Rock the rinks

Major events in the upcoming curling season

Road to The Roar – November 5-10, Kitchener, ON

It’s the qualifying tournament of the Roar of The Rings, the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials. Twelve teams of each gender will try to win the remaining two berths each into the Roar.

Teams include those skipped by 2013 Brier champion Brad Jacobs, 2006 Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue, 2007 world champion Kelly Scott, and last Olympic’s Canadian women’s skips, Shannon Kleibrink and Cheryl Bernard.

Two-thousand-ten Olympic gold medallist John Morris, who left Kevin Martin’s team last spring, will skip Jim Cotter’s team from B.C. and Cathy Overton-Clapham, former third for Jennifer Jones, has joined Crystal Webster’s rink.

Brandon’s Rob Fowler and Winnipeg’s Barb Spencer will also skip their foursomes in Kitchener. Fowler was the 2012 Manitoba champion while Spencer reached the final of last year’s provincial championship.

Roar of The Rings – December 1-8, Winnipeg, MB

In an overdue move, Canada’s Olympic Curling Trials will be held at the MTS Centre; they will be the most prestigious curling event to be held in Winnipeg since the 2008 Brier.

Four Manitoban teams will compete in front of a home crowd: former world champions Jeff Stoughton and Jennifer Jones will be there, along with Mike McEwen, and Chelsea Carey.

However, they will face tough competition. For the men, former world champions Glenn Howard and Kevin Koe will compete, along with 2010 Olympic gold medallist Kevin Martin—who replaced Morris with four-time Brier champion and three-time world champion Scott Epping—rounding out the field.

As for the women, 2013 Scotties champion Rachel Homan and 2012 champion Heather Nedohin will compete, as will top-ranked teams skipped by Stefanie Lawton and Sherry Middaugh.

Olympic Qualification Event – December 11-15, Fussen, GER

Eight men’s teams and seven women’s teams will fight for two Olympic berths, each for their countries in the first-ever Olympic curling qualifier. Under the most pressure-to-win berths would be both German teams as well as the Chinese women’s and American men’s teams. Germany usually performs well at world championships and the Chinese women were world champions in 2008.

Continental Cup of Curling – January 16-19, Las Vegas, NV

This is not a misprint: there will be curling in Sin City.

After years of playing in Canadian cities, at smaller venues every year, this Ryder Cup-type event pitting North American teams versus the World will be played at Orleans Arena, home of the Las Vegas Wranglers of the East Coast Hockey League. Five resorts are now offering preferred rates to curling fans; the rooms at the host hotel were booked to capacity.

Olympic Games – February 10-21, Sochi, RUS

The curling events will be held at the Ice Cube Curling Center, opened in 2012. Winnipeg’s Matt Dunstone won a World Junior bronze medal in that arena last February. Canada has medalled in every Olympic curling event since 1998; the men will look to win gold for the third straight time while the women will try to win gold for the first time since Sandra Schmirler’s triumph in 1998. Eve Muirhead and David Murdoch of Great Britain, Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson, and Niklas Edin, will be some of Canada’s top competition.