The Czech Republic team at the 2021 World Women’s Curling Championship will become the first squad to compete three times in one day—and they’re not happy about it.
“We’ve been harmed by the decision of the World Curling Federation team in the history of world curling championships having to play three games in one day,” the team posted on social media. “As most of you know from experience, this means almost no rest, no food, no warming up or stretching. This threatens our health and definitely creates unfair conditions for us.”
When event broadcast crew members tested positive for COVID-19, Monday’s morning draw (session seven) was postponed. On May 5 the WCF announced the matches would be played on Friday night, with the first playoff qualification draw moving to Saturday morning.
“We’ve known this decision for three days and tried to offer a different solution that would not mean three games in a row for anyone,” the team said. “Of course, this has also affected our mental health in the last few days and the games we had to play. We will not give up and we will do our best (Friday) and fight every game we have.
“However, we do not want this to happen again to anyone as it creates unfair environment and harms the athletes.”
The Czechs, led by longtime skip Anna Kubeskova, have a 3-7 record heading into their Friday schedule. Kubeskova’s highest finish at a world championship came in 2018 where they qualified for the playoffs for the first time at 6-6 before losing their qualification match to Russia.
The team’s reference to historical significance is true for any previous round robin phase of the world championships. At the recent men’s worlds also held at Calgary’s WinSport Arena, the Swiss men’s team skipped by Peter de Cruz were forced to play three playoff games in one day, after “false positive” COVID-19 test results wiped out the final Saturday of competition.
Team coach Karel Kubeskova, the skip’s father, went online to describe the team’s Thursday, which was a full day off from competition.
“We used our free time mainly for regeneration,” he wrote. “We agreed on certain steps, which we immediately implemented. In the afternoon we closed everything for ourselves and started to concentrate on (Friday’s) marathon. I still communicated indignantly with the organizing committee, but rather so that similar things would not happen again in the future.
“In the evening we completed training on individual sheets, we verified the stones and I still had a debate with an official, who criticized me for having a face mask with the inscription ‘Not Fair.’ After an agreement with the team, I chose it as a subtle form of warning of injustice that the Czech team (has) received.”
In a separate posting, the coach seemed resigned to his team’s upcoming Friday ordeal, describing it as “a unique opportunity” for the future.
“One game might take more than four hours including transportation from the hotel to the arena and back, the warm up, practice, 10-end game, extra end and stretching session,” Kubeskova posted. “The whole three-game action contains almost two tons of granite thrown per player, roughly four kilometres of sweeping per sweeper. It means more than 12 hours of hard work in total.
“(The) Friday games of the Czech team will be certainly monitored by the WCF officials, health authorities, athlete commission members, umpires and certainly players themselves. Information obtained thanks to the Czech team could help the World Curling Federation build new standards for the future.”