Curling’s Battle of the Sexes, a confrontation of formats with the provincials

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While many didn’t expect the men or women to make it this year, miraculously they did. It’s just that when they showed up in Grande Prairie, it was for two very different and separate events.

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Welcome to the 2022 Boston Pizza Cup presented by Best Western and the 2022 Sentinel Storage Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

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Or, if you prefer, Curling Alberta’s battle of the sexes.

It’s not new to curling to combine women’s and men’s competitions. They’ve been doing it at the Olympics since Nagano 98 and with even six-figure prize money at Slam Series events for over a decade.

But for the first time in nearly 100 years of provincial play, an arrogant combination of separate sponsors and draw formats saw Curling Alberta open the doors to a combined crazy quilt concept Monday at Revolution Place in Grande Prairie.

Two years ago, with the women of Okotoks and the men of Westlock, the provincial championships were held separately for the last time as part of the new provincial association.

The coronavirus pandemic killed him.

It was quite difficult to combine the Northern Alberta Curling Association, the Southern Alberta Curling Association and the Peace Curling Association and their separate playing procedures. But on the occasion of NACA’s 100th anniversary, it was finally accomplished. Kind of. What followed was a marriage between total opposites.

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While many didn’t expect the men or women to make it this year, miraculously they did. It’s just that when they showed up in Grande Prairie, it was for two very different and separate events.

The women took to the ice Monday at 9 a.m. with eight teams including those led by Laura Walker, Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton and Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge in a round robin.

At 2 p.m., despite teams Jamie King and Johnson Tao withdrawing due to positive COVID-19 tests, the men began play in their now modified traditional triple-elimination event featuring Calgary’s Kevin Koe attempting to join the champion defending Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton at the Tim Horton’s Brier March 4-13 in Lethbridge.

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You’d think they would have settled the format issue long before that day, but despite all the curling marriages involved between the competitors, the two genders couldn’t get along and decided to make it a showdown. sizes.

“We chose to review and gather feedback on the experience,” said Curling Alberta general manager Jill Richard. “We initially chose the women’s format because there was so much positive feedback from athletes and fans since the last time we held it on a trial basis last time at Okotoks.

“By combining the two events, we were supposed to end up with just one semi-final for television on Saturday and we achieved that by reducing the number of playoffs to three.”

The women had no problem with the change. And everything went well to start with two draws on Monday and only one draw on Tuesday

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The men resisted shrinking the field to adopt a round-robin format such as that used for the Olympics.

Ted Appelman of Edmonton, competing in his 14th provincial championships, suggested it’s basically some sort of proposition if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it with the men.

Although that kept him on the outside looking at the Brier after losing two of the last five Boston Pizza Cup finals, the Alberta Provincials have always been the next best thing to the Brier with depth of field and making it to the Sportsnet televised semi-final and final is a bit of a prize in itself for many of those teams who don’t come to the Slam Series to promote themselves and their sponsors.

“The ultimate goal of provincial championships is to have your best teams compete and represent Alberta at the Brier,” Appelman said. “Over the years that has always been done with the triple knockout event which has allowed the younger teams to gain experience playing in the bigger event. If we go down to eight teams, we take away four teams the opportunity to gain this valuable experience.

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It should be noted that since 1988, Alberta has provided 16 Brier champions — Pat Ryan (2), Kevin Martin (4), Randy Ferbey (4), Kevin Koe (4) and Brendan Bottcher (1). And Koe actually gave up a spot on Team Canada one year and watched his former team, led by Pat Simmons, win another.

Koe does not dodge the question. He said he would prefer to return to separate men’s and women’s events.

“I’m not a big fan of that. I think the event is getting too long. These days, the shorter the event, the better.

“As for the different formats, it doesn’t make much sense to me. The triple elimination format is far superior because every game counts. »

For me, the women’s round robin is much easier to follow as a fan. Additionally, the women managed to get their eight teams to the starting line and the men only managed 10 out of 12.

After Day 2, women were leading on my scorecard.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @byterryjones

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