Brown, Dunstone of Kamloops have path to Olympics, as Curling Canada reveals trials plans

The postponed 2020 Summer Olympics ended on Sunday in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Games will begin in February in Beijing.

Suddenly, the time is now for the Corryn Brown rink of Kamloops Curling Club and Matt Dunstone, the River City resident who skips a Regina-based team.

“It’s definitely pretty crazy that the Olympics are only a few months away when the summer Olympics just ended,” said Brown, whose rink includes third Erin Pincott, second Dezaray Hawes, lead Sam Fisher and coach Allison MacInnes.

“It’s pretty nuts to think about.”

Curling Canada on Tuesday laid out the path to the Tim Hortons Curling Trials, which will run from Nov. 20 to Nov. 28 in Saskatoon and produce the four-person men’s and women’s teams that will don the Maple Leaf in Beijing.

Brown and Dunstone have received invitations to compete at the Canadian Curling Trials Direct-Entry Event, which will run from Sept. 22 to Sept. 26 in Ottawa in conjunction with the Canadian Curling Pre-Trials Direct-Entry Event.

“It was very inspiring to watch our Canadian athletes do what they did in Tokyo and we want to be part of that, as well,” Dunstone said.

The Trials Direct-Entry Event format has not been released, but Curling Canada notes the top three women’s teams and top two men’s teams will qualify for the Tim Hortons Curling Trials in Saskatoon.

“We’ve planned accordingly to make sure we can get as many events and training weekends as we can prior to make sure we’re bringing our best once we get there,” said Brown, whose rink will make its season debut next week at a cashspiel in Leduc, Alta.

In Ottawa, the field on the women’s side will include Brown, Suzanne Birt (Charlottetown), Kelsey Rocque (Edmonton), Laura Walker (Edmonton) and Casey Scheidegger (Lethbridge, Alta.).

Dunstone, Colton Flasch (Saskatoon), Jason Gunnlaugson (Winnipeg), Glenn Howard (Penetanguishene, Ont.) and Mike McEwen (Winnipeg) will compete on the men’s side.

Trials Direct-Entry Event teams that do not qualify for the Tim Hortons Curling Trials in Ottawa will have a second chance at the Home Hardware Curling Pre-Trials, which will take place from Oct. 26 to Oct. 31 in Liverpool, N.S.

“It’s definitely interesting, to say the least,” Dunstone said. “It seems like everybody and their dog has a shot at the Olympic trials this year, just with all the other different events and formats. I’m not going to complain about anything, considering the season we had last year. It’s just nice to be playing again.”

Matt Dunstone
Kamloops resident Matt Dunstone and his Regina-based rink have won bronze at back-to-back Briers. - Michael Burns photo/Curling Canada

Brown and Dunstone won provincial titles in 2020 and were unable to defend their crowns in 2021, as B.C. and Saskatchewan cancelled provincial championship tournaments amid the pandemic.

Both were selected by their respective provincial curling governing bodies to compete at the 2021 national championships, which were held inside the Calgary curling bubble earlier this year.

Team Dunstone claimed its second consecutive bronze medal at the Brier.

Team Brown, which placed sixth at the national Scotties in 2020 in Moose Jaw, posted a 4-4 record in round-robin action in Calgary to fall short of the Championship Pool.

The major events held inside the Calgary curling bubble were preceded by a campaign ravaged by the pandemic.

Brown’s season came to an abrupt halt on Nov. 12, 2020, and did not resume until the national championship began in February.

Team members have fingers crossed for a return to relative normalcy in 2021-2022.

“As far as I know, most of the events are a go and if they aren’t, it’s not necessarily due to COVID reasons in B.C.,” Brown said.

The Kamloops Curling Club halted operations in September of 2020. BC Housing took over the building in October of 2020, using it as shelter space until its lease expired at the end of July.

Ice could return to the KCC as early as Sept. 7, said club general manager Rob Nordin.

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