Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Canada's curling teams will take a step closer toward representing the country at the 2022 Winter Olympics when they converge on Liverpool for the 2021 Home Hardware Curling Olympic Pre-trials October 26 to 31 at Queens Place Emera Centre.
That event will determine the final two men's and two women's teams that will compete at the 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials November 20 to 28 in Saskatoon, which in turn will decide Canada's four-player men's and women's teams for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
A total of nine teams of each gender will compete in Saskatoon.
The Queens Place event can't come soon enough for Greg Thorbourne, chair of the Liverpool Championship Host Society.
"The Liverpool Championship Host Society was very excited to get the news from Curling Canada that we will be hosting the 2021 Home Hardware Pre-Trials," said Thorbourne in a March 18 press release. "We are looking forward to welcoming another major curling event to Liverpool, and we'll be hard at work over the next several months to make it an outstanding event that will send all players and guests home with incredible memories."
Queens Place Emera Centre is no stranger to big curling events. In 2015, it hosted the Canadian Junior Curling championships, and in 2019 the World Junior Curling Championships.
This will be the fourth edition of the Home Hardware Curling Pre-Trials. Previous host cities were Prince George, B.C., in 2009; Kitchener, Ontario, in 2013; and Charlottetown in 2017.
"The South Shore of Nova Scotia is one of the most beautiful parts of our province, and the people there have shown repeatedly that they know how to put on major curling events," Virginia Jackson, the executive director of the Nova Scotia Curling Association, said in the release. "The curling teams that come to Liverpool will, of course, have the Olympics on their mind, but they will be treated to a first-class facility and first-class host committee, which will make it a first-class event," she added.
Teams already heading to the Tim Hortons Curling Trials in Saskatoon are Rachel Homan and John Epping, who are 2019 Home Hardware Canada Cup champions, and Kerri Einarson and Brad Gushue, 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts and 2020 Tim Hortons Brier champions.
Also going are Tracy Fleury and Jennifer Jones for the women, and Brendan Bottcher, Kevin Koe and Brad Jacobs. The teams finished in the top three of the Canadian Ranking system in either the 2018-19 or the 2019-20 seasons.
A further fall qualifying event before Liverpool's is yet to be scheduled. Liverpool will be the last opportunity for women's and men's teams to earn a spot to compete in Saskatoon.