Curling Canada is hoping an ongoing high-performance review will help put the federation on track for success after a disappointing showing on the international stage last season.
Canada’s lone curling medal at the Beijing Olympics was a men’s bronze and the gold shutout continued at the world championships.
One of the top priorities on the organization’s to-do list for the new quadrennial is hiring a high-performance director to succeed Gerry Peckham, who is serving as a consultant ahead of retirement.
Chief executive officer Kathy Henderson said Curling Canada received an “enthusiastic and highly skilled response” from the curling market and high-performance community for the position.
“We have a panel of internal experts and someone from Own the Podium is working with us and we are hoping to have someone announced hopefully in January,” Henderson said.
Peckham, who has spent over three decades with the organization, guided a program that excelled for many years on the international stage but often underperformed at major events over the last two quads.
“We want the same excellence and we want the same medals,” Henderson said. “But we have to work harder for them and it’s going to be incremental.”
Preliminary findings from the high-performance review did yield one notable early-season announcement. The 18-team, two-pool format will become permanent at the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Additional announcements are expected once the review is complete.
“This is a funny year because there’s a lot of recovery involved in it and there’s a lot of reflection,” Henderson told The Canadian Press from Toronto. “So we’re recovering and we’re reflecting right now.
“But I would say probably starting in April you’ll see some shifts and some changes that we’re going to stick to for the quad.”
Qualification details and dates for the Olympic trials and mixed doubles trials have yet to be announced. The timing of those playdowns has been the subject of much debate.
The team trials are traditionally held about two months out from the start of the Games. The mixed doubles trials wrap up about a month before the opening ceremony.
Critics feel the preparation period is too short under the current setup. Proponents argue the schedule allows for representation from curlers who are peaking at the right time.
Canada didn’t reach the team podium at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games although John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes won gold in the Olympic debut of mixed doubles.
Four years later in Beijing, the Canadian women’s and mixed doubles teams missed the playoffs. Brad Gushue’s men’s side salvaged a third-place finish.
World championship results have also sagged in recent seasons.
Canada’s last women’s world title came in 2018 when Jennifer Jones won gold in North Bay, Ont. Canada’s last men’s world title came in 2017 when Gushue was victorious in Edmonton.
Canada’s best result at the world mixed doubles championship has been silver (in 2017 and ‘19).
The six-event Grand Slam of Curling circuit has resumed for 2022-23 but the first Season of Champions calendar of the four-year cycle has a new look.
The inaugural PointsBet Invitational kicked things off in September on a schedule highlighted by the national championships but one that no longer includes the Canada Cup or Continental Cup.
“I think next year you’ll probably see some changes in the lineup,” Henderson said. “We may add another event.”
This will be the last season with Tim Hortons as the title sponsor of the Brier and the Canadian Curling Trials.
The restaurant chain first sponsored the Brier in 2005 and has been a partner with Curling Canada since 1996.
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press