CAMROSE — Mick Lizmore is studying sports psychology at the University of Alberta, and on Thursday he got a stiff lesson in that department.
Lizmore and his Saville Centre team of third Daylan Vavrek, second Carter Lautner and lead Brad Chyz, passed a big test by handing reigning provincial champion Kevin Koe his first loss on Thursday with a dramatic 6-4 extra-end victory.
But the wheels fell off in the A event final against Calgary’s Charley Thomas, losing 7-1 in just six ends.
The win against Koe will help his team’s confidence, but like anyone with a psychology background knows, it isn’t wise to get too high or low over the wins and losses.
“It definitely helps me because I can lean on some things that I’ve learned to try and stay calm on the ice,” said Lizmore prior to his game against Thomas.
“My mind works like an athlete during the game. I’m always trying to think about what’s to come into play during a game and it makes me aware of those things, but it can be a blessing and a curse sometimes.”
While the upset win over Koe may have surprised many, one person who knows what Lizmore is capable of is Koe’s coach, John Dunn, who ironically is Lizmore’s supervisor at the U of A, where the former Canadian junior champion is earning his PhD.
“He’s a bright lad, works hard, industrious and passionate about the game of curling,” said Dunn.
“He’s won the Canadian University championship, a bronze medal in the FISU Games, and then he won the Canadian mixed championship and he’s fighting hard to earn a spot at the Brier.“
Having seen his student both in the classroom and on the ice, Dunn raves about the
smarts that Lizmore shows handling the pressures of making those crucial curling shots and achieving those strong grades.
“He has so much emotional control and if you watch him out there, there’s no question that when he’s playing he’s applying some of the things he’s learning,” said Dunn. “His Master’s thesis was looking at emotional and cognitive responses to failures in curlers, so he’s very aware of it.
“His studies come first, but I don’t think to be successful as a student it needs to consume you, and I would say that Mick is one of those individuals where curling provides balance in his life and it enables him to be very good at both.”
Curling at an elite level has it’s challenges. The tough schedule and long travel to events can be a grind.
Lizmore admits he’s focused on his studies more this season. His curling schedule is scaled back but the addition of Vavrek and Chyz has allowed him to pursue success in both areas.
“We all have jobs and are going to school and we decided at the beginning of the year that we may only get in five or six spiels before provincials, and that’s the big focus,” said Lizmore, whose team has had a solid all year despite the lack of games competition.
They qualified for provincials based off the Alberta curling Tour points system and will likely be around when the dust settles in the playoffs.
“I’ve been really lucky to have John as a supervisor. He’s always understood that I’m balancing a fine line between sport and school and I’m so thankful that John has been so understanding,” said Lizmore.
THOMAS LOCKS UP SPOT: With the win over Lizmore, Thomas secured a spot in the 1-2 playoff game Saturday night.
“It the best case scenario for us to accomplish this, and we couldn’t ask to be in a better position,” said Thomas, who also knocked off contender Brendan Bottcher 8-7 earlier in the day.
DUO BOUNCES BACK: Defending champ Kevin Koe and Bottcher responded with big wins Thursday night. Koe defeated Kevin Park 7-1 in six ends, while Bottcher crushed Greg Pasnichnuk 12-2. Koe and Bottcher will now face each other Friday at 2 p.m. to see who will be the favourite to qualify out of the B event.