Olympic dreams for Continental Cup events

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

When the Continental Cup first started three years ago, it introduced such unique new disciplines as doubles and singles competitions with an eye towards adding them to Olympic curling.

That way, there would be more medals available to Olympic curlers.

With this year's entire event in Medicine Hat, Alta., being sold out since August, the Continental Cup is proving to be popular enough that adding at least one of those disciplines could become a reality as soon as the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canadian Curling Association manager of event operations Warren Hansen said yesterday.

"That's still the plan," he said by cellphone while en route to The Hat. "It's still on the (World Curling Federation's) agenda. But it's still a very touchy subject with the IOC and whether that's a possibility for 2010 I don't know. But I hope that something will happen."

Hansen added that the best possibility would be adding the singles (skills) competition to the Olympics, where the only curling medals now available are for the men's and women's team events. In fact, Hansen wanted to start a Canadian singles championship a few years ago and believes that it could very easily be added to both the Canadian men's and women's team championships.

"Figure skating (added new Olympic disciplines) so, why not?" asked Manitoba Curling Association executive director Ian Staniloff. "But it won't happen until the Olympic people are fully cognizant of the impact of curling."

Both Hansen and Staniloff want to see singles and doubles introduced into curling clubs.

"Curling needs something new and exciting at the club level," Hansen said. "We really need a new approach because it is very difficult for a novice to start out in the sport and an individual can compete against someone at the same level in singles."

Towards that end, the CCA plans to introduce programs at the Brier to recruit new curlers with such disciplines as lures, Hansen said.

TAPS ON TAP: For Winnipeg's Cathy Gauthier, this week's coverage of the Continental Cup (which starts tomorrow) will be her last gig on TSN, possibly ever.

"We're going to be playing Taps the whole time I'm there," Gauthier said recently. "It's sad. But at least it's a great event to go out on. It has such a good feel to it."

Although there will be no Continental Cup next season, an Olympic year, CBC will take over coverage as part of the new TV deal with the CCA.

Although TSN will televise the men's Skins Game next month, Gauthier will not be involved.

COMING UP: On the MCA scene, the Safeway Select Northern Berth Bonspiel goes in Flin Flon this weekend while there is both a Masters and senior women's berth spiel in Winnipeg ... The national Mixed wraps up in Prince Albert, Sask., although Sunday's final will not be televised. The national wheelchair curling championship ends in Richmond, B.C., on Saturday. Wheelchair curling, by the way, is a Paralympic medal sport ... On the Manitoba Curling Tour trail are the Interlake Pharmacy Classic in Stonewall and the Agricore United Oiltown Classic in Virden. The Stonewall men's final will be taped and shown on Shaw Cable at a later date.

HOUSECLEANING: Granite's Vic Peters clipped Stonewall's Chris Galbraith 7-6 in the final of the MCT's Pharmasave Gimli Classic to win $5,200. Galbraith got $2,800 ... Manitoba's James Kirkness earned $3,500 at a World Curling Tour event in Nipawin, Sask. ... Ontario's Glenn Howard won the McCain SuperSpiel East to earn a spot in the last TSN Skins Game.


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