The field for the Olympic curling trials is defined as Gunnlaugson, Horgan, McCarville and Harrison for the last-ditch playoffs

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The last time Jason Gunnlaugson qualified for the Olympic Curling Trials, the Manitoba captain was just happy to be there, having the chance to compete with the biggest names in Canada, and not really expecting to have a chance.

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“The first time we did it, a million years ago, we were a little more jovial about it,” Gunnlaugson said of the 2009 Olympic Trials, where his team got a score of. 0-7.

“But here we felt we had won, in the last quadrennial, to be in the top 9 in Canada. Coming and doing it here means a ton.

Gunnlaugson and his team of third Adam Casey, second Matt Wozniak and first Connor Njegovan qualified for the 2021 Olympic Trials on Sunday in the pre-season competition in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.

Gunnlaugson defeated Tanner Horgan of Kingston, Ont., 9-8 Sunday to secure one of two spots available in the trials, which will be played Nov. 20-28 in Saskatoon.

“Oh, I’m going to be shaking for a good hour,” said Gunnlaugson, who also went through pre-tests to qualify in 2009.

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“Getting to the Trials was a huge goal for us. It’s a tough event, but it was a lot of fun and we got through it. So happy with that.

The other place in the men’s trials went to Horgan, who beat four-time world champion Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., 7-4 on Sunday night in the men’s B final.

“It’s fantastic,” Horgan said after qualifying for the first time in practice. “It’s just amazing. We’re just going to savor the experience and take on a real challenge.

Horgan was recruited to become the captain of the Kingston squad, which includes third Jonathan Beuk, second Wes Forget and first Scott Chadwick, when former captain Scott McDonald moved out this summer.

“One of the reasons I wanted to be a part of this team was it was immediately obvious how dedicated these guys are and how much they really enjoy all the little things and take all the preparation seriously.” , Horgan said. “It was a great opportunity to join these guys. They already had something going well and we were able to build on it. “

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The qualifying teams, which emerged from a field of 14 in Liverpool, will join a field from Saskatoon that includes Olympic gold medalists Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., World champion Kevin Koe of Calgary, defending Brier champion Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton, Mike McEwen of Winnipeg, Matt Dunstone of Saskatchewan and John Epping of Ontario – a field stacked completely.

On the women’s side, veteran Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay won one of two spots in the trials, defeating Jacqueline Harrison of Dundas, Ont., 9-6 in the A final.

McCarville’s team came back from a four-point deficit twice on Saturday to claim victory and advance to Olympic Trials for the third time (also in 2009 and 2017).

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“I don’t think we ever came back from two different four-point deficits on the same day,” said McCarville, whose squad includes third Kendra Lilly, second Ashley Sippala and first Sarah Potts.

“This week has been a comeback battle and it’s something our team is really good at.”

Harrison defeated Corryn Brown of Kamloops, BC 9-2 in the B final to win the other place in practice.

“There were so many emotions, but that was a time when it was just surreal,” said Harrison, who stars with third Allison Flaxey, second Lynn Kreviazuk and first Laura Hickey. “I was like ‘I can’t believe this is happening right now.’ It’s really hard to describe actually.

Harrison joins a field from Saskatoon that includes Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, Olympian and world champion Rachel Homan of Ottawa, two-time defending Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Manitoba, and perennial contenders Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man, Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton, Laura Walker of Edmonton and Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta.

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Harrison apparently came out of nowhere to qualify for practice – his team was ranked 52 sd in the Canadian team ranking system last year and was in 38th place e, before the preliminary tests this year.

“We’re a newer team, of course, so we don’t have the same experience as the Jennifer Jones and Rachel Homan, but we fitted in really well and decided we were just going to have a good time and hope. for the best. We ended up having a great week and being successful. It’s a bit of a surprise, but we’re very excited about it.

Harrison will make his first appearance in the Olympic Trials, although both Flaxey and Kreviazuk have been in the big event before. The team was just formed a year ago but couldn’t play at all last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Gunnlaugson has represented Manitoba in the last two Tim Hortons Briers and has shown he can compete with any team in Canada.

“The team just worked so hard and kept improving, went through a few Briers and did a lot to be one of the teams at these big events,” said Gunnlaugson. “Saskatoon will be a great opportunity for us to show our belonging where possible. This is the next step for us and we are excited about it.

Bottcher’s quartet does their job in Americas Zone Challenge

While the pre-trials were in Nova Scotia, Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher team secured Canada a spot at the 2022 World Men’s Curling Championship with an event in Lacombe, Alta.

The winning Bottcher Brier team faced teams from Brazil (Marcel Mello) and Mexico (Jesus Barajas) in the Americas Zone Challenge.

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It wasn’t close, with Canada winning 11-2, 10-1 over Brazil and 14-1, 11-1 over Mexico.

But Team Bottcher stuck to the process and made it happen, with over 200 spectators coming up close at Lacombe Curling Club.

“There was a lot of camaraderie between the three teams,” said Darren Molding, third of Team Bottcher, who makes ice cubes at Lacombe CC.

“They were great guys who wanted to learn more about how to compete at a high level in curling. We’ve done our best to get them some information.

“We haven’t taken our foot off the accelerator pedal at all. We had a job to do and when we get on the ice we’ll do our job. I think it would be more disrespectful of a team not to give it a full try.

“It was a special event, really special.”

The men’s world championship will be held in Las Vegas in April and Canada will be represented by the team that wins the Brier in March.

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