Friday, September 29, 2006

Asham World Curling Tour announced

What a week for the World Curling Tour.

First came Tuesday's huge announcement of a new eight-year TV contract with CBC; a new owner; and this year's four premiere Grand Slam of Curling events.

Now, the Tour is welcoming an old friend back to the fold.

At a news teleconference schduled for 1:30pm ET later today, the Asham World Curling Tour (logo above) will be officially unveiled.

Arnold Asham, of course, is a pioneer of both the World Curling Tour and the Players' Association, as he and a few other co-pioneers (Winnipeg's Jim Furgale and Ray Turnbull, and Calgary's Ed Lukowich) rode in to rescue the struggling Tour over a decade ago. Asham and co. then sold their interests to IMG Canada in 1998, who staffed the Tour and PA and steered Tour curling into the Grand Slam era.

Now the Asham brand – already huge in curling supplies and grass roots support, via their bailout and purchase of a Winnipeg curling club last year and their unfailing support of teams and events – is back with the World Curling Tour.

Speaking of said teleconference, the athlete participant's list is strong, featuring former Players' Association directors Kerry Burtnyk and Kevin Martin, as well as Brad Gushue, Wayne Middaugh, David Nedohin and Jeff Stoughton.

Finally, storybuster Al Cameron recently spoke with the new owner of the Tour/Slam property, Ron Bremner, the CEO of Toronto's Insight Sports and former president of the NHL's Calgary Flames.

Three quotes from curling's newest power-broker:

Some people look at trees and see lemons and sometimes you look and see lemonade, right? If you take a look at the realities, Canada's always been such a hotbed for curling and I think it has so many opportunities to take advantage of.

I think it goes without saying that we've done our homework. We've looked at a lot of opportunities, not only about the televised portions can go, but how do you take these platforms and how do you leverage them, how do you take advantage of all the new technologies out there and how do you get these things to complement each other? And the other thing is how do you make some money off of it?

We didn't get involved just to storm down the tradition of the game. We want to build on the tradition. We want to sit down with our partners and have a good, thorough discussion about some of the things we think might be done to help the presentation of the game, and the fans' excitement of the game.


• Did you know the free trial period for CurlTV is right now, including live coverage of the Asham World Curling Tour’s stop in Vernon, B.C.? Well, giddyap!

• And what a weekend for Vernon! First came the World Curling Federation announcement that the city will host the 2008 Ford World Women’s Championship, and they are certainly pumped about that. After all, Vernon has a strong hosting legacy in the sport.

But now the Tour event has hit town, and as this quick story on Kelowna's Kelly Scott reveals, the event is also hosting a silent auction for Shoot For A Cure Curling (SFACC), the fundraising campaign of the Canadian Spinal Research Organization.

The auction will raise funds for the campaign, while serving to raise awareness for wheelchair curling and a SFACC fundraising spiel later in the season. Items include a Sony PlayStation, hockey memorabilia and some neat curling stuff, including SFACC baseball caps signed by Gushue, Burtnyk, Martin, Middaugh, Stoughton, John Morris, Glenn Howard and Guy Hemmings. And for Vernon curling fans who remember the Carspiel days of the 1970s and 1980s, there are a couple of caps signed by the 1982 champ - Eddie "The Wrench" Werenich.

The auction runs until noon Sunday. The ladies final goes Sunday at 7 pm alongside the men’s quarterfinals, with the men’s final set for noon on Monday...

The Conman asks if Team Kevin Martin’s current 10-0 start to the season is “Beginner's luck? Or the dawn of a juggernaut?” The Curious can follow K-Mart's progress this weekend in Gander, Newfoundland here...

• What would a fall season be without a 'Battle of the Sexes' curling challenge, eh? Looks like the word is out on the new Korbel Elite Curling Championship, which features two high-profile U.S. teams duking it out in Whistler, B.C., the Olympic sister-city to Vancouver 2010. But there's lots more to this they are not telling – yet. We will, of course, but in due time...

• The Manitoba Curling Tour launches another season today with opening draws in the Steeltown Classic in Selkirk, the first of 21 events on the tour which runs to December 30...

• Jumpin' Joe Pavia is back in action at the Ottawa Sun, and he spotlights the Chinese national men's team, which went an impressive 3-2 in Brockville and is now undergoing what can only be described as severe culture shock out on The Rock...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

CBC Slams Back into Curling

Another huge curling announcement!

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the granddaddy of curling TV coverage dating back to the early 1960s, is back in the game.

Today, CBC and the World Curling Players' Association rocked curling's TV landscape for the third time in four months by announcing a stunning eight-year deal to televise the Grand Slam of Curling, the World Curling Tour's crown jewel series of four major money tournaments.

Previously the signature curling property of Rogers Sportsnet since 1999, the Slammers jump to a tier one broadcast partner for the first time in their history, just weeks after TSN, The Sports Network, had locked up the Canadian Curling Association's Season of Champions telecasts from 2008 to 2014, evicting CBC entirely.

“Curling has enjoyed a long and proud tradition of coverage on CBC, and we are excited to add these events to our lineup,” said Nancy Lee, executive director of CBC Sports. “The Grand Slams feature the top curlers from Canada and around the world going head to head in thrilling competition. There is no better place for them to be showcased to all Canadians than on CBC.”

As CBC still maintains title rights – and with that, championship-final coverage – of CCA events through 2008, it has proven difficult to move all four Grand Slams into the existing TV schedule. Three of the four Slams will appear on CBC, with the fourth subcontracted to Global TV, the outfit which broadcast one other curling event in its history – the 2001 Players' Championship, the precursor to the Grand Slams.

Also announced is a new ownership structure behind the Slams, which were an IMG property up to 2005. Insight Sports, a backer of CurlTV and owner of various other TV networks, has jumped into the curling world with both feet, and are talking tough about hosting a Slam in downtown Toronto's Air Canada Centre, the home of hockey's Maple Leafs and basketball's Raptors, as early as December 2007.

Insight is headed by Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of the board of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the owners of the ACC.

“Insight Sports is excited and delighted to be able to partner with both the CBC and the World Curling Players Association on such high calibre events in a sport with such a rich heritage and tradition in Canada,” said Ron Bremner, the Insight CEO.

The ink is barely dry on the contracts and the all-eight-end action starts in just two months, with The Masters of Curling in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Nov. 29-Dec. 3. Next up is the Canadian Open, Jan. 24-28 in Winnipeg's now-familiar MTS Centre, with The National then returning to Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia from March 21-25. The Players' Championship will conclude the series in Calgary – just days after the men's Ford Worlds in nearby Edmonton– on April 11-15.

“The World Curling Players Association is pleased the Grand Slam has a solid foundation formed with CBC and Insight Sports. Both organizations have very experienced management teams who will lead this ‘world-class competition’ this year and into the next decade,” said Paul Boutilier, executive director of the World Curling Tour and also WCPA president. “I am very proud of the players, both women and men, for delivering some incredible curling the past five seasons – I know these outstanding athletes will continue to excite and entertain fans and viewers on CBC. This is a great day for all players!”

So, what does all this mean?

• CBC's team of veteran Don Wittman and Olympic analysts Mike Harris and Joan McCusker are still working after 2008, and locked up for another six years. Ditto their award-winning backbone of producers, directors and technicians;

• The Slams have jumped in stature of ownership, broadcast partner and overall value;

• Curling fans can rejoice over ever-increasing numbers of event broadcasts, webcasts, podcasts and whatevercasts up to and beyond Vancouver 2010.

Stay tuned to The Curling News – naturally – for all the latest...

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Leviathan Curling Team

Well, for starters, these aren't leviathans. They're beavers. The Bell Beavers, made famous during Canadian TV telecasts from the Turin Olympics last February.

We like those guys. Particularly given this billboard.

Meanwhile, it looks like this new post-Olympic curling season is truly in full swing. There's lots to disseminate:

• Know where to find the winners? CurlingZone has all tournament event results listed as they happen – thank you Gameday Scoreboard – and also after the fact (see Results Zone). Not too many surprises this week, as Kevin Martin's new powerhouse squad won the Shorty and Anette Norberg's leviathan Swedish team won the Oslo Cup (with Canada's Stefanie Lawton losing the semi to the Norbergs, while Shannon Kleibrink and JJones missed qualifying). Perhaps a bit of a surprise as 1990 STOH champion Alison Goring upset Sherry Middaugh en route to winning the BDO Galt Mallspiel...

• That's our word of the week, by the way... leviathan. Like it? Mallspiel is pretty good too, but we'd need to see more tourneys hosted in shopping malls for it to really catch on...

• The Canadian Curling Association's latest message for clubs is that they must change, and go all out to treat the sport as a family affair. Here's Danny Lamoureux:

We're stressing family – a fairly broad appeal. Alcohol is not critical to the bottom line any more. Today's successful clubs have made those changes – they've got orange juice and bottled water and specialty coffees and chips for the kids.
We're calling them curling centres, not lounges, and there are lots of success stories. It's customer service.


It's not acceptable to have bad ice, even if it's 'just' a senior league or a company bonspiel. We always have to have good ice, not just when the pros play.
You don't hear of a golf course saying we won't mow the greens today because it's only the seniors who are playing. We have to have superior playing conditions at all times... we have the technology and the equipment to (always) make great ice.

And he's not finished yet:

What other sports are there that kids can play with parents and grandmas and grandpas? We have to have family leagues. Nobody says they have to play eight or 10 ends maybe just four, and (this idea) is becoming very popular.

And finally, Danny says it's crucial clubs don't try and force newcomers to be members.

(Let them come in, throw rocks,) and we think they'll love it. They'll come back on their own.


• B.C.'s Richmond Review went curling crazy on the weekend, with a pile of stories. Here they offered a little origins synopsis; here they discussed the Richmond club's master plan to become a B.C. High Performance Centre, plus a training ground for 2010 (and with another similar story here); and they even talked about the Pacific International Cup... ever heard of it?

• Speaking of pre-2010 training, Sport Manitoba has grand plans to attract Olympic athletes, teams and coaches from around the world, too... and curling is on the list...

• Last week we told you about the dual 2008 hosting announcements for the Canadian championships Winnipeg for the men, and Regina for the women. There were typical run-of-the-mill stories on both the Brier and the STOH, but a few other pieces caught our eye. First, the Winnipeg Sun's Paul Friesen made it clear that Winnipeg is expected to step up significantly over their last (1998) hosting gig. Then, Murray McCormick (Regina Leader-Post) and Kevin Mitchell (Saskatoon StarPhoenix) both wrote interesting stuff about the recent Regina Brier's $1.1 million profit; hence the CCA's interest in heading back to Regina so soon.

McCormick reporteth that:

• Curl Regina's share of the profits was $77,389;
• Curl Regina's Youth Program also collected $77,389, and another $70,000 from its share of the 50-50 sales;
• Curl Regina was able to use its windfall to hire Jan Betker, a former world curling champion and gold medallist at the 1998 Winter Olympics, as its co-ordinator of junior curling;
• Regina's Callie, Tartan and Highland curling clubs and the Saskatchewan Curling Association were each presented with cheques for $77,389;
• The Canadian Curling Association picked up $472,000;
• The CCA's club development fund took in $165,000;
• The Athletes Assistance Fund – which helps with expenses of the 12 teams – received $105,000, with each team getting $7,000. However, TCN Blog readers know this funding is now suspended for this season's Hearts and Brier...
• The Brier was the third straight curling event held in Regina that generated profits: the 2001 Olympic Trials earned $778,602, while the 1998 Scott Tournament of Hearts turned a profit of just under $1 million.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mitchell noted that:

(This) was a dramatic departure from what happened in Saskatoon (at the 2004 Brier), where local organizers waited until this spring – more than two years – for the Canadian Curling Association to verify and pay out on an $865,000 profit.

"That's very encouraging," said Curl Saskatoon past-president Brian Graves, who dealt first-hand with some of the frustrations involved in the long wait.

"Things happened then that caused some concerns along the way, but it looks like they've been resolved. The bottom line with all of this is the closer the Canadian Curling Association works with the organizing and hosting committee, to ensure things go as planned, that's better for everyone."

The Saskatoon Brier was a guinea pig of sorts; the CCA took over Brier operations, including bookkeeping, in time for the 2004 event. The St. Clair Group ran things before that.

• Team Kelley Law is goin' hard this year, playing a pile of spiels, and they even flew out TSN's Ray Turnbull for a session...

Texas Dan's club has some promo plans this season, and this local story shows they're off to a great start...

• Did we provide a link to Canadian Press' story on CurlTV 2.0? Not sure we did, so here you go...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

2008 Brier, Hearts announcements

Two big curling announcements this week.

Today at 11:30am local time, official word will finally confirm the 2008 Tim Hortons Brier at Winnipeg's MTS Centre. Brier '08 will mark the first time in 10 years the Canadian men's championship is hosted in Manitoba, and only the third time in 35 years.

Tomorrow, Regina will officially be awarded the 2008 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The Queen City last hosted the Canadian women's championship in 1998, and also hosted the first-ever event with Scott Paper affiliation back in 1982. This marks the return of big-event curling to Regina just two years after the 2006 Brier.


• VANOC's 2010 Paralympic Games logo has been unveiled (image)...

Jon Mead is featured in Part II of his latest interview at The Curling Show...

• Ontario's three-year-old BDO Galt Curling Classic (men and women both) gets underway tomorrow, with a twist: playoffs and finals are being held at the Cambridge Ice Centre, an NHL-sized ice pad located inside a busy shopping centre.

Six sheets of ice in full view of shoppers, an estimated 167,000 who wind their way through the centre each week.

"This is about growth of the sport," organizer Byron Scott told The Record. "(There's) always one sheet open with a coach on hand to give a lesson."

The event is a part of Curling Week at the Cambridge Centre, which began yesterday and ends with the BDO final on Sunday.

• In other action this weekend, Ontario's popular Shorty Jenkins Classic mixes brooms with golf clubs in Brockville, led by defending men's champion Team Glenn Howard, resplendent in their new pink & black on-ice attire... and a who's who of top women's teams are in Oslo, Norway, including Canada's Shannon Kleibrink and Jennifer Jones, and the triple-crown world-beaters from Sweden, Team Anette Norberg; not to forget a few high-powered men's teams too, such as Scotland's defending world champion Team David Murdoch...

• Thunder Bay, Ontario is mourning the loss of curling administrator and volunteer Colleen Syrja, who passed away from cancer at age 51. Syrja was probably best-known as one of the committee members of the Heart to Heart Bonspiel, which celebrated it's 25th anniversary in April.

Celebrity skip Don Barcome of the Dakotas offered these thoughts:

This hits a bit too close to home for me. I met Colleen while still recovering from cancer, and will never forget her great hugs and positive attitude. She was the first person to volunteer for our 2008 Worlds, I was truly looking forward to introducing her to my family, friends and community.

Colleen's family is honouring her close ties to the H2H and the Northwestern Ontario Curling Association by establishing the Colleen Syrja Junior Curling Scholarship Fund, available to an active junior curler within the NWOCA who is continuing his or her post-secondary education. The first scholarship will be awarded for the 2007-2008 Academic year, and donations to shore up this new fund can be mailed to:

700 Simpson Street
Thunder Bay, ON
P7C 3K1

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Tankard has returned

A new curling sponsor was officially unveiled in Ontario yesterday: TSC Stores, the Incredible Country Hardware Store, which takes over title sponsorship of the Ontario men's championship.

Previously supported by Kia Motors (Kia Cup), Nokia (Nokia Cup) and Labatt (Blue Light Tankard and Labatt Tankard) the 2007 provincial shootout is scheduled for February 12-18 in Sarnia. The Tankard name now returns to the Ontario finals for the first time since 1995, as the new event title moniker is the TSC Stores Tankard.

“This is tremendous news for our Ontario Curling Association members and hundreds of thousands of curling fans across the province,” said Doug Bakes, Executive Director of the OCA. “TSC Stores is an outstanding organization, Canadian-owned, and expanding rapidly in the province. We are extremely pleased to welcome TSC Stores as title sponsor of our premier event.”

“Curling has a unique Canadian identity and community appeal,” said Greg Hicks, Chief Operating Officer of TSC Stores. “Becoming title sponsor of the Ontario Men’s Championship is a great fit for us.”

This may have been the worst-kept secret in Ontario curling, as this healthy CurlingZone chat thread indicates. Regardless, the announcement glosses over Kia's recent decision to leave the sport in Ontario – the Kia Cup remains in Alberta – and both OCA and their marketing agent are to be congratulated for a quick announcement of a new sponsor. A sponsor with a direct tie to competitive curling, in the person of TSC marketing guy Brent Palmer.


• There have been rumours and stories of VANOC's 2010 Olympic budget problems, but today's Vancouver Sun is in hysterics:

2010 Games in crisis!
Watchdogs sound alarm!
B.C. taxpayers on hook for about $1.5 billion and construction is moving too slowly!

We've heard this before. But today also marks the first time the proposed new curling venue at Hillcrest is labelled “at risk”, specifically:

Olympic organizers managed to get the IOC to agree to downsize the Games' arenas to NHL-sized rinks instead of the larger European surfaces that are the Olympic standard, as the report suggested. But a curling arena is still up for grabs – if it can't be built on the original $28-million budget it should simply be scuttled. The speed skating in oval in Richmond is also facing a scheduling crunch.

It all promises a showdown over the leadership of the Olympics, with the provincial New Democratic Party saying the reports suggest mismanagement, planning errors and cost overruns that are reminders of the indebted 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

And in another Sun story:

Calling for some “scope management,” the consultants also recommended scaling back some of the Olympic venues. This includes cancelling the Hillcrest Curling Rink project and moving curling events to another venue unless construction can come within the $28 million bid-book estimate, plus reasonable escalation.

Uh oh.

• On the positive side, Nova Scotia's Digby Curling Club – sorry, Curling Centre – is taking positive steps towards self-rescue, as this local story indicates. It all started with a call to the Canadian Curling Association, which promptly sent its Business of Curling seminar out east for a major powwow...

• More positives: the welcome return of CurlTV is imminent... whoops, actually, it relaunches today, in fact. CurlTV 2.0 is on the air, with all kinds of fabulous live webstreamed curling content ready to send directly to your computer. This season's sked of over 200 games is expected to include additional European content, a new host, an expanded Game Vault with some 160 archived matches to choose from – everything from the Brier to the Grand Slams – plus a new emphasis on news. Furthermore, there's a free sneak peak – within the members section – of Version 2.0 available to all, from September 26 to 28. Don't miss it.

• The Manitoba Curling Tour has been busy: their news release is out, hawking their schedule – which boasts increased money this season – and they've got a new website, part of the CurlingZone network. Great stuff. Coverage today from CJOB and also the Winnipeg Sun's Jim Bender, who also has a column today...

• Chiliwack, B.C. is gearing up for another season, which includes the Continental Cup. In this additional story, we discover that nearly 30 per cent of tickets were snapped up over the summer months...

• Finally, here's a new curling videogame for your mobile phone. Go have some fun. And have a great weekend...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Curling. What else?

Back from a break.

Curling season has started.

Lots going on.

Read and click.

More later.

Photo credit: Dan, of course. Where does he find these things?!

• Here's a great personal curling anecdote currently making online waves, and we can't imagine a better read to kick of the season. It comes from Moncton's Curling Beausejour summer camp, and it features Russ Howard working with an average joe, sharing secrets and insights about the sport that both love. This is what happens every year, weekend after weekend, at such instructional camps – the HOT SHOTS, at Kevin Martin's Academy, and so on – and it is really an experience not to be missed...

• From the Did You Know department: DYK that a Manitoba team won the season's first national championship (already)? Neither did we...

Listen Up: you can check out new curling retiree Jon Mead on The latest episode of The Curling Show, and also U.S. silver skipper Debbie McCormick on Chicago’s 360 The Pitch radio show...

Kevin Martin recently spoke to the Edmonton Journal (subscription only) about his new squad, and specifically new third John Morris. Some zingers from the Old Bear:

John and I? I think we're going to be a strong combination. I think it's good for John to get out of the skipping role. Now he just has to worry about getting in great shape and shooting – something that he's brilliant at – and that's it. He's just going to focus on playing great in every game and make every shot.

Er... every shot?

(If he misses), Being that I'm a bit older, I don't think it's going to be a problem. If I had a chance to throw for someone like Ed Lukowich, I would have just listened to him. The guy knew what he was talking about. It's the same token here. I'm older, and I think we're going to get along just fine.

As for Johnny Mo:

To curl in this game at this level, you need a pretty thick skin. We know what to expect from Kevin. I think that's part of constructive criticism. If I miss a shot or if I'm not throwing very well, I want to hear about it. I've worked with sports psychologists, and sometimes you need a bit of a release. I've been able to control that release, although it may cost the team a couple of brooms that I break along the way...

• Today's Saskatoon Star-Phoenix summarizes the women's teams competing in the wheat-sheaf province this season (subscription only). Of note is CBC-talkie Joan McCusker taking a break while her 1998 Olympic teammates continue; Sherry Linton joining up with the McIvors; and both the Sherry Anderson and Stefanie Lawton teams "going hard" this year...

• Vermont curling is now ready to rock n' roll...

• Alberta's Slave Lake CC needs an icemaker – right now – or the season may not start...

Blog Report: what's this? Looks like a new Blog, based in Duluth, Minn., for area clubs. Wonder if anyone from Thunder Bay's Fort William CC will notice they've been excluded, in favour of historical rivals Port Arthur?... Patrick has been busy, attending the Powell River summer spiel, and also welcoming a pink brush in his house... and Texas Dan went completely bonkers with his Blog while we were away, continuing to post en masse about his HOT SHOTS Fantasy Camp experience: the entire collection is now online starting with Part I here, then Part II, then Part III here, naturally Part IV, and finally Part V. You go, Dan...

And finally: news that the CCA had withdrawn funding – temporarily – from both the Club Development Fund and the Athlete Assistance Program was credited by some to Sweep Magazine. However, the scoop goes to – once again – the intrepid Allen Cameron of The Curling News and Calgary Herald. There's been some discussions of these and other CCA cost-cutting measures here and here, and InTheHack's Mike Potter takes the CCA to task here, and now we present the most recent original story verbatim...

CCA puts development funding on ice:
Association had based grants on future earnings

by Allen Cameron
The Calgary Herald
August 26, 2006

Desperate to get its financial house in order, the Canadian Curling Association has decided to stop what some already consider a dubious business practice.

For the past six years, the CCA has been using money it expects to make from future events to fund its well-received Curling Development Fund.

But with the CCA in the hole to the tune of at least $100,000 for the coming season, and with the Tim Hortons Brier next March in Hamilton hardly a guaranteed money-maker, the grants to clubs across the country will be suspended next year.

As well, the CCA told clubs that were successful in applying for development funds that the money may not arrive until next year, and that full payment won't come until 2008.

The fund has doled out nearly $1 million since its inception in 1999, with the money going toward such things as purchasing updated ice-making equipment, staging learn-to-curl clinics or promotions.

According to a letter sent earlier this month to clubs that received grants, the lack of profits from the 2001 Brier in Ottawa and Tournament of Hearts in Sudbury, Ont., should have stopped the development fund that year. Instead, "the CCA agreed to 'borrow' funds from the profits of future events to ensure the continuity of the fund."

That policy has continued, until what the letter refers to as a "budget crisis" forced the CCA's hand.

"It was never really a cash-flow issue because we never give out the cheques until eight months or so after the event," said the CCA's manager of curling club development Danny Lamoureux, who oversees the program. "But we've never been able to catch up, and the auditor finally kind of told us, 'Stop it. This is not a good practice.' But it was good for the curling clubs."

But Darin Eno, president of the Coronation Curling Club – one of the lucky applicants this year, receiving $750 for instructor training – isn't so sure.

"I'd just as soon they get their house in order. If it takes five years, so be it," said Eno, who hasn't been told when his club will receive the money. "Don't be giving money out if you don't have it. The first time they had to borrow against future events, they should have put a halt to it right there. I don't run a business like that, I don't run a household like that. I don't go borrowing money on hoping that an oil company will drill a well on my land. You can't do it."

CCA president Donna Duffett didn't return phone calls, while CCA CEO Dave Parkes is on holidays.

But a CCA director, who requested anonymity, was surprised to find out that the association had been giving out money that it didn't have.

"I'm against that because we can't guarantee future profits," said the director. "All it takes is one freak winter storm or one poorly attended Brier and there's going to be nothing there to borrow against."

The suspension of the development fund – Lamoureux said that it should return in 2008 bigger and better – is another cost-cutting measure that the CCA hopes will remove what has become an embarrassing deficit for one of the highest-profile amateur sports in Canada, including removing money from the Athletes Assistance Fund.

The top four teams at both the Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Lethbridge will be ineligible to receive AAF money – about $7,000 per team at the Brier and $4,000 per team at the Hearts – to cover travel costs and time off work; they will, though, receive the prize money that accompanies a top-four finish.