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Tremendous field set for 2009 Canada Cup of Curling

The finest curlers in Canada will be showcased in the $150,000 Canada Cup of Curling, presented by Richardson International, March 18-22 at the Farrell Agencies Arena, Gallagher Centre in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

Ten men’s and 10 women’s teams have qualified and confirmed their entries into the Canada Cup, one of the last Season of Champions events on the 2008-09 Canadian Curling Association calendar. Not only will the winning teams each receive $25,000, but more importantly, they’ll also become part of the pool of 16 men’s and 16 women’s teams eligible for the 2009 Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials, December 6-13 in Edmonton, which will determine Canada’s representatives for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Depending on the winning teams’ previous successes, they’ll either earn berths into the pre-Trials competition in Prince George, British Columbia, November 10-14 or could qualify directly into the ‘Roar of the Rings’ Trials. The pre-Trials competition will involve 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams fighting for four Trials spots, while four teams of each gender will qualify directly into the Trials by season’s end.

TSN will provide live coverage of the Canada Cup Page Playoff games and semi-finals on Saturday, March 21, followed by the women’s and men’s finals on Sunday, March 22.

The men’s lineup is headed by Edmonton’s Kevin Martin, the reigning world champion, three-time Brier winner and 2002 Olympic silver medallist; Coldwater, Ontario’s Glenn Howard, a three-time Canadian and world champion; 2006 Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue of St. John’s, Newfoundland; Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey, a six-time Brier and four-time world champion and Moncton, New Brunswick’s Russ Howard, a two-time Brier and world champion and also a 2006 Olympic gold medallist.

The other men’s skips are defending Canada Cup champion Kevin Koe of Edmonton, Toronto’s Wayne Middaugh, a two-time Brier and world champion, Winnipeg’s Kerry Burtnyk and Jeff Stoughton, both two-time Brier winners and one-time world champions, along with Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen.

Martin qualified by winning last year’s Tim Hortons Brier in Winnipeg; Glenn Howard captured the 2008 Players’ Championship, while Koe won the 2008 Canada Cup in Kamloops. Russ Howard and McEwen qualified as semi-finalists at the recent Canada Cup Qualifier in December in Edmonton, while Ferbey, Gushue, Middaugh, Burtnyk and Stoughton (who replaces Canada Cup Qualifier winner Bob Ursel) all qualified by their current standing on the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS).

Ferbey has won three Canada Cups (2003, 2004, 2007) while Martin is a two-time winner (2005, 2006). The Kevin Martin and Glenn Howard teams are currently the only men’s teams that have already qualified directly into the Trials.

The women’s roster boasts reigning world champion and two-time Scotties winner Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, 2007 world champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna, Calgary’s 2006 Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink and defending Canada Cup champion Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon.

The other women’s teams are skipped by former Canadian champion Cathy King of Edmonton, Halifax’s two-time world champion and five-time Scotties winner Mary-Anne Arsenault, St-Romuald’s Marie-France Larouche, Regina’s Amber Holland, Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ontario and Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard.

Jones qualified by winning the 2008 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Regina, Lawton won last year’s Canada Cup, while Holland won the 2008 Players’ Championship. Kleibrink, Bernard, Scott and King earned berths via their current CTRS standing, while Larouche, Middaugh and Arsenault were semi-finalists at the Canada Cup Qualifier in Ottawa in December, won by Larouche, 6-4 over Holland.

Middaugh, Arsenault, Kleibrink, King and Jones are also previous Canada Cup winners…Middaugh in 2003, Arsenault in 2004 (as second for Colleen Jones), Kleibrink in 2005, King in 2006 and Jones in 2007. The Jennifer Jones team is currently the only women’s team to have also qualified directly into the Trials.

This marks the seventh year of competition for this unique event, which was formerly known as the Strauss Canada Cup when contested in Kamloops, British Columbia from 2003-2008.

As usual, the teams will be seeded into two groups and play a round robin within the group plus a crossover game against a team in the other group. The top two in each group then advance to a crossover Page Playoff system, whereby the group winners meet in one game (winner to final, loser to semi-final), while the group runners-up meet in another (winner to semi-final, loser eliminated).

Tickets for the 2009 Canada Cup are available online at Ticketmaster.ca, by calling the Ticketmaster Sports Line at 306-938-7800 (toll free 1-800-970-7328) or in person at the Gallagher Centre Box Office. For further information, visit seasonofchampions.ca.

The Canada Cup is the fifth of six events in the 2008-09 Season of Champions schedule. The Continental Cup, held in Camrose, Alberta last December and won by Team World, kicked off the season. Next up are the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors, February 1-8 in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, followed by the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, February 21-March 1 in Victoria; Tim Hortons Brier, March 7-15 in Calgary; Canada Cup, March 18-22 in Yorkton and the Ford World Men’s, April 4-12 in Moncton, New Brunswick.