No plans to reunite men's, women's events

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- Don't expect the women's and men's world curling championships to be reunited any time soon.

World Curling Federation executives said yesterday the championships will be split for at least three years, before the decision is revisited.

The WCF held its annual general meeting here, and had to answer some tough questions about the future of women's curling.

The men's and women's championships were separated this year after being together since 1989 and the Paisley event has been considered a flop by many observers.

"It's always a possibility but as it stands at the moment we won't be looking at it for a few years," WCF president Roy Sinclair, a Scotsman, said about the notion of changing back to a shared championship.

The WCF is disappointed with the fact that the world championship is a non-event in Paisley, but executives believe it can grow in the coming years. It will be played in Grande Prairie, Alta., next year and in Aomori, Japan, in 2007. Both of those are certain to be received better than this year's championship.

"It's all about timing and we've already awarded the ladies championship to Japan in 2007 and that gives us a great opportunity to expand beyond the North American and European markets for curling," said WCF vice-president Les Harrison, who is from New Brunswick.

"We think that's a good opportunity, so that's another reason to stick with this."

But just for the record, the WCF is not taking any responsibility for the split of the championships or the fact that women's curling appears to have been hung out to dry.

They sent a volley back across the pond toward Canada.

"A member association persuaded us that this was the way we should go because it would be easier for them to sell the next X number of years of their contract with Ford if they had a world championship, men or women, in Canada every year," Sinclair said.

"We were persuaded to keep it separate, and the reasons turned out to be perhaps not the reasons they should have been, but we did it and then the conditions completely changed.

"I'm disappointed that things completely changed but we'll work with it."

What changed is a matter of sponsorship.

OPPORTUNITY

"(The split) gave us an opportunity to go find a sponsor in Europe or elsewhere in the world, which we were quite happy to do and we were well on our way to getting a sponsor when Ford decided that they wanted to be still involved," Sinclair said.

As a result, the only logos on the ice at the Lagoon Leisure Centre belong to Ford, even though this event has no title sponsor.

With no title sponsor and a women's championship that was difficult to market overseas, the WCF was desperate for a location, and that is why we are here today.

"We were given an opportunity by the good people of Paisley to have it here and we took it," Sinclair said.

In other news coming out of the WCF meeting:

- There may be no world senior championship in 2006.

The event, which attracted 32 teams to Paisley this year, will not be attached to the world women's championship in Grande Prairie, Alta., or the world men's championship in Lowell, Mass., next year.

"They have both said no on many occasions," Sinclair said.

He added that if the championship happens at all it will be a stand-alone event.

- The WCF has sent a request to the International Olympic Committee asking it to approve singles curling as an event in time for the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

The WCF will wait for an answer before proceeding with a plan to develop singles curling. At this point it doesn't even have an idea what the disciplines may be, suggesting that don't really believe the event will be accepted by the IOC.


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