Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brier 2012?

Well, holy crap but colour me excited by some news breaking out of the Brier this morning. And no, it's nothing to do with Brad Gushue and the Newfoundland and Labrador team. I'm not sure I'm allowed to watch them curl anymore, really.

No, the exciting news is that Nunavut could be at the Brier by 2012.

Well, it's maybe not quite that easy. But the news is intriguing.

The Canadian Curling Association is looking at creating a two-tier Brier. Basically Pool A and Pool B. Right now there would be about 15 teams interested in curling in the Brier. That would include all 13 provinces and territories, plus Northern Ontario and the CCA is looking at creating a Team Canada, much like women's curling already has.

What would happen is the the bottom one or two teams from a 12 team Pool A would get dropped to Pool B. The winner of Pool B would then get the chance to compete in the next Brier.

Or, put it this way....say Northern Ontario and PEI finished in the bottom two of the 2011 Brier. They would have to compete in Pool B with the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut. And if Nunavut and PEI won, they would get to compete in the 2012 Brier. The other three teams would have to sit it out for a year.

I speak for nobody but myself, but bring this on. I think this way you get the 12 best teams in the country competing in the Brier that's a good thing. It gets all provinces and territories involved, something that currently is not happening. And yes, Nunavut is still developing curling, but right now we're completely exempt from any of the big curling championships. No representation at all. And I don't think that's fair. Nunavut will have been a territory for 10 years on April 1. I don't think it's asking too much to be allowed to have a shot at participating at a national event.

I suspect the other provinces are going to be more squeamish about this. For example, Saskatchewan is having a terrible Brier this year, but have long considered themselves one of the most important curling provinces. Imagine the embarrassment of bring dropped to Pool B or the absolute horror if they didn't win Pool B and didn't make a Brier appearance.

Still, it would make those little, meaningless games at the end of the week, when 1-9 teams play each other have a bit intensity if they know the loser is going to have to force their province to re-qualify to make the Brier the next year.

And look, yes, I'm being selfish here. If I still lived in Newfoundland, there would be no chance in hell I'm ever competing at the Brier. Gushue has that locked for the next 20 years. But, by Nunavut standards, I'm not a bad curler. I'm on a team with some guys who will be competing for the right to take part in the Dominion National Club Championships in November and I think we have a reasonable shot.

But I thought if I lived up here another 20 years, I'd never see a window of opportunity to curl at the Brier. I'm not delusional, by the way. I know you still have to win in Nunavut and I expect the level of curling to get a lot better; the columnist in the linked story above joked a lot of curlers will move to Nunavut. It actually wouldn't surprise me if that happened.

Plus, you're going to see teams in Pool B that are going to curl a lot more than Nunavut teams are going to be able to. I've heard the commentators talk about how hard it is for the NWT/YK team because travel is so expensive for them. Guys, try living here. If a team from Iqaluit wanted to take part in a weekend bonspiel in Ottawa it would cost more than $6,000 in air fare alone to get there.

So no, I don't really expect to see Nunavut at the Brier in 2012. I don't expect to see myself at the Brier ever. But damn, if the door didn't just crack open and allow a little more light into a room that I thought would be pitch black forever.

Last Five
1. Wild horses - The Rolling Stones*
2. Back of my mind - The Pursuit of Happiness
3. Flying down Juniper - Lindsey Buckingham
4. Munich - Editors
5. Walk away - Franz Ferdinand

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