Veteran curlers Marc Kennedy and Lisa Weagle will serve as backups in the event an injury or positive COVID-19 test forces a change to the Canadian mixed doubles roster before the start of the Beijing Games.
Rachel Homan and John Morris, currently training in isolation in Canmore, Alta., were named as Canada's mixed doubles representatives last week.
Kennedy and Weagle are listed as alternates on the Canadian entries in the four-player competitions. Kennedy is the fifth on Team Brad Gushue and Weagle is a member of the five-player Team Jennifer Jones.
Instead of flying to China in early February with their respective teams, national coach Scott Pfeifer said Kennedy and Weagle will depart Jan. 29 on a team charter with the mixed doubles crew and support staff.
"Team Jones and Team Gushue are really supportive of a mixed doubles contingency plan," Pfeifer said Friday.
Mixed doubles round-robin play begins Feb. 2 at the Ice Cube, two days before the opening ceremony. Medal games are set for Feb. 8, one day before men's team play begins and two days before the start of women's team competition.
Once the mixed doubles team lineup is submitted on Feb. 2, it cannot change, Pfeifer said. An injury or positive test after that date would result in a default since alternates are not used in the discipline, he added.
Morris won gold with Kaitlyn Lawes at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in the Olympic debut for mixed doubles. Lawes throws third stones on the Jones team.
Jones won gold at the 2014 Sochi Games and Gushue won gold at the Turin Games in 2006. They earned return Olympic appearances by skipping their teams to victory at Canada's Olympic trials last November in Saskatoon.
"They've considered the greater Canadian Olympic team even though it may impact their preparation plans," Pfeifer said. "They've really gone out of their way to ensure that we do have a proper backup plan in place for the mixed doubles, which is greatly appreciated from both of those teams."
Homan skipped the Canadian women's entry in Pyeongchang but did not make the podium. Men's skip Kevin Koe also missed out on a medal in 2018.
Homan and Morris have won four of their last six mixed doubles competitions together and 45 of their last 49 games as a duo overall.
"The same thing goes for the mixed doubles athletes should anyone test positive on the four-person side, potentially staying longer and serving in a support role there," Pfeifer told The Canadian Press from Canmore.
Canada, Sweden, Great Britain and Norway are some of the headliners in the 10-team Olympic mixed doubles field.
WORLD JUNIORS POSTPONED
The 2022 world junior curling championships in Jonkoping, Sweden are being moved from March to mid-May due to current restrictions by local health authorities.
The event is now set for May 15-22, the World Curling Federation said Friday in a release.
The world junior-B championships were cancelled earlier this month due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Since no teams were promoted as a result, Latvia, Norway and the U.S., -- the three-highest ranked nations not already qualified -- will get spots in the women's event. Italy, New Zealand and Norway will fill out the men's field.
Curling Canada has tweaked its tiebreaker formula for the national men's and women's national championships this season.
Unlike last season when multiple tiebreaker games were possible, only one tiebreaker game will be played this year -- if necessary -- for the third-place spot. A minimum round-robin record of 5-3 is required to participate.
if there is a tie between more than two rinks, head-to-head record will be used to eliminate teams. If still tied, last stone draw statistics will determine the two tiebreaker teams.
Three wild-card teams will be included in the 18-team draws at the Jan. 28-Feb. 6 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., and the March 4-13 Tim Hortons Brier in Lethbridge, Alta.
The Canadian wheelchair curling team will open play at the Beijing Paralympics on March 5 against host China.
The schedule for the 12-team competition at the Ice Cube was unveiled Friday. Round-robin games will continue through March 10 and the gold-medal game is set for March 12, the WCF said.
Mark Ideson helped Canada win bronze at the 2018 Paralympics. China took the gold in South Korea.
The Canadian roster for Beijing is expected to be formally nominated next week.
Estonia, Great Britain, Korea, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States are also in the field.
The 2022 Canadian Under-18 Boys and Girls Curling Championships will be played May 2-7 at the Oakville Curling Club.
Originally scheduled for Feb. 14-20 in Timmins, Ont., Curling Canada had postponed the event due to pandemic concerns.
The location change was due to a lack of ice availability in Timmins for the rest of the season, the federation said.
Timmins will get an opportunity to host in February 2023 instead.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2022.
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