Are Olympic trials an error?

JOE PAVIA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:21 AM ET

Does the U.S. have it right?

When Wisconsin's Debbie McCormick earned her country's Olympic berth last February, the U.S. Olympic Committee stepped in to fund her current season.

After winning the Royal Lepage OVCA Women's Fall Classic last weekend in North Grenville, McCormick said she is confident her rink will perform well in Vancouver.

“We’re doing everything we can,” she said.

“As long as we get there and are prepared and do our best, I really think we’ll win a gold medal.”

Since earning their Olympic berth in February, McCormick and her team have curled a full schedule and are going all-out to ensure success in Vancouver.

“We have been working hard,” McCormick said. “We had seven high-performance curling camps over the summer. We had ice all summer, lots of high-calibre competitions. We’re working with a sports psychologist, two athletic trainers and two coaches.”

Meanwhile, Canadian curlers go through a three-year cycle that encourages participation in bonspiels until eight rinks of each gender rise to the top and make the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials in early December. That means the Canadian Olympic representatives are crowned just two months before the Games. Is this better than the U.S. system?

McCormick said she understands why Canada does it this way.

“You have one million curlers — we have just 60,000,” she said. “If (Canada) did it like us, they (the Canadian Trails winners) would be bombarded by the media. There would be so much pressure on them to do well. For them, the team that wins the Olympic Trials will be hot.”

The Canadian Olympic Pre-Trials are taking place this week in Prince George, B.C. Four men’s and four women’s rinks will then advance to the Olympic Trials in Edmonton next month.

Seven local players are competing in the Pre-Trials: Gatineau’s Jean-Michel Menard, his wife Annie Lemay and Joelle Sabourin, who throw lead and second stones for Marie-France Larouche, and the Ottawa-based team of Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew, Alison Kreviazuk and Lynn Kreviazuk.

The A-side, B-side and two C-side qualifiers from this week’s event will advance to the Trials. TSN is broadcasting the Pre-Trial finals, with the women’s A-side final Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and the men’s final at 9:30 p.m; the B-side women’s final Friday at 4 p.m. and the men’s final at 9:30 p.m.; and the C-side finals Saturday, with the women going at 1 p.m. and the men at 8 p.m., and the second men’s and women’s C-side battles at 8 p.m. Curl-TV will also stream other games.

McCormick had an easy win in Sunday’s Fall Classic final, beating Peterborough’s Lisa Farnell 5-2 and picking up $4,500. Farnell won $2,500.

Other money winners were Brantford’s Jo-Ann Rizzo and Ottawa’s Jennifer Harvey ($1,500 each). Ottawa’s Jamie Gardner and Allison Ross of Ormstown, Que., each pocketed $1,000.

Junior achievement

The winners of last weekend’s Huntley spiel were the boys’ rink skipped by Alex Cormier with Matthew Haughn, David Cotton and Cole Lyon-Hatcher. The girls’ event winner was the team of Eve Fortier, Chantal Allan, Brittany Black and Leigh Gustafson. 

Kerr bonspiel

The annual Cathy Kerr bonspiel runs from Nov. 27-29 at the RA Centre. The wheelchair curling tournament boasts a large field of competitors from Scotland, the U.S. and Quebec as well as Ontario. The finals are Nov. 29 at 3 p.m.

Curling this week

The last local cashspiel, the 2009 Rideau Classic, runs from Nov. 13-16.


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