The unpopular qualifying tournament to get into the main draw of the Canadian men's and women's curling championships will be no more after next year. Changes are coming in 2018.
But that's of little comfort to Kerry Galusha, a Scotties Tournament of Hearts veteran. Her Northwest Territories rink fell one win short of getting into the 12-team main event for a second straight year.
B.C. and NWT met in the final of the four-team qualifying tournament with Karla Thompson's foursome earning the right to continue playing in the Scotties. Galusha was tearful when her squad's tournament ended Saturday while others were playing their first games.
"We actually felt we were the team to beat to get through," Galusha said.
In order to have a true national championship, Curling Canada expanded the fields of the Scotties and Tim Hortons Brier in 2015 to allow all 10 provinces and the three territories to participate. Yukon and Northwest Territories were previously represented by one team.
The addition of Northern Ontario to the women's championship and a defending champion to the men's competition so each event mirrors the other, made for an unwieldy 15 teams in each.
To manage the larger field, a four-team qualifying tournament of the lowest-seeded regions starting two days before the opening draw was introduced to a tepid reception.
Provinces and territories that had played in the Scotties and Brier for years were out on Day 1. Teams flew home two days after the opening ceremonies.
The provincial and territorial curling associations sent Curling Canada back to the drawing board to come up with a format for 2018 that allows full participation for all teams.
"The members don't like the fact their provincial and territorial teams play maybe three games and they're out," explained Danny Lamoureux, Curling Canada's director of championship services. "They want to compete fuller in the event.
"We can't sacrifice the concept we have now, making sure it starts on a Saturday and ends on a Sunday."
Getting all 15 teams through a seven-day round robin is a logistical puzzle. An even 16 teams is more workable and one solution might be adding the Canada Cup winner to the field, Lamoureux said.
The national junior championships provide a possible template for the Scotties and the Brier.
The field could be divided into two pools. The top four in each advance to a championship round and the four playoff teams emerge from it. Squads that don't qualify for the championship round play off for seeding positions.
Whatever option Curling Canada presents this spring, the provinces and territories have to approve it for adoption.
Katherine Henderson takes over as Curling Canada's new chief executive officer April 1 following the departure of Greg Stremlaw for CBC.
She was most recently senior vice-president of marketing and revenue for the 2015 Pan American/Parapan Am Games in Toronto.
Henderson is aware continued tinkering with the organization's marquee curling events ruffles traditionalists' feathers.
"These aren't jobs for the faint of heart because everybody has an opinion on a lot of things," Henderson said. "It's an exciting time and with change, always comes a little bit of controversy.
"I don't know any major events that don't undergo major change. Every time you do an event, you look at how that event has gone and you try to make it better every single time."
Nova Scotia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut are the four teams in the pre-Brier qualifier next month in Ottawa.
Galusha skipped NWT at the Scotties five times before the qualifying tournament's introduction. She has one more year of taking the long road into the main draw if her team represents NWT next year in St. Catharines, Ont.
The province that finishes last in Grande Prairie and the three territories will again square off for the right to join the big show in 2017.
"It will be interesting to see what they do with it," Galusha said after Saturday's loss.
"It will be nice to see a team from NWT, a team from the north in general actually play in the Scotties. Even though we're here right now, we don't actually consider us playing in the Scotties right now."
This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.