Cup full of importance

JOE PAVIA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:51 PM ET

The Canada Cup has gained a stature of Olympian proportions.

The Canadian Curling Association has announced the new qualification system for teams to compete in the 2013 Canadian Curling Trials — the tournament that will determine the country’s next two Olympic representatives.

The most crucial changes are:

The qualification process is shortened from three seasons to two.

Six teams of each gender, not four, will qualify directly to the Trials.

Two teams of each gender, not four, will qualify from the Pre-Trials tournament.

The winners of the 2011 and 2012 Canada Cup tournaments will now qualify directly for the Trials.

The Canada Cup takes on extra significance thanks to these changes. The 2011 Brier and Scotties winners go directly to the Canada Cup, and the first Trials teams will be known on Dec. 4, 2011, the day the Canada Cup ends.

The second declared teams will come at the end of the 2011-12 season and will be the two Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) top point-earners (one of each gender).

The next qualifiers will be the 2012 Canada Cup winners. The next three qualifiers will be the teams ranked highest in CTRS points for 2012-13, then the two-year cumulative points for 2011-13. The last two spots will go to the Pre-Trials winners.

The 12 squads that make the Pre-Trials all earn those spots through CTRS points. Eighteen teams now have a shot at the Trials instead of 16, as was the case the last time around.

Unlike the last Canada Cup, when some top teams elected not to attend — which opened the door for Ottawa junior Mat Camm’s rink to earn an invite — the tournament is no longer as easy to dismiss.

The players seem to like the new format, preferring it to the previous three-year grind. They also feel teams that get hot on one weekend are less likely to advance under the new system.

Winners circle

Those winning regions in masters and advancing to the provincials are: 1A — Layne Noble and Joyce Potter; B — Brian Savill and Betty Bush. In the John Shea Insurance mixed, the zone winners were: 1A — Shane Latimer; B — Jeff Guignard; and 3A — Kerry Powell; B — Dennis Elgie. In the Canadian Gold senior mixed zone, winners were: 1A — Todd Trottier; B — John Rothwell; 3A — Paul Wolfe; and B — Dwayne Lowe.

Great Scotties field

Joining Ottawa’s Rachel Homan and Jennifer Jones (Team Canada) at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Charlottetown Feb. 19-27 will be Shannon Kleibrink (Alberta); Kelly Scott (B.C.); Stacie Devereaux (N.L.); Andrea Kelly (N.B.); Kerry Galusha (Territories); Heather Smith-Dacey (N.S.); Cathy Overton-Clapham (Manitoba); Amber Holland (Saskatchewan); and Suzanne Birt (P.E.I.). The Quebec representative will be decided this Sunday … The Quebec Tankard and Scotties continue all week at the new Centre sportif de Buckingham, 485 James St., Gatineau. The draw is online at curling-quebec.com. The finals are slated for Sunday at 4 p.m.

Biters

The 13th annual Crystal Heart Curling Classic begins tomorrow at nine venues. Eighty open and senior section rinks are competing. The Open event finals are at the RA Centre 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The senior section finals are at the same venue Sunday morning at 9…The Dominion Tankard begins Monday in Grimsby…The foursome of Andre Paquette, Chad Raycraft, Ernest McArthur and Tim Herage scored an eight-ender in the sixth end in their Monday night RCMP men’s league two weeks ago...The national Vision Impaired Curling championship begins Monday at the Ottawa Curling Club. Rachel Homan is throwing out the first rock…Canada’s two Universaide teams in Turkey are 3-3.

joe@hoglinecurling.com


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