It’s only September but Canadian curling teams are already fighting for their Olympic lives.
Starting Wednesday in Ottawa, the first two pressure-packed bonspiels get underway at the RA Centre — three women’s teams and two men’s teams will earn direct entries into the Olympic trials in Saskatoon, while another four teams will earn spots to a last-chance qualifier in Liverpool, N.S., in late October.
This is going to be one of the more dramatic few months of curling in Canada, with so much at stake.
For the first time ever, Canada is entering a Winter Games without having won a medal in the traditional four-person events in the previous Olympics — I know, the country won gold in mixed doubles in Pyeongchang, but not being on the podium in the foursome events was jarring for many.
THAT CURLING 🥌 SHOW RETURNS<br><br>We’re back sports fans and this season of the show is going to be more interactive and dramatic than ever. From now until the Olympics, <a href=”https://twitter.com/cbccolleenjones?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@cbccolleenjones</a> and I have you covered. <br><br>Opening night this Friday at 7pm ET. BUCKLE UP. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbccurl?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#cbccurl</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/CBCOlympics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@cbcolympics</a> <a href=”https://t.co/UpVxs6JkYl”>pic.twitter.com/UpVxs6JkYl</a>
There is unparalleled pressure on Canadians throwing granite next year at the Games — a lofty responsibility, but one any curler wearing the Maple Leaf would love to take on.
That Curling Show is back
CBC Sports is going to be bringing fans extensive curling coverage throughout the season.
That Curling Show, hosted by six-time Scotties champion Colleen Jones and curling reporter Devin Heroux, is returning for a second season.
The first show airs Friday night at 7 p.m. E.T. on CBC Sports’ YouTube page, as well as Twitter and Facebook.
“We feel like it’s a safe and unedited place for the curlers to have their voice heard,” Jones said.
“Most importantly it’s for the fans to be engaged and we hope this year they are engaged more in a kitchen-party way.”
WATCH | That Curling Show’s Mother’s Day special:
Jones and Heroux will be interviewing curlers, officials, past champions and fans throughout the season at the biggest events and all the way to the last rock at the Beijing Olympics.
“You can tell everyone is ramping up early as they prepare for the Olympic Trials,” Jones said.
“I feel like that was the fastest curling off-season ever.”
And so it begins.
Olympic trials in November
The five men’s teams competing in Ottawa this week for direct entry to the Olympic Trials include Regina’s Matt Dunstone, Saskatoon’s Colton Flasch, Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont. and Winnipeg’s Jason Gunnlaugson and Mike McEwen.
The two top teams will earn tickets to Saskatoon.
On the women’s side, Charlottetown’s Suzanne Birt, Corryn Brown of Kamloops, B.C., Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque and Laura Walker and Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., are competing for three spots in Saskatoon.
The other bonspiel running during the same time in Ottawa will see two women’s teams and two men’s teams earn spots to the last-chance qualifier in Liverpool, N.S. starting Oct. 26.
There are eight men’s and eight women’s rinks involved in the pre-trials direct entry event in Ottawa.
Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher, Toronto’s John Epping, Brad Gushue of St. John’s N.L., and Calgary’s Kevin Koe have already qualified on the men’s side for the Olympic Trials.
Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., Ottawa’s Rachel Homan and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones have punched their tickets to Saskatoon.
The Olympic Trials run Nov. 20-28.