Winter Deaflympics and Grand Slam of Curling underway this week
Just when the season seemed like the curling season was hitting stride, many curling teams took a break this past weekend. Teams took weekends off so players could focus on mixed doubles, while the European teams flew back across the pond to play in championships. The Home Hardware Canada Cup took place in Leduc, Alta., featuring the nation’s highest ranked teams, but left many teams on the outside looking in.
This weekend, however, the gang is all back in town. The town, in this case, is Conception Bay South, N.L., where the Grand Slam of Curling is hosting the National. The event features 15 men’s and 15 women’s teams in a pool format.
Naming a favourite in this field would be difficult. Obviously, the locals will be cheering for two-time Tim Hortons Brier champion Brad Gushue, who hails from St. John’s – just up the road. Meanwhile, Toronto’s John Epping is coming off a big win at the Home Hardware Canada Cup and is currently ranked first in the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS). Of course, you can’t count out Calgary’s Kevin Koe (reigning Tim Hortons Brier champion), Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher (who won three Slams last season), or Sweden’s Niklas Edin – fresh off another European Championship.
The women’s side is no easier to predict. Ottawa’s Rachel Homan won the Home Hardware Canada Cup – earning the first berth to the 2021 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings. Meanwhile, Tracy Fleury (East St. Paul, Man.) is ranked No. 1 on the CTRS, and on the World Curling Tour Order of Merit. Of course, the six-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg), reigning Scotties champ Chelsea Carey (Calgary), and Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg are also very much in contention.
Coverage will begin on Sportsnet, beginning on Thursday morning, at 11 am ET.
Ten hearing-impaired athletes have arrived in Valtellina, Italy for the 2019 Winter Deaflympics. The women’s team is made up of three Alberta athletes – Holly Jamieson, Sally Korol, and Nyla Kurylowich – and two Manitoba athletes; Sherry Clark and Susanne Beariault.
Then men’s team – all from British Columbia – is made up of Frank Chung, Craig Waldbilling, Dale Proctor, Raymond James, and Roger Chan.
Their games will begin Wednesday, December 11.