MELFORT, NIPAWIN — After the release of CurlSask guidelines, local clubs have begun to plan ahead for a November season start.
“I don’t think our plans are much unchanged from the year before, we’ll forge ahead just like we have in the past,” said Mike McClelland, secretary and treasurer of the Nipawin Evergreen Curling Club. “That’s the fortunate thing about curling, is there’s about 2,000 square feet on a curling sheet and there’s only eight of you out there.”
McClelland said a big part of the extra work will come from disinfecting surface areas.
According to CurlSask, there must be a thorough cleaning plan that involves disinfecting of common areas, washrooms, locker rooms, ice shed, rocks, equipment and employee/volunteer workstations.
In addition, there must be established community safety measures such as public hand washing or alcohol sanitizing stations.
“We more or less rent the space from the Town of Nipawin, so the Town of Nipawin staff will obviously have to spend some extra time with some disinfecting of the handles.”
Kerrie DeGooijer, board member with the Melfort Curling Club, said on Sept. 2, that the club will be meeting to discuss how to best adapt to the CurlSask guidelines on Sept. 9 – but a season go-ahead is expected for November.
“We know there will be curling, so we’re excited for that because a few months ago I didn’t know what was going to happen with that,” DeGooijer said.
“For the most part, there are different protocols and things like that, but curling in our facility, we’re kind of in a good position because the square footage is really huge.”
CurlSask stated that they support Curling Canada's recommendation of one sweeper in recreational play.
DeGooijer said this will be one of the biggest challenges for the Melfort Curling Club.
“What we’re used to is having two sweepers. If you have two sweepers and we continue with that you can carry the rock further or help a curl. If you’re stuck with one sweeper, maybe that changes your strategy a little bit,” DeGooijer said.
“I think our board’s going to be meeting to discuss some flexibilities. If everybody is in a household on a team, you can probably sweep together. We’re going to discuss what our specific protocols are.”
For Nipawin players, the most difficult part of adjusting, McClelland believes, will be avoiding touching other players' rocks.
“The way you play the game, they’re talking about how the only two rocks you touch as a player are the two you’re going to throw, you’re not going to touch anybody else’s rocks with your hand,” McClelland said.
“Something as simple as putting the rocks in the corner at the completion of an end, most people obviously use their feet or their brooms to push to a corner, but there was never anything that said that you couldn’t touch them with their hand.”
Due to this, McClelland said it is likely the club will encourage players to wear gloves.
“A lot of players do wear gloves, because it’s cold out there, but some people like myself like to throw my rock with my bare hand – always have. So maybe I’ll have to learn to throw with my glove on.”
Players of opposing teams and those on other sheets are expected to maintain a minimum of six feet of distance from each other.
Under current CurlSask guidelines, mandatory mask use is up to each club, subject to change. While masks should be required by coaches, instructors, facilitators, and staff when physical distancing measures cannot be maintained.
DeGooijer said Melfort’s own approach will be brought up in discussions starting Sept. 9.
McClelland said the Nipawin club will not be making masks mandatory when physically distance can be maintained, unless guidelines change.
“If that’s something the provincial government mandates, that we can’t be playing without a mask on, we’ll have to look at that,” McClelland said. “We’re obviously not going to break the guidelines the province set out. It’s also a game that’s exerting some physical effort and the last thing you want is a mask over your mouth.”
Tournaments and inter-provincial competition are not permitted, while local Saskatchewan tournaments are.
McClelland and DeGooijer both believe this won’t have a significant impact, as neither clubs host inter-provincial tournaments.
“Our club itself, we don’t have a lot of competitive players in our curling club,” McClelland said. “We’re more a recreational or social kind of thing.”
DeGooijer said it would be a concern for Melfort’s club if local provincial tournaments get cancelled, as that’s a method for how they make funds.
“We like hosting these events, we do a good job hosting these events, we get sponsorship money. It’s a way for the club to make money,” she said. “We don’t really host inter-provincial events, but we would host provincial.”