SUMMERSIDE – Some of Canada’s best curling teams have a chance to take a significant step towards their gold-medal dreams next week.
The 2017 Home Hardware Road to the Roar Pre-Trials gets underway at Credit Union Place on Monday.
A total of 28 teams – 14 men and 14 women – will be pursuing the final two berths available to each gender in the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Ottawa from Dec. 2 to 10.
That’s where Canada’s men’s and women’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be decided – the rinks that will attempt to defend the gold medals won by Team Jennifer Jones and Team Brad Jacobs at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
The Road to the Roar kicks off with two rounds of competition on Monday – at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. (all times Atlantic). Then, from Tuesday through Friday, it will be four round-robin draws per day – 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m., and 8 p.m.
The teams will be seeded one through 14 based on their 2016-17 Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) points, and then split into two pools of seven for the round-robin competition.
The top three teams from each pool will advance to the playoffs beginning on Saturday, Nov. 11, with the first- and second-place teams crossing over to meet each other in the first round of the A-side. The winners will then meet for the first Roar of the Rings berth.
The first-round losers will drop to meet the third-place teams in each pool in the first round of the B-side. The winners of the two games will then meet, with the winner taking on the A-side final loser for the second Roar of the Rings berth.
Two former Olympic medallists will compete in Summerside. On the men’s side, John Morris, who won gold playing third for Kevin Martin in 2010 at Vancouver, is skipping his team from Vernon, B.C.
On the women’s side, Shannon Kleibrink of Okotoks, Alta., a bronze-medallist skip in 2006 at Torino, Italy, is looking for her fourth trip to the Olympic qualifying event.
Morris also participated in the 2013 Road to the Roar, and along with Jacobs qualified for the Roar of the Rings in Winnipeg. Those teams would meet in the Roar of the Rings final, with Jacobs coming out on top.
Four-time world men’s champ Glenn Howard of Etobicoke, Ont., has had to make a late lineup change in advance of the Home Hardware Road to the Roar. Knee problems forced vice-skip Richard Hart to step aside and assume coaching duties for the team, with Adam Spencer moving from the alternate to vice-skip slot.
There is a Prince Edward Island angle to the Road to the Roar as Charlottetown resident and Seven Mile Bay native Adam Casey is skipping a team that’s based in Regina. Casey is a product of the junior program at the Silver Fox Entertainment Complex in Summerside.
Road to the Roar rinks:
Adam Casey, Regina, Sask.
John Morris, Vernon B.C.
Glenn Howard, Etobicoke, Ont.
Jamie Murphy, Halifax, N.S.
Jean-Michel Ménard, Saint-Romuald, Que.
Greg Balsdon, Kingston, Ont.
Mark Bice, Sarnia, Ont.
Dayna Deruelle, Brampton, Ont.
William Lyburn, Winnipeg, Man.
Pat Simmons, Winnipeg, Man.
Jason Gunnlaugson, Winnipeg, Man.
Colton Flasch, Saskatoon, Sask.
Charley Thomas, Edmonton, Alta.
Brendan Bottcher, Edmonton, Alta.
Shannon Kleibrink of Okotoks, Alta.
Theresa Breen, Halifax, N.S.
Sherry Middaugh, Coldwater, Ont.
Julie Tippin, Woodstock, Ont.
Jacqueline Harrison, Mississauga, Ont.
Tracy Fleury, Sudbury, Ont.
Briane Meilleur, Winnipeg, Man.
Darcy Robertson, Winnipeg, Man.
Shannon Birchard, Winnipeg, Man.
Kerri Einarson, East St. Paul, Man.
Nadine Scotland, Calgary, Alta.
Karla Thompson, Kamloops, B.C.
Kelsey Rocque, Edmonton, Alta.
Krista McCarville, Thunder Bay, Ont.