ON THE ROCKS: Parity in each males’s and girls’s elite curling making this a golden age of the sport


It may very well be due to the Olympic carrot, or the best way athletes prepare, or because of the incentive of elevated payouts for normal gamers, however a method or one other that is quick changing into the golden age of curling.

“Proper now there’s most likely probably the most parity in curling I’ve seen,” Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers stated this week, taking inventory of how issues have gone on the money circuit up to now.

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“You used to see three, 4 actually strong groups after which different groups that would win the odd occasion. Now you’re wanting, on the lads’s and girls’s facet, and the highest 10 are actually shut.

“I can’t bear in mind the final time that it’s actually been like that in curling.”

Carruthers has been curling competitively on the males’s degree for 14 years. He gained a world championship in 2011 because the second for Jeff Stoughton, has gained three Brier medals and has performed in two Olympic Trials, together with as soon as as a skip.

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He’s now the third on Mike McEwen’s Winnipeg workforce, which is ranked ninth on this planet and sixth in Canada.

The listing of groups of their firm explains what he means when he says there are a variety of potential winners every week on the world tour.

Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario is No. 1 on this planet — successful two Grand Slams will do this for you — John Epping of is Ontario No. 2, because of a win on the Canada Cup which secured a berth within the 2021 Olympic Trials, and Brendan Bottcher of Alberta is No. three.

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All three are forward of defending Canadian champion and world silver medallist Kevin Koe (sixth) and Brad Gushue (seventh), who gained the Canadian males’s title in 2017 and 2018 and the world title in 2017.

Throw McEwen, Saskatchewan’s Matt Dunstone (13th) and Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson (12th) into the combo and also you’ve received an terrible lot of contenders for males’s curling supremacy on this nation.

“It’s an thrilling time for curling and it’s not simply in Canada both,” stated Carruthers, whose workforce is participating in Grand Slam Canadian Open this week in Yorkton. Sask., together with all the opposite aforementioned skips.

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“The groups on the world facet, if we didn’t see it on the Olympics Korea, we’ve seen it during the last two years. They’re superior.

“It used to probably not be that method however these groups are working exceptionally laborious, coaching on and off the ice, they usually’re names have risen to the highest of the rankings fairly rapidly.”

On the ladies’s facet, issues are much more fascinating, as the most important names within the recreation aren’t on the high of the rankings.

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Former Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champ Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg sits fifth on this planet, Olympian and world champ Rachel Homan sits 10th and defending Canadian champion Chelsea Carey is 21st.

In the meantime, on the high of the world proper now’s Manitoba’s Tracy Fleury, whereas Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson sits third and Alberta’s Kelsey Rocque is seventh.

It actually would appear a altering of the guard may very well be on the best way on the Scotties Match of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., subsequent month.

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FINDING THEIR WAY

The McEwen workforce has gained one occasion this yr, made three different finals and has certified for the championship spherical seven occasions.

It appears to be a extra constant yr for the squad, which was fashioned previous to the 2018-19 season and struggled to seek out its method.

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They began out with Carruthers skipping however McEwen throwing final rock, switched to Carruthers throwing final after which modified it up once more, with McEwen finally calling the sport and taking pictures fourth.

The made it to the Brier in March however they have been just too far behind the opposite groups to make a lot of an influence.

“One of many greatest points we had was jockeying backwards and forwards within the lineup,” Carruthers stated. “It’s no totally different from every other sport. If you wish to have consistency, altering the lineup isn’t essentially going to develop that.

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“It took us awhile to return to a consensus as to what we thought can be our greatest lineup going ahead and now that we’ve dealt with that side of our workforce it’s allowed us to deal with a number of the different issues which can be necessary to the roles that we’ve determined we needs to be in.”

With that stated, they Manitobans really feel extra comfy taking part in in opposition to the massive boys of curling this yr.

“We’ve really had a fairly strong season,” Carruthers stated. “Our workforce has put ourselves in a great place. We’re within the high 5 – 6 in Canada yr to this point in factors and we’re (ninth) in world in factors.

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“For us, we’re forward of the place we have been final yr. We’ve been much more constant and we’ve began to actually settle into our roles on the workforce. We’re beginning to deal with a number of the different issues that we have to perform a little bit extra persistently to start out successful a few of these massive occasions.”

EPIC STRUGGLE FOR MANITOBA

It’s going to be one heck of a battle on the Manitoba ladies’s curling championship, which will get underway Jan. 28 in Rivers.

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Fleury, Einarson and Jones are the highest three groups in Canada proper now they usually’ll sq. off within the 12-team discipline for an opportunity to symbolize the province.

Fleury gained the provincial title final yr, whereas Jones gained it two years in the past and performed within the nationwide Scotties as Workforce Canada final yr.

It appears extremely possible a type of three groups will emerge once more this yr, whereas there’s a superb probability one other one or two of them will play within the nationwide Scotties wild-card recreation on Feb. 14 in Moose Jaw.

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On method or one other, it appears Manitoba is represented, as at all times, in ladies’s curling.

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