Although this weekend’s World Curling Tour is called the U.S. Open of Curling, the bonspiel in Blaine, Minn., has major implications on the Canadian leaderboard.
The 18-team event features nine Canadian teams, five of which are jockeying for position on the Canadian Team Ranking System.
Highest ranked among them is Toronto’s John Epping, currently in fifth place. However, he’s only behind Calgary’s Kevin Koe by less than a point, and will likely move into fourth by the end of the weekend. A very strong finish would put him on the heels of Brad Gushue (St. John’s) for third place, heading into the second half of the season.
Similarly, Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers and Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock are a few points away from better spots. Carruthers, currently No. 7, is less than two points behind Glenn Howard (Penetanguishene, Ont.), while Laycock (No. 8) is just four points behind Carruthers. Depending on their weekend’s results, they could both pass Howard, and potentially mix up their own rankings in the process.
Also in the mix are Jeff Stoughton (Winnipeg) and Adam Casey (Summerside, P.E.I.). Stoughton (No. 9) would need an impressive finish to catch Laycock, but Casey (No. 11) could easily move into the top 10 with a playoff appearance.
The teams are split into three pools of six teams each. The best eight records overall will move on to the playoffs and a share of $23,000 USD.
The American entries are skipped by familiar names such as John Schuster (three-time U.S. Olympian), Craig Brown (five-time U.S. champion), and Heath McCormick (2012 U.S. champion, and recent Grand Slam semifinalist).
Some games are being streamed live on curlingzone.com.