(by Jonathan Brazeau)
The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling could return to play in 2021 to a hub city concept in Calgary.
Sportsnet, which has owned and operated the elite series since 2012, announced Thursday it has partnered with Curling Canada to potentially include two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events — the Princess Auto Players’ Championship and Humpty’s Champions Cup — within a proposed “curling bubble” early next year at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.
Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park hosted the back-to-back Humpty’s Champions Cup events in April 2017 and 2018. (Anil Mungal)
Both Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments, featuring the top teams from around the world, would be played without fans in attendance for the safety of all curlers and event management staff. Canadian curling fans will be able to watch live coverage of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship and Humpty’s Champions Cup on Sportsnet with online streaming available via Sportsnet NOW. (International streaming TBD.)
“Exploring the hub city concept allows Sportsnet to support curlers as they return to the game they love, while also the potential to deliver the world-class competition to fans across Canada,” said Rob Corte, Vice President, Sportsnet and NHL Production. “The safety and well-being of all those involved, including players, staff and organizers, will be of primary importance as we work hand-in-hand with our partners and health officials to host a safe and responsible event for all.”
Curling Canada’s hub city plan has provisional approval from Alberta Health and is pending approval from the federal government. Local event organizers are working with the Public Health Agency of Canada on event plans and health protocols. As a result, all event information for the Princess Auto Players’ Championship and Humpty’s Champions Cup including dates, format, competing teams, prize money plus broadcast details are still being determined at this time.
“I think it is amazing to have the Slams work to join the bubble concept,” said Kirk Muyres, who throws second stones for Regina’s Team Dunstone. “We are grateful for the work that everyone has put into this project to make it successful for all parties. It’s so amazing that the top teams will be able to compete against each other in a safe environment. I think WinSport is a great location for this considering Slams have been hosted there before, hotels are right there and the bubble can stay nice and tight.”
WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park has been the site of two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events in the past with back-to-back Humpty’s Champions Cup tournaments in 2017 and 2018. Ottawa’s Team Homan captured the women’s championship both times while the men’s title went to Team Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in 2017 and Team Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., in 2018. Canada Olympic Park is also in close proximity to multiple hotels, thus ensuring the ability to create a closed and secure site within a familiar venue that meets the requirements of the series while abiding by regional health protocols and travel restrictions.
“We are so thrilled to hear about the bubble and that GSOC is planning on running within the safe environment at WinSport,” said Emma Miskew, vice skip for Team Homan. “It’s been a strange year but we truly appreciate all the hard work that has gone into making this happen. We are really looking forward to it!”
The Canadian men’s, women’s and mixed doubles national championships plus the world men’s championship are also on tap for the proposed Calgary hub.
The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling cancelled the Princess Auto Players’ Championship and Humpty’s Champions Cup last season and postponed the start of its 2020-21 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Princess Auto Players’ Championship was scheduled to take place April 13-18, 2021, at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre followed by the Humpty’s Champions Cup, April 28 to May 2, 2021, at the Olds Sportsplex in Olds, Alta. Both sites are now slated for Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events in 2022. Ticket refund and roll-over information for the Humpty’s Champions Cup will be provided in the near future.