All is quiet on the Westman front.
Despite reports of curling teams splitting and new ones forming, the majority of the foursomes in southwestern Manitoba are standing pat.
The one exception, of course, is Rob Fowler’s team. Third Allan Lyburn announced in February that he was taking a year off from the team, which won a bronze medal at the 2012 Brier. It’s been almost two months since Lyburn left, and the search for his replacement continues.
There could be a nice reward to join the Brandon-based team, as the Wheat City is hosting next year’s provincial men’s curling championship and the squad could be one of the posters teams advertising the event as the top-ranked Westman foursome.
Two other Westman skips hope they can be on the posters. Steve Irwin has confirmed that his Brandon Curling Club team of Joey Witherspoon, Travis Taylor and Travis Saban are sticking together unless players are given “crazy offers.” The team finished fourth at last year’s event in Winnipeg.
Meanwhile, Brandonite Scott Ramsay, who skips a team based out of Winnipeg that includes Mark Taylor, Ross McFadyen and Kyle Werenich, said his squad will remain intact for next season. Ramsay struggled to a 1-2 record at the Safeway Championship despite being the event’s sixth seed.
Things are just as quiet for Westman’s women’s teams. Kortney Teale’s squad from Brandon, which includes Pam Robins, Kristen McLellan and Jolene Cumming, is planning to stay together. Teale’s team went 4-3 at the provincial Scotties this season.
Meanwhile, Stacey Fordyce’s Brandon team, which includes Kelsey Russill, Janelle Schwindt, Roz Ripley and Kristy Howard, have not discussed their future, but haven’t talked about breaking up, either. They also went 4-3 at the provincial Scotties with Russill skipping the team since Fordyce was away.
CANADA GAMES: The Canada Games provincial playdowns are being held in Winnipeg this week. Dauphin’s Hanne Jensen is skipping the lone team from the region in the women’s event, which starts today and ends on Sunday.
GRAND SLAM: The final event of the season, the World Curling Tour’s and Grand Slam’s Players’ Championship, will start on Tuesday in Summerside, P.E.I. Former Brandonite Mike McEwen and his Winnipeg-based team are in the men’s field, as well as Kevin Koe’s team, which has former Brandonite Nolan Thiessen at lead. It will be the last games for the Koe squad before the skip leaves to form his own team. The event also has the three men’s and three women’s teams that won medals at the Olympics.
EXTRA ENDS: The Dekalb Superspiel, an annual WCT and MCT event held in Morris, is expanding its women’s field from 16 to 32 teams. With the expansion, the potential prize money and WCT points awarded will also increase … For the first time ever, Canada is the top ranked country in men’s, women’s and wheelchair curling, according to the World Curling Federation. Ranking points are earned for placement in the Pacific-Asia, European, and world championships, as well as the Olympics.