Longtime curling event director weighs in on alternate options for potential season

With some curling competitions already cancelled and the remainder of the 2020-21 season up within the air as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, the game is dealing with vital challenges because it seems forward to a potential resumption in a number of months time.

Empty arenas are the brand new regular because the sporting world slowly begins to come back again, and curling would doubtless have to comply with that lead. The game’s powerbrokers are persevering with to discover varied potentialities for competitions, however are hamstrung by uncertainty about potential restrictions.

The times of 1000’s of followers attending a weeklong bonspiel and jamming the close by celebration house are doubtless over for at the very least subsequent season, a critical blow to the underside line for a lot of occasions.

Warren Hansen, a Curling Canada Corridor of Famer who spent over twenty years operating occasion operations for the nationwide federation, says alternate plans could have to be made to at the very least get high competitions on tv.

“Discover an area that is near the airport, make a take care of some accommodations and try to stage the issues for at the very least your tv viewers,” Hansen stated.

With the potential for air journey skittishness or restrictions hampering transport, Hansen thinks holding occasions in main cities like Winnipeg or Calgary could be a strong various.

WATCH | Brad Gushue discusses cancelled world championships:

In an Instagram Dwell with our curling aficionado Devin Heroux, Brier 2020 champion Brad Gushue stated he was ‘dissatisfied however not shocked’ concerning the cancellation of the curling world championships. 1:34

That means, Hansen stated, many of the high curlers might in all probability drive to the competitors, including fields may very well be trimmed to the highest eight or 10 groups within the nation and held in a small rink to maintain prices down.

Each Curling Canada, which runs Season of Champions occasions just like the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Event of Hearts, and Sportsnet, which operates the Grand Slam circuit, haven’t introduced any modifications to their plans or schedules for subsequent season.

A number of lower-tier curling tour stops have been cancelled however the first top-flight occasion of the marketing campaign, the Masters in Sarnia-Lambton, Ont., stays a go for Oct. 20-25. The Scotties, in the meantime, is on faucet Feb. 20-28 in Thunder Bay, Ont., and the Brier is ready for March 6-14 in Kelowna, B.C.

The sports activities world, together with curling, primarily shut down final March when the pandemic hit. Golf, soccer and auto racing have began to come back again whereas different sports activities are taking steps to return this summer season or fall.

“I feel you are going to have a [TV] viewers that is so starved for any sport and starved for curling,” Hansen stated in a latest interview from Vancouver. “Should you’re one of many followers that exists, the audiences I feel will probably be good no matter what you do or the way you do it.

“And the matter of the entire response and the way it should work and the way it should be, you are by no means going to know till you attempt it.”

WATCH | Colleen Jones discusses nature of curling crew modifications:

On Instagram Dwell with Devin Heroux, the roller explains how being a lead is an artwork kind, and the way making too many modifications does not essentially enhance your crew. 2:30

Quite a lot of vital query marks stay on the curling entrance.

Many amenities across the nation could not reopen at their regular time. Groups could have problem with sponsorships given the financial downturn and the game’s uncertainty. Some gamers could must consider quarantine intervals to their schedules.

Different sports activities have made massive changes and curling could have to take action as properly. The NBA is planning to renew video games in late July on the Disney campus close to Orlando, Fla., and the NHL is exploring a summer season return in two hub cities.

“You have to in some way attempt to guarantee that your key properties are at the very least operated and televised,” stated Hansen, who has executed consulting work since leaving his longtime place at Curling Canada in 2015.

“And I feel that the televised finish of it will probably preserve issues rolling. For essentially the most half it will probably in all probability fulfill loads of the sponsor obligations.”

Host cities on the 2020-21 calendar are in a troublesome spot because the holding sample continues. Tickets have been bought, promotional work is underway and preparations proceed regardless of the uncertainty.

As well as, massive dates are quick approaching. The Olympic Trials are lower than a 12 months and a half away and the Beijing Video games are set for February 2022.

“I feel everyone’s going to must really feel their means together with it,” stated Hansen, who hosts the “Inside Curling” podcast with legendary skip Kevin Martin. “However … the important thing factor is within the sport of curling anyway, we have to guarantee that we do every thing we presumably can to maintain one thing forging forward not directly, form or kind.”

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