Brutal zone numbers could bring change

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

The more things stay the same in local women's curling the more changes could be made.

If the entry numbers in Manitoba women's, junior women's and senior women's zones continue to be so brutal, the Manitoba Curling Association will consider reducing the number of zones in the near future, MCA president Mitch Tarapasky confirmed yesterday.

Only 17 teams entered the women's city zone playdowns last week and only seven entered this week's senior women's city zones. The junior women's zones drew but 13. The country zone numbers were even more pathetic.

"This is something that we're very concerned about," Tarapasky said after the MCA conducted a board of directors meeting on the weekend. "The bigger discussion was that maybe we have too many zones. We don't want to have a knee-jerk reaction but if this continues, we'll have to take a look at that.

"One of our strategy priorities was to increase zone participation this year."

The MCA plans to conduct a Scotties Tournament of Hearts review with the competitors during the provincial playdowns in Morris next month. Both the possibility of reducing the number of zones and a move to introduce an exemption for Manitoba's defending champion in the future will be discussed.

"That is to be given serious consideration since the men already have that," Tarapasky said. "But that would have to go to the AGM if we were to give the defending champion a spot."

Should the zones be reduced, it would open up the possibility of byes for the defending champ, the top CTRS point-getter and/or the Manitoba Curling Tour winner. The men have all three.

The new competitive card system has also had a dramatic effect on entries. The Canadian Curling Association railroaded through a new policy of charging $35 for each different category a curler enters.

"Initially, that probably has impacted it," Tarapasky said. "But that's not the only thing we can blame it on."

The different provincial associations, including the MCA, are planning to ask the CCA to review that policy and revert to the original system where one card covers all of the events.

"We're not sitting around here, we're dealing with it," Tarapasky said.

The various men's zones will also be reviewed.

BITERS: Thompson's Denise Podolski won the last rural Scotties berth available late Sunday ... And La Salle's Randy Neufeld defeated USA's Scott Baird 9-4 in the final of the MCT's Enns Brothers Classic in Morris to earn $3,000. Baird got $2,000.


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