If it seems as if curling is making up for lost time due to Covid-19, you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.
The national championship season rolls on with the next big event starting this Monday in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. as the Canadian Seniors Curling Championships get underway. The NWT rinks hail from the Yellowknife Curling Club, with the women’s entry consisting of Sharon Cormier and her rink of Cheryl Tordoff, Marta Moir, Norma Jarvis and Kelly Kaylo. The men will be skipped by Glen Hudy, who leads the rink of Brian Kelln, Franz Dziuba and Richard Klakowich.
Both rinks won the right to represent the territory after winning the NWT Senior Curling Championships in January.
Cormier would have skipped the NWT at the 202o edition in B.C. had that not been cancelled due to Covid-19. She said she welcomes another crack at it.
“We have a couple of changes to our roster,” she said. “Marta is our second now and Norma is our new lead. It’s her first time playing at a national championship so she’s looking forward to that.”
At the 2019 championships, the last time the event was held, Cormier came within one game of making the championship round and a shot at the playoffs. She’s putting that close call out of mind.
“It’s a clean slate,” she said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time. Obviously, there will be teams we’ll do better against than others, but we have a tough pool.”
That pool includes Ontario and Alberta, skipped by Sherry Middaugh and Cheryl Bernard, respectively. Both of those competitors are past Scotties Tournament of Hearts champions. Bernard was also the Canadian women’s skip at the 2010 Winter Olympics. The other teams in the NWT’s pool include Nova Scotia — who the ladies will open things up against on Monday — Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and New Brunswick.
The ladies will get all day Sunday to practice, get accustomed to Eastern Time and get used to the ice, which will be club ice, something Cormier said will be more familiar to them.
“We’re used to playing on club ice,” she said. “Sherry and Cheryl played a lot on arena ice but it all depends on who picks up on it quicker.”
For the men, they’ll meet up on Saturday in Toronto to catch their flight to the Soo and hit the ice for practice on Sunday.
Kelln, who’s making the trip in from Saskatchewan following coaching the NWT’s girls entry at the World Junior Qualifier in Saskatoon last week, said the guys are looking forward to another chance to take on the country, even with less activity than usual.
“We haven’t had a lot of ice time,” he said. “We were delayed a month because of the (Covid-19) outbreak but we’ve been doing what we can — the boys back home have been practising and I’ve been on the ice here. We want to be competitive and win a couple of games, if we can.”
The men will kick things off against New Brunswick on Monday afternoon. In addition to them, the NWT contingent will square off with Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
“We’ve played Saskatchewan every time we’ve played at nationals and they’re always tough,” said Kelln. “Quebec is a younger team — early 50s — so they’ll be good. The good part about this is we’ll get better as it goes on. If the ice is keen, we should be able to adjust to it.”
What makes this different from other events, he added, is it’s more like a reunion than a bonspiel.
“The seniors is more social and it’s fun to play,” he said. “You always want to outcurl whoever you’re playing, but afterward you go and socialize and catch up with everyone.”