Could there possibly be a better script for the Grand Slam of Curling Players Championship which opens Tuesday at Credit Union Place?
Canada’s men’s and women Olympic Gold medalists, Brad Jacobs and Jennifer Jones, are here. So are the women’s Olympic silver and bronze medalists, Margaretha Sigfridsson from Sweden and Eve Muirhead from Scotland; and the rest of the men’s Olympic medalists, David Murdoch from Scotland (silver) and Sweden’s Niklas Eden.
Also here, altogether for one final time, are Canada’s men’s and women’s 2014 national champions the Kevin Koe and Rachel Homan rinks.
Koe will be giving up his Team Canada status next year to form a new team which pulls players away from two of the best-known skips in curling, and these skips, Kevin Martin and Glen Howard, are here too, together with their old teams for one final championship run.
Homan is losing her longtime second stone, Alison Kreviazuk because she wants to move to Sweden to be closer to her boyfriend who is a member of Sweden’s Olympic bronze medal team, but Homan is picking up Joanne Courtney from Val Sweeting’s Scotties runner-up rink, and Sweeting is also in Summerside for the Players championship. Kreviazuk will be curling on the Homan team this week, but Courtney will be absent from the Sweeting rink.
The curling ice in Credit Union Place will also be the last time to see the Jeff Stoughton rink intact.
There are no P.E.I. teams in the Players Championship, but P.E.I. will be represented as Brett Gallant and Adam Casey curl for Brad Gushue’s Newfoundland and Labrador rink and second stone Geri-Lynn Ramsay is bringing her Crystal Webster Calgary rink home to play.
This will be the second time in three years that Summerside hosts the finale to the curling season but never before has there been so much off-ice drama.
So many great story lines to be played out in just 30 men’s and 30 women’s round-robin games, and 24 teams all hoping to advance to the Easter weekend play-offs.
Of course, all of this team juggling that is about to happen has a lot to do with the end of an Olympic curling cycle. Many of the top curlers are clearly already shifting their focus and are wasting no time retooling for the next Olympic run.
This Grand Slam event is one to watch, and it’s happening right here in Summerside.
Two years ago the Players Championship created an estimated $1.8 million in economic activity for the Prince County capital; with all of the interesting developments in the sport of curling since the Olympics, this is shaping up to be a great event for curling fans and for Credit Union Place.
It might be the great curlers of the world, and the last chance to see some of those teams as we know them that will fill the Credit Union Place, but it is the organizers, the sponsors and, of course, the many dedicated volunteers who make it happen. It’s a good week to be in Summerside.