Curling Canada to stick with 18-team format at men's and women's national playdowns

OTTAWA — Curling Canada will stick with its 18-team format at the men's and women's national championships this season.

The federation first used the format last year when the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts were held in a so-called bubble in Calgary due to the pandemic.

The 14 member associations will continue to be represented at the playdowns along with three wild-card teams (based on Canadian rankings) and the defending champion. The federation said the move to make the 18-team, two-pool format permanent was based on preliminary findings of a high-performance review.

"We’re embarking on some significant changes to ensure Canada is in the best possible position to achieve success on the world stage," Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson said Friday in a release.

"It’s been made clear to us throughout this review process as well as in consultation with our national stakeholders such as Own the Podium and Sport Canada that it is a fundamental priority to ensure that our best teams are part of our national championships, and keeping the 18-team format accomplishes that goal."

Curling Canada previously used a play-in game format on the eve of competition to determine a single wild-card team entry.

The federation's high-performance review is being finalized by a third-party consultant, who has spoken extensively to athletes, coaches and national stakeholders, Curling Canada said.

Curling Canada is searching for a new high-performance director after Gerry Peckham transitioned to a reduced role this season ahead of retirement.

Canada struggled on the international stage in the previous quadrennial. Canada settled for a men's bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics last winter and missed the playoffs in women's and mixed doubles play.

In last season's national playdowns, qualifying games were played ahead of seeding games to determine the matchups in the Page playoffs. The Wild Card One team skipped by Brad Gushue of St. John's, N.L., won the men's title and Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., defended her women's crown.

The 2023 Scotties will be played Feb. 17-26 in Kamloops, B.C., and the 2023 Brier is set for March 3-12 in London, Ont.

The national champions will represent Canada at the world championships later this season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 4, 2022.

The Canadian Press