The rink of Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, and Geoff Walker captured two Grand Slam titles last season winning the Masters and Canadian Open events. Olympic gold medallist Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg will also hit the ice for Draw 1 action facing Sherry Middaugh, from Coldwater, Ont., while reigning Rogers Grand Slam Cup champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland starts her quest to defend the series title against Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni.
Brad Jacobs and his team from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., capped last season winning their first career Grand Slam title together at the Players’ Championship en route to earning the men’s Rogers Grand Slam Cup. The Olympic gold medallists kick off their Tour Challenge during Draw 4 against Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher.
A total of 30 men’s and 30 women’s teams compete in the Tour Challenge with each division divided into two tiers. The top 15 teams ranked on the World Curling Tour’s order of merit (OOM) as of July 1 were invited to compete in the Tier I group (in the event any team declines their spot, the next ranked team on the OOM list is invited until the group is complete).
For Tier II, 10 additional teams beyond the Tier I group were invited based on their OOM rankings plus an additional five spots reserved for teams from within the province or region of the event’s location.
The Tour Challenge is the first stop on the expanded seven-event 2015-16 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling schedule with top prize money and valuable Rogers Grand Slam Cup points on the line.
Winners of the Tier I group also receive invites to the second of two new Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events, the season-ending Champions Cup, featuring winners from select curling tournaments.
Although Tier II teams do not earn Rogers Grand Slam Cup points at the Tour Challenge, the champions receive guaranteed berths to the following Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event, the Masters (Oct. 27-Nov. 1 in Truro, N.S.)
The Tour Challenge runs Sept. 8-13 at the Paradise Double Ice Complex. Full-event passes are available now, click here for more information.