Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Olympic Curling Trials on the Minds of Brier Teams Still Chasing a Berth

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Olympic Curling Trials on the Minds of Brier Teams Still Chasing a Berth

Article excerpt

Trials on the minds of some Brier teams

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EDMONTON - There's a subtle class system at the Canadian men's curling championship.

There are the three men's teams that already have an Olympic trials berth, and the others scrambling to join them.

The trials that will determine Canada's men's and women's curling teams at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, are scheduled for Dec. 1-8 in Winnipeg. Eight men's and eight women's teams will vie for the right to wear the Maple Leaf in Sochi.

Alberta's Kevin Martin, the reigning Olympic men's champion, Ontario's Glenn Howard and Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton, who are coincidentally the favourites to win the Tim Hortons Brier this week, have their trials berths locked down.

On the women's side, Manitoba's Jennifer Jones, Alberta's Heather Nedohin and Saskatchewan's Stephanie Lawton have filled three trials spots.

Three more men's and three more women's teams will be determined by May 1, which puts pressure over the final weeks of this season on teams with Olympic aspirations.

The remaining four - two men's and two women's teams - will come out of a November pre-trials event in Kitchener, Ont.

Stoughton punched his direct ticket to trials by winning the Canada Cup in December. The Winnipeg skip says it felt like a burden lifted.

"We had talked over the summer that our No. 1 goal was to get to the trials as soon as possible," Stoughton said. "It was a great feeling to be able to pull something off like that and a huge relief when it was done.

"It took some of the pressure off where we could just try and perform. Once we got the trials spot, we re-jigged our goals for the rest of the year."

There isn't a short explanation on how teams get to trials and pre-trials. The Canadian Curling Association's website lays it out and even has a section on who would be in and who would be out if the trials and pre-trials started today.

The best way to put it is the winners of curling's major events between the start of 2011 and the end of April either have a trials berth locked up or are positioned to claim one.

Teams accumulate points from their results at World Curling Tour events and provincial, national and world championships and are then ranked in the CCA's Canadian Team Ranking System. …

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