MCT pushes bye

JIM BENDER, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 1:18 PM ET

The time is ripe for the women to catch up to the men.

In light of the Manitoba Curling Association's review of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts format, the Manitoba Curling Tour will make a major push towards landing an exemption into the women's provincials for its women's champ. The men's winner has been awarded such a bye for years.

"This is the time to do it," MCT event co-ordinator Bob Picken said after a players' meeting was held during the MCT Championships in Portage la Prairie yesterday.

The MCA is expected to make dramatic changes to the women's format, likely reducing the number of zones and awarding an exemption to the defending champ.

The MCT is also lining up a major sponsor that could bring TV back on board for some of its event finals.

Picken is also hoping to move the championships to the Keystone Centre in Brandon next year but its date remains up in the air. Although the Canada Cup qualifying bonspiels conflict with the MCT championships, that has not had a major effect on the men's entries and the competitors were split on whether to move them to a different date, Picken said. However, the women's side is missing eight of its top teams.

"It's still an issue with the ladies," said MCT president Andy Stewart. "If the CCA's going to slot the Canada Cup spiels at the same time all the time, we'll have to look at moving it because we want to get a permanent date for ours as well."

The MCT also discussed the drop in teams entering its events, coming to the conclusion that teams are tired of the same squads always winning.

Meanwhile, Valour Road's James Kirkness, Virden's Graham Freeman and Ste. Anne's Murray Woodward qualified for today's championship round, with the last qualifiers being determined last night.

On the women's side, Springfield's Jan Sandison and Holly Scott of Gilbert Plains advanced to the playoffs with the other two being earned last night.


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