No more imposters

KEN WIEBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

Provincial championships played in Manitoba are strictly for Manitobans to participate in.

That was the reasoning put forth by Curl Manitoba when it held a press conference to announce a number of initiatives, the most prevalent being a significant change to its residency policy.

With reigning provincial men's champ Jeff Stoughton and Kerry Burtnyk both bringing in prominent Albertans (Kevin Park and Don Walchuk) who met residency status last year to play third, there was a faction of Manitoba curlers who were upset and those individuals who voiced their displeasure had their concerns addressed.

"We decided to change the eligibility requirements because people thought they were too lax and too weak," said Shane Ray, executive director for Curl Manitoba. "We've strengthened them and now feel they're among the strongest in Canada.

"The message to curlers is that we're supporting Manitoba curlers and we feels its important for Manitobans to represent Manitoba nationally. We put on these competitions for Manitobans."

In order to meet Manitoba standards this season, players must produce a mortgage, lease or rental agreement, produce a valid Manitoba driver's licence or Manitoba health card with a valid Manitoba address on it or provide the previous year's income tax return listing that shows the curler is a resident.

Prior to these changes, Curl Manitoba asked for proof but never stipulated what that proof was and in some cases, it was nothing more than a phone number or address.

It is important to note that Canadian Curling Association rules state that curlers must be Canadian residents but need not adhere to rules of the provincial bodies to compete in international events.

So depending on what happens at the pre-Olympic trials, Stoughton isn't 100% sure if he'll even be back to defend his title -- since the Olympics are so close to the provincials.

Ray said any curler can file a protest in writing regarding of the residency status of a curler seven days prior to any curling event.

Curl Manitoba also reserves the right to take action against curlers they feel might be violating the policy themselves.

Ray also unveiled the new name (formerly the Manitoba Curling Association) and logo yesterday inside the Sport Manitoba building.

Among the other items on the docket, Ray announced Safeway is staying on as the title sponsor for the men's championship for the next three seasons and that SHAW-TV is going to be the host broadcaster for the men's provincials for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

For the fourth straight season, Monsanto will sponsor the women's provincial championship, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 2010.

A total of $50,000 was handed out to 16 curling clubs across Manitoba from the Curl Manitoba Development Fund.

The Morris Curling Club will host the 2010 Canadian Mixed Championship next November as part of the Manitoba Homecoming festivities.

"It's a huge community boost," said Resby Coutts, who will serve as co-chair for the tournament along with Brenda Recksiedler. "Morris will be the smallest community to ever host a Canadian curling championship of any kind. It's a huge thing for the town and for the curling club, which is working hard to revitalize itself. It's a stamp of approval for what the club is doing."

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca


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