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Friday, 22 September 2017

#Curling S1718W3

#BetweenTheSheets: A Change Will Do You Good!
Curling to undergo major enhancements heading into next season and beyond


Who knew Slovenia would be the centre of the curling world?  Well, last week all eyes in the sport were drawn to the lakeside town of just over 6,000 people in northwestern Slovenia for the World Curling Federation's Annual General Assembly.

The 56 member associations of the WCF gathered and had an action-packed agenda discussing some important decisions for the future of the sport and vote on proposed changes....and potentially welcome a few new member associations into the fold.  A change can do you good curling world and changes they are a coming!  Cue the Sheryl Crow music in the background now.

Let's take a look at the decisions, changes and votes conducted in the historical mediaeval Slovenian town last weekend.


1. World Wheelchair Curling Championships entries increased to 12 (starting 2019)

This was a no-brainer decision for the assembly members.  The Paralympic Winter Games currently runs with a 12-team event so the world championship event should mirror this system.  The current world championship format features 10 teams competing with a host country earning an auto berth, 7 teams earning direct entry based on the previous year's final standings and 2 additional spots earned from the World Wheelchair Curling B-Championship.  Wheelchair sports in general have been taking off around the world, heck in tennis most of the grand slams offer wheelchair tournaments for the best wheelchair athletes in the world.  The #growthesport mentality needs to go across the board for the sport and increasing the opportunity for wheelchair athletes to compete for a world championship on an annual basis is only a positive step in the right direction.  Props to the member associations for continuing to bring support, growth and attention to our wheelchair curling athletes around the world!

2.  World Women's and Men's Curling Championships entries increased to 13 (2017/18 season)

Ok so there are two points being made here.  For one, the world championships field is going to increase to 13 starting this season.  An extra team competing on the world stage is always a plus.  The biggest supporter of this growth obviously came from the Pacific-Asia member nations.  The sport has truly grown in the region since the 2014 Winter Olympics.  On an annual basis, power teams are trending up on the world curling tour rankings from China, Japan and Korea.  Australia and New Zealand have fielded teams in the past at world championships as well.  Under the old system, PACC competing nations would be playing for only two spots meaning a top contending nation would miss the event (see Japan's defending women's silver medal winners last season).  Heck, last season China hosted the women's championship meaning only 1 PACC nation could earn a berth in the championship as one of the two designated spots was taken by the hosts.  Why punish the region for hosting a world championship?  Meanwhile European teams continued to have a stranglehold on the field.  For the 2017/18 season, the PACC will have the Top 3 finalists earn a direct entry into the world championships.  Given the 2018 Winter Olympics taking place in Korea, this is great for the sport.  This also provides some excellent marketing for the growth of the sport during the Olympics in PyeongChang.  The opportunity for new fans, viewers and future athletes will be high across the world but most notably in the Pacific-Asia region.  Knowing the region earns an extra auto spot to the world championships this season can only help #growthesport even more within the region.  Sure expanding the field to an odd-number can provide a few logistical issues but these can be sorted out quite easily and the cost benefit outweighs the small logistical issues for the scheduling.

3.  World Qualification Event added for the World Championships (starting 2018/19)

Now don't get too comfortable PACC nations with that extra berth this season.  Starting next season, this 13th additional spot at the world championships will have to be earned not only from a continental perspective but also from winning a world qualification event.  The understanding is teams who have not already earned a spot in the world championships will be provided the opportunity to earn the "Win and In" berth.  Sure, this does open up the opportunity for yet another European nation to be added to the world championship field but at least this time they will have to earn it against the rest of the world.  At first glance, this still seems to be an opportune advantage for the PACC nations.  Who knows, maybe a PACC competing nation will win this qualification spot every year and, after the next Olympic cycle, could have an official 3rd spot locked up.  Or maybe we will see some European or dare we consider South American or Southern Hemisphere nations start picking up the sport and competing for world championship spots in the future.  Brazil, world championship bound?

4.  Bye Bye Page Playoff System (starting 2017/18 season)

No not everywhere but certainly on the world championship front.  Curling fans have been accustomed to the current page playoff system at major curling events in Canada and around the world.  Well, with the addition of an extra nation competing at the world championships it was also decided to increase the amount of playoff teams to 6 from 4.  This means the top 2 finishers at the conclusion of the round robin will earn byes into the SF while teams finishing 3 to 6 will advance to the QF round with 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5.  Additional playoff teams, more playoff games, increase in intensity!  Similar to the RR logistics, the additional playoff games creates minor havoc for scheduling but the increase can be better for fans and ticket sales.  Now you have an extra draw, a playoff draw at that, where you get to see more of the world's best competing on the ice.  If this would have been implemented last season, China's Rui Liu and Scotland's David Murdoch as well as USA's Nina Roth and a TB survivor would have been playoff bound.  There is a downside here though.  As seen at the world women's championship last year, a team with a sub-.500 record would be playoff bound and could, in theory, go on a run and win the world championship.  I am a little uneasy about a team who maybe finished 6-6 or 5-7 earning a playoff spot and landing on the podium.  On the flip side, growth is great and for nations continuing to fight to develop the sport back home both from an athlete and marketing/media perspective, praising a playoff spot sounds a lot better than saying you finished 6th.

5.  56 Member Associations grows to 60

Hello #growthesport at its finest!  The World Curling Federation was pleased to welcome 4 new member associations to the table in Slovenia.  Let us all welcome Afghanistan πŸ‡¦πŸ‡«, Kyrgyzstan πŸ‡°πŸ‡¬, Portugal πŸ‡΅πŸ‡Ή and Saudi Arabia πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¦ as the newest member association!  Congratulations and the world is watching and looking forward to see how the sport grows in these 4 nations in the future.

6.  Adding Pre-Qualifying Event for the 2021 Olympic Qualification Event

All 60 members will now have an equal and fair opportunity to reach the apex of the curling world, the Winter Olympic Games!  The qualification for the next Winter Olympics will have a similar format to 2018 with auto spots earned based on nations results at previous world championship events.  And yes, there will still be the last chance qualifier event held a few months prior to the games themselves.  However, now all member associations who fail to earn an auto Olympic berth and/or a last chance qualifier spot will have the shot to enter the pre-qualifying event with the winner earning a last chance qualifier berth.  This really adds new meaning to the tour life #CSideGrind does it not?  But, in theory, a nation could go from pre-qualification to last chance to qualifier to Olympic spot!  How cool of a #TeamUpset story would that be though?  If this was enacted this year for the 2018 Winter Olympics, nations like Austria (now in the Euro A group), Israel and Chinese Taipei for the men and Hungary, Estonia and Turkey for the women would still have an outside shot as all 5 of these nations have seen great growth over the past year and a half.  We all know the Olympics are the key to actual increased interest and participation in any sport.  Adding an extra opportunity for a nation to be Olympic-eligible and keeping the dream alive is great.  Plus, as mentioned, who doesn't like to cheer for an upset right?  Imagine a nation going on a hot streak mid-season and literally earning their Olympic spot in a matter of months?!

7.  Hello five-stone Free Guard Zone rule (starting 2018/19 season)

Could we be saying goodbye to those 3-1 games and 4 or more blank end games in the future?  Well maybe not entirely but those odds are greatly going to increase starting with the 2018/19 season.  The five-stone FGZ will come into play and, with it, we should see an increase in scoring....and some pretty explosive ends.  Fans of the grand slam of curling events will be familiar with this rule by now and many seem to be in strong support.  We have certainly seen more high scoring games and a more multiple point scoring ends.  How often did we see 4 or 5 score ends under the four-stone rule?  Just look at the recent Tour Challenge line scores....there were certainly quite a few 3 and 4 (and the odd 5) point ends.  Fans love it!  More rocks in play changes the game play now as teams can now go all in for those big ends with hammer while also needing to have a defensive response plan in place to ensure they don't give up those multiple points.  Plus a few more steal opportunities will come into play if you make the call to play an offensive defensive game style.  Now sure, at the "Elite" level we should expect the top teams to refine their shot selections while stepping up their overall technique in being able to play those difficult shots on a regular basis to either score the big ends, play prevention or lock up the steal.  We should expect to see the game play level around the world increase tremendously by the time the 2022 Winter Olympics role around....or does the opposite happen and the gap between the top nations and the developing nations grows exponentially?

8.  World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships staying put

Now I am not talking about the championship itself going away anytime in the near future.  We know that is not happening considering the discipline has been added to the Winter Olympic roster.  And, having attended the event last season in Lethbridge, I became a fan of the event.  No, the agenda item was discussing whether to change the format of the event itself.  Last season we saw 39 nations registered to compete.  Yes this was a logistics nightmare.  Yes we saw some major blowout games and lopsided losses for some of the up and coming and/or debut nations competing.  However, is this not what a #growthesport mentality supports?  Having a front row seat to watch Canada battle Kazakhstan produced one of the best moments of the entire event when Canada's Joanne Courtney took time after the lopsided W to talk about the game with Kazakhstan's young Diana Torkina.  The look on Torkina's face getting advice and positive feedback from Courtney was priceless as a moment.  This will only help motivate Torkina, her fellow competitors and other growing nations to continue to strive to better their own games while learning from the best.  Had Kazakhstan not been invited to compete, the mentor learning moment would not happen.  How can the sport continue to grow in many nations around the world if they are not provided the opportunity to compete with the best?  This is the epitome of the sports development model.  For an more detailed summary on the importance of this event and for keeping the format as is, re-visit the #TwineTime blog from the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships HERE!

Alright, let's return our attention back to the action on the ice.  Here is the quick #GunnerRunback at the results from last weekend and celebrate our tour winners:
  • HDF Insurance Shoot-Out - Props go out to Scotland's Eve Muirhead for scoring 3 in 8 and stealing 2 in the extra to knock off Sweden's Anna Hasselborg and take home the title.  China's Bingyu Wang and Manitoba's Darcy Robertson (#TwineTime called it!) reached the SF.
  • AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic (M) - Brad Jacobs is back to his winning ways folks...and is looking dangerous once again as an Olympic threat.  Jacobs avenged a RR loss to Mike McEwen in the championship final to claim the title.  Nice season opening event and result for Team McEwen though.  A few #TeamWorld reps reached the SF, red hot Steffen Walstad from Norway and Scotland's Greg Drummond.
  • AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic (F) - USA's Jamie Sinclair claimed a nice championship win going undefeated in Cornwall and defeating Krista McCarville in the final.  Similar to Team McEwen, a nice season opening result for the Northern Ontario team though.  Quebec's Eve Belisle and Ontario's Hollie Duncan rounded out the Top 4 with SF finishes.
  • King Cash Spiel (M) - Dean Joanisse was denied a repeat title victory when he lost the championship final to BC-rival Sean Geall in an extra end.  Brent Pierce and Tyler Tardi reached the SF.
  • King Cash Spiel (W) - Sarah Wark, your next BC champ?  It could happen if she plays like she did last weekend in claiming the title in Maple Ridge.  Wark suffered one loss in the RR against Kesa Van Osch but extracted revenge when it mattered most in defeating Van Osch in the final.  Diane Gushulak and Corryn Brown rounded out the playoff teams.
#TwineTime had a pretty average week on the prediction trail.  A mildly respectable 5/8 in Edmonton, accurately calling Muirhead in the final but coming up wrong with her final result.  In Cornwall, only 3/8 for the men BUT nailing the champion in Jacobs and 3/6 with the women.  The King Cash Spiel produced a modest 5/6 and finals appearance for Joanisse and 2/4 on the women's side.  Overall Grade: C+

Pressure is on the #TwineTime blog to step up it's game this week.  Nobody wanted to aim to be a C student in school right?  Ok, well maybe some people did but I am aiming for at least a B+ grade this week.  Let's slide into our #TourLifePredictions:

MEN

Mother Club Fall Curling Classic

Winnipeg, MB

2016 Champion:  David Bohn

Format:  24 team RR with 4 pools of 6 teams.  Top 8 qualify.

Top Team Entered:  Team Simmons, Team Gunnlaugson, Team Lyburn

Favourite:  This is a tough choice.  We may have to crown co-favourites this week between Team Simmons and Team Gunnlaugson.  Simmons was on fire at the Tour Challenge and quickly established themselves as one of the pre-event favourites for the upcoming pre-trials in PEI.  On that same note, Gunner did win the Tier II with some outstanding shot making and also looks to be one of the teams starting the season hot.  Both should advance out of their pools....what a potential final though!!

Dark Horse:  Watch out for JT Ryan!  If you are not familiar with these young bucks....what is wrong with you?  The #TwineTime blog talked about these boys last season as being the future of Manitoba curling.  The team finally broke through last season in claiming the Manitoba Jr crown after year's of coming up short against the superstars of Matty Dunstone and Braden Calvert over the years.  This should be there year once again!  They come home to Manitoba for this event fresh off a junior tour win last weekend in North Dakota and have some momentum.  They have also turned heads in the past at Manitoba provincials with some big upset W's.  Don't sleep on this team this week in Winnipeg.

W2W4:  This is basically the best of the best in Manitoba battling on the ice, minus the top two teams of McEwen and Carruthers.  Most of these teams are no longer vying for Olympic glory; however, the Brier still remains as the top prize for the season and the teams will want to get a leg up on their provincial rivals early on.  Simmons, Gunner and Lyburn should be the comfortable Top 3 but maybe pay close attention to Pool D.  The aforementioned Ryan is in this pool as is his former provincial junior rival Calvert.  Dennis Bohn also had a successful tour season last year and should be a team challenging for the playoff weekend.  With only 8 teams qualifying in a pool format of 24 teams, every loss matters and can take you out of the money hunt quick.

Qualifiers:  Team Gunnlaugson, Team Simmons, Team Lyburn, Team Ryan, Team Calvert, Team Forrester, Team David Bohn, Team Johnston 

Championship:  Team Gunnlaugson def. Team Simmons


KW Fall Classic

Kitchener-Waterloo, ON

2016 Champion:  Richard Krell

Format:  18 team triple knockout with 8 qualifiers.

Top Team Entered:  Team Morozumi, Team C. Kim, Team Horgan

Favourite:  Without question Japan's Yusuke Morozumi will be the favourite at this event.  The Japanese 2018 Olympic team has the most experience in the field and will continue to try and make great strides on their season during this Canadian swing.  They started the season strong with a runner-up finish in Hokkaido and, even though they missed the playoffs last weekend at the Shorty Jenkins, they did produce some strong results in the 3-2 finish (including W's over PACC rival Liu and Edin).

Dark Horse:  Keep an eye on Matthew Hall folks.  They will be a hometown favourite playing in front of family and friends and should have loud crowd support, which always helps when you hit the ice.  They may only be a junior team but do not underestimate them.  They come into this event fresh off the Stu Sells Junior Mens Tankard title last weekend and did finish runner-up at last season's Canadian Junior Curling Championships.  They could run into the very team they eliminated last year to reach that Canadian final, Northern Ontario's Tanner Horgan.  Plus, Matt is a fraternity gentleman, same as yours truly.  Us "Frat Boys" need to stick together...especially in the non-traditional fraternity country of Canada!

W2W4:  Honestly this is a pretty wide open field and a great opportunity to see many of the "Tier II" Ontario teams hit the ice for the season.  While these teams may not be competing for Olympic dreams this season, the Brier dream is well alive and these teams will want to take the early advantage of their competitors.  But don't settle on a #TeamCanada victory either.  The PACC nations are well represented with Morozumi, Korea's C. Kim and China's Zou.  #TeamWorld could steal another tour victory here.

Qualifiers:  Team Morozumi, Team Horgan, Team C. Kim, Team Krell, Team Duhaime, Team Retchless, Team Hall, Team Chandler

Championship:  Team Morozumi def. Team C. Kim



Lakeshore Curling Club CashSpiel

Lower Sackville, NS

2016 Champion:  Stuart Thompson

Format:  8 team RR with 2 pools of 4.  Top 4 advance.

Top Team Entered:  Team Stevens, Team Thompson

Favourite:  Stuart Thompson is the defending champion and should be a favourite to repeat his title victory from a season ago.  This is a tough call though as we have yet to see any of the Nova Scotia teams hit the ice for the season so this event could be wide open!

Dark Horse:  With a wide-open field perhaps all the teams are both favourites and dark horse contenders?  But seriously, perhaps the best dark horse team to keep your eyes on should be the current 3-time defending Nova Scotia junior champ Matthew Manuel.  The team really had their breakout performance at last year's Canadian juniors when they reached the championship round and finished 1 game out of the playoffs.  A Top 5 finish at the junior nationals should set you up with some momentum heading into this season.  They could surprise a few of the regular names on the Nova Scotia men's circuit.

W2W4:  This field looks like a Nova Scotia Brier preview.  With none of these teams in Olympic contention, the focus for each team is the same as year's past: win the Nova Scotia tankard and earn that trip to the Brier!  Jamie Murphy is not here competing this week but the rest of this field should be feature the contenders to try and dethrown the current NS champ.  As we have said for a few other events on tour this week, when you are facing a field comprised mostly of your own provincial rivals, you want to send a message early in that you are the team to watch out for this season.  The question is which of these teams can lay claim to that message first?

Qualifiers:  Team Thompson, Team MacDougall, Team Stevens, Team Manuel

Championship:  Team Thompson def. Team Manuel



WOMEN

Colonial Square Ladies Classic

Saskatoon, SK

2016 Champion:  Bingyu Wang

Format:  16 team triple knockout with 8 qualifiers

Top Team Entered:  Team Hasselborg, Team Jones, Team Flaxey, Team Fujisawa

Favourite:  The new #1 team in the world, Sweden's Anna Hasselborg and her team have to be considered the favourite in this field.  After another finals appearance last weekend in Edmonton, this team has become the top team and, for the first time, provided Sweden the #1 men's and women's world rankings at the same time.  Ok sure they have not won on tour yet this season but a season-opening SF result followed up with back-to-back finals appearances, including a #gsoc event, coupled with the results of last season.....they have earned this top billing.  Pressure has got to Anna and the team in the past though, especially in those championship finals, so the question will be how the team responds to their new top ranking, with it lift them up or just add more pressure on their shoulders?

Dark Horse:  Being a Saskatchewan event, there are numerous Sask teams who could wear the dark horse hat this weekend in 'Toon Town.  Sherry Anderson is always a threat on name, experience and talent alone.  Former Canadian champion Amber Holland is back on tour and should never be overlooked as a playoff threat.  And a few up and coming teams from the prairie province could surprise a few of the higher ranking teams they face.  Pay particular attention to Nancy Martin, after a strong #gsoc debut at the Tour Challenge Tier II.  Robyn Silvernagle had a deep playoff run at the Tier II event and will be looking to build on that result.  Plus Martin and Silvernagle play off in the opening draw!  Keep an eye on Chantelle Eberle and Brett Barber as well.

W2W4:  An overwhelming amount of Canadian talent will hit the ice at this event but it could be yet again the #TeamWorld side who steals the show.  This season has seen #TeamWorld come out strong at the big events, often claiming the championship W's.  Team Hasselborg will be the favourite to continue denying Canadian fans a home nation champion at tour events.  How about Japan's Satsuki Fujisawa?  The 2016 world runner-up and now confirmed Team Japan representative in PyeongChang will be looking to continue building on her season.  And also pay attention to Korea's Un-Chi Gim and Scotland's Claire Hamilton, who has joined forces with former world junior runner-up Gina Aitken.  All 4 of these #TeamWorld reps could make a playoff push.  Who comes out on top this week: #TeamCanada or #TeamWorld?

Qualifiers:  Team Jones, Team Hasselborg, Team Flaxey, Team Fujisawa, Team Gim, Team Holland, Team Martin, Team Silvernagle

Championship:  Team Hasselborg def. Team Jones


Mother Club Fall Curling Classic

Winnipeg, MB

2016 Champion:  Michelle Englot

Format:  12 team RR with 2 pools of 6 teams.  Top 6 qualify.

Top Team Entered:  Team Englot, Team Einarson, Team Robertson

Favourite:  Kerri Einarson has to be the slight favourite this week.  They have played 2 events this season and have claimed championship W's in both (Spider Performance Icebreaker, Tour Challenge Tier II).  Overall they are sporting a remarkable 11-2 record this season, suffering 1 loss in each event.  If they continue to play like this, expect another championship run in Winnipeg and possibly a second slam title closer to Halloween at The Masters.

Dark Horse:  I think we have to take Team Robertson out of the dark horse category now given how well they have been playing.  No team should be underestimating them anymore.  But this opens the door for a new dark horse to emerge and #TwineTime is going with Beth Peterson.  Peterson is a former Manitoba junior champ (2015) but has struggled a bit since entering the ladies tour.  However, this team has the game to knock off any of the teams competing this week and could surprise a few of the bigger names.

W2W4:  Similar to the men's event, this event provides the top Manitoba teams battling it out in an early-season event to see who can get the sweeping advantage first.  Outside Jennifer Jones skipping the event, all of these teams should comprise the Manitoba Scotties field this year.  Of course a few still have Olympic hopes with Team Englot having a trials spot and Teams Einarson, Robertson and Meilleur have pre-trials spots.  Robertson is having an outstanding beginning leg of the season.  Einarson won the Tour Challenge Tier II.  And Englot has established herself as a threat once again in the buffalo province.  Can any of the other teams knock off the Big 3?

Qualifiers:  Team Englot, Team Einarson, Team Robertson, Team Spencer, Team Peterson, Team Meilleur

Championship:  Team Englot def. Team Einarson


KW Fall Classic

Kitchener-Waterloo, ON

2016 Champion:  Sherry Middaugh

Format:  15 team RR with 3 pools of 5 teams.  Top 8 qualify.

Top Team Entered:  Team Harrison, Team Middaugh, Team Fleury, Team Tippin

Favourite:  Jacqueline Harrison will be the favourite heading into the KW Fall Classic.  This team has really grown over the past year and have quickly become the #2 team in Ontario, behind Team Homan.  Given the high percentage of Homan either being the Olympic rep or their auto spot at the Scotties as Team Canada, Harrison should be considered the front runner for the Ontario jackets this year.  Although, even with Homan in the picture, they don't seem to mind playing them considering they have proved to be the #GiantKillers are numerous events and grand slams over the past year (including recently at the Tour Challenge).  If Harrison doesn't ride the #TeamUpset train to the Olympic bid herself, expect to see her at the Scotties if they continue to play as they have early in the season.

Dark Horse:  Are you familiar with the name Susan Froud?  If not, you might want to start paying attention to her and her team this season.  They could be the dark horse Ontario team to make a strong push up the rankings.  This will be Team Froud second event of the season, previously finishing runner-up at the BioSteel Oakville Fall Classic a few weeks ago.  They went undefeated up until the championship final too, defeating some top teams like Ogasawara (twice!), Cadorin (twice!) and Kubeskova.  They started the season ranked 120 but have quickly moved up the standings due to their strong season opening results.  Do not underestimate them this weekend!

W2W4:  Each pool has a strong favourite and a few dark horse teams looking to make a playoff run.  It will be interesting to see if chalk holds form and the top seeded teams (Harrison, Middaugh, Fleury) can hold form and reach the playoffs.  Both Middaugh and Fleury could be in tough though.  Middaugh will have to deal with Dark Horse Froud and traditional Ontario rival Auld while Fleury will see the up and coming Tippin and another potential dark horse team in Katelyn Wasylkiw.

Qualifiers:  Team Harrison, Team Middaugh, Team Fleury, Team Tippin, Team Froud, Team Inglis, Team Auld, Team Wasylkiw

Championship:  Team Harrison def. Team Fleury



Lakeshore Curling Club CashSpiel

Lower Sackville, NS

2016 Champion:  Nancy McConnery

Format:  8 team RR with 2 pools of 4.  Top 4 qualify.

Top Team Entered:  Team Brothers, Team Breen

Favourite:  Jill Brothers wowed the curling world two years ago at the Scotties when the team finished 6-5 and one game out of a possible TB spot.  For some fans, this was their first chance to watch this team compete (even though this was Brothers 3rd Scotties appearance).  Last season the team faltered a bit in failing to repeat as the Nova Scotia champions.  However, that loss should ignite a fire in this team to reclaim their title this season and make a return trip to the Scotties.  They are the top team in Nova Scotia and should easily qualify for the playoff weekend.

Dark Horse:  The field?  With only 8 teams competing and 4 playoff spots on the line, no team can really afford an off day or off game...you could be eliminated before you know it.  Team Brothers may be the favourite and strong contending Team Breen is probably next in line but the remainder of the 6 teams could make a #TeamUpset move and claim this title.  The defending champ McConnery is not competing but a rising star team in Kaitlyn Jones will be and they could just be the perfect team to shock their provincial counterparts.  Jones has taken over the skipping duties for the current Nova Scotia junior team previously skipped by Kristin Clarke.  Clarke has moved to a vice role with the team while former vice Karlee Burgess moves to second.

W2W4:  In a pure Nova Scotia field, can Team Brothers impose her expected dominance on her provincial rivals early on in the season or will one of the dark horse contenders rise up and try to knock her off the top of the mountain?  This is, again, a provincial Scotties field and each team knows they need to start their season off strong and make the opening statement.

Qualifiers:  Team Brothers, Team Breen, Team McEvoy, Team Jones

Championship:  Team Brothers def. Team Jones

If you haven't done so already, don't forget to check out the #TwineTime Updated #PowerRankings for Week 3.  See which teams are heating up the ice and which are sliding down it.

Let's also give a quick shout out to Thomas Ulsrud and his #TeamPants squad for being named the Team Norway representative for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang....for now!  The team has been provided the Olympic ticket pending their Euro result in November.  If the team reaches the playoffs, their ticket is punched.  If they fail to reach the playoffs, curling fans will get what they want....a Best of 5 playoff between Team Ulsrud and Team Walstad!  Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Team Ulsrud and they deserve the spot.  I just prefer to see the top teams battle it out on the ice rather than a governing body making a selection.  Best of luck to Ulsrud at Euro's though!

Also remember if you are living in or close to a city hosting a #wct event, head down to the local club and check out the action live and in person.  My brother was a perfect example of someone who was a casual fan of the sport watching on television and became a massive supporter of curling after watching a few draws live and in person.  Plus, who knows who you will sit next to and enjoy a few cold beverages with.  Cheer on your favs and say hi to them after the games.  They may be curlers on the ice you cheer for....but they are just people like you and I the rest of the time.