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Sask. cancels curling playdowns; Matt Dunstone, Sherry Anderson to play at nationals

Team Saskatchewan skip Matt Dunstone delivers as they take on Team BC at the Brier in Kingston, Ont., on March 2, 2020. Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan cancelled its provincial curling championships on Thursday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt Dunstone will represent the province at the Tim Hortons Brier and Sherry Anderson will skip the Saskatchewan team at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, CurlSask said in a release.

Read more: Nova Scotia curling playdowns cancelled; provincial reps likely to be named this week

The national championships will be held in a so-called bubble at Calgary’s Markin MacPhail Centre. The Feb. 20-28 Scotties will be the first of six competitions to be held at the Canada Olympic Park venue through late April.

CurlSask, the provincial curling association, made its team selections based on performance over a two-season window rather than 2020 championship results.

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Dunstone, who won last year’s provincial title, is the highest-ranked team from Saskatchewan in the Canadian rankings at No. 7. The squad claimed bronze at last year’s Brier, albeit with a slightly different lineup. Kirk Muyres has since taken over at second, replacing Catlin Schneider.

Dunstone admits it’s not quite the same feeling this time with the team not having gone through provincial playdowns.

“We’re celebrating over text message today so it’s a little different in that sense. Overall, obviously (we’re) happy to be the team selected to go but all in all it’s a pretty unfortunate situation all things considered. Hopefully this is a scenario that only happens once,” he said.

Anderson is 14th in the national women’s rankings. Tenth-ranked Robyn Silvernagle represented Saskatchewan at the Scotties last year but only has two returning members from that team, one short of the required minimum.

This will be Anderson’s tenth appearance at the Scotties and sixth as a skip. Third Nancy Martin and second Chaelynn Kitz will be making their Scotties debuts while lead Breanne Knapp is making her first appearance in Saskatchewan colours after serving as an alternate for Team Manitoba in 2011 and 2014.

“I maybe don’t have the same level of enthusiasm as my team has because I know it’s going to be so much different but I’m really, really excited for them. They were really excited when I called them this morning so I’m happy about that,” Anderson said.

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Read more: Lethbridge to host 2022 Tim Hortons Brier curling championship

Mike Armstrong and Ashley Quick will represent Saskatchewan at the Canadian mixed doubles championship.

Saskatchewan recently extended its ban on team sports until Jan. 29.