Two-time Olympian Lisa Weagle to return to four-player game on Team Laurie St-Georges

Two-time Olympian Lisa Weagle will return to the four-player game next season as the lead for the Laval, Que.,-based team skipped by Laurie St-Georges.

Weagle, who won a world title in 2017 on a team skipped by Rachel Homan, represented Canada at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She was also a member of the five-player team skipped by Jennifer Jones that wore the Maple Leaf at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Weagle stepped away from competitive team curling for the first half of the quadrennial but was still active in mixed doubles with John Epping. Her new four-player rink also includes Jamie Sinclair at third and Emily Riley at second.

"I think the test for me the last couple of years is if I say yes to something, I need to feel excited about it," Weagle said from Ottawa. "To me, this is a team that's already really good and they are ready to take the step to the next level.

"It's something that got me excited and I'm hoping that I can contribute and see what we can accomplish together."

St-Georges, who's currently ranked 20th in Canada, made her fourth career appearance as Quebec skip at the national championship last February in Calgary. She missed the playoffs at 4-4.

"(Lisa) is such a skilled athlete and she understands the game so well," St-Georges said from Laval. "We were looking for a player who can bring some experience but also skills and be a sweeping asset to the team.

"Playing mixed doubles against her, I saw her making critical shots and obviously her background is just incredible. It was a no-brainer for us."

Weagle, 39, attended the Scotties Tournament of Hearts to help support the Sandra Schmirler Foundation. Watching the action in Calgary made her miss the feeling of big-game competition, she said.

"I still really love the game," Weagle said. "So when this opportunity came ... I felt like this was the right fit at the right time."

She added that getting more reps in a competitive setting would also complement her mixed doubles game. The Olympic trials in that discipline are set to begin Dec. 30 in Liverpool, N.S.

St-Georges posted a 32-19 record last season. A vacancy at the lead position was created when the team parted ways with Kelly Middaugh last month.

Sinclair, a 33-year-old native of Anchorage, Alaska, who lives in Osgoode, Ont., is a three-time U.S. champion. She was granted an exemption under Curling Canada's residency policy due to living in close proximity to the provincial border.

Sinclair played lead for Homan's 2007 team that won gold at the Canada Winter Games. She also won U Sports gold as Carleton Ravens skip in 2014.

Riley and St-Georges, both 26, live about a two-hour drive from Weagle and Sinclair so they'll all be able to train and practise together on a regular basis.

Weagle kept busy after stepping back from the four-player game. In addition to mixed doubles play, she focused on coaching, building a curling academy, and serving as Canadian chef de mission at the recent Youth Olympic Games.

"That window I think for being an athlete is so short," she said. "Hopefully it's still open a little crack for me. I'm just going to enjoy the next year and see where it takes me and take it one year at a time."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2024.

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press