Congratulations to Team Koe, Team Tirinzoni, Team Cotter, and Team Einarson…winners of the Pinty’s Grand Slam Of Curling Tour Challenge!
In Tier I, Koe & Tirinzoni were the underdrogs, with Koe beating hometown favorite Team Gushue while Tirinzoni defeated the as-yet-this-season undefeated Team Homan. Tier II was almost the exact opposite, with Team Cotter & Team Einarson going undefeated throughout. For more detailed information, check out the official recaps for the men and women from the Grand Slam Of Curling Website.
Ice, Ice, Baby
Of course, it’s hard to talk about the event without addressing the elephant in the room throughout the event…the ice conditions. Despite the best efforts of the ice crew, ambient humidity and late summer weather conditions led to teams being faced with challenging ice conditions throughout the event. The ice was quite frosty, with most teams breaking out synthetic hair brooms for sweeping (hair handles frosty ice better as it can dig between the pebble). In fact, one could often see sweepers actually cleaning frost from their brooms after shots. Anil Mungal (check out his gallery from the event here), curling photographer extraordinaire captured this great shot of Team Muirhead second Vicki Adams doing just that.
Sweepers also struggled to maintain their footing at times, with many falls and near-misses. Stones were sweating, and needed to be cleaned more frequently and more thoroughly than usual. Many teams started keeping a shammy-type cloth near the hack to do just that. Fog was also an issue, that while making for some cool photos also added to the challenge of playing on such ice. It was especially noticeable during the latter half of the women’s final, as you can see in this photo of Rachel Homan.
While it is great to have the season starting earlier, this is one of the downsides. Nevertheless, while conditions were challenging players adapted and made do. Reading and adapting to the ice is one of the skills one needs in order to succeed at curling after all. Not to mention the fact that the icemakers have no control over the outside weather. When all is said and done, the ice is never the same between any two venues, and it’s just another variable for players to deal with.
First and foremost, this is a new event starting the season earlier than usual and on challenging ice conditions. I think all of that needs to be taken into consideration when looking at how teams performed throughout the event. Basically what I’m saying is don’t read too much into any negative results. I won’t go through all of the standings for Tier I and Tier II, but I will offer some observations.
For the women in Tier I, Teams Sidorova, Sweeting, Paetz & Feltscher all struggled, but I don’t think that will be the case for any of these teams this season. Teams Carey, Rocque, and Fleury all had much better results than they did in Oakville, and I think all three of these teams will only get better as the season progresses. Team Kim seemed to come out of nowhere, but if they can keep it up they are going to prove to be a major threat in the women’s game for sure. Team Homan was dominant throughout the event, and if they maintain their level of play they are going to be hard to beat this season.
Looking at the Tier II women, Team Ostlund continued to struggle as they did in Oakville, but I do not think this will last for long. Watch for them to have a much better performance at their next event, the Stockholm Ladies Curling Cup. Team Hasselborg only managed one win, but I think they’ll improve as the season goes on as well. The American Teams of Roth & Sinclair did quite well, with Team Sinclair making it all the way to the semifinal round.
With the Tier I men, there was a lot more disparity in the results. Team Casey, Team Edin, Team Epping, Team Laycock, & Team Michel all struggled, but as with several of the women’s teams I don’t think that this will continue for the rest of the season. Team Murdoch struggled again as well, and while I am a big fan of theirs and wish I could say that they will improve I honestly just don’t know. The talent, experience, and ability is there, but ever since winning their Silver Medal at Sochi they just haven’t seemed to be able to get it together for any length of time. I have faith though, as they just started to work with coach Ian Tetley and I think he may be able to help them get back on the right track. Team Carruthers fell short in the quarterfinals after going undefeated in the round-robin, but from what I’ve seen so far this season they are going to be a force to be reckoned with for sure. Team Shuster had an amazing event, and if they continue to play like they did in their better games at Paradise they are going to be the dominant team in American Men’s Curling once again this season. From what I’ve seen, they’re set up to have an even better season than last year.
In Tier II, Cotter & Kean were absolutely dominant. I think Cotter will have an even better season than last year and move up the rankings to remain a fixture in future Grand Slam events. Teams Brewster & Smith played excellent as well, and I think Brewster especially is looking to have an outstanding season. If they continue to play like they did in Baden and Paradise then I think they will emerge as the top team in Scottish Men’s Curling for sure.
NerdCurl vs Twine-Time Challenge
During the event, the NerdCurl vs Twine-Time Challenge was announced. For this event, we stuck to the Tier I teams (mainly because I didn’t make any concrete Tier II predictions). Now it is time to tally up the results.
Women: 3/8 QF, 0/2 CF, 0/1 F – 3 Points
Men: 6/8 QF, 1/2 CF, 0/1 F – 8 Points
Total: 11 Points
Women: 4/8 QF, 1/2 CF, 0/1 F – 6 Points
Men: 6/8 QF, 1/2 CF, 0/2 F – 8 Points
Total: 14 Points
All in all it was very close, but my slightly better prediction of the women’s side gave me the win. I have a feeling this won’t last though, as JCR is better at this than I am and is a real journalist while I just play one on TV. But for now, I’m going to enjoy this.
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