Alberta curlers hoping for COVID-19 training exemption ahead of national championships

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Alberta curlers hoping for exemption for practice
WATCH ABOVE: The Scotties Tournament of Hearts slides out of the hack in the Calgary bubble in less than a month. Then, the Tim Hortons Brier follows after that. But as Quinn Phillips reports, because of COVID-19 lockdowns, Alberta teams haven't been on the ice since November. – Jan 26, 2021

Laura Walker is thrilled to represent Alberta again at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, but the situation is less than ideal because of COVID-19.

On top of having her son, Liam, just four months ago, Walker was only able to practice for about a month since then because of provincial restrictions.

“That’s the longest I’ve been off the ice since I was six years old,” said Walker. “And I had a baby and my body changed a lot. So it was really slow for me, I would go out and practice one day and take a day or two off to recover and practice again.”

Brendan Bottcher is heading to his fifth Tim Hortons Brier. He was able to play three events this season, but said they felt more like practice because his team wasn’t able to get on the ice prior to those events.

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Both understand the need for restrictions, but are hopeful that Curling Alberta’s request for an exemption to train will be granted. Alberta Health confirmed it is reviewing the request and remains in contact with Curling Alberta.

There is some urgency though, as the Scotties Tournament of Hearts is less than a month away, beginning on Feb. 20.

“There’s nothing you can do in the gym that actually mimics in any way the sweeping or the sliding,” Walker said. “So that would be my biggest concern, is just making sure everyone stays healthy all week.”

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“You can do a few stretching things,” Bottcher said. “You can do some visualization things. There’s things you can do to try and get mentally and physically ready to go. And then hopefully with a couple of days of practice we have before the Brier starts that’ll get us to where we need to be.”

Curling Canada has said that teams will be given two extra practice sessions once they’ve entered the curling bubble in Calgary at the Markin MacPhail Centre.


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