Men’s world curling championship in Calgary concludes amid COVID scare

Men’s world curling championship in Calgary concludes amid COVID scare

CALGARY — Niklas Edin’s fifth world men’s curling title was memorable not only because of the history the Swede made.

That he and his teammates were able to play in a final Sunday for a third straight crown — another men’s curling record — made achieving both milestones feel even sweeter.

Sweden doubled Scotland’s Bruce Mouat 10-5 in the championship game in Calgary.

The 2021 BKT Tires and OK Tire World Men’s Curling Championship reached the finish line late Sunday night despite four participants, including an athlete on a playoff team, testing positive for COVID-19.

None showed symptoms of the coronavirus. No games were played Saturday while mass testing was carried out. Alberta Health approved the resumption of Sunday’s playoffs.

“Obviously super, super happy we could keep playing,” Edin said. “It would have felt so awkward if the event had just ended and medals are going somewhere because of a round robin.

“That just wouldn’t have been fair. That wouldn’t have felt good. I’m really happy we could play today.”

Edin and his third Oscar Erikkson are the only two men to win five world championships. Along with second Rasmus Wranaa and lead Christoffer Sundgren, they were the first team to win three in a row.

Canada’s only large-scale sports events since the global pandemic descended just over a year ago have been the world junior men’s hockey championship and last year’s NHL playoffs in Edmonton, and Calgary’s run of seven curling competitions with four now complete.

The men’s championship’s final day reflected the varying levels of risk tolerance around the virus clashing with a desire for sport to happen.

The athlete who competed Sunday had tested positive in an “exit” test in preparation to leave the curling bubble. His subsequent test Saturday was negative.

The WCF initially barred the athlete from competing Sunday and then allowed him on the ice.

His full vaccination before arriving in Canada, and the argument he posed little risk to teammates and opponents, were the WCF’s justifications for the reversal.

The WCF didn’t identify the player, but United States skip John Shuster told CBC it was his third Chris Plys.

Host broadcaster TSN refused to carry a morning playoff game between the U.S. and Switzerland citing COVID concerns.

TSN resumed coverage of the semifinals and medal games without cameramen at ice level.

Curlers wore masks while competing for the first time in Calgary’s bubble. Sweepers pulled them away from their faces to catch their breath after hard brushing.

The next three curling events in Calgary include the same virus-avoidance protocols and restrictions established in the first four.

The first of two Grand Slams starts Wednesday at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre.

While the WCF and Curling Canada can hand off responsibility for the events to Rogers Sportsnet, athletes continuing to curl in Calgary now have reason to feel uneasy about the virus’s ability to infiltrate their environment.

The Canadian men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championship before the world championship ran uninterrupted by the virus.

During a media conference call Saturday, Curling Canada and WCF officials were visibly rattled by the virus surfacing in the latter stages of their event.

The men quarantined for a week and were tested four times before they were cleared to compete.

Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz won the bronze medal Sunday in a 6-5 win over Russia’s Sergey Glukhov.

Four teams from the world championship — Edin, Mouat, de Cruz, and Canada’s Brendan Bottcher — are among those competing for a combined $560,000 in prize money in the Grand Slams, which feature top domestic and international teams.

Kerri Einarson, who will represent Canada at the women’s world championship April 30 to May 9 in Calgary, is also in the Grand Slam fields.

The chief medical officer of Calgary’s curling hub believes a COVID-free environment can be restored in between competitions.

“Our protocols we felt were appropriate to maintain a safe environment,” Dr. Bob McCormack said.

“We’re also in communication with Alberta Health to make sure that we can re-establish a clean and safe competitive environment and bubble so this doesn’t become a problem for future events.

“We’re not a sport that’s a collision sport, not heavy sweating and breathing on each other in close quarters.

“If things change, if somehow the virus gets into the bubble and we come aware of it, then we have to deal with it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

curling

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

If you're heading out to the West Country have a plan in case things go wrong, says Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services fire chief Steve Debienne.
(Photo from CRFRS Facebook)
West Country visitors should have an emergency plan: regional fire chief

Cellphones can’t be relied on in many back country areas

Rode
Sarcevic leads an impressive list of additions to RDC Kings soccer

In 2019 the RDC Kings soccer program took a major step forward… Continue reading

The Red Deer PCN Women's Fun Run will take on a different look this weekend with rising COVID-19 numbers.
Women’s Fun Run goes ahead this weekend in Red Deer

With new public health measures in place because of rising COVID-19 case… Continue reading

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw asked Albertans to limit travel throughout the province as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears 900 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports additional 2,211 COVID-19 cases

David Eggen, the NDP’s advanced education critic, said the UCP government has been focused on cutting funding to post-secondary institutions across Alberta. (Contributed photo)
NDP worry new status for Red Deer College doesn’t mean more funding

This week the province announced that RDC will become a polytechnic institute

Alberta Health Services locked the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror on Wednesday morning after owner Christopher Scott refused to comply with health orders. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
UPDATED: AHS shuts down Whistle Stop Cafe for defying health orders

Justice minister promises to get tough with those ignoring public health orders

Wizards beat Raptors in OT, Toronto playoff bid nearly over

Wizards beat Raptors in OT, Toronto playoff bid nearly over

Toronto Blue Jays' Teoscar Hernandez (37) hits a single to drive in two runs against the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Grichuk drives in 5, Jays beat A’s 10-4 for series split

Grichuk drives in 5, Jays beat A’s 10-4 for series split

Canada's Sports Hall of Fame 2019 inductee Jayna Hefford speaks in Toronto on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Three Canadian teams to play in women’s hockey Dream Gap Tour in Calgary

Three Canadian teams to play in women’s hockey Dream Gap Tour in Calgary

Rugby Canada says some members of women’s sevens team have tested positive for COVID

Rugby Canada says some members of women’s sevens team have tested positive for COVID

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson, centre, makes a shot as lead Briane Meilleur, left, and second Shannon Birchard sweep against Denmark at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, May 6, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Einarson’s five-game win streak ends with loss to Japan at world curling playdowns

Einarson’s five-game win streak ends with loss to Japan at world curling playdowns

FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2020, photo, the Olympics rings are reflected on the window of a hotel restaurant as a server with a mask sets up a table, in the Odaiba section of Tokyo. The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated. This of course is spilling over to concerns about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that open in just over three months.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Canadian athletes, coaches applaud news of vaccine doses ahead of Tokyo

Canadian athletes, coaches applaud news of vaccine doses ahead of Tokyo

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals pressed to ease access to EI parental leave to help unemployed moms

Liberals pressed to ease access to EI parental leave to help unemployed moms

Katie Telford, Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, appears as a witness via videoconference during a House of Commons finance committee in Ottawa, Thursday, July 30, 2020. The Canadian Press has learned that Katie Telford has written members of the defence committee inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct against Canada's former top military commander, offering to testify at their meeting Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
PM’s chief of staff offers to testify on Vance sexual misconduct allegations

PM’s chief of staff offers to testify on Vance sexual misconduct allegations

Most Read