Scotties Tournament of Hearts to go ahead without fans

Cardboard cut-out fans watch the action from the stands at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

THUNDER BAY, Ont. -- The Canadian women's curling championship has the green light to proceed in Thunder Bay.

The 18-team Scotties Tournament of Hearts at Fort William Gardens opens Jan. 28 without fans or media in the building because of the COVID-19 virus.

Ontario announced Thursday up to 500 fans will be allowed at sporting events starting Jan. 31, leaving the door open for the possibility of spectators the final three days Feb. 4-6.

"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," the national governing body of curling said Thursday in a statement.

Two pools of nine teams will be seeded based on their position in the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) as of Jan. 10 and play an eight-game round robin.

The top three teams in each pool advance to playoffs with the second and third in each crossing over for Page playoff qualifier games Feb. 4. The victors meet the winner of each pool for Page playoff seedings.

In the Page, the winner of the game between the top two seeds advances directly to the Feb. 6 final, while the loser meets the winner of the playoff between the third and fourth seeds for a berth in the final.

The winner represents Canada at the women's world championship March 19-27 in Prince George, B.C.

Pool A

Team Wild Card 1, Tracy Fleury
Team Wild Card 2, Chelsea Carey
Team Wild Card 3, Rachel Homan (NOTE – Homan will not be participating due to mixed doubles commitment at 2022 Olympic Winter Games; Emma Miskew will skip)
Saskatchewan, Penny Barker
Northern Ontario, Krista McCarville
New Brunswick, Andrea Crawford
Prince Edward Island, Suzanne Birt
Newfoundland & Labrador, Sarah Hill
Nunavut, Brigitte MacPhail

Pool B

Alberta, Laura Walker
Team Canada, Kerri Einarson
Manitoba, Mackenzie Zacharias
Ontario, Hollie Duncan
Northwest Territories, Kerry Galusha
Nova Scotia, Christina Black
British Columbia, Mary-Anne Arsenault
Quebec, Laurie St-Georges
Yukon, Hailey Birnie

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