Curling Canada tweaks journey to Winter Olympics for teams, mixed doubles

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Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes, right, and John Morris wait for their turn during their mixed doubles curling finals match against Switzerland at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Canada won the gold medal. (Aaron Favila/AP)

OTTAWA — Canada’s national curling champions no longer have to win a medal at the world championship to book a berth in the Olympic trials.

Curling Canada released its 2022 Olympic Games qualification criteria for teams and mixed doubles Wednesday.

The country’s representatives in men’s and women’s team curling in Beijing will emerge from the 18-team Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Saskatoon from Nov. 27 to Dec. 5, 2021.

The mixed doubles duo attempting to defend the gold claimed by John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes in 2018 will be determined Jan. 3-9, 2022, in a community yet to be announced.

"The next two years will be challenging, but having these formats in place will give our teams something tangible to prepare for, and I am confident they’ll be ready to perform at peak levels when the time comes," Curling Canada’s high-performance director Gerry Peckham said in a statement.

The Roar of the Rings tournament format remains unchanged from the 2017 trials in Ottawa. The men’s and women’s fields will be nine teams per gender with the top three advancing to playoffs.

The top seed earns a bye to the final, while the second and third seeds meet in a semifinal.

The Roar of the Rings field will include the winners of the 2020 and 2021 national women’s and men’s championships — the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier respectively.

Curling Canada required national champions to also medal at world championships to seal their invitation to the 2017 trials, but that requirement has been dropped for 2021.

The trials field will also include the 2019 and 2020 Home Hardware Canada Cup champions, the highest non-qualified teams in the Canadian Team Ranking Systems (CTRS) and winners of the pre-trials qualifying tournament.

Two men’s teams and two women’s teams will join the trials field from the pre-trials tournament Oct. 26-31 at a location yet to be named.

Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones are already in the pre-trials by virtue of winning the 2018 Canada Cup, but they’ll attempt to lock down trials spots over the next two years.

Mixed doubles made its Olympic debut in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with Canadians claiming the first gold medal in the event.

Canada’s trials field for 2022 will be reduced to 16 teams from 18 and split into two eight-team pools.

The top seeds in each group plus the next four best records advance to a six-team modified double knockout playoff.

The 2020 and 2021 Canadian mixed doubles champions, regional championship winners and the top teams in the Canadian Mixed Doubles Rankings (CMDR) in 2020 and 2021 qualify for trials.

As was the case for the 2018 Olympics, curlers from teams who win the Roar of the Rings are not eligible to compete in the mixed doubles trials and represent Canada in both disciplines at the games.

Canada still has to qualify as a country to compete in curling in Beijing. China has an automatic berth as the host country.

The Olympic fields in each discipline — men’s and women’s team curling and mixed doubles — will be determined by results at the 2020 and 2021 world championships as well as last-chance qualifiers in December 2021.

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