The Trials start today and for the fourth time, the best teams in the country will gather to determine who gets to wear the Canadian uniforms at the Olympics. Here’s what you can expect to see this week:
The Great Play: As Glenn Howard said, this will be the greatest curling event ever. Hard to disagree with that. The qualifying format this time around is undoubtedly the best in the history of the Trials. All 16 teams are quality and it’s hard to call anyone an underdog.
The Unexpected: The trials have a history of producing some strange results (step right up, Mike Harris). There is one big reason for that – it’s because you get people who overload mentally, thinking too much about what’s at stake rather than the next shot. You can’t perform if you’re under pressure and there’s no more pressure-packed curling than the Trials. It’s a little tougher this time around since all the teams reached here the long way rather than in previous qualifying formats.
The Ice: Expect it to be perfect. Hans Wuthrich is in charge and he’s being blessed by cold weather in Edmonton (actually f&*&^ing freezing weather), which can only help. It will be a little less curl than the men would like or play in the Grans Slams, but be enough to make great come arounds.
The Dissension: Expect one or two teams who drop out of the race for the playoffs early to self-combust. Most of these teams are on a make-it-or-break-it plan, meaning if they don’t win the Trials, they’re history and history might get moved up for someone who goes 0-4.
The End of the Line: If they don’t win, will this be the end of the line for some players? Will Randy Ferbey keep playing? How about Wayne Middaugh? K-Park? Lorraine Lang? You could be watching the end of some great careers this week.
The Changing of the Guard: It’s clear that this time around – if it hadn’t happened already – that the Olympics has surpassed the Brier and Scotties as the most important event in the game. The Canadian championships are great events, but the best in the game now have their viewfinders focused on four-year cycles.