Rinky-dink rinks?

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

GRANDE PRAIRIE -- The huge murals are still up on the wall of the Grande Prairie Curling Club.

A curler delivering a rock on the left side, celebration parade featuring the obligatory bagpiper on the right.

Trouble is ... hang on. Last time someone wrote a column with that lead, an over-enthusiastic headline writer threw in the term "rinky dink rink."

NOT AMUSED

The locals were not amused, wrongfully blaming the writer for what they perceived as a slam on their rink rather than a logical appeal to move the men's event into an arena.

Now, the winds of change are blowing through the women's event.

Like that infamous episode back in 1999, the Ol' GP Club sits on the cusp of history.

If a two-year pilot project works out, this would be the last women's provincial held at a curling rink.

This event will be held in 1,000-seat arenas in Wainwright and Sylvan Lake the next two seasons.

But more than the location will be different.

Player reps Cheryl Bernard of Calgary and Cathy King have mulled over the repercussions of the move and have decided the men's format is not the way to go.

Instead, it's expected the Alberta Curling Federation will approve a proposal to expand the event into a 10-team round robin. That's up from its current eight and two less than the 12-team, two-pool format favoured by the men.

"I think we have enough depth and enough good teams in Alberta that we should be able to go to 10," said Bernard.

"I put the proposal out, got the responses back and I'm going to consolidate it all when I get back home after this weekend."

It's expected the idea, which would add the defending champ and the top-ranked points team, will pass at the ACF meeting in June.

"I don't know that I've ever thought the provincials club ice has been that bad," said Bernard.

"In an arena, it will give us more exposure.''

Bernard has some issue with the two-pool idea if only for the fact it does not allow for each team to play every other team.

"To jump from eight to 12 is a big, big jump and I'm not particularly fond of two pools of six," said Bernard.

"It's a benefit for us to play everybody and play the whole field. I know that would mean having to play one or two three-game days, but ... I think we're fit enough to handle it.

"I don't like to ever not play anybody and I don't think the players I've talked to would like not to play everybody. I just don't think that's right and when I say that I'm speaking for the majority of the players."

EXCEPTIONAL FIELD

Even though this year's event features an exceptional field, King has found a lot of sense with the 10-team idea.

"I think 12 might be a little too many additions," said King.

"It starts to weaken the field when you get that many. It at least helps the organizers to have something to go on."


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