Ryan Fry set to make his return with Team Jacobs at Canadian Open

After taking a leave of over six weeks after his disqualification from the Red Deer Curling Classic, Ryan Fry is set to return to his usual position as third on Team Brad Jacobs.

“We are happy to have him back,” Jacobs said Wednesday in an email to The Canadian Press. “We talked over the holidays as a team and Ryan said he felt good and was ready to go so we are getting back at it. We are excited about his return.”

The team announced Tuesday night on Twitter that Fry would come back at next week’s Canadian Open.

Fry decided to take a break to focus on “growth and self-improvement” after his actions at a World Curling Tour event in Red Deer on Nov. 17.

Fry, who played at the bonspiel as a substitute, was disqualified with teammates Jamie Koe, Chris Schille and DJ Kidby for what organizers called unsportsmanlike behaviour resulting from excessive drinking.

Organizers said Fry broke three brooms and that the team used foul language and was disruptive to other players on the ice. All four players later issued statements to apologize for their actions.

Fry, who did not immediately respond to an interview request on Wednesday, issued a post on Twitter before Team Jacobs confirmed his return.

“How we handle adversity can show how strong we can really be. 2018 threw a few punches…glancing blows. I felt the love and am turning the hatred into fuel. Excited to respond to the challenge and continue to fight with a healthy mind and refreshed focus. Much love in 2019,” Fry said, capping the tweet with a heart emoji.

Jacobs, lead Ryan Harnden and second E.J. Harnden won the Canada Cup last month with Marc Kennedy playing at third. The team used Matt Wozniak as a substitute the following week at the National, going undefeated in pool play before falling in the quarterfinals.

The Canadian Open is set for Jan. 8-13 at the Civic Centre in North Battleford, Sask. Team Jacobs is set to play its opening game against Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz on Jan. 9.

The competition is the fifth stop on the Grand Slam circuit and the third major of the curling season.

Jacobs skipped his Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.,-based rink to victory at the Tim Hortons Brier in 2013 and they won Olympic gold the next year at the Sochi Games in Russia.

The team brought coach Adam Kingsbury aboard this season and first-half results have been solid. Jacobs won the Tour Challenge on the Grand Slam circuit and finished second at the Shorty Jenkins Classic.

Jacobs is second in the Canadian men’s rankings behind Kevin Koe and fourth on the WCT’s Order of Merit standings.

Fry, a 40-year-old Winnipeg native, joined the team in April 2012 after spending nearly four seasons with Team Brad Gushue.

ICE CHIPS

An overloaded calendar has helped sap the World Cup of Curling of some Canadian star power in the series’ inaugural season on the curling circuit.

Reigning national champions Jennifer Jones and Brad Gushue were originally slated to compete in the next stop of the four-leg series starting Jan. 30 in Jonkoping, Sweden. However, both teams recently pulled out and will instead compete at the TSN Skins Game in Banff, Alta.

The third leg of the World Cup also conflicts with many provincial and territorial championships. Jones and Gushue originally agreed to represent Canada since they have guaranteed entries in the national playdowns as defending champions.

Instead of Jones, Darcy Robertson will make the overseas trip to skip the Canadian women’s team entry while Matt Dunstone will skip the men’s team. Kadriana Sahaidak and Colton Lott will represent Canada in mixed doubles.

Canada sent an A team to the World Cup’s first leg last September in Suzhou, China. Olympic skips Kevin Koe and Rachel Homan were joined by mixed doubles national champs Laura Walker and Kirk Muyres as Canada swept all three titles.

The second leg of the World Cup in Omaha, Neb., conflicted with last month’s Canada Cup in Estevan, Sask.

Fifteen of Canada’s top teams were competing at that event, so skips Tracy Fleury and Jason Gunnlaugson got the nod for the World Cup. They were joined by John Morris and Kalynn Park, who played as a mixed doubles duo for the first time. Canada did not make it to a final.

The Canadian entries will face a tough challenge in Jonkoping as Swedish stars Niklas Edin and Anna Hasselborg will be favoured on home ice. Russia’s Anna Sidorova and Norway’s Steffen Walstad are also in the field.

———

Organizers of the 2022 Winter Olympics say the transformation of the National Aquatics Centre is underway in Beijing.

The venue — dubbed the ‘Water Cube’ — hosted swimming and diving events at the 2008 Summer Games. Its new nickname will be the ‘Ice Cube’ when the facility hosts the curling competition at the Winter Games.

The building, which sits near the ‘Bird’s Nest’ National Stadium, is known for its colourful bubble-like exterior. The renovation to turn it into a four-sheet facility is tabbed for completion by July 2020.

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