Scotties Bubble Set for Thunder Bay

This year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts will look a lot like last year's event, which was held in a closed bubble in Calgary (Picture: Curling Canada).

By: Dylan Chenier

For the second-straight year, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts will be played in a closed bubble, without the presence of fans or media, as Curling Cannada has officially announced its plans for the 2022 national women's championship.

In a press release Thursday, officials outlined how the event will be run in accordance with Ontario public health measures, allowing for events of this nature to occur while most of the province remains under COVID-19 restrictions.

"With the advancement of the new Omicron variant we wanted to ensure Curling Canada set up the most effective health protocols possible to keep all participants at the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts safe," said Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson.

"We thank our partners in Ontario Health and the local health authority in Thunder Bay for helping us put together a plan to make this event a success."

As part of the approved framework, this year's Scotties will closely resemble last year's event in Calgary, at least from an operational perspective. The event will be strictly limited to athletes, coaches, volunteers, and officials; fans will once again be forced to watch from home.

Today's announcement of a bubble may come as a bit of a surprise to those who had hoped to attend the event in person, especially as the Ontario government is now set to allow up to 500 fans in sporting venues beginning January 31. However, Curling Canada has indicated they will consult with event stakeholders to consider whether to offer select ticket sales for the final two days of the competition.

"Curling Canada is erring on the side of caution and will not admit fans into the building during the round-robin even though public health guidelines allow it. We thank all curling fans for their patience and understanding as we manage this complex process as efficiently as possible."

Tuesday's announcement also confirmed the return of page playoffs at the Scotties, which were absent last year when the field was expanded to 18 teams.

While this year's event once again features 18 rinks, the format has been changed to include two pools of nine teams, who will compete in an eight-game round-robin.

At the conclusion of the round-robin, the top three rinks in each pool (as opposed to the top four) will advance to an expanded playoff, instead of a championship round.

The team ranked second and third in their respective pools will each crossover to play in page playoff qualifier games on Friday afternoon. The winners will then advance to play the top-ranked teams from pool play. The winners of those games go to the Page 1v2 game, while the losers will compete in the Page 3v4 game.

The remainder of the playoffs will be run using the familiar page playoff format, with the winner of the 1v2 game advancing to the championship final. The winner of the 3v4 game then moves on to play the loser of the 1v2 game in the semi-final on Sunday afternoon, with the winner advancing to the finals.

If necessary, only one tiebreaker game will be scheduled for Friday morning, for third-place only. If there is a tie between more than two teams for the spot, teams will be eliminated by head-to-head record first and then by accumulated last stone draw to determine the two teams that will play in the tiebreaker game. Tiebreaker games will only be played if teams have a better than .500 record (5-3 or better).

Officials did not indicate why the change in format was made. They did however state that the 2022 Brier will also follow the same format as this year's Scotties.

Here's a look at how the two pools are set up:

Pool A

1. Team Wild Card 1: Tracy Fleury (Selena Njegovan, Liz Fyfe, Kristin MacCuish, Robyn Njegovan, Sherry Middaugh; East St. Paul, Man.)

4. Team Wild Card 2: Chelsea Carey (Jolene Campbell, Stephanie Schmidt, Jennifer Armstrong, Rachel Erickson, Colin Hodgson; Regina)

5. Team Wild Card 3: Rachel Homan (NOTE - Homan will not be participating due to mixed doubles commitment at 2022 Olympic Winter Games; Emma Miskew to skip; Sarah Wilkes, Alli Flaxey, Joanne Courtney, Lynn Kreviazuk, Marcel Rocque; Ottawa)

8. Saskatchewan: Penny Barker (Christie Gamble, Jenna Enge, Danielle Sicinski, Amber Holland, Mark Lang; Moose Jaw, Sask.)

9. Northern Ontario: Krista McCarville (Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala, Sarah Potts, Jen Gates, Rick Lang; Thunder Bay, Ont.)

12. New Brunswick: Andrea Crawford (Andrea Crawford, Sylvie Quillian, Jill Babin, Katie Foward, Daryell Nowlan; Fredericton)

13. Prince Edward Island: Suzanne Birt (Marie Christianson, Meaghan Hughes, Michelle McQuaid, Kathy O'Rourke; Montague & Cornwall)

16. Newfoundland & Labrador: Sarah Hill (Kelli Sharpe, Beth Hamilton, Adrienne Mercer, Laura Phillips; St. John's)

17. Nunavut: Brigitte MacPhail (Sadie Pinksen, Kaitlin MacDonald, Alison Taylor, Donalda Mattie; Iqaluit)

Pool B

2. Alberta: Laura Walker (Kate Cameron, Taylor McDonald, Nadine Scotland, Dana Ferguson, Shannon Pynn; Edmonton)

3. Team Canada: Kerri Einarson (Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard, Briane Meilleur, Krysten Karwacki, Reid Carruthers; Gimli, Man.)

6. Manitoba: Mackenzie Zacharias (Karlee Burgess, Emily Zacharias, Lauren Lenentine, Lori Olson-Johns, Sheldon Zacharias; Altona)

7. Ontario, Hollie Duncan (Megan Balsdon, Rachelle Strybosch, Tess Bobbie, Julie Tippin, Barry Westman; Woodstock)

10. Northwest Territories: Kerry Galusha, lead stones, (Jo-Ann Rizzo, Sarah Koltun, Margot Flemming, Megan Koehler, Shona Barbour; Yellowknife)

11. Nova Scotia: Christina Black (Jenn Baxter, Karlee Everist, Shelley Barker, Carole MacLean, Stuart MacLean; Dartmouth)

14. British Columbia: Mary-Anne Arsenault (Jeanna Schraeder, Sasha Carter, Renee Simons, Morgan Muise, Gerry Richard; Kelowna)

15. Quebec: Laurie St-Georges (Hailey Armstrong, Emily Riley, Cynthia St-Georges, Alanna Routledge, Michel St-Georges; Glenmore & Laval-sur-le-Lac, Que.)

18. Yukon: Hailey Birnie (Patty Wallingham, Kerry Campbell, Kerry Campbell, Kim Tuor, Stephanie Brown, Bill Tschirhart; Whitehorse)

The 2022 Scotties Tournmanet of Hearts gets underway Friday, January 28th, 2022, with Draw 1 set for 7:00 PM ET in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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