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Canada Cup of Curling starts Wednesday in Yorkton

The $150,000 Canada Cup of Curling, presented by Richardson International, gets underway Wednesday in the 1,800-seat Farrell Agencies Arena at the Gallagher Centre in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

Twenty of the best men’s and women’s teams in the country are set to battle, not only for their respective $25,000 winning purse, but more importantly, to qualify for 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.

TSN will provide live coverage of the women’s and men’s semi-finals on Saturday, March 21, followed by the women’s (8:30 am CT/10:30 am ET) and men’s (7:30 pm CT/9:30 pm ET) finals on Sunday, March 22.  SaskTel Max Local on Demand is also airing all round robin draws, plus the Page Playoff games, province-wide, on a 24-hour delayed basis.

Once again, the Canada Cup has attracted a phenomenal field of curling talent.  Eight of the top 10 men’s teams and eight of the top 10 women’s teams on the 2008-09 Canadian Team Ranking System will compete.

The men’s lineup is headed by Edmonton’s reigning world champion Kevin Martin, who last Sunday won his second consecutive (and fourth overall) Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary.

In doing so, he became the first skip to win back-to-back Briers while undefeated (13-0 in Winnipeg in 2008; 13-0 in Calgary in 2009), as his team of third John Morris, second Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert also established a Brier record unbeaten streak of 26 games, eclipsing Randy Ferbey’s mark of 23, set during a stretch from 2002-2004.  Martin also set a shooting percentage record for a skip in a Brier final, firing a blistering 97%, en route to Playoff MVP honours.

Martin also won the Brier in 1991 in Hamilton and 1997 in Calgary and captured his first world title last year in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Three other teams which competed at the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary are also in the Canada Cup:  Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton, a two-time (1996, 1999) Brier and one-time (1996) world champion, who finished second to Martin after losing the final, 10-4; 2006 Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue of St. John’s, who finished fourth after losing the Page 3-4 game to Stoughton and Moncton’s Russ Howard, a two-time (1987, 1993) Canadian and world champion and 2006 Olympic gold medallist, who finished out of the playoffs with a 6-5 mark.

Edmonton’s record six-time (1988, 1989, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005) Brier and four-time (1989, 2002, 2003, 2005) world champion Randy Ferbey is also in the field.  In addition, Ferbey is a three-time Canada Cup winner (2003, 2004, 2007) while Martin has two wins (2005, 2006).

Completing the field are defending Canada Cup champion Kevin Koe of Edmonton, Toronto’s Wayne Middaugh, a two-time (1993, 1998) Canadian and world champion, Winnipeg’s Kerry Burtnyk, a two-time (1981, 1995) Canadian and one-time (1995) world champion, Mike McEwen of Winnipeg and Edmonton’s Ted Appelman.

The women’s roster boasts 2007 Canadian and world champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna, 2006 Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary and defending Canada Cup champion Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon.

The other women’s teams are skipped by Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard, 1998 Canadian champion Cathy King of Edmonton, Mary-Anne Arsenault of Halifax, a two-time (2001, 2004) world champion and five-time (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004) Scotties Tournament of Hearts winner, St-Romuald’s Marie-France Larouche, who finished third to Jennifer Jones at the 2009 Scotties in Victoria, Amber Holland of Kronau, Saskatchewan, winner of last year’s Players’ Championship, Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ontario and Michelle Englot of Regina.

In addition to Lawton, skips Middaugh, Arsenault, Kleibrink and King are also previous Canada Cup winners…Middaugh in 2003, Arsenault in 2004 (as second for Colleen Jones), Kleibrink in 2005 and King in 2006.

This marks the seventh year of competition for this unique event, 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).

A limited number of tickets for the 2009 Canada Cup is still available and can be obtained 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.

Draw results will be instantly available on the Canadian Curling Association website (www.curling.ca <http://www.curling.ca> ).

2009 Canada Cup of Curling, presented by Richardson International
March 18-22, Farrell Agencies Arena, Gallagher Centre
Yorkton, Saskatchewan

MEN’S TEAMS (listed in order of skip, third, second and lead)

Team Appelman – Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, AB
Ted Appelman, Tom Appelman, Brandon Klassen, Brendan Melnyk

Team Burtnyk – Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club, Winnipeg, MB
Kerry Burtnyk, Don Walchuk, Richard Daneault, Garth Smith

Team Ferbey – Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, AB
Randy Ferbey (third stones), David Nedohin (fourth stones), Scott Pfeifer, Marcel Rocque

Team Gushue – Bally Haly Golf & Curling Club, St. John’s, NL
Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Ryan Fry, Jamie Korab

Team Howard – Curling Beauséjour, Moncton & Gage Golf and Curling Association, Oromocto, NB
Russ Howard, James Grattan, Jason Vaughan, Steven Howard

Team Koe – Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, AB
Kevin Koe (third stones), Blake MacDonald (fourth stones), Carter Rycroft, Nolan Thiessen

Team Martin – Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, AB
Kevin Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy, Ben Hebert, Jules Owchar (coach)

Team McEwen – Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club, Winnipeg, MB
Mike McEwen, B.J. Neufeld, Matt Wozniak, Denni Neufeld

Team Middaugh – St. George’s Golf and Country Club, Toronto, ON
Wayne Middaugh, Jon Mead, John Epping, Scott Bailey

Team Stoughton – Charleswood Curling Club, Winnipeg, MB
Jeff Stoughton, Kevin Park, Rob Fowler, Steve Gould

2009 Canada Cup of Curling, presented by Richardson International
March 18-22, Farrell Agencies Arena, Gallagher Centre
Yorkton, Saskatchewan

WOMEN’S TEAMS (listed in order of skip, third, second and lead)

Team Arsenault – Mayflower Curling Club, Halifax, NS
Mary-Anne Arsenault, Kay Zinck, Laine Peters, Theresa Breen, Peter Corkum (coach)

Team Bernard – Calgary Curling Club and Calgary Winter Club, Calgary, AB
Cheryl Bernard, Susan O’Connor, Carolyn Darbyshire, Cori Bartel

Team Englot – Tartan Curling Club, Regina, SK
Michelle Englot, Deanna Doig, Roberta Materi, Cindy Simmons

Team Holland – Kronau Curling Club, Kronau, SK
Amber Holland, Kim Schneider, Tammy Schneider, Heather Seeley, Jolene McIvor (alternate), Merv Fonger (coach)

Team King – Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, AB
Cathy King, Kaitlyn Lawes, Raylene Rocque, Tracy Bush

Team Kleibrink – Calgary Winter Club, Calgary, AB
Shannon Kleibrink, Amy Nixon, Bronwen Webster, Chelsey Bell, Crystal Webster (alternate), Ron Meyers (coach)

Team Larouche – Etchemin Curling Club, St-Romuald, QC
Marie-France Larouche, Annie Lemay, Joëlle Sabourin, Véronique Brassard

Team Lawton – CN Curling Club, Saskatoon, SK
Stefanie Lawton, Marliese Kasner, Sherri Singler, Lana Vey

Team Middaugh – Coldwater & District Curling Club, Coldwater, ON
Sherry Middaugh, Kirsten Wall, Kim Moore, Andra Harmark

Team Scott – Kelowna Curling Club, Kelowna, BC
Kelly Scott, Jeanna Schraeder, Sasha Carter, Renee Simons, Gerry Richard (coach)