Canada’s skip Kevin Koe uses his broom to clean the stone during the men’s curling match against Switzerland at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea on Feb. 23, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Aaron Favila)

Canada’s Kevin Koe to test new lineup at World Cup of Curling

Canadian contingent competes at tournament’s first stop in Suzhou, China

The World Cup is set to join an already crowded curling calendar. But for Kevin Koe, the timing is right, the money is good and his new lineup needs reps.

So a few short months after wearing the Maple Leaf at the Winter Olympics, Koe dons it again for the first leg of the World Curling Federation’s newest property.

The World Cup of Curling is four tournaments of team and mixed doubles competition involving the top curling countries in the world. Each country determines its representatives for each leg.

Rachel Homan’s team and the mixed doubles duo of Kirk Muyres and Laura Walker round out the Canadian contingent competing Wednesday to Sunday in Suzhou, China.

The second stop is Dec. 5-9 in Omaha, Neb., followed by the third in Jonkoping, Sweden, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3.

The grand final May 8-12 in Beijing will include winning teams from the previous three stops.

READ MORE: B.C. draws top curlers for inaugural World Curling Tour

The World Cup offers a total of US$775,000, or just over CDN$1 million, for a prize pot. Winning one event is worth up to US$33,000 to a team and that number doubles in Beijing.

With third Marc Kennedy on a curling hiatus and second Brent Laing departing for John Epping’s foursome after last season, Koe is breaking in B.J. Neufeld at vice and Colton Flasch on his front end while retaining lead Ben Hebert.

The skip considers elite opponents with significant dollars at stake a good trial-by-fire for his Calgary-based squad.

“Obviously the teams are good, the prize money is good and for us, we’re looking at it as we have new team,” Koe told The Canadian Press.

“It’s a chance for a new team to go to a high-profile event for our first event and get to know each other.”

While the two-time world men’s champion is seasoned in international competition, Saskatoon’s Muyres is greener and excited about competing with Edmonton’s Walker in China.

“Now, I get to be a part of a bigger Team Canada,” said the 28-year-old mortgage broker. “We’re going to be there with Koe and Homan as well. We’re all going to be rooting for each other.

“The last time I was a part of something like that was the Canada Games back in 2007.”

For Homan, it’s a return trip to the country where her team won a women’s world title in Beijing in 2017.

“There wasn’t a lot of hesitation when it came up and we got the invite,” second Joanne Courtney said.

“We had a great time when we visited Beijing for the world championship in 2017 and we thought it would be a great way to start the year off on an exciting note, being part of a brand new event.”

In a season already bulging with weekly World Curling Tour events, the Continental Cup, the Canada Cup, provincial playdowns and national and world championships, scheduling conflicts influenced Curling Canada’s decisions on who to send to each World Cup stop.

“Our biggest concern is the scheduling conflict element because it’s four more events added to a calendar that’s already over full,” high-performance director Gerry Peckham said. “It was picking teams that were interested, and were available and had a competitive resume that warranted selection.”

The competitive season not yet in full swing, Canada’s 2018 Olympic teams skipped by Koe and Ottawa’s Homan were available for Suzhou.

Reigning national mixed doubles champions Muyres and Walker won a bronze medal at the 2018 world championship.

But the second leg of the World Cup in Omaha conflicts with the $140,000 Canada Cup, which will draw 15 top teams to Estevan, Sask.

So Tracy Fleury and Jason Gunnlaugson, who skip Winnipeg foursomes, were chosen Canada’s representatives for Omaha.

The third leg in Sweden runs up against provincial and territorial playdowns in Canada.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

South Shuswap residents kick waste collection concept to the curb

Area C residents prefer existing depot system, suggest more enforcement

Province attempting to ease concerns over caribou management

CSRD receives letter promising more consultation while chambers of commerce meet with minister

High-flying ‘Canadian Sasquatch’ spotted in Salmon Arm

Bruce Jones enjoys showing champion belt while volunteering at community events

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mix of sun and cloud, chance of showers

Environment Canada is calling for a sunny weekend across the Okanagan

Memorial skateboard competition request rolling to Salmon Arm council

September event to be in honour of Josh Hunter who passed away in 2018

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Battle of blacksmiths returns to Okanagan vineyard

A battle of blacksmiths is returning for its second year in Lake Country

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Health: Living longer, a myth?

A new column to Black Press from CHIP HealthLine Solutions

Memorial plaques stolen from Okanagan cemetery

Four plaques were stolen from Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Kelowna

Sustainable farming summit coming to the Okanagan

Kelowna will soon host a summit on how the food industry can reduce its climate impact

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UBC Okanagan professor details wildfire risks

Associate professor David Scott provides details for the Okanagan’s wildfire season

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Most Read