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COVID-19 sidelines curling season for some New Brunswickers

Click to play video 'COVID-19 sidelines curling season for some New Brunswickers' COVID-19 sidelines curling season for some New Brunswickers
WATCH: Curling is an annual part of winter in New Brunswick. But for many clubs in the province things are looking different this year. Travis Fortnum has more – Oct 30, 2020

The St. Stephen Curling Club has been put on ice for the 2020-21 season.

With membership registration down almost 75 per cent due to COVID-19 concerns, club president Joanne Gorman says it just wasn’t feasible to operate.

“We’ve been trying to look at grants and loans and we thought maybe if we opened people would come,” she says. “It was really, really tough.

“It was two weeks ago we had to decide and we were not happy about it.”

Read more: Defending Scotties champ Team Einarson navigating COVID-19 curling season

Gorman says about 110 people registered last winter, with only 30 registering this time around.

She says the coronavirus pandemic is entirely to blame, with some players either not willing to put at-risk loved ones in danger or disheartened by altered gameplay.

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“There’s a lot of strategy in sweeping and you couldn’t go past the hogline to sweep because you’d be next to their skip,” Gorman says. “So there was no sweeping their rock out or making yours go straighter once you were in the hack.

“A lot of people were put off by that — the real competitive ones didn’t like that new rule.”

Gorman says, however, the biggest loss is the social aspect of the game.

“Oh my gosh, the social life is amazing,” she says.

“We play to win; we play to have fun as well. It’s social. We have a great time talking and playing,” says Gorman.

Clubs elsewhere are moving ahead with altered seasons.

Meredith LeBlanc, president of the Carleton Curling Club, says only a few of its members have decided to sit this season out.

“We’ve always had good support from our membership and we didn’t see anything being different this year,” she says.

“The rules are going to be a little bit different, but we think everybody can adjust.”

Read more: New Brunswick reports 1 new coronavirus case on Friday, potential exposure notice in Moncton

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However, LeBlanc says there are some who aren’t willing to risk it.

“A person that I talked to is taking care of her elderly mother and I think the risk there for her is too much,” she says.

LeBlanc says her club is still taking signups, with a registration night planned for Nov. 5 at 6 p.m.

For Gorman and her teammates, ice time this winter will require a road trip.

She says some of them will commute to St. Andrews to play there.