Ladies joining forces with men

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

In a year when the Canadian Curling Association has split its world championship into separate events, the players are moving in an opposite direction.

World Curling Players' Association representatives were at the Brier yesterday announcing a merger of the male and female curlers into one association.

Although primarily an administrative move, it's more than an off-ice consolidation.

Both male and female curlers will participate simultaneously at cashspiels and, eventually, the Tour Championship.

And, when current contracts with International Management Group run out after next season, there's even a possibility female curlers will appear at Grand Slam events starting in the 2006-07 season.

"It's to promote the sport of curling by having one unified body do it," said Women's Council Executive member Cheryl Bernard of Calgary.

"We don't lose our individuality as Women's Curling Tour - we feel like we're joining forces for the good of curling."

That would include event sponsorship, standardizing events and having a unified voice in dealings with the Canadian Curling Association.

The women can piggyback on the structure currently set up with the men's World Curling Tour.

"We're pretty excited," said Bernard. "The sport of curling is exploding and to have the men and women speak as one voice ... we just want to give them a better product together. It's better than doing it on our own."

As far as moving in opposite directions from the world championships, WCPA president Pierre Charette said Canada is a special case.

"The worlds is the worlds, but in Canada we all know the events in Canada are much more popular than the worlds these days," said Charette. "We can probably get better curling and better coverage. We're looking forward to having the ladies play in some of the events."


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