AJAX, Ont. — The Ontario Curling Association has handpicked Rachel Homan's team to represent the province in the upcoming national championship, but there's a catch.
Should Homan and John Morris be selected by Curling Canada to represent the country in Olympic mixed doubles curling, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts berth goes to Hollie Duncan, the OCA said Friday in a statement.
The 2022 Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., from Jan. 28 to Feb. 6 features a team from every province and territory plus a wild-card entry.
Ontario's curling playdowns Jan. 5-9 in Thornhill were shut down, however, because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Homan and third Emma Miskew are three-time Canadian champions, and Homan teams have lost the last three Hearts finals.
Homan ranks fifth on Curling Canada's Canadian Team Rankings System ahead of Duncan in sixth.
"The Canadian Team Ranking system played a part in the final decision for our representative," the OCA said in a statement.
"Also included in this review were results based on Strength of Field Multiplier and history in events of a national/international calibre (Grand Slams, Canada Cup, Scotties, Worlds, Olympics etc.).
"Team Homan has a long history on the provincial, national and international stage and won the most recently completed Ontario provincial in 2020.
"Rachel and Emma have represented Ontario eight times at the Scotties winning three and a world championship. They also participated in the 2018 Olympics and have won 11 Grand Slams."
The national mixed doubles trials in Portage La Prairie, Man., earlier this month were also called off because of the pandemic, which left Curling Canada in a similar position of having to choose a team for Beijing's Winter Olympics that start Feb. 4.
Mixed doubles preliminary rounds start two days before the opening ceremonies.
Curling Canada has yet to announce a decision on its Olympic mixed double team.
National sports organizations must submit their lists of nominated athletes to the Canadian Olympic Committee by Jan. 19.
Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes won the first Olympic mixed doubles curling gold awarded in 2018.
Lawes returns to the Winter Games playing third for Jennifer Jones in team curling.
Morris and Homan rank fifth in Curling Canada's mixed doubles rankings.
"We could never have anticipated a situation where our team’s participation in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts would be contingent on a selection for the Olympics (Mixed Doubles)," Homan's team said in a Twitter post Friday.
"To represent your country or your province is always an incredible honour.
"While it’s unfortunate we weren’t able to compete at provincials to secure our spot, we’ve worked hard all season to earn our CTRS ranking, and we’ve been training together in hopes of getting back on the ice."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2022.
The Canadian Press