Pandemic continues to impact curling events across northern Ontario
Some qualifying events have been cancelled, while other tournaments are still set to go
As some qualifying events in curling get cancelled, organizers in this region and across the country are starting to have to choose teams based on a ranking system to determine who gets to compete.
On Thursday, Curling Canada announced Rachel Homan and John Morris as the mixed doubles team for Canada competing at the Beijing Olympics.
The executive director of the Northern Ontario Curling Association said having to choose teams is a difficult situation for everyone involved. Bobby Ray said the provincial Scotties qualifier had to be cancelled and a team had to be selected.
"It's never the way we want to go about business," he said.
In the end, the McCarville rink was chosen out of Thunder Bay to represent northern Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to represent northern Ontario at this year's Scotties in our hometown," the team posted on social media.
Ray said to choose that team, a committee used a program called the Canadian Team Ranking System.
"Team McCarville is the tenth ranked curling team in all of Canada and they just finished with a bronze medal at the most recent Olympic curling trials," he said.
"We used that system to determine our top ranked team."
Ray said if a qualifying event can't be held to determine the men's team for the Brier, a similar process will be done to choose a team.
'Still on the calendar'
While some events have been cancelled, Ray said the Scotties later this month in Thunder Bay is still scheduled to take place.
He said this season, northern Ontario was scheduled to host five national curling events.
"Now that's been a little damped by the ongoing pandemic," he said.
"Timmins was going to host the Canadian Under-18 Championships. It's been cancelled for Timmins. They're going to host in 2023."
Sudbury will host the Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Championships as well as the Canadian University and College Championships in March.
"We're hoping the more time we have, the better chance we can run those events," he said.
"They are still on the calendar."
As for curling clubs across the region, Ray said when they're open, some clubs are reporting to be doing well.
"I know my local curling club where I play, they're membership is as strong as it's ever been," he said.
"But then we're often finding ourselves in situations where we're not allowed to be open. That can be frustrating because we're still paying the hydro bills and staff."
With files from Morning North
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