Elite Edmonton curling couple has one extra challenge in Scotties, Brier bubble
EDMONTON -- For Canadian curlers, there are no bigger national tournaments than the Scotties and the Brier. Over the next month, both bonspiels will be played in the same Calgary bubble, with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.
This year, Edmonton’s Laura and Geoff Walker will be competing with the hopes of taking home their respective competitions’ grand prize, but the married couple will also have something else, or more accurately, someone else on their minds.
Five months ago, the Walker’s introduced their son Liam to the world.
“This is gonna be totally new for us. Obviously now with the restrictions and not having a whole lot of help,” Geoff told CTV News Edmonton. “It’s gonna be myself when Laura’s playing and her when I’m playing.”
Geoff Walker plays lead on Team Gushue, the defending champs, and wife Laura is skip for Team Alberta.
With the ongoing pandemic, the Walkers have spent their bubble time in Calgary together, taking multiple COVID-19 tests and isolating for a couple of days, even from their teams.
“Even last night, we were all Zooming as a team from our different hotel rooms,” Laura said.
The couple admits it’s a different kind of situation, but say they’ve had a lot of time to plan and remain hopeful about their chances.
“I’m probably going to be a little more tired at the Scotties,” said Laura. “But it’ll be fun anyways.”
COVID-19 protocols mean no live fans, but televisions across Canada will still be tuned in to show the elite curlers in action.
“We’ve been really missing it,” said Laura. “Usually we get a break from the ice and we’re pretty pumped about having a little bit of a break, but I think we’re at the point now where we’re all really ready to go and get back to doing what we love.”
Come Friday, Laura Walker will be focused on trying to take home the 2021 Scotties' $100,000 grand prize, while husband Geoff and little Liam cheer her on.
After the Scotties, Geoff will remain in the Brier bubble while Laura and Liam head home. After that the entire family will repeat the bubble process when Laura returns for the Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship at the same Calgary venue, Canada Olympic Park.
“I think we’re all just more grateful and lucky that we get the opportunity to get out on the ice and do this,” said Geoff. “There’s obviously a lot of people still who are not able to do what they love.”
“The curling is going to be the easy part,” laughed Laura. ”Everything behind the scenes hasn’t been easy, but I think most of us agree, it will be worth it.”
The Scotties run until Feb. 28 and the Brier goes from March 5-14.