Sunday, March 9, 2014

New system means Americans won't send national champions to worlds

OK, this is a bit unusual. The United States just completed its national championships in Philadelphia and you'd think that the winners of those events would then move on to the world championships. 

Nope. Under a new system, the national championships don't necessarily determine the world rep. A complicated points system -- that included participation points! [UPDATE -- The Bemidji story was incorrect, there are no participation points] -- was put in place to see who would go to the world final. Here's the story from the Bemidji Pioneer:

This season USA Curling officials changed the format for selecting the national champion. In previous years the tournament winner would automatically represent the United States but this season a points-based order of merit was implemented. Points were earned for participation and placement in major curling events throughout the season, including the national meet, and in the men’s division the race was tight. After the Page playoff teams were determined, the team which won the tournament would also claim the points title.
Now on the men's side of things, it worked out that Pete Fenson won both the points title and the championship so no problem there.

On the women's side, however, it's a different story.
The Nina Spatola rink of St. Paul won the USA National women’s curling championship tournament Saturday with a 5-4 victory over the Allison Pottinger rink of St. Paul but, based on the order of merit point system, Pottinger will represent the USA at the World Championships which begin March 15 in Saint John, New Brunswick. 

Now if this happened in Canada, say sending the CTRS leader rather than the Scotties winner, there would be a huge uproar. But I have to say that with the results of American curling in international play of late, this might not be a bad thing to try. I'm sure if I was on the Nina Spatola rink, however, I'd feel differently.

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