Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Championship 3-tier system best, say vets

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STEINBACH -- AT first glance it's a little confusing, but veteran Manitoba curlers will tell you the three-tier championship system used at the provincial men's Safeway Championship is the best around.

"I'm a big proponent of the 32-team system," said Stony Mountain's Randy Dutiaume, the provincial champ in 2005. "This is an event. It prepares Manitoba's team for the Brier.

"There are lots of guys that want to whittle it down, but not me. We need to change how guys qualify for this event. That needs to be changed.

"This is more of a bonspiel. You look at the guys in the Slam events, there are no chubby guys like you have in this guy from Stony Mountain."

Curl Manitoba invites the 32 best teams from across the province to convene for a week-long championship bonspiel that consists of two double knockout portions and a four-team Page playoff championship round.

Some will argue the field is too cumbersome at 32, but it's like the NCAA men's basketball tournament, with the chance of a Cinderella rising from the lower seeds and giving the weekend a charge.

Teams kicked off the contest Wednesday and by the end of Thursday's action they would be down to 16 teams.

Midway through today, the field will be cut to its final eight and the championship Page playoff will begin Saturday at 7 p.m.

The top two qualifiers will square off, with the winner going straight to Sunday afternoon's final. The loser drops to a Sunday-morning semifinal.

Qualifiers three and four will also meet Saturday night, with the winner advancing to the semifinal and the loser being eliminated.

Sunday's championship match is set for 2 p.m. and can be watched live on Shaw TV.

-- Lawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 12, 2010 C2

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