Olympics may be behind curling transplants, says CurlSask director
Adam Casey from P.E.I. skips for Team Sask.; Michelle Englot from Sask. skips for Team Man.
Ashley Howard thinks the Olympics has played into curling's competitiveness and its new rules, which allow teams to ice one out-of-province player.
The executive director for CurlSask said the new rules allow teams to ice more competitive rosters, especially in smaller jurisdictions and provinces, such as P.E.I.
"People are getting so competitive and I think the Olympics have a lot to do with it," Howard said. "We're looking to field our best teams and, in some cases, it's looking out of province or going out of province."
That passion of playing for the place you live is very important to me.- Ashley Howard, executive director, CurlSask
Howard said there has been a shift at the top level of curling: a more competitive attitude and commitment to training, nutrition and improvement.
"I don't want to use the word 'cut-throat' but we're seeing a lot more competitiveness coming out as a result of being an Olympic sport and the huge funding dollars that go along with that."
Englot skipping in Manitoba
Take Michelle Englot, originally from Regina, who has been transplanted and is skipping in another province: Manitoba.
Howard said she herself has curled in other provinces and understands why people would curl elsewhere but it's something that has bothered her.
"It has been a difficult rule for me to adopt in a personal sense because that passion of playing for the place you live is very important to me," she said.
"The motivation you get from playing for a place that you love and you're honoured to represent is second to none and I still hold that in extremely high regard."
'Our season really turned around'
Then there's Adam Casey, a P.E.I. native who is skipping for Team Saskatchewan. Casey will be leading the team at the Tim Hortons Brier in March.
Casey said Team Saskatchewan members Shaun Meachem and Catlin Schneider had given him a call looking to recruit him, so he took what he called a "leap of faith."
Casey had been skipping in P.E.I. for the last few years. He said some of the members of his teams were tiring and wanted to take a step back. Casey's goal, however, was to get back to the Brier.
The plan was for Casey to be a second to Meachem's skip, he said, but a shakeup was suggested after a rocky start.
"Really, since then, our season really turned around," Casey said.
With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition and Afternoon Edition