Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

World's biggest bonspiel open to women curlers in 2014

  • Print

The 125th MCA Bonspiel next January will be the final time the historic annual curling tournament will be played as a men’s only event, Curl Manitoba officials announced today.

But it will also be, in a strange way, the first time it is played as a men’s only event.

Regarded as the world’s biggest bonspiel, only men’s teams have ever played in the MCA Bonspiel. But the Free Press learned -- and reported -- last winter that there was technically nothing that had been stopping women’s teams from entering all those years because the MCA Bonspiel had actually been listed on Curl Manitoba’s books as an "open bonspiel" all along.

After the Free Press stories ran, a number of women’s curlers -- including former world champion Jennifer Jones -- expressed interest in entering this winter’s historic anniversary bonspiel and a number of women’s teams contacted Curl Manitoba offices about becoming the first to break the gender barrier by entering.

All of which caused some concern within Curl Manitoba that their plans to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the longest continuously running sporting event in this province would be overshadowed this winter by the fall of the gender barrier instead.

Curl Manitoba executive director Shane Ray said today that after a survey of the province’s curlers found an even split on whether this was the most appropriate winter to allow the gender barrier to finally fall, the decision was made to put a one-time rule in place just for this year’s event expressly prohibiting female curlers and then actively open up the event to both sexes beginning with the 126th renewal in 2014.

"It really was split down the middle -- 48 per cent in favour, 48 per cent opposed and 4 per cent who didn’t care," said Ray. "So we decided in the end to make this a men’s only event for just one more year and then open it up after that."

By opening up entries to women, organizers are also opening up the prospect of mixed teams entering. And it’s hoped that all those new potential entries will help reinject life -- and heft -- to an event that has seen entries steadily decline over the past decade from what used to be an annual count of at least 512 teams -- over 1,000 teams entered the 100th anniversary event in 1988 -- to something more in the range of the mid-300’s the past few years.

Winnipeg skip Chelsea Carey said today that she will almost certainly enter a team into the MCA Bonspiel in 2014, noting it would provide all the top women’s teams in the province a badly needed tuneup event in advance of the women’s provincials, which take place every year in the final week of January immediately following the end of the MCA Bonspiel.

"We have nothing in January. And you can’t get ice during the MCA because every club in the city and the surrounding area is used for the MCA. So we probably would (enter)," said Carey. "We have a month and a half (between their last curling event in mid-December and the women’s provincials). It’s terrible. So yeah, the MCA would be a good one because that timing is good for us."

The announcement of women being allowed into the MCA Bonspiel beginning in 2014 came on the same day, coincidentally enough, as officials also announced the creation of a whole new provincial mixed curling event -- the Manitoba Mixed Doubles Trials, to be played Feb. 15-17, 2013 at Wildewood Curling Club.

That event will be modelled on the mixed doubles format that has been played for years at the Continental Cup international curling event and the winner will advance to the inaugural Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials, Mar. 14-17 in Leduc, Alberta. The winner of that event will in turn go on to represent Canada at the 2013 World Mixed Doubles Championship in Fredericton, Apr. 13-20.

Curling officials believe a new and structured mixed doubles format that leads to a world championship will help bolster the sport’s pitch to the IOC that it should be added as a new medal event beginning with the 2018 Winter Olympics.

 

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Keri Latimer looks for beauty in the dark and the spaces between the notes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Ruth Bonneville Winnipeg Free Press January 18, 2011 Local Standup -
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should confessions extracted through Mr. Big police stings be admissible in court?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google