Kamloops resident Matt Dunstone has been holed up in his hotel room in Calgary since Saturday (April 10), isolating and awaiting COVID-19 testing results ahead of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Humpty’s Champions Cup.
The event, the fifth of seven to take place inside the Calgary curling bubble, was slated to begin on Wednesday, but will not get underway until Thursday, the postponement a result of the delay in the finish of the 2021 BKT Tires and OK Tire World Men’s Curling Championship.
Four people from three teams tested positive for the virus last Friday during exit testing at the world championship, news that cast doubt on whether the remaining bubble events would proceed. No games were played on Saturday while mass testing was administered.
The world championship continued and wrapped up on Sunday night, with Sweden defeating Scotland for its third straight title.
Skip Dunstone and his teammates — third Braeden Moskowy, second Kirk Muyres and lead Dustin Kidby — are confident they are doing everything in their power to stay safe.
“We feel fine with everything that’s gone on,” Dunstone said. “We know how safe it can be. Sure, there was a bit of a slip up, but with three straight months of curling and all the different teams coming in and out, to think there wasn’t going to be slip up, you would be kidding yourself.”
Dunstone spoke to KTW on Monday. On Tuesday, the test results that delayed the world championship were deemed false positives by Alberta Health.
Team Dunstone was in the Calgary curling bubble in March at the Tim Hortons Brier, finishing third for the second consecutive year to claim $40,000.
“It gives our team nothing but confidence moving forward and now here we are getting to play the other 11 best teams in the world on another big stage,” Dunstone said. “We’re feeling pretty luck to be here.”
The Regina-based quartet will also compete next week in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Princess Auto Players’ Championship. World team rankings determine which teams are granted access to the big-money Grand Slam events.
Prize purses of $105,000 and $175,000 are up for grabs at the Champions Cup and Players’ Championship events, respectively. The reward for winning both is about $70,000 — $30,000 for the Champions Cup and $40,000 for the Players' Championship.
How would Dunstone spend his cut?
“I treated myself to a Playstation 5 after the Brier,” Dunstone said with a laugh. “One treat for myself and one treat for me and Erin [girlfriend Erin Pincott]. Give and take. Maybe help pay off the mortgage a little bit quicker. I know Erin might like that one a little bit better.”
Dunstone and his teammates have not seen the ice since they watched Brendan Bottcher crush their national championship hopes with last-rock heroics in the Brier semifinal.
“The last time on the ice, I was praying that Bottcher wasn’t going to make that angle-raise,” Dunstone said. “But two-and-a-half weeks off isn’t going to change a whole bunch. We’re feeling like we should be as sharp as ever.”
Bottcher and his Alberta squad won the Brier and represented Team Canada at the worlds, but fell short of the semifinal round.
The Playstation 5 should help time pass a little quicker, as Dunstone champs at the bit for his Draw 1 matchup against Brad Gushue on Thursday.
“We love playing them,” said Dunstone, who got the better of Gushue in round-robin play at the Brier in the most recent matchup between the teams. “We’ve had some good battles and played them in a lot of big games. They’ve been one of the best teams in the world over the last four or five years. I expect another good one. It always seems to come down to last rock with them.”