More opportunities for teams with structure modifications
Some history will be made in 2015.
Warren Hansen, director of event operations for the Canadian Curling Association speaks with the local media after announcing that Moose Jaw will be the of 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Times-Herald photo by Lyndsay McCready.
Not only will the city of Moose Jaw be hosting its first Scotties Tournament of Hearts, but there will also be some changes to the format at the Canadian women’s curling championship.
“Since inception, the Scotties structure has gone through very few changes,” Warren Hansen, director of event operations for the Canadian Curling Association, said during a Wednesday media conference in Moose Jaw. “In 1979, the top-three-team playoff was added to follow the regulation round-robin. In 1986, Team Canada was added. In 1995, the playoff system was changed to involve four teams.”
So, since 1961, there have been only four changes made to the structure of play.
That will all change when a pre-qualifying event will be held to determine the final, 12-team field for the Scotties.
Fifteen teams — representatives of the 14 member associations, plus the defending champion from the 2014 Scotties — will be eligible to compete, meaning that Northern Ontario will make its Scotties debut in Moose Jaw.
“I think the change that we are actually going to see 15 teams eligible to participate in the Scotties is a huge milestone,” Hansen stated. “It has been discussed for years and we had long, serious discussions two or three years ago and now we can bring it to fruition.
“The fact that every province and territory, including Northern Ontario, will have an opportunity to participate is a huge breakthrough.”
Four teams will compete in the pre-qualifying round just before round-robin play begins to determine the final two entries in the Scotties.
“The way this will work is the 12th-place team coming out of (this year’s Scotties in) Montreal will be or can be challenged by the other three provinces or territories who won’t be part of this event in 2014,” explained Hansen.
“So, two teams from the territories and Northern Ontario will be having the opportunity to challenge the 12th-place team for the final spot.”
Northern Ontario has been a part of all of the Canadian championships except the Scotties since 1990. This event will be structured identically to the Tim Hortons Brier.
“I think the addition of Northern Ontario is going to make quite a difference,” Hansen said.
“Northern Ontario has traditionally produced some strong teams in men’s and women’s curling and I think it will ensure that we have another strong team that is going to be competitive for the event.”
The Scotties is earmarked for Mosaic Place from Feb. 14-22, 2015. The playoff will be held on the Thursday and Friday prior to the tournament beginning on the Saturday.
“It is a new approach and something different that is going to be happening here for the first time,” Hansen said.
“It will be a sudden-death type of playoff, but we aren’t 100-per-cent certain on the format of the playoff that will take place, but it will happen prior to the Scotties.”
The 2014 Scotties is set for Feb. 1-9.
For the story on the announcement of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, read here.
Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman.