Quiet weekend for Canadian teams on World Curling Tour

A casual observer might look at this weekend’s World Curling Tour results and have a Chicken Little moment. “The Sky is Falling for Canadian curling!” they’d say. After all, in the biggest men’s event there were no Canadian teams in the final. In the biggest women’s event, there were no Canadian teams in the final. And to top it all off, Canadians no longer hold the top spot on the women’s WCT rankings, and are barely clinging to a lead on the men’s leaderboard. It’s true, yes, that international teams certainly dominated the field in Gatineau, Que., and Portage la Prairie, Man., but it’s not time to panic, and that’s due to the unique nature of the last year of the Olympic cycle. In an Olympic year, teams are far more careful about picking and choosing which events to play, and what sort of schedule will allow them to peak at the right times, specifically, at The Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings trials. Instead of packing a schedule with week after week of competition, many teams are taking more weekends off, and trying to reach December well rested, but ready to compete. In the other years of the Olympic quadrennial, the trend it to pack a schedule full of bonspiels, trying to earn as many points as possible, to qualify for Grand Slam of Curling Events, and to rank highly on the Canadian Team Ranking System. That’s all been decided by now, which means some events are lacking some of the traditional star power. On the men’s side, the ARENA Challenge du Curling de Gatineau was won by China’s Rui Liu, after he defeated Switzerland’s Peter De Cruz. Liu took home $11,000 while De Cruz made $7,000. In that event, however, only one Roar of the Rings team was in the field (Toronto’s John Epping), and he lost a quarter-final. Ottawa’s Mike McLean and Oakville, Ont.’s Codey Maus were semifinalists, earning $4,500 each.

Chelsea Carey (Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver photo)

The Canad Inn’s Classic was the biggest women’s event of the weekend and featured three Roar of the Rings teams, two of whom made the playoffs. While Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones and Calgary’s Chelsea Carey both had quarterfinal exits, two international entries battled in final. USA’s Nina Roth took home $15,500 for her victory over Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg. With another strong performance, Hasselborg has reclaimed first place on the WCT Order of Merit. In Champery, Switzerland, Niklas Edin won the Curling Masters Champery to take home nearly $18,000 CDN and gain 43.422 points, which puts him just a few behind Brad Gushue (St. John’s) for the world’s No. 1 spot. The bright spot for Canadians this week was Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher who won $10,000 and 32.390 points in the Medicine Hat Charity Classic. He beat fellow Edmontonian Jamie King in the final.