Jill Officer (left) and Dawn McEwen (right) from Team Jennifer Jones sweeps a stone during the 2017 Masters women's final in Lloydminster, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

What is the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling?

February 8, 2018, 10:00 AM

Hey there, are you wondering what the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling is or are you curious about curling in general?

Consider this an “Explain like I’m Five” rundown of what you need to know:

What is the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling?

The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling is a professional league comprised of men’s and women’s curling tournaments featuring the top-ranked teams from around the world.

Teams qualify to play in Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments by competing on the World Curling Tour and earning Order of Merit (OOM) points that determine the rankings of who gets in. OOM points are also up for grabs at Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events and since the series offers the best competition, teams can earn a significant amount of points here. Teams also compete for the top prizes on tour at the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling with over $2 million in total purse money over the course of the 2017-18 season.

The series started in 2001 with four men’s events: Masters, National, Canadian Open and Players’ Championship. These are the “original four” tournaments of the series and are considered majors on tour. A women’s division was added to the Players’ Championship in 2006. Since Sportsnet acquired the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling in 2012, women’s divisions have also been added to the other three majors too.

Within the past few seasons, three more Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments have been created. The Elite 10, featuring the top 10 men’s teams in the world, was introduced during the 2014-15 season. The 2015-16 season saw the addition of the Tour Challenge, which is the largest event in the series with 30 men’s teams and 30 women’s teams divided into two tiers; and the Humpty’s Champions Cup, which features the top men’s and women’s tour event winners of the year.

2017-18 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling schedule

Event Date Location
Tour Challenge Sept. 5-10 The Co-operators Centre at Evraz Place
Regina, SK
Masters Oct. 24-29 Centennial Civic Centre
Lloydminster, SK
Nov. 14-19 Essar Centre
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Canadian Open
Jan. 16-21 Encana Centre
Camrose, AB
Princess Auto
Elite 10
March 15-18 St. James Civic Centre
Winnipeg, MB
Players’ Championship April 10-15 Mattamy Athletic Centre
Toronto, ON
Champions Cup
April 24-29 WinSport Arena
Calgary, AB

Team also earn bonus points during the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season in the chase for the GSOC Bonus Cup, which is awarded following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship and includes a $75,000 prize each for the winning men’s and women’s teams.

Players wear their tour uniforms at our events, which feature their names and sponsors. Some players also wear numbers of their choice.


Oskar Eriksson of Sweden’s Team Edin sporting their viking-style jersey.


Some teams also wear unique pants, such as Norway’s Team Ulsrud, who wear a variety of eye-catching Loudmouth pants ala golfer John Daly.


The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling airs on Sportsnet in Canada. Fans can watch online at snnow.ca (Canada) or gsoc.yaretv.com (international).

The Rules


A curling ice sheet is roughly 146 feet long by 15 feet, seven inches wide; about the length of a hockey rink with a bit of room to spare. At each end of the sheet is the “house” — a 12-foot bullseye with its centre known as the “button.”

Ice makers sprinkle the surface with water prior to the start of games to created pebbles, which create more friction between the stone and the ice and help the stones curl.


A curling stone weighs around 42 lbs. and the granite used comes from the island of Ailsa Craig in Scotland.

The curling brush consists of a fibreglass or carbon fibre shaft with a fabric head used in a sweeping motion perpendicular to the path of the rock to clear debris from the ice and help maintain the path of the curling stone.

Players slide out of what’s known as the “hack” and they also wear different soles on their shoes: one for their sliding foot and a gripping sole on the other. They must release the handle of the curling stone before crossing the nearest hog line — a horizontal line across the ice — and the rock must come to rest beyond the far hog line in order to be considered in play.

Curling games are played in “ends” — similar to periods or innings in other sports. Each team has a total of eight stones per end with play alternating between the teams after each stone is thrown.

Players do not have unlimited time to throw. Each team has a “thinking time” clock, a total of 33 minutes per game, plus a pair of one-minute timeouts.

The team that throws second during the end has the “hammer.” Hammer, or last-rock advantage, is determined by a pre-game draw-to-the-button shootout between a player on each team. These scores are also added together and used in the case of tiebreakers for playoffs.

The team with the hammer has the advantage of throwing the last rock of the end and looks to score by having the most stones closest to button than the nearest stone of the opposing team. Each rock close than their opponents is worth one point. If the team with the hammer scores then the opposing team will have the hammer and throw second during the next end.

However, if the team without the hammer has one or more stones closer to the button than the team with the hammer, they will have “stolen” the end and are awarded points instead. The team with the hammer retains the hammer for the next end.

Only one team can receive points each end.

The team with the hammer may opt to blank the end by finishing the end with none of their stones or their opponents’ stones sitting in the house. No points are awarded for the end and the team retains the hammer for the following end.

Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling games are played to eight ends. If the score is tied after eight, an extra end will be played. If a team is losing by a large amount and feel they cannot overcome the deficit, they may call the game early by shaking hands with their opponent.

All matches in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling are played utilizing the five-rock rule. Basically, rocks that are placed within the free-guard zone — the ice outside the house from the tee line up to the nearest hog line — cannot be removed from play until the sixth rock of play. This puts more rocks in play as teams can set up guards early and hide behind them, thus making it harder for teams to blank an end.


The free-guard zone is located above the house.

The Players

Each team has four players: the lead, second, third, and skip. Teams are traditionally named after the skip. Some teams mix it up with their skip throwing in a different order, however, this is the most common setup for teams.

“Captain” who calls the shots.
Throws the seventh & eighth stones.
AKA vice skip.
Sweeps the first four stones.
Throws the fifth & sixth stones.
In the house during the skip’s stones.
Sweeps the first two stones.
Throws the third & fourth stones.
Sweeps the final four stones.
Throws the first & second stones.
Sweeps the following six stones.

What are they yelling?


Yes, curling is a loud sport. Although “hurry hard” has become the cliched curling expression, you’ll probably never actually hear it said during a game these days.

Rather, here are some common curling phrases you’re more likely to hear:

“Hard,” “hard line,” or “go”: Sweep harder to maintain the current path.

“Clean”: Sweep lightly to ensure the line is maintained.

“Whoa,” “Never,” or “Off”: Stop sweeping.

“Looks heavy”: The stone has been thrown too hard and has a chance of sliding past the intended target.

Who are some teams I should know?

Team Brad Gushue
Brad Gushue claimed the Olympic gold medal at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.
He has won nine titles in the GSOC including eight within the previous four seasons.
The St. John’s, N.L., native won Canadian and world championships in 2017.
Team Niklas Edin

Team Niklas Edin
Sweden’s Niklas Edin is a two-time world champion and 2014 Olympic bronze medallist.
The team won three GSOC titles in 2016-17 and captured the Bonus Cup.
Edin will make a third Olympic appearance in 2018 and carry the flag for Sweden in the opening ceremony.
Team Kevin Koe
Calgary-based Kevin Koe captured Canadian and world championships in 2016.
Lead Ben Hebert and third Marc Kennedy won the Olympic gold medal in 2010.
They had won a combined 40 GSOC championships.
They are representing Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Team John Shuster
John Shuster, who plays out of Duluth, Minn., is representing the U.S. for a fourth consecutive time at the Winter Olympics.
He made his Olympic debut 2006 and earned a bronze medal.
Shuster is also a five-time U.S. champion and claimed bronze at the worlds in 2016.
Jennifer Jones
Team Jennifer Jones
Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones has won a record-tying six Canadian championships.
Her team was the first women’s team to finish the Olympic tournament undefeated en route to the gold medal in 2014.
Jones has captured a record nine GSOC women’s championships including six Players’ Championship titles.
Team Rachel Homan
Team Rachel Homan
Homan is the reigning world women’s gold medallist and a six-time GSOC champion.
Her Ottawa-based team made history becoming the first women’s team to compete in a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling men’s tournament (the 2016 Elite 10) and defeat a high-ranked men’s team since Sportsnet acquired the series in 2012.
Homan will represent Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Team Eve Muirhead
Scotland’s Eve Muirhead is a four-time GSOC event winner including three Players’ Championship titles.
Muirhead is representing Great Britain at a third consecutive Winter Olympics and won bronze at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Team Nina Roth
Team Roth, based in Blaine, Minn., will represent the U.S. at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Lead Becca Hamilton is also playing in the Olympic mixed doubles competition with her brother, Matt Hamilton, from Team Shuster.
Roth won the U.S. championship in 2010 and 2014.