The accomplishment of the Suzanne Birt rink at the recent Scotties was incredible. It’s equivalent is having the UPEI Hockey Panthers beat the Leafs and the Flyers in a round robin tournament.
P.E.I. skip Suzanne Birt directs the sweep as they play British Columbia in championship pool action at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S. on Feb. 21, 2019. – Canadian Press
Jennifer Jones, Rachel Homan, and company practice, play and workout almost year round. They travel all over the curling world starting as early as August and ending in late April. They are sponsored, endorsed, and for the most part, make their living curling. More importantly, these teams play all of their events and practice exclusively on ice that is “WCT or TV level.” Their ice is quicker and curls more than most club ice.
Amateur teams never experience this advantage as they are restricted from playing on the World Curling Tour by a clause that says you have to win your way onto the tour. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough spiels offering enough points for the average amateur team to “win its way.” Neat Catch 22.
One can only imagine how the Scotties and Brier would look if they were an equal playing field.
Al Ledgerwood is a former coach and player who coached at both the Scotties and the Brier, including Kathy O’Rourke when she won the silver medal at the 2010 Scotties.