Alberta selects Laura Walker, Brendan Bottcher for Scotties, Brier
Both were last year’s provincial champions
The waiting is over in the wild rose province.
Curling Alberta has made its decision on what teams will represent the province at this year's Scotties and Brier in the Calgary bubble. Laura Walker, last year's provincial champion, has accepted the invitation to play at this year's Scotties.
"We were excited to get the call. We wanted to wear the blue and gold and we take so much pride in representing our province," Walker told CBC Sports.
"We know there are many deserving teams in Alberta and we don't take this honour lightly."
Walker made her Scotties debut in Moose Jaw, Sask., last year and finished with a 3-4 record.
On the men's side, Brendan Bottcher will once again be going to the Brier. Bottcher is last year's provincial champion. He has played in the last three Brier championship games, losing twice to Brad Gushue, and two years ago to fellow Albertan Kevin Koe.
It's Bottcher's fifth appearance at the Brier. The decision was made Sunday afternoon by the Curling Alberta board members.
This was a much anticipated decision as it will have massive repercussions on what other teams will attend the national championships.
Curling Canada has announced a one-time expanded field for the Scotties and Brier, citing these extraordinary times in the midst of a pandemic as the reason for increasing the field to 18 teams.
Normally, there are 16 teams competing at the event. However, Curling Canada has said there will be no wild-card game as it's unfair to have teams travel all that way and make plans to only play one game.
The governing body for the sport wants the best teams in the country at the event.
So the first two spots will be determined by the CTRS rankings — the two teams that would normally compete in the wild-card game.
The third and final team will be determined through a number of criteria.
Whatever uniform we'll be wearing we're motivated and excited to go compete for another Canadian championship and represent all our sponsors and fans at the Brier as Team Koe. See you in March from the Calgary bubble! <a href="https://t.co/hPoqAVM8Oj">pic.twitter.com/hPoqAVM8Oj</a>—@TeamKevinKoe
Kevin Koe, who brought in John Morris to join the team in place of Colton Flasch during the off-season, is ranked sixth. He'll be at the event.
"While we don't agree with the decision made we are excited to have the opportunity to compete in the Calgary bubble," Koe told CBC Sports.
"Regardless of the uniform we are wearing we are a very motivated team and excited to compete for another Canadian championship and represent all our sponsors and fans."
Mike McEwen's Manitoba rink is ranked fifth and is also a lock for the event.
The last spot would then most likely go to Glenn Howard out of Ontario, as his team is currently ranked ninth.
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Women's side more complicated
The women's side is a tad more complicated. With Walker being named as Alberta representative, that means Tracy Fleury's Manitoba rink is locked in for one of the spots with her No. 2 ranking.
The next team without a Scotties spot is Chelsea Carey. Her team disbanded during the off-season — Carey is a free agent.
Then it's Kelsey Rocque's Alberta rink at No. 5. The issue for Rocque is that she changed two of four players during the off-season -- and Curling Canada rules explicitly state three of four members need to return to be eligible. That eliminates the Rocque rink from the two CTRS spots — however, the team might be considered for the third spot.
There is a potential situation brewing that could include last year's world junior champion Mackenzie Zacharias. Her Manitoba rink is ranked 11th.
This all comes in the wake of a number of jurisdictions cancelling their playdowns. To date, eight jurisdictions across Canada have now cancelled their playdowns — they include: B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Northern Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
The final spots are expected to be filled over the next couple of weeks.
- Canada — Kerri Einarson.
- B.C. — Corryn Brown.
- Alberta -- Laura Walker
- Saskatchewan — Sherry Anderson.
- Manitoba — Jennifer Jones.
- Ontario — Rachel Homan.
- Northern Ontario — Krysta Burns.
- Quebec — Laurie St-Georges.
- Nova Scotia — Jill Brothers.
- Nunavut — Lori Eddy.
- Canada — Brad Gushue.
- B.C. — Steve Laycock.
- Alberta -- Brendan Bottcher
- Saskatchewan — Matt Dunstone.
- Manitoba — Jason Gunnlaugson.
- Ontario — John Epping.
- Northern Ontario — Brad Jacobs.
- Quebec — Michael Fournier.
- Yukon — Dustin Mikkelsen.
- Nunavut — Peter Mackey.
There are six major curling events planned for the Calgary curling bubble starting with the Scotties on Feb. 19. That will then lead into the men's national championship beginning of March. 5.
Following these two events, the mixed doubles championship will take place all leading to the men's world curling championship, set to begin in early April.
The final two events held inside the bubble include two Grand Slam of Curling bonspiels.