Residential Standards. Pregnancy exemptions. Confusion, questions and anger.
A press release from Curling Canada has sparked a debate about inclusion, equity and options for teams with pregnant players, with a view to confirming the draw for the women’s national championship.
Prominent curlers from across the country criticized the National Sports Institute this week, creating an exemption that would allow only the top five teams to apply.
When the fourth-ranked team was able to bring in a free agent out of province to replace a player, questions about the rules began to surface, along with some harsh criticism.
“I’m a little bummed that this rule seems to only favor the elite in Canada,” said sixth-seeded Casey Scheidegger, one of three wild-card entrants in the Scotties Hearts tournament.
Scheidegger and her sister Jessie Haughian are pregnant and due to give birth in June.
However, the Alberta-based team is outside the top five and is not eligible to apply for the same exemption granted to the team skipped by fourth-ranked Kaitlin Laws, according to federation rules.
“We were number 6 and we didn’t know anything about it, it was interesting to find out yesterday and see that announcement,” Scheidegger told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. “Certainly, I think the most obvious thing about fate is that it seems unfair.”
His sister also spoke on Twitter.
“I am confused as to my position in the ECCD [rankings] Related to this,” Hageon said in a post. “Pregnancy is pregnancy.”
The team, which already had an import player in Manitoba’s Kate Hogan, planned to add Kristy Moore as a replacement. Moore, a 2010 Olympian from Grande Prairie, Alta., has played with the team several times in recent seasons.
Scheidegger said Moore is happy to have Moore available and will see more playing time with Haugian experiencing occasional aches and pains.
“Would we apply for a waiver? Possibly,” said Scheidegger, of Lethbridge, Alta. “I don’t think it was an option for us. So we stuck to the residency rules because we thought that’s what would get us.”
‘Elitism’ and ‘Paveritism’
Under those residency rules, at least three of the four players must live in their respective province or territory or have a birthright. Only one free agent per team is allowed unless a waiver is granted.
Lawes, co-star Selina Njegovan and lead Christine McQuish are based in Winnipeg, while Calgary-based Jocelyn Peterman is the import. Curling Canada granted Njegovan a pregnancy leave and allowed Edmonton free agent Laura Walker to replace her.
Because her ranking was within the cutoff line, the team was “eligible to apply for a pregnancy waiver, which allowed them to add a free agent player to the Scottish nationals who did not take part in their provincial/territorial playdowns,” he said. Curling Canada in their statement. . release
Despite those words, Curling Canada CEO Cathy Henderson said it’s not really a pregnancy exemption, but a “residency exemption” and is available to anyone applying for paternity leave.
He said the decision to limit eligibility for the waiver to five teams was not arbitrary.
“It’s not like we’re trying to shut anyone out,” Henderson told The Canadian Press from Toronto. “What we’re looking at is the time patterns, which teams traditionally receive funding from our national team program.
“That’s where we really plugged it in.”
As a result, 13 of the 18 teams scheduled for February 17-26 in Kamloops, BC are out of the top five and unable to bid to make similar lineup changes if necessary.
Several notable curlers took to social media to criticize the eligibility rule, including Olympians Dan McEwen, Mike McEwen, Felix Asselin and Beth Peterson.
“The time of pregnancy can be stressful and difficult for many athletes,” Dan McEwen said on Twitter. “The norm that discriminates against some women who compete in the same national field is worrying.
“Please give everyone the same opportunity Curling Canada.”
Walker has focused on mixed doubles this season, but has been subservient to team laws at times. But if Lawes is sixth or lower, his inclusion in the Scots is unlikely.
“This exemption only applies to the top five teams because their ability to replace a player with someone of equal skill and commitment is limited,” the Curling Canada statement said.
Asselin, who will skip Quebec’s entry in next month’s Tim Hortons Fryer, called the rule an example of “elitism” and “favouritism.”
“Every female curler should be able to substitute someone who follows all the rules of residency during pregnancy.[s]Asselin tweeted. “This cannot be an excuse to add imports. It’s very sad,” he said.
Rankings provide a strong picture of team performance, but they’re not necessarily the best yardstick for measuring ability or potential. Many teams miss out on big scoring events due to a limited travel schedule or a desire to only play select bonspiels.
For example, the 2022 Scotties were won by Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson, who defeated Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville, currently ranked 61st, in the final.
Einarsson advanced to the semifinals against New Brunswick’s Andrea Kelly, who is now ranked 16th.
In the current standings, Einarson (284,750 points) leads Ontario’s Rachel Homan (270,750), Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones (206,000), Laws (183,250) and British Columbia’s Clancy Grandy (166,625).
Scheidegger (161,750) is just behind in sixth, just ahead of seventh-place Megan Walter (160,500).
Pietersen, who will make his Scottish debut in 2021, also weighed in on the destination via Twitter.
“I’m sorry, but isn’t this disrespectful to other pregnant women?” she tweeted. “I cannot go back on exempting some teams and not others.”
Few curlers compete while pregnant – Homan was memorably eight months pregnant when she reached the 2021 Scotties final – but substitutes are sometimes needed.
Scheidegger called the opt-out section of the press release “the weirdest thing I’ve ever read.”
“We have a lot of teams that are in a very similar situation and are looking for a player,” he said. “You want to have a player that makes your team stronger, especially when you’re competing in a national event.”
The Scottish champion will represent Canada at the Women’s World Curling Championships from March 18-26 in Sandviken, Sweden.
On Wednesday, Curling Canada announced that the 2023 PointsBet Invitational will be played from September 26 to October 1. 1 at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex in Oakville, Ontario.