Some of the top names in Canadian curling will be in Liverpool at the 2021 Home Hardware Curling Olympic Pre-Trials in October, fighting for a spot to represent Canada in the next Olympic Games.
Fourteen men’s and 14 women’s teams will be competing in Liverpool October 25 to 31 for two berths in the 2021 Tim Hortons Olympic Curling Trials that will be held in Saskatoon November 20 to 28. The winners will represent Canada in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
Greg Thorbourne, chair of the Liverpool Championship Host Society, said COVID-19 has put a slight damper on his excitement.
“We don’t know yet if we will be allowed spectators to the event at all. Nothing has been approved yet,” said Thorburne.
He added that he and his team have had to present their plans to Events Nova Scotia for what they will have in place under different scenarios, depending on the phase of COVID-19 regulations the province will be under at the time.
“We have to say this is what we want and what we want to do in each phase. It seems a little backwards to me. They should be telling us what we need to do,” he said.
There are a number of factors for the organizers to consider when having the event at Queens Place Emera Centre because the building also contains a fitness centre and an early childhood development centre.
As of now, people doing their various activities would not be allowed to intermingle. So those attending the fitness centre would not be permitted to be near the curlers for example.
“We have had to work out scenarios where people have to stay in their own little bubbles,” he said.
“We also have been working on the part if we have fans; we may have to do a deep clean in between draws. We are having four draws a day, and with that in mind, with warm-ups and games, we would only have 45 minutes to deep clean the facility. But I don’t know anything about it yet.”
Despite climbing a hill to make this all happen, Thorbourne said the curling should be top-notch, with curlers such as Sherry Anderson, 57, of Saskatchewan and Pat Simmons, 47, of Manitoba.
Anderson has played in the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts nine times, including four as a skip. She also won the Canadian Senior Curling Championships in three straight years (2017-2019) and won the world championships twice (2018-2019).
Simmons will also have a team in Liverpool. Coming out of retirement to curl in the pre-trials, he has represented Alberta and Saskatchewan in numerous Briers and is a two-time champion.
Also back to fight for a chance to represent Canada at the Olympic level is Tyler Tardi, the B.C. curler who represented Canada and won the World Junior Curling Championships on Liverpool ice in 2019.
A number of provincial curlers will be playing for teams as well, such as Paul Flemming and Karlee Burgess. Liverpool’s own Jill Brothers may also have a chance to compete in front of a hometown crowd, but she has to go through a playdown in Ottawa first.
Along with the pre-qualified teams, four more women’s teams and five men’s teams will join the roster after two separate tournaments being played in Ottawa September 22 to 26.
In one tournament, five teams of each gender will compete for direct-entry berths into the national curling trials in Saskatoon.
The top three women’s teams will advance to Saskatoon, while the bottom two teams advance to Liverpool.
On the men’s side, two men’s teams will advance to Saskatoon, while the three remaining men’s teams will advance to Liverpool.
In a second tournament, eight teams of each gender will compete for direct-entry berths to the Liverpool event. The top two men’s and women’s teams will advance to Liverpool.
“The competition is going to be incredible,” noted Thorbourne.
The format for the event had not been finalized as of press time. However, the basic schedule for Liverpool is set.
The first game will be held October 25th followed by a second game at 8 p.m. Subsequent days will include four draws each day through to October 29. Three draws and playoffs will conclude the event October 30 and finish up with the last draw at 7 p.m. October 31.
The event is expected to require a lot of volunteers to help pull it off. Thorbourne is now taking names and applications for those wishing to help.
The following is a list of pre-qualified teams for Liverpool based on their World Curling Team Ranking as of July 2021.
Women: Team Sherry Anderson, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Penny Barker, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Team Hollie Duncan, Woodstock, Ontario; Team Jacqueline Harrison, Dundas, Ontario; Team Danielle Inglis, Mississauga, Ontario; Team Krista McCarville, Thunder Bay, Ontario; Team Jestyn Murphy, Mississauga, Ontario; Team Beth Peterson, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Team Darcy Robertson, Winnipeg, Manitoba and Team Mackenzie Zacharias, Altona, Manitoba.
Men: Team Jonathan Beuk, Kingston, Ontario; Team Braden Calvert, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Team Pat Ferris, Grimsby, Ontario; Team Paul Flemming, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Team Mike Fournier, Montreal, Quebec; Team Jeremy Harty, Calgary, Alberta; Team Pat Simmons, Winnipeg; Team Karsten Sturmay, Edmonton, Alberta; Team Tyler Tardi, Langley, B.C.
Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin