in December in Ottawa. The Winter Olympics are set for next February in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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