Brazil challenging Canada for world curling championship berth

Team Canada skip Brad Gushue calls a shot during the 13th draw against Japan at the Men's World Curling Championships in Edmonton, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

OTTAWA — Brazil has challenged world champion Canada for the right to compete in the 2018 men’s world curling championship.

The Americas Zone is guaranteed two spots in the world championship March 31 to April 8 in Las Vegas.

Since the United States gets an automatic berth as the host country, other countries in the zone can challenge Canada, Curling Canada announced Thursday in a release.

Brazil, ranked No. 44 in the world in men’s curling, was the only country to offer to step into the rink against No. 1 Canada.

A best-of-five series will be held Jan. 11-14 in London, Ont., alongside the World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling pitting North America against Europe and Asia in a Ryder-Cup style competition.

In previous years, the Brazilians have challenged the U.S. four times — in 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2017 — and were swept in three straight games each year.

Canada has until Dec. 31 to name a men’s team for the challenge. Brad Gushue’s team from Newfoundland and Labrador claimed the 2017 world title in Edmonton.

"This is a little out of the ordinary for our program, but we will be taking this seriously," Curling Canada high-performance director Gerry Peckham said in the statement.

"We have a proud tradition of performing at a high level on the international stage, and we’ll have a quality team in London to play against Brazil."

A fourth sheet of ice will be installed in London to accommodate the challenge series.

Also, Russia’s Anna Sidorova has withdrawn from the world team for the Continental Cup because it conflicts with the team’s training schedule for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Japan’s Olympic team, skipped by Satsuki Fujisawa, will replace Sidorova’s foursome.

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