WCT weekend preview: Women’s teams on the ice in Portage la Prairie

For the second straight week, the World Curling Tour makes a stop in Portage la Prairie, Man., except this time the women will take to the ice. Just a few days after Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers captured the men’s championship at the Canad Inn’s Men’s Classic, 32 women’s teams arrived fighting for the top prize at the Canad Inn’s Women’s Classic and a share of the $60,000 purse. Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones is the top Canadian entry in the field, which also includes some major international firepower. While Jones is currently ranked No. 3 on the WCT Order of Merit, Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg is currently ranked No. 2 and will be a part of the field. Also in the mix, Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni. Her team went through the recent Swiss Olympic Trials with a perfect record and sits at No. 4 in the world. Scotland’s Eve Muirhead (No. 6) has also made the trek to Portage. Other top Canadian entries are Chelsea Carey (Calgary) and Michelle Englot (Winnipeg). Both teams will join Jones at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings trials in December.

Team Manitoba skip Michelle Englot throws her rock in draw seven action at the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Womens Curling Championships, St Catharines, Ont. (Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver photo)

The major men’s event of the weekend is the ARENA Challenge de Curling de Gatineau in Gatineau, Que. The 28-team field features Roar of the Rings finalist John Epping, and several Home Hardware Road to the Roar Pre-Trials teams. Greg Balsdon (Kingston, Ont.), Dayna Deruelle (Kingston, Ont.), Jean-Michel Menard (Gatineau, Que.), and Jamie Murphy (Halifax, N.S.) are all in Gatineau, but also headed to Summerside, P.E.I. in two weeks’ time to battle for the last two spots in the December trials. Of course there’s the usual international flavour featuring China’s Rui Liu, Japan’s Yusuke Morozumi, Scotland’s Kyle Smith, and USA’s Heath McCormick. The triple knockout event will qualify eight teams, fighting for a share of $41,000. Also on the calendar for the weekend is the Medicine Hat Charity Classic. A 24-team field featuring pre-trials teams skipped by Adam Casey (Regina) and Brendan Bottcher (Edmonton) will compete for a $35,000 purse.