Curling Free Agency Period …

Yes, it’s actually called that.

I haven’t been paying much attention to curling because I knew that the women’s World Championships were canceled and figured that at least some of the remaining events on the Grand Slam would be canceled, and so there was no curling on TV for me to watch. I did watch a couple of re-runs, but now I’ve decided to use Dark Shadows as my noise while working and so am not even looking to see what’s running. As such, I didn’t bother checking in on the curling news, figuring that there wouldn’t be much happening, especially since the Olympics trials were coming up and so teams probably wouldn’t be making any major moves at the end of this season.

Oops.

Since I only really follow women’s curling, I’m only going to talk about the moves among the women and ignore the ones among the men. And there might be more changes than listed in that article, but I’m not going to try to dig them all up.

Let me start with the move that probably should be the biggest one but actually isn’t: the implosion of Chelsea Carey’s team. The front end moved on to join Kelsey Roque’s team, and the third went … somewhere I’ll talk about later, actually (savour the suspense!). This is a bit of a surprise because the team was generally fairly successful, particularly at national tournaments. However, she’s had teams dump her on multiple occasions in the past. I’ve found her to be a bit fragile emotionally and mentally, although she did seem to be much better this time around. Still, that her team would completely up and leave her is a bit worrying. People do think that she will find another team, but you have to wonder if she’s problematic in some way which causes teams to want to leave her at some point.

Also, surprisingly, Jamie Sinclair — who had won the Player’s Championship two years ago — was ditched by her team who decided to carry on without her. She was struggling for the past few seasons, but she had always been seen as a skilled curler, so it’s weird that they would just ditch her like that.

And most surprisingly at all, the generally rock solid, long-standing team of Rachel Homan has changed. Their long-time lead Lisa Weagle is out, and Sarah Wilkes — Chelsea Carey’s former third — is in at second, with long-time — but less than any of the others — second Joanne Courtney taking over at lead. This was a decision made by the team and from all of the reports Weagle didn’t hear anything about it until the decision was made. Homan had done well in national events this year but poorly on the Grand Slam, but for me it’s hard to see this as a curling decision, as Courtney seemed to be the weak link on the team whenever I watched them, not Weagle. There are comments that Wilkes is a much better sweeper than Weagle is, but even with that the combination were possibly the two best sweepers in the women’s game, so that doesn’t seem like a pressing need.

Now, what is interesting about this is that Wilkes lives in Alberta, which is where Courtney lives and where Homan’s husband lives and Homan herself now is going to school. There were some issues last year over a feeling that Homan was exploiting the rule about being able to play for your “home” residence while going to school to keep the team together. Wilkes was born in Toronto and from what has been said is using that to allow the team to remain an Ontario team — which makes me wonder why Homan didn’t just use that rule herself — but the fact that three of the four are from Alberta and you can have one dedicated import, along with the fact that Homan has been known to exploit rule loopholes in the past — I think that what she did was completely legitimate and within the rules, but being able to live with her husband while still having an “Ontario” team surely played a part in her thinking — makes me think that location is a bigger factor here than actual skill level. At a minimum, right now three of the four live in the same province, which makes getting together for practices a lot easier, especially since two of them — Homan and Courtney — are new parents with something else to place a demand on their time than curling. Eventually, Homan was going to lose the student exemption, and if Wilkes works out — and she has subbed on the team before — then they could convert from an Ontario team to an Alberta team simply based on residency. Also, Wilkes played third on Carey’s team, and I have commented before that Emma Miskew is running the team a lot more than Homan is at times. If Miskew decides to leave after this Olympic cycle to form her own team, Wilkes can easily slide back to third, Courtney can go back to second, and then they’d only need a new lead to fill out the team (and they have some options in the Kreviazuk family to possibly fill that hole).

Meanwhile, Weagle has joined Jennifer Jones’ team as an alternate. I can’t imagine that lasting for long, so either one of Jones’ team will be out, or Weagle will move on in fairly short order.

Anyway, lots of shuffling, and it may not be done yet.

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2 Responses to “Curling Free Agency Period …”

  1. Curling is back! | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] aren’t all that normal at the event.  Things wouldn’t have been all that normal considering all the changes that happened after the season was canceled, but the situation and the bubble and all sorts of other things are making things a lot […]

  2. Thoughts on the Champion’s Cup | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] in at skip.  I’ve noted in the past that she’s fully capable of skipping and that given the shuffle on Homan’s team the door is open for her to create her own team, so she might have a reason for wanting to get some […]

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