It’s a clash of the champions to kick off the closing event of the 2016-17 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season.
Tour Challenge victor Val Sweeting of Edmonton faces Boost National winner Kerri Einarson of Winnipeg in the opening draw of the Humpty’s Champions Cup, which starts next Tuesday at WinSport Arena at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.
Sweeting added another trophy to her haul Sunday during the WestJet Players’ Championship by clinching the Rogers Grand Slam Cup as the season champion in the series.
The Humpty’s Champions Cup features 15 men’s teams and 15 women’s teams in one final showdown before the summer. Teams had to win a high-profile event over the course of the season in order to receive an invite.
Reigning world champ Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., is also in action on opening night and goes up against Pacific-Asia winner Yusuke Morozumi of Japan.
Elsewhere, European Championship winner Victoria Moiseeva of Russia makes her Pinty’s GSOC series debut against Meridian Canadian Open champ Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta.
Shorty Jenkins Classic winner Kevin Koe of Calgary kicks off his hometown tournament taking on Tour Challenge Tier 2 victor Greg Balsdon of Kingston, Ont.
WFG Masters champ Allison Flaxey of Caledon, Ont., meets world junior champion Isabella Wrana of Sweden. The 19-year-old Wrana will be playing in her first Pinty’s GSOC tournament and follows in the footsteps of her older brother Rasmus Wrana, who has won three titles in the series during his rookie season with Team Niklas Edin.
Each team plays four round-robin games with the top eight qualifying for the weekend playoffs. Tiebreaker games may be required to determine the final spot(s).
The Humpty’s Champions Cup is the newest of the seven events in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling series. The inaugural tournament was held last season in Sherwood Park, Alta. Winnipeg teams reigned with Jennifer Jones defeating Ottawa’s Rachel Homan in a classic showdown for the women’s title and Reid Carruthers claiming the men’s trophy in a thrilling double extra end victory over Toronto’s John Epping.
Both will get the chance to defend their titles, however, Carruthers will not be competing as he’s off to represent Canada at the world mixed doubles championship with Team Homan’s Joanne Courtney. Third Braeden Moskowy will skip Team Carruthers at the Humpty’s Champions Cup with second Derek Samagalski and lead Colin Hodgson also moving up in the lineup. Alternate/adviser Craig Savill, a two-time world and 12-time Grand Slam champion, makes his debut with Team Carruthers at lead.
Reid Carruthers Humpty’s Champions Cup defending champ
John Epping WCT/CCT spot Gatineau
Mike McEwen WCT/CCT spot DEKALB Superspiel
Brad Jacobs Boost National
Kevin Koe WCT/CCT spot Shorty Jenkins Classic
Steve Laycock WCT/CCT spot DHD Fall Classic
Peter de Cruz WCT/CCT spot Baden Masters
John Shuster U.S. nationals
Tom Brewster WCT/CCT spot Mercure Perth Masters
John Morris Princess Auto Elite 10
Greg Balsdon WCT/CCT spot Tour Challenge Tier 2
Yusuke Morozumi Pacific-Asia championship
Grant Hardie WCT/CCT spot Aberdeen
Rachel Homan Scotties Tournament of Hearts
Jennifer Jones Humpty’s Champions Cup defending champ
Silvana Tirinzoni WCT/CCT spot Stu Sells Oakville
Val Sweeting Tour Challenge Tier 1
Allison Flaxey WFG Masters
Anna Hasselborg WCT/CCT spot Stockholm Ladies Cup
Casey Scheidegger Meridian Canadian Open
Eve Muirhead WCT/CCT spot Women’s Masters Basel
Bingyu Wang WCT/CCT spot Colonial Squares Ladies Classic
Kerri Einarson Boost National
Alina Paetz WCT/CCT spot International Bernese Ladies Cup
Jacqueline Harrison WCT/CCT spot Tour Challenge Tier 2
Victoria Moiseeva European Championship
Isabella Wrana World junior championship
Jamie Sinclair U.S. nationals
Note: In the event a team won two or more eligible tournaments, the next-ranked WCT/CCT winner based on strength of field was invited. World junior men’s champ Ki-jeong Lee and Pacific-Asia women’s champ EunJung Kim declined their invites.