Ontario curling officials have decided to shut down all curling events until the end of April, which means last year’s provincial champions have been selected to represent Ontario at the Scotties and Brier in the curling bubble in Calgary.
Rachel Homan and John Epping will represent the province at the women’s and men’s championships, respectively.
CurlON, the provincial sport governing body, made the announcement Monday after determining putting on a provincial championship was not practical amid the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
“We all hope to be curling again in 2021 at some point but the reality is COVID-19 has caused many clubs and boards, including CurlON, to re-evaluate their programs and make some very tough decisions for the health of their members and communities,” the press release said.
In early December the Northern Ontario Curling Association made the same decision, giving Brad Jacobs and Krista McCarville automatic entries into the Brier and Scotties.
Jacobs accepted the invitation, McCarville did not. Krysta Burns, last year’s runner-up at the provincial playdowns, will replace McCarville.
It’s expected more provinces will also cancel playdowns and select their representatives based on last year’s results.
Six events are scheduled to take place inside the Calgary curling bubble starting in mid-February and stretching into April. All games will be played inside the Markin McPhail Arena at Canada Olympic Park.
There are strict restrictions for curlers living in the bubble, including staying solely inside the host hotel and the arena. Athletes are unable to have any family members inside the bubble throughout the entire competition to ensure the safest environment possible.
The Scotties will kick off the curling extravaganza starting Feb. 19, followed by the Brier in early March, then the mixed doubles national championship.
That leads into the men’s world championship followed finally by two Slam events. Curlers are being asked to show up at least three days before each competition.