Teams battling bug at Tournament of Hearts

Yukon/NWT third Sharon Cormier, right, throws last as lead Megan Cormier prepares to sweep during a morning draw against Quebec at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Red Deer, Alberta, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

RED DEER, Alta. - Some teams at the Canadian women's curling championship were playing short-staffed, not shaking hands and liberally applying hand sanitizer Tuesday because of a stomach bug running through the tournament.

Yukon/Northwest Territories was decimated by illness. Down to three players because both skip Kerry Galusha and alternate Wendy Miller fell ill during the night, the Territories lost 7-5 to Quebec in the morning.

The loss was a blow as the Territories dropped to 2-4. Lead Megan Cormier had been sick earlier in the tournament.

"We decided early that if anybody is sick they should actually sit out," said Sharon Cormier, who skipped the Territories in Galusha's absence. "It was tough on Kerry. She didn't want to, but she did."

Miller was back in the lineup for a night game versus Ontario.

B.C.'s Sasha Carter, who throws third stones for Kelly Scott, didn't play two games Monday because she was sick. Carter is also four months in her pregnancy. She was back on the ice Tuesday but said she felt weak.

"I am maybe 50 per cent," Carter said. "We do have a four-game stretch right now. It will be hard for me to do all four."

The curlers say this strain of the bug is short in duration, but violent in nature. Most teams don't shake hands pre- or post-game, or opt for fist bumps instead.

Michelle Englot's Saskatchewan team headed straight for the hand sanitizer the moment they stepped off the ice following a win over New Brunswick on Tuesday.

"People get a little paranoid when there's a few other curlers who are sick," Englot said. "Last night, we didn't even shake hands with the other team because their lead wasn't feeling well all day."

The Jennifer Jones team from Manitoba did shake hands with Nova Scotia after their game Tuesday morning.

"It feels wrong not to shake hands," Jones said. "We lived on the edge and shook hands today."