Road To The Olympic Games

Curling

COVID-19 already affecting next season's curling events

As major sporting events around the world continue to be postponed or cancelled in the midst of the pandemic, the tentacles of COVID-19 are now starting to stretch into next year's curling season in Canada.

Fear of losing half the season creeps in as Shorty Jenkins Classic scrapped

Jennifer Jones, shown at left in this February 2020 file photo, won her first Shorty Jenkins Classic title at last year's event. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

As major sporting events around the world continue to be postponed or cancelled in the midst of the pandemic, the tentacles of COVID-19 are now starting to stretch into next year's curling season in Canada.

Late Thursday it was announced the 2020 Shorty Jenkins Classic, scheduled for mid-September in Cornwall, Ont., has been cancelled.

'The Shorty' is one of the marquee early bonspiels on the curling calendar.

"The decision, a difficult one announced today was made by the organizing committee, and is in the best interest of local sponsors, fans, volunteers, and the curler," the event announced via email.

Last year, John Epping defeated Brad Jacobs in the men's final. It was the Toronto-based skip's fourth Shorty title.

Jennifer Jones won her first Shorty title last year by defeating Tracy Fleury in the championship game.

"We thoroughly enjoyed our first time competing at the Shorty Jenkins Classic and are saddened by the postponement but know that it will come back stronger than ever," Jones said.

"We're looking forward to a time when we can put these concerns behind us and focus on curling again."

Epping says he's disappointed to hear the Shorty has been cancelled this season but understands why the decision was made.

"We always look forward to playing in The Shorty and can't wait to be back in 2021," he said.

Nearly 50 teams from around the world traveled to Cornwall last September to compete in the The Shorty, attracting the top Canadian and international teams in the game.

Organizers say the event will return in 2021 to mark the 25th anniversary of the event.

More curling cancellations

The cancellation of The Shorty comes a week after three World Curling Tour events were cancelled.

The Canad Inns men's, women's and mixed doubles Classics, set to take place in mid-October have all been cancelled. The event is held annually at the Portage Curling Club in Portage la Prairie, Man.

"It is with deep regret and sadness that we must announce the cancellation of the 2020 Canad Inns Classic events. These events include the Canad Inns Men's Classic, the Canad Inns Women's Classic and the Canad Inns Mixed Doubles Classic," organizers posted to their website in late April.

Those World Curling Tour events join this year's men's, women's and mixed doubles worlds championships as events scrapped due to the global pandemic.

When asked about how worried this year's Brier champion was about next year's curling season, Brad Gushue was brief and to the point.

"Very concerned," he said.

The cancellations are sending shockwaves through the curling community as fear of missing half the season starts to creep into focus.

The first Grand Slam of Curling event is scheduled to begin on Oct. 20 in Sarnia-Lambton, Ont. At this point organizers say there are no updates on the status on the Slam schedule at this time.

When the severity of the pandemic was first being realized, Curling Canada sent a message to all curling clubs across Canada to "immediately temporarily suspend all domestic sanctioned curling activities, until further notice, in light of the public health risks associated with COVID-19."

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