Curling season already busy at home and away

You can tell the curling season is in full swing when one event starts before the last one ends. While some of the top men’s teams were still playing the finals in Portage la Prairie, Man., another event got underway in China featuring two of Canada’s top teams.

Brendan Bottcher (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher took home the top prize in Portage, defeating fellow Albertan Kevin Koe (Calgary) in the final. Bottcher, along with Darren Moulding, Bradley Thiessen, and Karrick Martin ran the table, qualifying through the A-side, then knocking off Braden Calvert (Winnipeg) in the quarterfinal, Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) in the semifinal, and Koe in the final. Team Bottcher takes home $18,000 for their victory, while runners-up Team Koe earned $10,000. The win will also earn them substantial points on the Canadian Team Ranking System, although the exact figures had not yet been announced. Meanwhile in Beijing, China, reigning Canadian champions Brad Gushue (St. John’s) and Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg) have already started competing in the China Open. Each gender’s event is an eight-team competition with a total purse of $100,000 USD. Gushue (with Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, and Geoff Walker) won his first game over South Korea’s SooHyuk Kim, but will have to complete a seven-game round robin before playing for the big money. Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud is also in the field, while Sweden sent Fredrik Nyman instead of reigning world champion Niklas Edin. Ulsrud lost his first game of the tournament to Russia’s Dmitry Mironov. On the women’s side, Team Jones (with Kaitlyn Lawes, and Jocelyn Peterman, and Jill Officer) dropped her first game to Russia’s Alina Kovaleva, but will have plenty of time to right the ship before the playoff round is decided. Also in the field are Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont and Germany’s Daniela Jentsch. It should be noted that former Jones teammate Officer is filling in for the event because regular lead Dawn McEwen opted to not make the trip, instead choosing to rest up for a busy month ahead. Both Gushue and Jones will have to be in the top four places following the round robin to qualify for playoffs. From there, it will be a standard semifinal and final, including a bronze-medal game. To keep up with scores from all World Curling Tour events, visit