SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Curling craziness has hit a new level at the Olympic pre-trials.
Because of so many teams finishing with identical records during the round-robin, tiebreakers will begin at 10:30 p.m. ET Friday night. The tiebreakers will then resume at 6:30 a.m. ET on Saturday morning.
Longtime curler, Shannon Kleibrink, who won a bronze medal for Canada at the 2006 Olympics, is skipping one of the teams playing in the midnight curling madness.
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"Usually when it looks like it's going to be a bunch of tiebreakers it has a way of sorting itself out," she said. "Never on my end of things have I been in this situation."
At the beginning of the week, 28 teams descended upon Summerside looking for the final few spots available to qualify for the Olympic trials in Ottawa at the beginning of December. Two places will be awarded to each gender. Fourteen men's teams and 14 women's teams were placed into two pools of seven teams.
Not much was decided.
Serious number crunching
In the women's Pool A, five teams finished with 3-3 records. It took some serious number crunching and a number of tiebreaking scenarios to determine placing. There was even the possibility of all seven teams finishing with 3-3 records.
But in the final game of the round robin, Julie Tippin's rink from Woodstock, Ont. pulled out the win to finish first overall.
"It's been quite a week. It's a real relief," Tippen said. "We probably went from seventh to first with that win. And I think we're just really happy not to be in those tiebreakers."
That leaves Theresa Breen's team playing against Nadine Scotland's and Shannon Birchard's team playing Shannon Kleibrink's. The winner of each of those games will face off to determine the third and final team into the playoffs. Kelsey Rocque's team finished second by virtue of having the best record over the five teams that tied.
Pool B on the women's side also has a tiebreaker that will be played at 6:30 a.m. ET Saturday morning.
Sherry Middaugh will play Kerri Einarson to determine what team will move onto the playoffs. Krista McCarville finished first in the Pool with Briane's Meilleur's rink finishing second.
"It's crazy," said Middaugh. "I have seen some wild tiebreakers where you're playing three games. It's not fun and you don't know and you just do the best you can."
The women's playoff games will begin Saturday afternoon. The final men's games are being played Friday night. There is also the potential for tiebreakers.
Howard clinches Pool A
Glenn Howard, a four-time Canadian champion from Tiny, Ont., improved to 6-0 with a 4-3 extra-end win over John Morris of Vernon, B.C., and clinched first place in Pool A.
Morris, part of Canada's Olympic champion team in 2010, finished in a three-way tie for second place with Halifax's Jamie Murphy and Winnipeg's Jason Gunnlaugson, but was awarded second based on its head-to-head wins over both Murphy and Gunnlaugson. Those teams will play a third-place tiebreaker Saturday morning.
Gunnlaugson nailed down the tiebreaker spot with a 5-3 win over Adam Casey's Regina-based rink.
In Pool B, Charley Thomas is through to the playoffs after beating Edmonton's Brendan Bottcher to clinch first place in the pool. There was a four-way tie for second place at 3-3 featuring Bottcher, Greg Balsdon of Kingston, Ont., Dayna Deruelle of Brampton, Ont., and William Lyburn of Winnipeg.
Bottcher was awarded second place based on head-to-head results within the pool of tied teams, and will take on Howard Saturday afternoon.
The other three teams will go the tiebreaker route, with Deruelle and Lyburn playing Saturday morning, and the winner will meet Balsdon later Saturday.