Canada’s national curling championships — the Brier and the Tournament of Hearts — had their fields expanded to 16 rinks on Sunday at Curling Canada’s annual general meeting.
The tournaments will now feature the champions of Curling Canada’s 14 member associations, the defending champions representing Canada, as well as the top-ranked non-qualified team on the Canadian team ranking system once each provincial/territorial playdown is completed.
The new format is a pilot that was approved in concept at the 2015 Curling Canada AGM, which takes advantage of the fact the 2018 championships will have little or no bearing on the qualifying process for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The teams will be split into two pools of eight, with the top four teams from each pool then advancing to a championship pool that will determine the final four playoff teams. That will allow the Brier and the Tournament of Hearts to stick to their traditional nine-day formats, while insuring that all 14 teams have direct entry into the main portion of the championship.
In addition to the format changes, Curling Canada and its Member Associations approved the introduction of a new Canadian under-18 boys and girls curling championship.
The event will make its debut in the spring of 2017 and will complement the existing Canadian Junior (Under-21) Curling Championships, which will take place in January 2017 in Esquimalt, B.C.