Bernard and her Calgary women’s team will take on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic men’s champions from Edmonton, Team Kevin Martin, in one of the two event semifinals played January 22, 2011 at Casino Rama just outside of Barrie, Ontario.
The other semi will feature the 2010 defending champions, Team David Murdoch of Scotland, against the new world men’s champions from Edmonton, Team Kevin Koe. The two semifinal winners will compete in the final on January 23.
The Skins Game is a three-match, made-for-television competition featuring four teams in a unique style of play. Money – a total of $100,000 – is the key to scoring, and teams must either score two or more points with the hammer or steal a point to win a “skin”. The total amount of money earned determines the winner.
All three matches will be televised live in High-Definition on Canada’s TSN (The Sports Network).
“We’ve never had the opportunity to take on such a high calibre of men’s teams so we jumped at the chance to participate in the TSN Curling Skins Game,” said Bernard in a news release. “The venue, format and interaction with the fans will definitely make for a fun weekend of curling. But watch out guys – we are playing to win.”
Team Bernard is only the second women’s team to compete in the Skins Game. Two years ago, Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones battled Glenn Howard at Casino Rama and were crushed, scoring just a single skin over the eight-ends of play.
Bernard’s inclusion means Team Howard will not compete in the 2011 event. Howard, who resides in nearby Midland, has been invited to the three previous Skins Games and enjoys a large local following.
It also guarantees another summer and fall of off-ice debate, regarding the ability of female curlers to compete with their male opponents. Here’s an excerpt of a recent interview between Canwest News and Team Martin third John Morris:
CANWEST: If your team, the men’s Olympic champs, played 100 games against women’s champ Anette Norberg of Sweden, how many would you win?
MORRIS: Oh, I’m going to get myself in trouble for this answer, I bet. I would say 90.
CANWEST: Why such a disparity? Why such dominance by the men?
MORRIS: Well, you can compare it to (the gender difference) in tennis or golf. First of all, the sweepers are a lot better in men’s curling. And being able to throw the rock really hard can be a big weapon. So, the advantage of sweeping and the advantage of throwing the rock harder would be enough to unbalance the scale, I guess.
The Curling News has blogged live from all three previous Curling Skins Games, providing exclusive behind-the-scenes anecdotes and photos. You can catch up on previous coverage via our blog archive, during the months of January in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
After all, you never know what you’re going to see at the Skins Game. Like this.
[Anil Mungal photo copyright 2010 The Curling News. No reproduction is permitted]