Calgary selected to host the Brier, Scotties and other large bonspiels in hub format

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Calgary is on the cusp of being a curling mecca.
Weeks after CBC Sports first announced that the city of Alberta had been selected to host a number of major bonspiels, Curling Canada made official on Tuesday that the Scotties, Brier, Men’s World Championship and National Mixed Doubles Championship will all be hosted at the Canadian Olympics. Park.

There is no timeline at this point for when the events will take place.

There are also two Grand Slam curling events scheduled for the Calgary Curling Bubble.

Curling Canada officials said they are continuing to engage with all levels of government and health officials to develop the safest protocol, using many of the lessons learned from the NHL and NBA bubbles.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux and Colleen Jones discuss the Calgary Curling Center:

Devin Heroux is joined by six-time Scotties medalist Colleen Jones to discuss the Calgary curling bubble announcement. 5:34

Six-time Scotties winner Colleen Jones said that with the increase in COVID-19 cases in Calgary, there are still concerns about how the event will play out.

“For a lot of people, this is great news,” Jones said. “The flip side, however, is that with COVID cases on the rise across the country, there is a lot of concern about how the provincial championships will play out.

“The provincial associations are meeting right now. Polls are underway to ask curlers what this should look like.

In an email to CBC Sports, the Department of Canadian Heritage said it had received a request from Curling Canada to host an international event in Canada – it would be the World Men’s Curling Championship.

“Authorization will only be granted if the plans offer robust protocols to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada,” the email said.

“Authorization would be conditional on continued support from provincial and local public health authorities and the provincial government, as well as a risk mitigation action plan, developed and implemented by Curling Canada and evaluated by the Agency.” of Public Health in Canada.

The curling extravagance will most likely begin with the crown jewel of women’s curling, the Scotties. All events will take place without supporters at the Markin MacPhail Center at WinSport Canada Olympic Park.

Colleen Jones, seen in action at the 2013 Scotties, says that with the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, there is some apprehension about how the provincial championships will play out. (Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press)

While there are still many details to be worked out regarding player and coach safety, Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women Minister Leela Sharon Aheer said it was one thing. positive for the province.

“This series of championship curling events is a fantastic opportunity for Alberta to once again show the world that our ability to host major sporting events in urban centers is second to none,” she said. .

“We look forward to providing an exciting and memorable curling experience for all players, participants and fans. ”

The Scotties were originally scheduled to take place in Thunder Bay, Ontario, but the pandemic canceled those plans. Pre-event tickets were sold out. However, Thunder Bay did receive the 2022 Scotties.

The Brier was going to be played in Kelowna, but it will now also be played in the Calgary bubble. This is the first time the Scotties and Brier have been played in the same city in the same season.

‘I trust Curling Canada’

Defending Brier Champion Brad Gushue is thrilled that Curling Canada has found a way to bring curlers back onto the shingle ice safely.

“Every player I’ve spoken to wanted this to happen and [is] excited it’s going to happen, ”Gushue said. “I’ve heard that some players are a bit hesitant, but there aren’t many of them.

“I have enough confidence in Curling Canada to do it safely. Our team is on board.

Gushue says his team has had a number of conversations about what life could be like in the Calgary bubble, including potentially being away from family for almost two months.

“It’s hard to swallow. To be honest, this is something we have discussed at length with our families, ”said Gushue.

“Some teams may not do it. It’s hard not to do when you love sports and want to compete. ”

Gushue is hoping to defend his Brier title and earn a spot at the men’s world championship, having been unable to wear the maple leaf at last year’s championship in Scotland due to the pandemic.

WATCH | Gushue disappointed with the cancellation of the world curling championship:

In an Instagram Live with our curling aficionado Devin Heroux, 2020 Brier champion Brad Gushue said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the cancellation of the world curling championships. 1:34

“Missing a world championship isn’t the end of the world, but when you’re a competitive curler it tears you up a bit,” he said.

“It weighed on me. There were times throughout the summer when people would conjure up worlds and I thought it sucked it wouldn’t get there. ”

Gushue also plans to compete in the National Mixed Doubles Championship and two Grand Slam events which will also be hosted in the Calgary Bubble.

Prepare for the lack of fans

Gushue is already gearing up for having six to seven straight weeks of curling, including not having fans in the arena to motivate him.

“I feed off the crowd,” he says. “Not having them around is going to be a challenge for me. I am working with our sports psychologist on how to handle this. I don’t know how this will affect me. ”

Gushue says her Newfoundland and Labrador team have only played two competitions this season – by far the least time she has spent on the ice in a season of her career.

And they haven’t even been a complete team.

Brad Gushue, left, seen discussing a shooting with Geoff Walker in 2018, says coronavirus restrictions in different provinces can make the logistics of the practice difficult. (Andrew Vaughan / The Canadian Press)

Geoff Walker is in Alberta with his wife, Laura, and their newborn baby. Walker chose to stay in the province because he did not want to leave and quarantine himself for two weeks before he could play for Team Gushue.

“I still haven’t seen Geoff in person since the night we won the Brier,” said Gushue. “How can we come together to practice and play? ”

Provincial restrictions make playdowns a headache

It’s a common question many of the country’s top curling teams ask themselves these days, as most foursomes have at least one player living outside the province – the restrictions in each jurisdiction across the country differ, which makes it increasingly difficult for curlers to get together on the ice.

This raises the issue of the provincial playoffs.

While many provinces have strict rules for gatherings, curling associations are trying to formulate plans that would allow them to safely and fairly select provincial and territorial representatives to attend both national championships.

The announcement of this Calgary curling bubble comes one year from the Roar of the Rings Olympic playoffs which will be held in Saskatoon from November through December.

This is a crucial four-year period for Canadian curling after the men’s and women’s teams failed to get on the podium for the first time at the 2018 Olympics.

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