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

More funding for Harrison tourism projects on the horizon

Village could see increased funding by 2020

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

Chilliwack firefighter seeking to reunite Rosedale VFD’s old auxiliary fire pump with antique engine

It’s been four decades, but Pat Liebault is hoping to reunite Rosedale’s auxiliary pump and engine

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Most Read