When the GNWT’s Emerging Wisely document was released – outlining the phased-in return to life in the territory – curling was originally in phase four.
That meant it could not return until a vaccine was ready.
It appears it won’t have to wait that long anymore.
NWT Curling announced on Thursday afternoon that return-to-play plans for Yellowknife, Inuvik and Fort Smith were approved by the chief public health officer. Hay River’s return-to-play plan was still awaiting approval as of Friday.
Nick Saturnino, NWT Curling’s president, said having three clubs opening up was news to his ears.
“We’re just waiting to hear on Hay River now but I don’t see any reason why their plan won’t get approved,” he said.
Saturnino, who lives in Inuvik, said everything should start on time in Inuvik, even with no ice being installed as of yet at the curling club there.
“Hockey is on board and the speed skating club are also preparing to return so that should give the town some justification to open things up at the arena,” he said.
The return-to-play plans for each club were based on Curling Canada’s document, which outlines what each club should be doing to ensure a safe season.
You can read that plan here.
Saturnino said there’s a meeting planned for this coming Monday to discuss how to proceed with the remainder of the championship season, which includes both the Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the men’s and women’s national championships respectively.
“We want to get an idea on what the clubs are planning to do and what Curling Canada will be doing for those events, as well as the (Canadian) mixed doubles championship,” he said.
“We also want to come up with a way to help keep the junior curlers engaged, even though there aren’t any national events for them this season.”
When the championship situation is figured out, Saturnino said there’s a good chance they will be held in Yellowknife as the Yellowknife Curling Centre has the biggest facility and more sheets to host events.
Jamie Koe will be one of those looking to play his way back to the Brier, if the playdowns happen.
But he’s just happy to know that curling will happen in some form this season.
“Something is definitely better than nothing,” he said. “They’ve got the plan now and they’ll work on getting the ice in so it’s just waiting to hear about what’s happening with the championships this year.”
In a previous interview, Saturnino said Curling Canada will want to hold both the Brier and Tournament of Hearts as they are the flagship events and Koe said he knows Curling Canada won’t want to cancel if they can help it.
“It’ll probably happen in a bubble with no fans but they just need to figure out how they’re going to host them, either with a full format or with something else in mind,” he said. “We’re seeing other sports happening and they’ve shown they can do it safely so it’s just a case of learning from what other sports have done and putting it into practice here.”