ORLEANS, Ont. — Curling Canada has expanded the field of a pre-trials qualifying event for the Olympic Games.
The addition of rinks skipped by Mark Bice of Sarnia, Ont., Jamie Murphy of Halifax, Karla Thompson of Kamloops, B.C., and Winnipeg’s Briane Meilleur and Shannon Birchard brings the number of teams invited to the Road to the Roar Pre-Trials to 28.
The top two men’s and women’s teams in the Nov. 6-12 competition in Summerside, P.E.I., gain berths into the Olympic Trials Dec. 2-10 in Ottawa.
The victors in Ottawa will wear the Maple Leaf in men’s and women’s curling next year in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Curling Canada said Meilleur and Thompson finished "in a virtual tie" for the 12th and final berth in the women’s pre-trials field.
"Because the race was so tight for the final available berths into the pre-trials, rather than force teams into tiebreaker scenarios, the decision was made to add teams to the field," Curling Canada said Friday in a statement.
The teams were added based on their performance on the 2016-17 Canadian Team Ranking System.
"It’s important that teams get a chance to perform under these circumstances, not just for this Olympic cycle, for the future as well," said high-performance director Gerry Peckham. "This was the most equitable solution, not to mention the most beneficial as we look beyond 2018. This event is as much about getting teams ready for 2022 and 2026 as it is about 2018.
"It’s yet another reminder that the Olympic qualification process truly is the engine that drives competitive curling in our country."
Curling teams often change their lineups from season to season, but those invited to pre-trials must retain at least three members who earned the qualifying berth or they won’t be eligible to participate, according to Curling Canada.
The current men’s field for the pre-trials also includes: Greg Balsdon, Kingston, Ont.; Brendan Bottcher, Edmonton; Adam Casey, Charlottetown; Dayna Deruelle, Brampton, Ont.; Matt Dunstone, Winnipeg; Jason Gunnlaugson, Winnipeg; Glenn Howard, Penetanguishene, Ont.; Bruce Korte, Saskatoon; William Lyburn, Winnipeg; Jean-Michel Menard, Gatineau, Que.; John Morris, Kelowna, B.C.; Charley Thomas, Calgary.
The current women’s field includes: Nadine Chyz, Calgary; Kerri Einarson, Winnipeg; Tracy Fleury, Sudbury, Ont.; Jacqueline Harrison, Mississauga, Ont.; Shannon Kleibrink, Okotoks, Alta.; Stefanie Lawton, Saskatoon; Krista McCarville, Thunder Bay, Ont.; Sherry Middaugh, Coldwater, Ont.; Darcy Robertson, Winnipeg; Kelsey Rocque, Edmonton; Julie Tippin, Woodstock, Ont.