Wow, what an exciting time to be a curler and curling fan!! Tomorrow marks the start of the “Road to the Rings”, also known as the Canadian Pre-Trials. This competition will pit 12 mens and 12 womens teams against each other for the right to…play again! Yes, the top two teams get to move on to the “Roar of the Rings” which will determine the teams that will carry the Maple Leaf into the Olympics in Sochi Russia in 2014. The pre-trials is being held in Kitchener Waterloo Ontario and features many teams you will know well, (Brad Jacobs, you know, reigning Canadian Mens Curling champion!!) and some you might be less familiar with. Some of you might be wondering, why bother? I mean, what’s the point of having two of these events, why can’t we just have that one big competition and be done with it? The answer of course belongs right here in my ramblings about curling and development of curlers. The “point” of having a pre-trials competition is to aid in the development of teams who may have an even longer term view of their path to the Olympics.
As many of us will recall, back in 2012 London England held the Summer Olympic games to great success. The Canadian Olympic Committee had the foresight to send some prospective Olympic curlers to that event to experience life at the Olympics. Why?? Again, this was done to help prepare those prospective Olympians for the overwhelming experience of the Olympic environment. The athletes chosen to attend were able to visit the Olympic Village, attend a number of competitions and even get outfitted in Team Canada gear. As coaches, we know the value of experience prior to competition and we know how distractions away from the game can affect our athletes performance. By giving these athletes that experience before they actually go to an Olympic Games as competitors, the Canadian Committee has given our athletes a feel for what it will be like if and when they make it there themselves. They will be less overwhelmed and distracted when it comes time for them to compete.
This is the primary reason Canada is holding a “Pre-Trials” competition. With due respect to the teams competing in the Pre-Trials, there is really maybe only one legitimate contender in that field who could challenge for the Olympic spot. That isn’t the point however. The point is to prepare those other teams for what it will take to get there NEXT TIME!! The Pre-Trials are essentially a development stage for the future Olympians! I believe it shows amazing foresight on behalf of the powers that be in curling in Canada. What better way to expose younger teams to the challenges that they will face in a run towards the Olympics?
For coaches out there, a good lesson can be learned from this. How can you prepare your athletes for that next level of competition? Find your own “Pre-Trials”.