World champions Brad Gushue and Rachel Homan will headline the field at the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings.
The Dec. 2-10 competition at the Canadian Tire Centre will serve as the qualifying event in four-player curling for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Gushue, from St. John’s, and Homan, from Ottawa, both went undefeated at their respective world championships after winning national titles earlier in the season.
Seven men’s teams and seven women’s teams had their participation for the Trials confirmed Monday in a release by Curling Canada.
Joining Gushue in the men’s field are reigning Olympic champion Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers, Toronto’s John Epping, Calgary’s Kevin Koe, Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock and Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen.
Reigning Olympic women’s champion Jennifer Jones will join Homan in the women’s field along with Calgary’s Chelsea Carey, Winnipeg’s Michelle Englot, Alli Flaxey of Caledon, Ont., Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., and Edmonton’s Val Sweeting.
The complete field will be rounded out after the Nov. 6-12 Road to the Roar Pre-Trials at Credit Union Place in Summerside, P.E.I. Two men’s teams and two women’s teams from that 24-team field will qualify for the Olympic Trials.
The qualifying process for the Roar of the Rings began in the 2014-15 season. Teams could lock up berths by winning a national title (and reaching the podium at the world championship), winning a Home Hardware Canada Cup or via performance on the Canadian Team Ranking System.
Canadian curling teams have reached the podium in every Olympic curling competition since the sport was re-introduced as a medal sport at the 1998 Nagano Games.
Jones earned a direct berth into the 2013 Roar of the Rings before winning the Trials and then Olympic gold. Jacobs came out of the Road to the Roar competition before winning the Trials and an Olympic title.
The Road to the Roar field is expected to be finalized later this month.
Curlers will have another way to represent their country at the 2018 Games now that mixed doubles is on the Olympic program.
Canada secured a berth in the Olympic field at last week’s world mixed doubles curling championship in Lethbridge, Alta.
Edmonton’s Joanne Courtney â€” who plays second on Homan’s team â€” won silver with Carruthers. They dropped a 6-5 decision to Switzerland’s Martin Rios and Jenny Perret in the final.
Curlers who qualify for the Olympics in the four-man or four-woman team events will not be allowed to represent Canada in mixed doubles.
Canada’s mixed doubles pairing for the Games will be determined at a Jan. 2-7 qualifying event at a site to be determined.
The Pyeongchang Games will be held Feb. 9-25.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press