Sask. curlers feel 'totally safe' after COVID-19 scare in Calgary bubble
REGINA -- Days after the Men’s Curling World Championships in Calgary were put on hold for a day due to COVID-19 concerns, a new crop of curlers have arrived in Alberta.
Team Matt Dunstone’s Dustin Kidby will be competing against 11 other teams in the Grand Slam of Curling’s Champions Cup. The Regina curler is currently isolating in a hotel room in Calgary ahead of the competition.
“We still all feel totally safe and I think it’s the safest place you could be in the country,” Kidby said.
During the World Championship competition, Curling Canada revealed four position and asymptomatic tests had come to light. The affected athletes and close contacts were re-tested, with all subsequent tests coming back negative for COVID-19 The championships were put on hold for Saturday, but were completed with Sweden beating Scotland in the final late Sunday evening.
Curling Canada has since revealed the four positives are now considered “false positives” resulting from potentially contaminated samples.
“Something was weird. That shouldn’t happen. If you’re testing positive and all four test negative the next day and continue to test negative, I think that can be a little piece of mind for us,” Kidby said.
In November, Kidby tested positive for COVID-19 and believes he contracted the virus while curling in Regina.
“Pretty ill, like fluish for a couple days but that was it and it could have been a lot worse, so I feel very lucky and grateful for that,” Kidby said.
The 35-year-old was sick, but didn’t require care beyond his home.
“I think we still got to live our lives and just try and be as careful as we can when we’re doing it, but still go out there and do what we love,” Kidby said.
Ben Hebert, who is from Regina and curls with Team Kevin Koe out of Calgary, was shocked after hearing news of the positive tests.
“My first reaction was, how does that happen? It just seems like the opportunity for it to get in there was 0 per cent,” Hebert said.
Both Hebert and Kidby competed at the Brier a month ago in Calgary’s curling bubble. Hebert said he trusts the Alberta Health officials who are making the decisions about whether competition continues or not.
“They’re supposed to be the specialists so if they say it’s good to go I have zero anxiety going in there,” Hebert said.
Four teams from the Men’s World Championships will also be competing at the Champions Cup, starting this Thursday. The Grand Slam of Curling has increased testing protocols, with curlers being tested every other day in the bubble. Curlers at the World Championship were required to wear masks for the final day of competition. Grand Slam organizers haven’t made a decision on whether masks will be mandatory.
“That’s not how we play, you can’t breath in those things. No one plays like that, no one trains like that, it definitely impacts the game,” Hebert said.
Kidby says it would be an adjustment.
“We’ve never done it before and I think that would be a distraction,” Kidby addmited. “We’d have to adjust to that.”
Both teams play Thursday morning, a day later than originally planned.