Kaitlyn Lawes, who plays third for Team Jennifer Jones, throws a stone during the 2016 Players' Championship in Toronto. (Photo: Anil Mungal)

What is the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling?

September 10, 2016, 10:00 AM

Hey there, are you wondering what the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling is or are 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 series 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, which are also available at our events, that determine the rankings of who gets in. Since the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling offers the best competition, team can earn a significant amount of points at these events. Teams also compete for the top prizes on tour at the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling with a total of $2 million up for grabs during the 2016-17 season.

The series started in 2001 with four men’s events: the Masters, National, Canadian Open and Players’ Championship. These are the “original four” of the series and are considered the 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 two 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.

2016-17 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling schedule

Event Date Location
WFG
Masters
Oct. 25-30, 2016 Pason Centennial Arena
Okotoks, AB
Tour Challenge Nov. 8-13, 2016 Western Financial Place
& Memorial Arena
Cranbrook, BC
National Dec. 6-11, 2016 Essar Centre
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Meridian
Canadian Open
Jan. 3-8, 2017 Civic Centre
North Battleford, SK
Elite 10 March 16-19, 2017 Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre
Port Hawkesbury, NS
WestJet
Players’ Championship
April 11-16, 2017 Mattamy Athletic Centre
Toronto, ON
Humpty’s
Champions Cup
April 25-30, 2017 WinSport Arena
at Canada Olympic Park
Calgary, AB

Team also earn bonus points during the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season in the chase for the Rogers Grand Slam 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.

eriksson

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

ulsrud

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 Rules

pano

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.

stone

A curl stone weighs around 42 lbs. and the granite used comes from the uninhabited 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 trajectory 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 they cross the nearest hog line.

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.” 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. 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 above the house and below 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.

sportsnet

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.

SKIP THIRD SECOND LEAD
“Captain” who calls the shots for the team. Throws the seventh and eighth stones. AKA vice skip. Sweeps the first four stones. Throws the fifth and sixth stones. Holds the broom in the house during the skip’s stones. Sweeps the first two stones. Throws the third and fourth stones. Sweeps the final four stones. Throws the first and second stones. Sweeps the following six stones.

What are they yelling?

While “hurry hard” has become the stereotypical curling expression, you’ll probably never actually hear that said during a game. Here are some common curling phrases you’re more likely to hear:

“Hard,” “hard line,” or “go”: sweep harder to maintain the current trajectory

“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 expected target


Is curling exciting and dramatic?

You bet it is! Here are some of the top plays from our past couple seasons.

First up, Mike McEwen makes an amazing shot to score four points during the 2014 Masters final.

Next, here’s John Epping’s epic “angle-raise takeout” that needed a measurement to determine as he advanced to the final of the 2015 Canadian Open. Epping went on to win the Canadian Open title.

In this video Kelsey Rocque beats a wall of guards to get to the button and score during the 2015 National.

Finally, Reid Carruthers scores in a rare second extra end to win his first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title as a skip at the 2016 Humpty’s Champions Cup.


Who are some skips I should know about?

Gushue
Brad Gushue
Gushue was the first Canadian male skip to win the Olympic gold medal when he was victorious at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. His team won three Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events last season plus the Rogers Grand Slam Cup. The St. John’s, N.L., native also has a highway named after his team in his home province.
Brad Jacobs

Brad Jacobs
Jacobs is the reigning Olympic men’s champion capturing gold at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. His team from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., won the Players’ Championship and Rogers Grand Slam Cup titles in 2015. Their impressive fitness regimen and energetic playing style have brushed aside the old stereotypical images of curling.
koe
Kevin Koe
Koe is the reigning Canadian and world champion. His team is among the most decorated on tour featuring Ben Hebert and Marc Kennedy — who won the Olympic gold medal in 2010 — and Brent Laing, a three-time world champ.
Jennifer Jones
Jennifer Jones
Jones is one of the most decorated curlers in the history of the sport. Jones has won five Canadian championships (called the Scotties Tournament of Hearts). 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 six Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles winning the Players’ Championship five times and claiming the inaugural Humpty’s Champions Cup.
Rachel Homan
Rachel Homan
Homan, a two-time Canadian champion, is coming off of one of the most impressive tour seasons of all time. Her team won a record three consecutive Grand Slam titles capturing the Masters, National and Canadian Open championships and comfortably clinched the Rogers Grand Slam Cup. The Ottawa-based team also made history becoming the first women’s team to compete in a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling men’s tournament (the Elite 10) and defeat a high-ranked men’s team since Sportsnet acquired the series in 2012.
muirhead
Eve Muirhead
Muirhead is a four-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champ including three Players’ Championship titles. Muirhead has represented Great Britain at the past two Winter Olympics winning bronze at the 2014 Sochi Games.
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