Curling’s season of big changes continues: Homan rink loses Kreviazuk

Curling's bombshell announcements just keep on coming.

Before the news of the break up of Jeff Stoughton's Manitoba champion team had a chance to sink in - and while so many rumours of more shuffling abound - comes word that a big change is coming on the women's side.

It's a shift that has ramifications in two provinces and for two high-profile teams.

Just two days after a crushing loss in the final at the World Women's Curling Championship, the Rachel Homan rink is altering its line-up. It's a change that affects not just Homan's two-time Canadian championship team, but also the 2014 Scotties runners-up from Alberta.

It does not, however, have anything to do with the disappointment of that 9-5 loss to Switzerland on Sunday night.

Alison Kreviazuk, the second on Team Homan, has announced that she's leaving the team for personal reasons, moving overseas to be with her boyfriend, Fredrik Lindberg, who plays second for the Niklas Edin team, in Sweden.

In a media release, on Tuesday, the Homan team announced that Kreviazuk would be replaced by Joanne Courtney, a rising star with the Edmonton team skipped by Val Sweeting.

“There are definitely mixed feelings,” said Homan, in the release. “We have been through everything together. Ali has been a big part of our team, our success, and our lives for a very long time. She is an amazing person on and off the ice and not someone who can easily be replaced. We are going to miss her and wish her nothing but the very best. We will all continue to stay the best of friends."

Kreviazuk had this to say, in the CCA release:

“Curling has been a huge part of my life for so many years, and I couldn’t have asked for better people to share it with, on and off the ice. I consider myself so incredibly lucky to have played the past 13 years with Emma (Miskew) and Rachel by my side, and four unforgettable years with Lisa (Weagle). All of these experiences couldn't be possible without the help of my three best friends. They are all incredible athletes who have showcased their talent and commitment to the game time and time again.”

As much as the talented Kreviazuk was an integral part of the rise and success of Homan's team, this is a move that could make the Canadian champions even stronger, believe it or not, while dealing a blow to Sweeting's up and coming squad.

Courtney is considered one of the top up-weight shooters in the women's game, and threw third stones for Sweeting. It's her sweeping ability that really catches the eye of curling fans, however, and she and Sweeting lead Rachelle Pidherny had formed perhaps the best brushing duo in all of women's curling.

"We feel Joanne is a great fit with our team and someone who shares our team goals and passion for the game," said Homan. "It will be a big change but we are excited that she has decided to join us for the next Olympic cycle.”

“I was honoured to be asked to join Team Homan,” Courtney is quoted as saying, in the CCA release.

“I have played against them on numerous occasions so I know what kind of talent they bring to the table. I know I have big shoes to fill in replacing Alison, and I can’t wait to get on the ice with them to start preparing for next season. I had a wonderful run with Val, Dana Ferguson and Rachelle Pidherny and I can’t thank them enough for our seasons together.”

While most of the media attention has been focussed on all the changes coming to rosters on the men's side, lately, women's curling in this country has seen a fair share of turbulence over the last few weeks as well.

It started when B.C.'s Kelly Scott announced that her team was disbanding and continued with the stunning announcement that reigning Manitoba champion, Chelsea Carey, was leaving that province to join forces with another rising star, Laura Crocker, in Alberta. There will be more changes coming, of course, with Sweeting now looking for a new teammate.

Kreviazuk will finish the season with Homan, with Courtney joining the team in time for next season.

This has been an uncanny blizzard of a few weeks in Canadian curling, with more dramatic announcements to come.

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