As the COVID-19 curling landscape continues to fluctuate around the world, here’s a primer on all that’s happened since the shutdowns began back in March, at the height of global curling’s 2019-20 championship season.
MARCH 12 – Sweden, Denmark and Norway cancel all remaining championships and Danish facilities immediately close. USA Curling suspends its imminent college and U-18 championships. Hours later, the World Curling Federation (WCF) cancels the world women’s championship that was slated to open practice ice the following day.Before the day is out, Canada postpones three championships and numerous Canadian provinces begin postponing or cancelling their championships.
MARCH 13 – Some 30 curling facilities in six different countries cancel league play and close early for the season. The Grand Slam of Curling series cancels their last two events, the Players’ Championship and Champions Cup. USA Curling suspends all remaining competitions and urges member facilities to follow suit.
MARCH 14 – WCF cancels the world men’s championship plus April’s world mixed doubles and world seniors. Over 100 curling facilities in multiple countries are now closed.
MARCH 16 – Curling Canada issues a news release on COVID-19 “strongly urging all curling centres in Canada, both affiliated and non-affiliated, to immediately temporarily suspend all domestic sanctioned curling activities until further notice.”
MARCH 17 – Various high-performance athletes begin to compete in online curling matches. A number of teams make lineup changes, an unusual ocurrence just two years out from an Olympic Games.
MARCH 18 – A positive test result from a participant at the USA Curling Club Nationals, hosted March 7-14 at the Potomac Curling Club in Laurel, Md. is revealed.
MARCH 25 – 23 cases of COVID-19 are linked to a bonspiel attended by doctors from across western Canada.
MARCH 28 – Bored of online curling games, popular curlers begin taking photos and filming videos of themselves cooking in the kitchen. Curling fans (and journalists) also get in on the fun.
APRIL 9 – WCF and Curling Canada officially cancel all remaining 2019-2020 season championships. WCF consults stakeholders and outlines proposed 2020-21 season championship formats as well as a modified 2022 Olympic qualifying process.
JUNE 16 – Pittsburgh Curling Club reopens its doors, one of the first U.S. facilities to do so.
JULY 8 – The Grand Slam series trims its standard six-event 2020-21 season down to two events, to be hosted in April 2021.
AUGUST 3 – WCF announces the cancellation of the 2020 world mixed scheduled for Aberdeen, Scotland in October.
AUGUST 20 – The Schweizer Cup begins in Baden, SUI featuring 10 Swiss men’s teams and seven women’s teams.
AUGUST 21 – Canada’s first tournament in five months, the Manitoba Junior Curling Tour’s Cargill MJCT Spring Classic, begins in Morris, Manitoba with eight male and three female teams.
AUGUST 22 – The U.S. National Training Centre in Chaska, Minn. opens for practice ice. A “National Team Scrimmage Weekend” featuring men’s and women’s teams is scheduled for mid-October.
AUGUST 28 – Switzerland’s Baden Masters begins. The traditional start to the World Curling Tour season sees the field down from 20 teams to 13 – eight from Switzerland plus squads from Sweden, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.
SEPTEMBER 1 – WCF cancels three 2021-21 championships: the Europeans, the Pacific-Asia Championships and the Americas Challenge.
SEPTEMBER 4 – The International Mixed Doubles Cup begins in Oberstdorf, GER featuring 17 pairs from 10 countries.
SEPTEMBER 10 – Curling Canada cancels six 2020-21 season championships. The inaugural Adelboden International begins, featuring the Swiss women’s super-squad of Alina Paetz and Silvana Tirinzoni competing among 14 other men’s teams. They go 4-3, losing the semifinal. The first American post-pandemic event, the U.S. Open of Curling Contender, begins in Blaine, Minn. featuring 14 domestic men’s teams and six women’s teams.
SEPTEMBER 18 – More events are underway: the 13-team Women’s Masters in Basel, SUI; the Norway Cup in Olso (18 teams, one female); the nine-strong Tallinn International Mixed Doubles in Estonia; the 16-pair Goldline Mixed Doubles Tour finals in Québec City and the first B.C. Junior Tour stop in New Westminster, B.C. – the Anita Cochrane Memorial (six male, five female).
OCTOBER 4 – The men’s playoff round of the StuSells Oakville Tankard in Waterloo, Ont. is abruptly cancelled when a competitor receives a smartphone alert from the Canadian government’s COVID app, indicating possible close contact with a positive case. The playoff teams split the prize purse equally. The women’s playoffs proceed and are completed without incident. The men’s team in question self-isolates and the competitor tests negative.
OCTOBER 10 – The Highland Curling Club in Regina, Sask. is informed of a positive test from a person who attended the facility on October 4. The facility is promptly closed for cleaning and the event in progress, the Access Saskatchewan Women’s Curling Qualifying League, is cancelled.
OCTOBER 19 – As COVID-19’s second wave increases, most Greater Toronto Area (GTA) curling facilities in Canada’s largest city that elected to open in the fall are temporarily closed to active play, as directed by the provincial government. Similar moves are underway in the U.S. and Europe.
OCTOBER 28 – USA Curling confirms three curling facilities have experienced positive cases of COVID-19. The organization’s Member Services Team contacts the clubs and reiterates: “Broomstacking” (curling’s post-game festivities) is discouraged, mask use is recommended during play, and only one active sweeper at all times.
NOVEMBER 5 – USA Curling reports that one of their national team athletes has tested positive for COVID-19. National Team staff assist in contact tracing and provide quarantine guidelines to those who were in direct and probable contact with the impacted athlete.