Ontario curlers zoning out

JOE PAVIA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

Is competitive curling dead?

Below is a list of Ontario Curling Association zone winners. Winning a zone is the first step toward a provincial championship. It seems fewer people are taking that first step.

Two winners emerge from each zone, an A-side winner and the B-side victor. If only one team is entered in a zone, the OCA is forced to allow finalists from other zones to jump to the single-entry zone as a fill-in team. This year, only four of 16 junior women's and junior men's zones had more than four entries. Men's numbers are down as well.

In the past, many clubs had to stage playdowns just to determine which team would represent the club. That seems to be changing. Perhaps more players are questioning whether it's worth the time and expense to try to struggle up the competitive ladder only to face powerhouse teams such as Glenn Howard.

Participation numbers are good for certain leagues such as mixed, but many new players view curling as a recreational pastime -- a social evening with one's spouse or a night out for beers with the boys.

Perhaps a new system is needed in which players who wish to be more competitive can be financially compensated so Canadian curling can maintain its supremacy.

A new emphasis should be placed on recreational curlers to enhance their participation and attract new blood. About 20% of Ottawa's population is composed of visible minorities, and an outreach plan aimed at this demographic is imperative.

This Olympic season is the time to capitalize on this opportunity.

OCA RESULTS

Scotties zone results were: 1A -- Jenn Hanna, B -- Ling-Yue Hung; 2A -- Tracy Samaan, B -- Katie Morrissey; 4A -- Laura Payne. Zone 3 plays this weekend. Junior zone winners were: 1A -- Rachel Homan and Mat Camm, B -- Stephanie Brown and Ben Savage; 2A -- Jamie Sinclair and Neil Sinclair, B -- Crystal Lillico and Kurtis Byrd; 3A -- Nicol McNiven and Geoff Spruit, B -- Emily Au and Ryan McCrady; 4A -- Jackie Burton and Scott Ray, B -- Whitney Donahue and David Staples. Regional action and senior zones take place this weekend.

CURLING CURIOSITIES

Chris Plys, the 22-year-old former junior world champion and fifth on the U.S. Olympic team, will be appearing next month on the E! network's reality show Bank of Hollywood. Plys needs money to send his family to the Vancouver Games ... The online Poker News had a story about 25-year-old Winnipeg skip Jason Gunnlaugson, who advanced from the recent Olympic Pre-Trials to earn a berth in next month's Canadian Olympic Trials in Edmonton. When he's not at the rink, Gunnlaugson makes his living as an online poker player. "It kind of becomes like a normal job where you sit at the computer for a couple of hours and you make like an hourly wage," he told the website. "It's better than anything else I could do." ... The Nov. 19 edition of the New York Times Magazine explains a new phenomenon called "curling parents." The magazine says: "Today's parents are the players who hold those brooms, sweeping a path in front of the polished stone, smoothing its way toward the goal. Do you worry that you are a 'curling parent' not allowing your child to fail?"

ON ICE

Bruce Delaney's senior national championship squad won the Pembroke Cashspiel last weekend. Ontario lost the national mixed final Saturday to Nova Scotia skip Mark Dacey.

joe@hoglinecurling.com


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