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JONES: Time for the lights, the camera, the action on Alberta Curling Provincials

The 50 percent capacity, no food, no drink, no party restrictions took away what was expected. But they still have TV

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It’s always an event in itself in a city like Grande Prairie when Dome TV production trucks roll into town.

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It’s not quite like the GP circus cars on the Wapity 100 years ago, but it has become an event.
It won’t exactly be a first here when Rob Faulds, Joan McCusker and Kevin Martin begin the first celebration of the new era of the Alberta Championships curling combination with a pair of semi-finals airing Saturday on Sportsnet One, followed by of the two finals on all four Sportsnet channels, including SN West on Sunday.

Vic Rauter and Team TSN were in Grande Prairie to broadcast the 2006 Women’s World Championship, the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup and the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

And the 2,800-seat arena was built as the centerpiece of the 1995 Canada Winter Games.

But with the situation involving the coronavirus pandemic and the number of competitions that have been canceled, it has become a significant event that it will hold the attention of Canadian curling fans because it is the only show that is yet to be seen. To do.

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The Olympic mixed doubles qualifications in Portage LaPrairie, Man., Have been canceled. The Canadian juniors in Timmins, Ont., Have been canceled. And the last slam before the Olympics in Camrose has also been closed.

But the celebration of the sport that Curling Alberta created before the pandemic in a new entity has survived to become an occasion at this location with the national television deal previously put in place throughout the weekend acting as much on the storyline as it is on. event on the ice, itself.

Yes, the 50 percent capacity, no food, no drink, no party restrictions took away what was planned. But they still have television.

As the TV people headed to the town of 69,088 located 358 km northwest of Edmonton and 131 km from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, in the heart of the Peace region, where it was minus -33 ° C Thursday morning was the day it all became clear what television audiences would be faced with.

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Kevin Koe, hoping to win his 10th trip to the Tim Hortons Brier, won the A-Round final of the Boston Pizza Cup to ensure he would be there for the weekend.

Koe scored three runs in the first end on Thursday and there was nothing to sharpen anyone as he, BJ Neufeld, John Morris and Ben Hebert fended off Karsten Sturmay of Edmonton 9-1 to get qualify for the game 1-2.

Calgary’s Sturmay and Jeremy Harty, whom Koe beat in his previous 8-4 game, remained in position to make the televised matches for the bunk in the Tim Hortons Brier from March 4-13 in Lethbridge, though one from them can bring down Koe. when they turn on the cameras.

It is with women that it is much more convincing.

When the TV Trucks arrived, Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge and Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton were unbeaten with Laura Walker of Edmonton with a loss to Scheidegger.

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All three teams emerged from the round robin tournament in the Sentinel Storage Alberta Scotties, heading into televised showdowns to determine a spot or two in the annual Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

When they came to the rink on Thursday, they were told it could now take place from January 28 to February. 5 in Thunder Bay, Ont., With the gates to Fort William Gardens closed to fans due to a four-week provincial government lockdown.

Essentially Rocque or Scheidegger have to win the final on Sunday. If either of them succeeds, Walker will also head to the lakeside for a wildcard match against Manitoba’s Tracy Fluery.

If Walker wins Alberta, Scheidegger and Rocque are too far down the Canadian team standings to qualify for the wildcard game.

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“Things change in no time at all and I think we’re up to anything,” Rocque said of the mental battle. “We’re taking these provincial championships one day at a time and are just grateful that we even have the opportunity to compete no matter what the consequences might be. The arena is amazing, the ice is excellent and the volunteers have been exceptional. We’ll just keep playing until they tell us to stop.

Walker said you only care about what you can control.

“We’re focused on the event right now and winning here. What will be will be.”

You almost expected her to produce her best Doris Day impersonation and sing ” That will be . “

As for the men’s triple knockout event, Koe only needs two more wins to travel to Lethbridge and join defending Brier champion Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton who will play for Team Canada.

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And even if Koe were to lose to Sturmay or Harty in Saturday’s semi-final or Sunday’s final, he’s guaranteed a spot in the wildcard match at the Brier.

Koe said it would be interesting to see how the young teams bounce back when they play on the big stage reserved for them with the opportunity that presented itself during a pandemic.

“It’s tough for young teams to break through all the time and it’s been like that in Alberta for a long time,” he said of Randy Ferbey, himself and Kevin Martin having each won four Briers during the course. of the last quarter of a century.

“Bottcher was the only exception,” he said. “Going on national television for them can do nothing but help in the long run, win or lose. “

Lights. Camera. Action.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @byterryjones

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