National team on King's mind

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Once again, women are controlling the purse strings.

When gals are curling for more money than guys at this weekend's Canada Cup qualifiers, it kinda makes you wonder.

Or, at least get a cheap laugh out of the situation.

"It's good to see the money is headed in the right direction," joked Cathy King, notching one up for the gals. "That's a nice change. It's surprising, but at the same time a bit funny.'' King and her No. 6-ranked Canadian Teams Ranking System squad are headed to Ottawa today for the $71,200 44-team gals rockfest.

"It's a good field for the women,'' said King, who already has a Canada Cup berth for the March event in Kamloops as defending champ. "There's probably four of us who don't need to go."

MEN'S EVENT SCALED DOWN

Meanwhile, this weekend's men's event at the Saville Centre has been scaled down to a 42-team shindig with $68,800 up for grabs.

"It's still an awesome event," said Saville manager Rob Krepps, who had to lower the prize money after he was unable to fill out the 48-team draw.

Red-hot Glenn Howard and defending Brier champ Jean-Michel Menard had reasons for being no-shows at Edmonton. Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue still plans to be here, with Red Deer hotshot Chris Schille giving the team a younger, more aggressive look.

Howard was recently added by the Canadian Curling Association to the National Team Program leading up to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. That designation meant further on-ice obligations.

It's a designation King is vying for. She's a couple of grand short of being in the top five women's teams the CCA will consider for the program.

So, King's mission this weekend is to get into a position for further Sports Canada funding.

King took home $8,000 after winning the Regina bonspiel a couple of weekends ago and moved into No. 7 on the World Curling Tour money list with $19,300 this year.

RACE FOR FUNDING

But, it's the race for funding that's the big prize.

"This could be a big one for us to qualify," said King, who's been in cashpiel playoffs five of seven weekends this season. "We're probably on pace for our best year ever. In some ways, we're looking to get more points because it could mean getting funding."

King coaxed lead Diane Dealey out of retirement to pinch-hit for Tracy Bush, who's taking a year's maternity leave.

"We're pretty confident now," said King, No. 4 seed for the Ottawa event. "We're coming off the win in Regina and need to get sharp for the women's northerns (first week in January)."

This weekend, King has another chance to prove she's a money player.


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