Tag Archives: Calgary

Hockey Night in Canada: Edmonton vs. Calgary

Watch live on television and online on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET as the Calgary Flames take on the Edmonton Oilers on Hockey Night in Canada.

Please note that this stream is optimized for desktop or mobile web. If you prefer viewing this on the CBC Sports app, please open or download to watch this program.

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CBC | Sports News

Positive COVID-19 tests in Calgary bubble halt playoffs at men’s curling worlds

Playoffs at the world men’s curling championship in Calgary have been suspended because of positive tests for the COVID-19 virus.

Those who tested positive are asymptomatic and don’t involve playoff teams, according to Curling Canada.

  • Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live  Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET; Sunday 5 p.m. ET) featuring the men’s curling championship on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

But games are halted until athletes and staff on playoff teams are tested Saturday and receive their results.

“All teams that made the playoffs will undergo testing on Saturday morning, and until the results are clear and it’s known that the players and event staff are safe, no further games will be played,” Curling Canada said in a statement.

Those who have tested positive for the virus are in quarantine and contact tracing is underway, the organization added.

Canada’s Brendan Bottcher was eliminated from gold-medal contention Friday evening in a 5-3 loss to Scotland.

Saturday’s playoff game involving the United States and Switzerland, and semifinals involving Russia and Sweden are on hold. The medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

Fourteen teams, including 13 who travelled to Calgary from outside the country, competed in the men’s world championship.

The field was whittled down to six teams by Friday afternoon. The eliminated teams were preparing to travel home.

WATCH | Scotland upends Canada in qualification game:

Canada’s Brendan Bottcher loses to Scotland’s Bruce Mouat 5-3 in the qualification game at the men’s world curling championship. 1:04

The Canadian men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships held at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre before the world championship were completed without any positive tests for the coronavirus.

Athletes and team personnel quarantine and are tested upon arrival in Calgary before competing. They’re confined to the arena and the their hotel across the highway.

A pair of Grand Slams with international men’s and women’s fields are scheduled to start next week in Calgary’s curling bubble.

Participants in those tournaments have begun arriving in Calgary to undergo their testing and quarantine before getting on the ice.

The women’s world championship, which was relocated from Switzerland to Calgary, is planned for April 30 to May 6.

WATCH | Where Canada fits in the current curling climate:

The two-time world champion explains how the rest of the world has caught up to Canadian curling. 3:20

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CBC | Sports News

Tournament of Hearts 1st test of Curling Canada’s Calgary bubble

Kerri Einarson will miss having her twin daughters ask her when can they go to the hotel pool.

The skip of the reigning Canadian women’s curling champions says those moments are mental breaks from the intensity of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The 2021 Tournament of Hearts opening Friday starts a run of four spectator-free Curling Canada events in Calgary in a controlled environment to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Einarson’s daughters won’t wait by the rink boards at the home end of the ice to celebrate or commiserate as they did on championship weekend in Moose Jaw, Sask., last year.

“They’re my support team,” Einarson said. “Just seeing that excitement in their eyes after mommy gets off the ice from a win is pretty special.

“Not being able to have them there with me, and my family and friends, it’ll be hard.”

The 18 participating teams will likely find curling the most normal aspect of Calgary’s bubble.

What it takes to run a large-scale, indoor sports event in Canada in a pandemic will greet them as soon as they step off the ice.

Curlers were required to quarantine for 3 days

Curling Canada is adopting many of the practices the NHL used to complete its Edmonton and Toronto playoff bubbles last summer, as well as some of Hockey Canada’s protocols for the world men’s under-21 championship Dec. 25 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton.

The Hearts is also a test event for the Canadian men’s curling championship March 5-14, the national mixed doubles championship March 18-26 and the world men’s curling championship April 2-11 all in Calgary’s Markin MacPhail Centre.

“If we get through the Scotties and everything is absolutely successful, we put everyone on the plane on March 1 to go home and everyone was healthy, then it shows our protocols worked,” said Nolan Thiessen, Curling Canada’s director of broadcast, marketing, innovation and event presentation.

Curlers were required to quarantine for three days and be tested before heading to Calgary.

The Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary will place host to the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian press)

Upon arrival, they must produce two negative tests before playing their first game. More tests will be conducted next week.

The athletes are required to wear masks outside hotel rooms until they step on the field of play.

If they want to use the hotel’s pool or gym, only one person at a time is allowed to do so for 45 minutes and must book in advance.

Restaurant meals outside their hotel and socializing with other teams are not allowed.

Curlers ‘want to get here and compete’

Curlers can have meals with teammates and be in teammates’ hotel rooms once they’ve produced their pre-tournament negative tests.

The hotel is just across the Trans-Canada Highway from the arena at Canada Olympic Park. The teams will shuttle themselves back and forth in rental cars.

They’ll undergo a wellness check twice a day with temperatures taken at both the hotel and the arena.

“We just want this to be safe and healthy for everybody,” Thiessen said. “In talking to the curlers, they’ve had so much cancelled this year. They’ve had so much negative news. They want to get here and compete.

“We’re at the point where it’s happening. We’re setting up the building, the athletes are arriving, people are testing, tests are coming back negative, so let’s get going and try this and try to deliver for sports fans in Canada.”

All provinces and territories will be represented, although many associations hand-picked their representatives instead of holding playdowns.

Some top teams thus unable to try for a Hearts berth, two more wild-card teams were added for a total of three this year.

That turns the 2021 Hearts into somewhat of an unofficial Manitoba championship.

All 3 wild-card teams hail from Manitoba

All three wild-card teams hail from that province for a total of five alongside Einarson and six-time champion Jennifer Jones.

The top four teams from each pool of nine advance to the championship round, from which the top three advance to playoffs.

The top seed in the championship round earns a bye to the Feb. 28 final to face the winner of the semifinal.

A Canadian title, prize money of $ 100,000 and a return trip to the 2022 Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., goes to the winner, but not necessarily a chance at a world championship

The World Curling Federation recently called off March’s women’s championship in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, when local Swiss health authorities wouldn’t approve it.

Jennifer Jones, seen here on Oct. 2, will look for her 7th Scotties title in Calgary. (Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press)

Einarson, Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Meilleur didn’t wear the Maple Leaf last year because the pandemic wiped out the world championship in Prince George, B.C.

A similar fate awaits this year’s winner unless the WCF can find another host city. That wrinkle doesn’t dull Einarson’s motivation to repeat.

“We’re beyond excited to step back on that ice again and treat it like it’s our first bonspiel of the year,” she said. “It’s just a big one.”

Einarson, Jones, Ontario’s Rachel Homan and wild-card entry Tracy Fleury have locked down berths in November’s Olympic trials in Saskatoon.

A Hearts winner other than those four teams will earn a berth in trials.

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CBC | Sports News

International ski and snowboard bubble planned for Calgary cancelled

A proposed Calgary snow bubble is no longer going forward. 

On Wednesday morning, the international governing body for skiing and snowboarding (FIS), in consultation with Freestyle Canada and Canada Snowboard, decided not to continue with plans to host the 2021 world championships proposed for Calgary.

Countless hours had been spent planning and putting forward proposals to host the 2021 freestyle ski, snowboard and freeski world championships, as well as a number of World Cup events, that were going to be held starting Feb. 24 and running until the middle of March.

The events were going to include dozens of athletes from across Canada and around the world — one of the sticking points was having a large number of international athletes coming into the country. 

“While we are gutted, the safety and health of our athletes, coaches, volunteers and staff is, and always will be, our top priority. COVID-19 continues to evolve globally, and we believe this decision is in the best interest of our broader sport community at this time,” said Peter Judge, chief executive officer of Freestyle Canada.

Canada’s snowboard and freestyle organizations had been working with Canadian authorities at all levels to obtain the necessary approvals. Significant planning focusing on the health and safety of athletes, team members, host venue staff and the public had been completed. 

“We were endeavouring to give our fans watching at home a much-needed respite from the current climate.  But at this point — and as the situation continues to rapidly change — the right thing to do for our athletes and broader community, is to pause.” said Dustin Heise, executive director of Canada Snowboard. 

“While this is disappointing, we will now turn our focus to applying that work to bringing the world back to Canada next season in an effort to help our athletes fully prepare for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.”

2 Canadian snowboard delegates test positive

The announcement comes just a day after two members of Canada’s snowboard delegation preparing to compete at an international event in Switzerland tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the entire Canadian men’s slopestyle team to miss the event. 

They have been put into isolation and will not be competing in the annual Laax Open — an event that has massive Olympic qualifying ramifications this year.

Canada’s top snowboarders were there to compete in the event — Mark McMorris, Seb Toutant and Max Parrot are all part of Canada’s men’s slopestyle team and are in Switzerland. 

They had been posting to their social media in recent days about preparing for the event. They are all now in isolation. 

It’s a massive blow to Canadian skiers and snowboarders, who were hoping to use these events as crucial qualifying opportunities for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

It’s an especially challenging situation for Canada’s men’s slopestyle team, who is not only missing out on this weekend’s event in Switzerland, but these events that were scheduled for Calgary as well. 

WATCH | Heroux, Jones break down Calgary curling bubble:

Devin Heroux is joined by six-time Scotties medallist Colleen Jones to discuss the announcement of the Calgary curling bubble. 5:34

Calgary curling bubble moving forward — for now

This all comes as curling officials and teams across the country are moving forward with events in a Calgary bubble.

As of now, health officials at all levels are allowing the curling bubble to move forward.

There are six major curling events planned for the Calgary curling bubble starting with the Scotties on Feb. 20. That will then lead into the men’s national championship beginning of March 5.

Following these two events, the mixed doubles championship will take place all leading to the men’s world curling championship, set to begin in early April.

The final two events held inside the bubble include two Grand Slam of Curling bonspiels. 

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CBC | Sports News

Calgary expects to host World Cup ski, snowboard bubble in February, March

Calgary’s winter sport bubble could be about to grow.

CBC Sports has learned plans are in the final stages to host a number of international ski and snowboard events at Canada Olympic Park.

The 2021 freestyle ski, snowboard and freeski world championships, as well as a number of World Cup events, are provisionally being rescheduled to be held starting Feb. 19 and running until the middle of March.

At this point, details around restrictions and protocol are still being worked through as all levels of government continue to work with sport governing bodies to come up with the safest plan. 

Working on necessary approvals

Canada’s snowboard and freestyle organizations are working with the appropriate Canadian authorities to obtain the necessary approvals.

“We continue to work in close collaboration with key partners around the potential of creating a winter sport bubble in Calgary to host multiple international FIS Freestyle, Freeski, Snowboard events this winter,” the federations wrote in an email to CBC Sports.

The statement went on to say that “significant planning has been done with the health and safety of athletes and team members, host venue staff and the public as the priority. While contracts have yet to be confirmed, we believe Calgary would be an excellent and safe winter event bubble host city.” 

Provincial and federal government, funding partners and public health authorities must still sign off on the plan.

There would be a number of events taking place over a month of competition including slopestyle, big air, halfpipe and freestyle ski moguls, dual moguls, aerials, and aerials team events.

With freestyle and snowboard events being cancelled across the world, the Calgary World Cup races could wind up playing a major factor in qualifying for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

CBC Sports has previously reported that the organizations are using the NHL cohort quarantine model as their pitch. Athletes and coaches would travel only between the host hotels and ski hills, with events happening in times and spaces completely separate from the public.

Testing protocol

COVID-19 testing would occur before arrival, upon arrival and throughout participants’ time in the bubble.

An update on the planning and status of the event will be provided on Jan. 18

This comes in the wake of a curling bubble being announced on the same grounds in Calgary, beginning with the Scotties starting on Feb. 20,  just five days after the beginning of this ski and snowboarding extravaganza. 

The Markin McPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park will play host to six bonspiels over the course of two and a half months including the Scotties, Brier, mixed doubles nationals, men’s world championship and two Grand Slams. 

Curling Canada along with health officials at all levels of government have imposed a strict bubble for the event including not leaving the confines of the hotel or arena at any point and not allowing any family members inside the bubble. 

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CBC | Sports News

Alberta approves NHL games for Edmonton and Calgary, feds waive 14-day quarantine rule for players, staff

Alberta is the first province to officially say the NHL can play games in its arenas for the upcoming season, while at least two of its counterparts say they are working on the issue.

In a statement to The Canadian Press on Thursday, the Alberta government said it approved Edmonton and Calgary for competition on Dec. 25 following the review of protocols outlined in the league’s return-to-play plan, along with some additional enhancements.

Later Thursday, a spokesperson for the Manitoba government said discussions concerning the NHL and hosting games in Winnipeg are ongoing.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy chief provincial public health officer in Manitoba, said the province was a joint signatory on a letter sent to the NHL by the five Canadian jurisdictions with teams last week and is working toward the resumption of the season.

“There is still some paperwork and procedural steps that need to take place but, from a public health perspective, it’s a solid plan.”

Atwal said there are a couple of small steps that still need to be finished.

“I believe one is that the orders have to change to allow them to play,” he said.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday that his province is still discussing whether games can be hosted there.

“We haven’t given a final answer but we will soon,” he said at a news conference.

Health officials in Quebec and Ontario did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether NHL games can be held in those provinces.

The confirmation from Alberta is the first from any of the five provinces with NHL teams since deputy commissioner Bill Daly stated on Dec. 24 that the league believes it can play games in all seven Canadian markets.

Those franchises will only play each other during the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs as part of a newly-formed North Division, and won’t be crossing the border with the United States, which remains closed to non-essential travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal government waives 14-day quarantine

Daly’s Dec. 24 statement came after TSN and Sportsnet reported Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, sent a note to the league on behalf of the provinces asking for increased testing or a return to a scenario in which all teams would be in a secure zone in one city, like this summer in Edmonton and Toronto.

In a separate statement Thursday, the federal government said it has issued an exemption to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for NHL players and team staff returning to Canada for training camps under “national interest grounds.”

Daly said in an email to The Canadian Press that modified quarantine procedures for players and team staff entering the country are determined by provincial health authorities.

“Modified quarantine means different things in different markets,” Daly’s email read.

However, the provinces with NHL franchises must give their approval for games to be played between Canadian teams during the regular season, which is scheduled to start Jan. 13.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said the league’s plan for training camps offers “robust measures to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.” It added all provinces with NHL clubs have provided written support for the plan.

The PHAC statement said all teams must operate within provincial rules for regular-season play.

The Ottawa Senators were one of seven clubs across the 31-team league to begin training camp Thursday after not qualifying for the summer post-season as part of the resumption of the pandemic-halted 2019-20 campaign. The other six Canadian teams are slated to open training camp Sunday or Monday.

The federal government also cleared the Toronto Blue Jays to hold training camp at Rogers Centre under “national interest grounds” this summer, but rejected a proposal for home games against teams from the U.S. The Blue Jays eventually settled on Buffalo, N.Y., as their 2020 base.

The only Canadian professional sports teams to play on home soil during the pandemic have been the six NHL clubs to qualify for the 2019-20 post-season in Toronto and Edmonton, along with Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer.

The soccer teams were cleared to take part a series of games against each other in August and September before relocating to the U.S. to face American opposition.

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CBC | Sports News

Why Calgary was chosen as curling hub despite being a COVID-19 hotspot

After weeks, maybe even months, of waiting and wondering what the curling season might look like in 2021, there is finally some clarity.

But for as much excitement as there is around Curling Canada making it official that Calgary will be the curling hub city, there are many who are massively skeptical about why it’s being held in what is now the COVID hotspot in the country. 

CBC News broke the story — just 24 hours after the hub city announcement — that Alberta is calling on the federal government and Red Cross for help that includes field hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton to treat hundreds of patients. 

The optics of planning curling events in a province spiralling deep into a pandemic emergency are bad. And while many of the curlers are excited about the potential of playing in these events, there are others who are asking themselves if this all really worth it.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux, Colleen Jones discuss Calgary curling hub:

Devin Heroux is joined by six-time Scotties medallist Colleen Jones to discuss the announcement of the Calgary curling bubble. 5:34

It raises the question, why Calgary? 

In an email to CBC Sports, Curling Canada’s communications director Al Cameron said there were a few cities in consideration for the curling bubble, but that it’s their policy not to name other cities. 

“Calgary has an international hub airport, great host facility with international size ice surface [a big deal for spacing on ice for players and the on-ice camera people], no potential junior hockey tenants to kick out and modern ice plant, and proximity to host hotels was very good, and the city and province put together a good bid,” Cameron wrote in the email. 

Curling Canada officials won’t really get into details, but perhaps the most important thing to note when it comes to where this curling bubble was going to be held is that it needed the approval of all levels of government. 

Alberta’s government was ready to jump at the opportunity. So too was Calgary’s city council, while the federal government is still in conversation with Curling Canada about some of the restrictions and protocols. 

“This series of championship curling events is a fantastic opportunity for Alberta to once again show the world that our ability to host major hub-city sporting events is second to none,” Alberta’s Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, Leela Sharon Aheer, said.

WATCH | Gushue disappointed by cancellation of curling world championship:

In an Instagram Live with our curling aficionado Devin Heroux, Brier 2020 champion Brad Gushue said he was ‘disappointed but not surprised’ about the cancellation of the curling world championships. 1:34

In fairness to Curling Canada, they have agonized over this entire process, spending countless hours to come up with the safest environment imaginable for these events. And let’s not forget, this is a national sport organization with relatively limited resources as opposed to the big bucks of the NHL and NBA that can spend millions to make their bubbles happen.

So while Calgary prepares to host the Scotties, Brier, mixed doubles nationals, men’s world championship, as well as two Grand Slam events, in the background provincial and territorial curling associations are scrambling to come up with ways to qualify representatives for the events. 

To that end, Northern Ontario late Thursday night made the decision to forego any playdowns and have handpicked Brad Jacobs and Krista McCarville as their representatives. This comes just days after Saskatchewan cancelled the venue for its provincials which were supposed to take place in an arena in Estevan in late January. 

Sources close to a number of provincial associations say many of the provinces and territories have come up with two or three scenarios to determine their representatives: smaller fields, two-team playdowns and handpicking reps are all common scenarios. 

Is it all worth it?

The key reason why Curling Canada is holding all of these events, aside from keeping sponsors happy, is to get teams in line for the world championships. Remember, Canada has not yet qualified for the Beijing Olympics and will need top-six finishes to do so at the upcoming worlds. 

On Thursday, USA Curling said it would not be holding nationals before any of the world championships and instead just picked its women’s, men’s and mixed doubles representatives — that includes 2018 Olympic champion John Shuster.

Could Curling Canada not just have sent Scotties winner Kerri Einarson and Brier winner Brad Gushue to this year’s world championships? Neither were able to go last spring because of the pandemic — and many people would not be all that upset to see these two teams wearing the Maple Leaf. 

Finally, we’re getting more details about the restrictions of life in the bubble, including what life will be like for competitors with young children, especially new mothers who are nursing. 

Curling Canada is not allowing any family members inside the bubble and each curler will get their own room. However, nursing-mother competitors will be allowed to bring their baby and a care-giver into the green zone with them.  

It’s becoming clear very quickly that there are many curlers across Canada who are going to be forced to make difficult personal decisions about whether or not they want to spend multiple weeks away from their families, not to mention take time off work, to play in events in the COVID hotspot of Canada.

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CBC | Sports News

Calgary selected to host Brier, Scotties, other major bonspiels in hub-style format

Calgary is about to become a curling mecca.

Weeks after CBC Sports first reported the Alberta city had been selected to host a number of important bonspiels, Curling Canada made it official on Tuesday that the Scotties, the Brier, the men’s world championship and mixed doubles national championship will all be hosted at Canada Olympic Park.

There is no timeline at this point for when the events will take place.

There are also two Grand Slam of Curling events being planned for the Calgary curling bubble as well.

Curling Canada officials said they continue to have dialogue with all levels of government and health officials to come up with the safest protocol, using many of the lessons learned from the NHL and NBA bubbles.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux, Colleen Jones discuss Calgary curling hub:

Devin Heroux is joined by six-time Scotties medallist Colleen Jones to discuss the announcement of the Calgary curling bubble. 5:34

Six-time Scotties winner Colleen Jones says with COVID-19 cases in Calgary rising, there are still concerns about how the event will happen.

“For a lot of people this is great news,” Jones said. “The other side of the coin, though, is with COVID cases rising across the country there’s a lot of trepidation about how the provincial championships will go. 

“Provincial associations are all meeting right now as we speak. There’s surveys going out asking curlers how this should look.”

In an email to CBC Sports, the Department of Canadian Heritage said it has received a request from Curling Canada to hold an international event in Canada — that would be the men’s world curling championship.

“An authorization will only be granted if plans offer robust protocols to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada,” the email said.

“An authorization would be conditional on ongoing support from provincial and local public health authorities and the provincial government, as well as a risk mitigation measures plan, developed and implemented by Curling Canada and assessed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.”

The curling extravaganza will most likely begin with the crown jewel of women’s curling, the Scotties. All of the events will be played without fans at The Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.

Colleen Jones, seen in action at the 2013 Scotties, says with COVID-19 cases rising across the country there’s some trepidation about how provincial championships will unfold. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

While there are still many details to work through regarding player and coach safety, Alberta’s Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, Leela Sharon Aheer, said it’s a positive thing for the province.

“This series of championship curling events is a fantastic opportunity for Alberta to once again show the world that our ability to host major hub city sporting events is second to none,” she said.

“We look forward to delivering an exciting and memorable curling experience for all players, participants and fans.”

The Scotties was originally going to be held in Thunder Bay, Ont., but the pandemic quashed those plans. Pre-event tickets had been sold out. However, Thunder Bay has been awarded the 2022 Scotties.

The Brier was going to be played in Kelowna but is now also set to take place in the Calgary bubble. It marks the first time the Scotties and the Brier are being played in the same city in the same season.

‘I trust Curling Canada’

Defending Brier champion Brad Gushue is thrilled Curling Canada found a way to safely get curlers back to the pebbled ice.

“Every player I’ve talked to has wanted this to happen and [is] excited it’s going to happen,” Gushue said. “I’ve heard some players are a little hesitant but they are few and far between.

“I trust Curling Canada enough to do this in a safe manner. Our team is on board.”

Gushue says his team has had a number of conversations about what life in the Calgary bubble might look like, including potentially being away from family for nearly two months.

“That’s a hard one to swallow. To be honest though, it’s something we’ve discussed at length with our families,” Gushue said.

“There might be some teams that don’t do it. It’s hard not to do when you love the sport and you want to compete.”

Gushue is hoping to defend his Brier title and earn a spot back to the men’s world championship, having not been able to wear the maple leaf at last year’s championship in Scotland because of the pandemic.

WATCH | Gushue disappointed by cancellation of curling world championship:

In an Instagram Live with our curling aficionado Devin Heroux, Brier 2020 champion Brad Gushue said he was ‘disappointed but not surprised’ about the cancellation of the curling world championships. 1:34

“Missing a world championship is not the end of the world but when you’re a competitive curler it tears at you a little bit,” he said.

“It weighed on me. There were moments throughout the summer when people would bring up the worlds and I thought this just sucks that I’m not going to get there.”

Gushue is also planning on playing in the mixed doubles national championship and two Grand Slam events that will also be housed in the Calgary bubble.

Preparing for lack of fans

The grind of six to seven consecutive weeks of curling is something Gushue is already preparing for, including not having any fans inside the arena to motivate him.

“I feed off the crowd,” he said. “To not have them around is going to be a challenge for me. I’m working with our sports psychologist on how to handle that. I don’t know how it’s going to affect me.”

Gushue says his Newfoundland and Labrador team have only played in two competitions this season — by far the least amount of time they’ve been on the ice during a season in their careers.

And they haven’t even been a complete team.

Brad Gushue, left, seen discussing a shot with Geoff Walker in 2018, says coronavirus restrictions in different provinces can make the logistics of practice difficult. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Geoff Walker is in Alberta with his wife, Laura, and their newborn baby. Walker opted to stay in the province as he didn’t want to leave and quarantine for two weeks before being able to play with Team Gushue.

“I still haven’t seen Geoff in person since the night we won the Brier,” Gushue said. “How do we get together to practise and play?”

Provincial restrictions make playdowns a puzzle

That’s a common question many of the top curling teams in the country are asking these days as most of the foursomes have at least one player living out of the province — restrictions in each jurisdiction of the country differ, making it increasingly challenging for curlers to get together on the ice.

That brings up the issue of provincial playdowns.

With many provinces imposing strict rules around gatherings, curling associations are trying to formulate plans that would allow them to safely and fairly select provincial and territorial representatives to attend both national championships.

The announcement of this Calgary curling bubble comes a year out from the Roar of the Rings Olympic qualifiers scheduled for Saskatoon next November into December.

This is a crucial quadrennial for Canadian curling after both the men’s and women’s teams failed to reach the podium for the first time at the 2018 Olympics.

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CBC | Sports News

Brier, Scotties among major curling events likely relocating to Calgary bubble

Three major curling bonspiels will not be held in their scheduled host cities this winter, CBC Sports has learned.

Instead, the Brier, Scotties and men’s world championships will likely be played in a bubble in Calgary in 2021, along with three other important curling events.

Planning for holding the events in Calgary is ongoing, and organizers are in contact with the Alberta government as they work through the evolving health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If officials from Curling Canada – the country’s governing body for the sport – and all levels of government are able to reach a deal, these curling events would most likely be hosted out of Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. That venue would then play host to the Scotties, Brier, men’s world curling championship, mixed doubles nationals as well as two Grand Slam of Curling events.

Curling Canada offered no comment when reached by CBC Sports.

The Scotties, which was set to take place at the Fort Williams Gardens in Thunder Bay, Ont., from Feb. 20-28, will not be taking place in the northern Ontario city. More than 1,600 tickets packages had been sold for the event prior to the pandemic forcing restrictions on attendance.

CBC Sports has learned organizers were told in August the event would not be held there, but haven’t been able to share details. Thunder Bay might serve as host in 2022 if restrictions around the pandemic have lessened.

The Brier was planned for Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C., from Mar. 6-14, followed by the men’s world curling championship, planned for TD Place in Ottawa between April 3-11, will also not take place in those original locations. 

CBC Sports has learned many of the Canada’s top curlers were surveyed in September about the prospect of a bubble scenario without fans and that the responses were overwhelmingly in favour of such a scenario.

In an email to CBC Sports, the Public Health Agency of Canada said it is open to reviewing proposals from Curling Canada, “that includes a comprehensive public health plan agreed to by the Government of Canada and obtaining written support from provincial or territorial public health officials.”

“The Government of Canada’s priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians. The resumption of sports events in Canada must be undertaken in adherence to Canada’s plan to mitigate the importation and spread of COVID-19. Like other countries, Canada is working on plans for a measured resumption of sports, including, both professional and amateur sporting events,” officials from the Public Health Agency said in the statement. 

Curling Canada has been contacting professional leagues and other sporting organizations to learn best practices when it comes to a hub city. Both the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association successfully completed their seasons using the bubble model.

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Calgary ‘superspreader’ wedding responsible for at least 49 cases of COVID-19

At least 49 active cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a wedding held earlier this month in Calgary. 

It comes as Alberta hits its highest case numbers ever — 3,138 active cases, 998 of which are in Calgary. 

The wedding featured a large number of Albertans from different households, Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said.

Aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed and ensure they are isolating and getting tested, and anyone at risk is being contacted directly by Alberta Health Services. 

McMillan said Alberta Health can’t comment on specifics about individual cases due to patient confidentiality, but he did say it’s not yet clear what led to the level of exposure and that an investigation is underway.

Reminder that ‘this virus is still here’ 

Several recent outbreaks in Calgary have been linked to social gatherings, he said, adding that no one should attend a gathering if they have even mild symptoms or are awaiting test results. 

“This is a reminder to all Albertans that this virus is still here and any social gathering carries a risk of exposure. This is true for both planned events, like wedding receptions, or informal get-togethers in a house or community space,” McMillan said. 

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“It is also important that organizers of social gatherings do everything possible to comply with the public health guidance in place, including ensuring that there is enough space for physical distancing between cohorts, following gathering size restrictions and avoiding sharing food and utensils.”

Dr. Craig Jenne, an infectious disease expert with the University of Calgary, said based on the high transmission numbers, he would consider this event a “superspreader.”

“Although 49 cases may not seem like a huge number, we have to keep in mind that these people have perhaps had continual contact with others after the wedding … if each person passes [COVID-19] on to two, three, four other people, we may be looking at an event that has now led to 200, 300 or more cases in the community. And again, each of those cases has the potential to spread it further,” he said.

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“We also have to keep in mind that many of these gatherings … probably have a significant number of people that are in at-risk groups — older parents, grandparents.”

Jenne said while it’s worth looking at whether guidelines like physical distancing, mask-wearing and attendance numbers were followed, ultimately, having large indoor gatherings right now simply isn’t safe. 

“The virus doesn’t really care that you wore a mask until you sat down at the table … you have 100 people eating in the same room and multiple people at tables, this really creates an opportunity for the virus to move around,” he said.

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