SUPPOSED TO START TODAY but announced earlier in the month…CurlManitoba’s Viterra Championship will be played in the Selkirk Curling Club, February 9-13.

At the time of cancellation, 28 teams had qualified for the Viterra Championship. Only the Brandon Bonspiel (one berth) and Manitoba Open (three berths) had yet to be determined. The championship will go ahead with the 28 teams already identified – logical to assume the top four seeds will get first round byes. Hard to say if that’s a good thing or not – ice conditions will dictate whether there is an advantage to playing a lesser team in the opening round as a chance to acclimatize!

The championship carries with it an invitation to represent Manitoba at the Tim Hortons Brier in Lethbridge in early March. A very few Manitoba teams have a chance to move up the CTRS list to earn a shot at one of the three available wildcard entries in the Brier.

Brad Gushue’s Olympic team is currently #1 and appears to be so far ahead on the CTRS list that they would be a certain wildcard entry. However, the standing rule is that it is highest ranking CTRS teams after provincial playdowns and Team Gushue opted out. However, the Nfld-Labradon provincial men’s was canceled. If not re-scheduled, it would seem to open the door for them to come home from the Olympics and play the Brier as either the appointed NL rep or as a wildcard team.

Kevin Koe (#2) has already won Alberta and Brendan Bottcher (#7) is Team Canada so they are not part of the wild card discussion.

Status of Brad Jacobs (#4) and Glenn Howard (#5) is up in the air. Currently they are certain wild card selections. The Northern Ontario playoff has been postponed with no re-schedule date. When the Scotties starts this week Krista McCarville’s team has been selected as the Northern Ontario rep – the parallel men’s decision would be to select Team Jacobs and remove them from the wildcard discussion.

Howard may still have to play the Ontario Tankard. It has been re-scheduled to February 9-13, the same time as Manitoba’s Viterra event.

Jason Gunnlaugson’s team is currently ranked #5 so they currently hold the third wild card position. Mike McEwen’s foursome is #8 behind Matt Dunstone (#6). Dunstone’s status will also be determined February 9-13 when the Saskatchewan Tankard playoff occurs. If he doesn’t win Saskatchewan, he needs a high finish to move up the CTRS into a wild card spot.

John Epping is currently #9. Like Howard in Ontario, Dunstone in Saskatchewan, and McEwen in Manitoba, if they don’t win they need a high finish to be in the wildcard conversation.

Of the lesser ranked Manitoba teams, it seems likely only one has even a remote shot at the wild card spots. Tanner & Colton Lott, Kyle Doering and Emerson Klimpke, still listed as Team Pat Simmons, are at #13. If they were to lose the Manitoba final, depending on results in other provinces, they might (but seems unlikely) jump far enough up the list.

The others, starting with Braden Calvert (#18) and Riley Smith (#19) have one chance of a trip to Brier – they have to win in Selkirk.

The teams qualified for Manitoba’s Viterra Championship represent curling clubs and communities across Manitoba. They are:

Assiniboine Memorial: Braden Calvert
Assiniboine Memorial: Jacques Gauthier
Assiniboine Memorial: JT Ryan
Assiniboine Memorial: Riley Smith
Assiniboine Memorial: Brett Walter
Baldur: Grant Shewfelt
Beausejour: Justin Richter
Burntwood: Sam Antila
Carberry: Kelly Marnoch
Carman: Dean North
Deer Lodge: Sean Grassie
Deer Lodge: Jordon McDonald
Fort Garry: Corey Chambers
Fort Rouge: Mark Lukowich
Fort Rouge: Evan Martin
Fort Rouge: Ryan Wiebe
Gladstone: Jeff Stewart
Granite: William Lyburn
Granite: Richard Muntain
LaSalle: Randy Neufeld
Morden: Ryan Thomson
Morris: Jason Gunnlaugson
Pembina: Daniel Birchard
Pembina: Jack Hykaway
Pilot Mound: Kyle McCannell
Virden: Graham Freeman
West St. Paul: Mike McEwen
Winnipeg Beach: Colton Lott

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