THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO—Curling fans from St. John’s to Nanaimo are bracing for what might be the most disastrous curling season since Broomgate. This time it’s not IcePad that threatens the roaring game, but rather the global pandemic known as COVID-19. With the coronavirus raging across the globe, the likelihood of a complete season—or even a local bonspiel—seems increasingly unlikely. The Federalist is monitoring the curling season and is here to give you the details, hog line to hog line.
World Curling Federation
The World Curling Federation’s season is already off to a rocky start. The World Mixed Championship in Aberdeen, Scotland was cancelled two months before it was scheduled to begin. In an official statement, World Curling Federation President Kate Caithness stated, “Unfortunately, with the continuing spread of the virus and the restrictions it has placed on international travel, safely bringing athletes and staff to the championship is simply not feasible at this time.” The announcement followed the cancellation of most qualifying matches by national member bodies.
With the cancellation of mixed events already permeating throughout the world, fans everywhere are left wondering how this will affect the world men’s and women’s championship. Both those events, slated for next spring, are still on the calendar as of now. We know curling fans around the world (including us here at the Fed) are praying for the arrival of a vaccine to ensure the return of the world men’s and women’s championship this spring.
As with curling across the world, Curling Canada has seen major impacts to its schedule already. Both mixed and club curling championships, slated for November, have been cancelled by the body. “We all know the reality of our situation and it goes beyond sports,” said Katherine Henderson, Curling Canada’s CEO. “Our primary goal and responsibility, always, is to keep athletes and volunteers safe and it was determined that without any kind of clarity about what the situation will look like in the late fall when these events were scheduled, we couldn’t responsibly go further in the planning process.”
Also on the chopping block is the 2020 Home Hardware Canada Cup, planned for early november in New Brunswick’s celestial city, Fredericton. As followers of curling know, the Canada Cup is the major qualifier for Tim Hortons’ Roar of the Rings, the qualifying tournament that determines who will represent the maple leaf nation in Beijing. Curling Canada has announced that they will look to reschedule the event when they can assure the safety of all players and fans.
Of course, this all brings into question what will happen with the two goliaths of curling, Scotties Tournament of Hearts and the Tim Hortons Brier. As of now both are slated to happen, but the Scotties, which is scheduled for February may be in jeopardy if momentum isn’t made on finding a vaccine. Last year, hundreds were glued to their TVs as they watched Kerri Einarson, the most interesting thing to come out of Gimli since the Gimli Glider, take it all over inevitable hall of famer Rachel Homan in a nail-biting 8-to-7 win. What will happen this year to Manitobia’s favorite daughter may be left on the ice until 2022. As for the Tim Hortons Brier, the event is holding fast to its March start date, that date is contingent on many factors that are out of Curling Canada’s control.
World Curling Tour
The World Curling Tour is also facing an existential crisis. The big news of the WCT comes out of the flagship circuit, The Grand Slam of Curling. The Grand Slam announced last month that it will cut 4 of its events and postponed its season until spring of 2021. The Princess Auto Player’s Championship and the Humphrey’s Championship will be played but the Canadian Beef Masters, the Tour Challenge, the Boost National and the Meridian Open will not be underway until the 2021-2022 season. This also means a scrubbing of the planned American launch of the GSoC events. This matches cancellations of the smaller events across the WCT. For many athletes, the big purses at the GSoC and the WCT in general are a large source of income. Many in the curling world question if the sport will be able to maintain its level of competition with the athletes facing possible financial issues.
With many of us feeling like a stone knocked straight out of the house (and into our homes), we hope and pray for a speedy end to this nightmare. In the meantime, the ice will be left unswept, the stone unthrown, and the teams unskipped. Until a day comes that will deliver us from the darkness, and bring us back to the greatest game on ice.