JONES: Boston Pizza Cup and Sentinel Storage Scotties in Grande Prairie

On Monday in Grande Prairie, Curling Alberta chose to launch the very first combined men’s and women’s provincial Scotties of the Boston Pizza Cup and Sentinel Storage.

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It’s a BYOB event.

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Build your own bubble.

If curlers paid any attention to the IIHF World Juniors and the Red Deer Bubble in particular, they know how fragile it has become to keep an entire team, whether it’s four or 25 players, on ice, even if the ice happens to be pebbles.

In the past two weeks, Curling Canada canceled the Olympic mixed doubles qualifier at Portage LaPrairie and Slam eliminated the final competition before Beijing at Camrose.

Four provinces have chosen to select teams instead of organizing provincials.

So, you may be somewhat surprised to learn that at 9 a.m. on Monday in Grande Prairie, Curling Alberta chose to launch the very first combined of the Men’s Boston Pizza Cup and Women’s Provincial Scotties Sentinel Storage.

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Will they be able to bring eight women’s and 12 men’s teams to the finish line for the two semi-finals on Saturday and the two finals on Sunday broadcast nationally by Sportsnet?

They lost a team on Sunday when Jamie King of Edmonton had three of his team tested positive. And Ted Appelman came to Grande Prairie with two players in quarantine and added one on his way to join his up to three-member squad for the opener on Monday against… well… King.

Appelman won by forfeit.

It’s going to be an interesting week, especially for Laura Walker of Edmonton, wife of Geoff Walker of Beijing of Brad Gushue’s Canadian Olympic team, regarding the growing numbers of the latest COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Walker and his team of Kate Cameron, Taylor McDonald and Nadine Scotland traveled to Grande Prairie determined to compete if Alberta Curling General Manager Jill Richards and the host committee could succeed.

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Walker’s team that finished out of the playoffs 3-5 at the Olympic trials in Saskatoon decided if Grande Prairie was going to have the courage and ingenuity to go against the grain and try, their team was really sure she was going to show up.

“After so many challenges we’ve found a way to stay the course and I believe crossing the finish line of this event is now within our grasp,” said Richard.

“We have the incredible privilege of appointing representatives to the Brier and the Scotties and that should really be decided by the curlers on the ice.”

For Walker, that was all she needed to hear.

“With things changing on a daily basis and being at the mercy of the province’s restrictions, we couldn’t be 100 percent sure he could cross the finish line,” Walker said.

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“It’s really worrying. It is hard to believe that in the current landscape of our province, no one will come forward with the virus. “

So they tried to build their own bubble.

“We don’t go to a restaurant to eat at all. We will not see family and friends. We are staying in an Airbnb instead of a hotel and we were all extremely cautious in the days leading up to the event.

The Walkers have a 15-month-old boy, Liam, who they were planning to take to Grande Prairie for the week, but Geoff decided to spend the week with him at home.

“Geoff had planned to go but now with the risks of COVID being so contagious, he has decided to stay home with Liam and keep his contact outside the house as minimal as possible,” he said. she declared.

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And Laura is getting ready to watch Canada’s games from the Ice Cube in Beijing at unusual times.

“No international visitors,” she said.

Walker says missing the chance to represent Canada at the Olympics doesn’t devalue this year’s provincial championships.

“Even bigger. Our eyes were on the Olympics and not doing it was hugely disappointing. But it just made us hungrier than ever to go back to the Scotties. “

Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton, also 3-5 at the Olympic Trials, says it’s exactly the same with her team of Danielle Schmiemann, Dana Ferguson and Rachelle Brown.

“Based on the fact that we have grown accustomed to events canceled due to restrictions or for public health safety over the past two years, our team was prepared for either situation to arise. produce.

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“I’m sure there will be situations where players from some teams won’t be able to continue throughout the event, especially given how quickly this new variant seems to be spreading. All we can do is trust that we are all following all distancing, masking and isolating protocols if any of us are showing symptoms.

“We have limited our contacts during the Christmas holidays to try to make sure that we are less likely to get sick,” Rocque said.

“Other than that, we will be following all of the protocols established by Curling Alberta when it comes to masking, distancing, getting enough rest and doing what we can to stay healthy throughout the week.

“From our perspective, winning Alberta is a big deal every year. I don’t think there is less importance about this event this year than if it was played at any other time. As tough a week as the trials have been you have to focus on getting the Scotties which would be a dream come true.

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