Curlers say it's time to slim down Scotties

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:42 AM ET

The questions regarding provincial field size continue to grow as the number of zone competitors dwindles in Manitoba women’s curling.

Curl Manitoba has no plans to reduce the size of its Scotties field, even though just 13 women’s teams are competing for five spots through this weekend’s city zone playdowns.

Nineteen teams took part in last year’s city zones, while only 14 signed up in 2008. Across the province there are 39 teams competing in 14 zones for the second straight year, down from 45 in 2008.

Curl Manitoba executive director Shane Ray said while the provincial championship field will remain at 16 teams in order to financially benefit the host city, how they get to that number could be altered.

The provincial curling body did a championship review two years ago, sending out questionnaires to competitors. It didn’t get much feedback, so it decided to go with the status quo.

Curl Manitoba plans, however, to send out another piece of literature to its curlers in the new year that will feature potential changes to the qualification process.

“Do we look at the MCT championship the same as we do with the men (where the tour champ gets a berth)? Do we look at maybe a returning champion, the same as the men?” Ray said. “So (we) may be bringing in some of those components to it as well.”

Reigning provincial Scotties champ Jill Thurston of Winnipeg says those changes should happen.

“They have to streamline the thing to make everybody happy,” she said. “Make it the same kind of qualification process.”

Cathy Overton-Clapham is skipping a team that is competing against only one other squad for a Scotties berth in Winnipeg this weekend.

She feels it’s time to reduce the number of teams at the provincial Scotties, whose format features two pools of eight teams.

“It’s not a true round-robin,” said Overton-Clapham, who on Saturday night beat Sherry Just 12-1 in the opener of their best-of-three series at West Kildonan Curling Club. “You don’t get to play everyone. It’s a good time to take those numbers and minimize the field a little bit. Most other provinces are a 10-team round robin.

“… It needs to be addressed because the (zone) numbers are so down. There’s two zones here with only two teams.”

Thurston also agrees reducing the number of teams at the Scotties is a must. As for the zones, Thurston believes something needs to be done to develop more competitive squads.

“Only the people who think they have a chance of winning the Scott entered,” she said, “and that’s terrible for curling.”

Ray said the teams are out there. It’s just a matter of getting them to take the step of entering.

“Our entries are always up and down,” he said. “If you look at it over the years, you can see it goes up and down.

“It’s disappointing. Is it a concern? Not really, because I think those teams are still out there. For whatever reason some of them didn’t register.”


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