Northern Ontario third Ryan Fry makes a shot as his team plays Newfoundland and Labrador during curling action at the Brier in Calgary, Thursday, March 5, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

In the Rings: Jacobs ices third different lineup in three events as Fry returns

After avoiding public comment since his ejection from the Red Deer Curling Classic, Ryan Fry returns to the spotlight this week as the Grand Slam series makes a stop in North Battleford, Sask., for the Canadian Open.

It’s unclear whether Fry will discuss his disqualification and the steps he took during a seven-week break to focus on growth and self-improvement. His return to Team Brad Jacobs was confirmed on New Year’s Day and he’ll be in the lineup for Wednesday’s opener against Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz.

“I think the story kind of grew a life of its own and I’m sure he regrets what happened,” said curling commentator Mike Harris. “But I would anticipate that they get back at it pretty quickly and pretty readily. I don’t see there being a whole lot of pushback from the players, for example. The challenge is going to be with Brad himself.

“They obviously would have felt some pressure from sponsors and whatnot to address what happened in a reasonable and quick manner. So I’m hopeful that everything will focus back on curling. That’s what I’m hoping for for that team and we’ll see how it goes.”

Fry, who was playing as a substitute at the World Curling Tour event in mid-November, was kicked out along with teammates Jamie Koe, Chris Schille and DJ Kidby. Organizers said the disqualification stemmed from unsportsmanlike behaviour resulting from excessive drinking.

All four players issued statements to apologize for their actions.

Fry, who recently declined an interview request, has kept a low profile and has only weighed in via social media on rare occasions since the bonspiel. He posted an apology statement on Twitter on Nov. 21 and didn’t post again until Jan. 1, the same day the team announced it was excited to confirm Fry’s return.

The team used a pair of substitutes while Fry was away. Jacobs won the Canada Cup with Marc Kennedy at third last month and the team reached the quarterfinal at the National a week later with Matt Wozniak in the lineup.

“Obviously Ryan is under a microscope right now,” said Harris, a Sportsnet broadcaster and 1998 Olympian.

Jacobs, Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden won gold at the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia, a year after winning the Tim Hortons Brier and a world silver medal.

Former Team Rachel Homan coach Adam Kingsbury started working with the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.-based rink this season. A PhD candidate in clinical psychology, Kingsbury specializes in helping players with mental preparation.

Jacobs has risen to the No. 3 spot in the world rankings behind Kevin Koe and Niklas Edin.

“There’s no lack of commitment or talent there,” Harris said. “Certainly they needed to change something to get back to their winning ways and it’s worked. So I look forward to seeing what (else) Adam can do to help them. He’ll certainly help a lot with this transition as Ryan comes back into the mix.

“You’ve got three new players (in) three events, they’ve got the perfect coach for that.”

Jacobs won the Tour Challenge on the Grand Slam circuit earlier this season and finished second at the Shorty Jenkins Classic.

The Canadian Open uses a triple knockout format. The first draw is set for Tuesday night at the Civic Centre with play continuing through the weekend playoffs.

“This is the last Slam before the (provincial) playdowns start,” Harris said. “All of the teams will want to be peaking if you can for the next couple months of curling.”


Former Curling Canada chief executive officer Greg Stremlaw will be leaving the CBC later this month, ending a run of three-plus years as the network’s head of sports.

News broke Tuesday morning when CBC staffers were issued a memo confirming that Stremlaw will soon become the chief executive officer and president of an unnamed professional sports franchise.

Stremlaw spent eight years as Curling Canada’s CEO before joining the CBC. Details on his new position were expected to be announced Monday.


The field is set for this month’s Canadian junior curling championships in Prince Albert, Sask.

B.C.’s Tyler Tardi and Northern Ontario’s Tanner Horgan are some of the rinks in the 14-team men’s draw. Nova Scotia’s Kaitlyn Jones is a favourite in the 13-team women’s field.

The Jan. 19-27 competition will be held at the Art Hauser Centre and the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club.

The winners will represent Canada at the Feb. 17-24 world junior championships in Liverpool, N.S.

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