Pandemic has Curling Canada facing Olympic trials qualifying complications

OTTAWA — Curling Canada has been forced to re-think qualification for the Olympic team and mixed doubles trials after cancellations and postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teams and mixed doubles duos ultimately must win events or collect enough points at events to earn berths in the 2021 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings and the national mixed doubles trials in early 2022.

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The Roar of the Rings men's and women's champions and the victorious mixed doubles duo will represent Canada at the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The trimming of the Grand Slam of Curling from six events to two next season impacts teams' opportunities to earn Olympic qualification points.

So Curling Canada declared the qualifying process on "hold" on Friday.

"The safety of our athletes is our prime consideration and we don't want to put them under any kind of duress to be trying to participate in events to pursue qualifying points until we know they can do so safely," Curling Canada high-performance director Gerry Peckham said in a statement.

"Until that time comes, we will look closely at the qualifying process and consult with our athletes to fine-tune the system to make sure it identifies Canada’s most deserving nine men's and women's four-player teams and 16 mixed doubles teams."

Teams and duos with trials berths already in hand will keep them.

Teams skipped by John Epping, Brad Gushue, Rachel Homan and Kerri Einarson have qualified for the Roar of the Rings in Saskatoon from Nov. 27 to Dec. 5, 2021.

The pairings of Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing, and Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant own berths in the mixed doubles trials Jan. 3-6, 2022, in a city yet to be named.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.

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