OLDS, Alta. — The world’s best curling teams will compete in one final showdown to close out the Olympic cycle.
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup, starting Tuesday at the Olds Sportsplex, features 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams who have won a top tour title in order to qualify for the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season finale.
For some teams, it’ll be their last event together as they plan to head in separate directions and retool their rosters for next season and the start of the road to the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.
Broadcast coverage of the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup begins Thursday at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
Here’s what you need to know before the opening draw.
What’s at stake?
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup is the fourth and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the 2021-22 season with a $210,000 combined prize purse on the line.
Winning teams bank $25,000 plus a berth to next year’s KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup (May 2-7, 2023, in Regina) to defend their titles.
What’s the format?
Both men’s and women’s divisions are split into two pools of six teams for round-robin play.
The six teams with the best records overall qualify for the playoffs with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals. Tiebreakers may be required to determine the final spots.
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup will use the no-tick, free-guard zone. During the first five rocks of an end, teams cannot remove guards from play nor tick guards that are sitting on the centre line.
Quick Links: Tickets | Draw Schedule | Broadcast Schedule
What are the major storylines to watch in the men’s division?
Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and Sweden’s Niklas Edin have had seasons for the ages. Mouat has reached five consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling men’s finals dating back to last year’s Champions Cup in the Calgary bubble. His team has won the Masters and Princess Auto Players’ Championship during the 2021-22 campaign (plus the Pinty’s Cup as season champions) and finished runners-up in the Boost National. Mouat also claimed the European championship and silver at the Winter Olympic Games. His team will be without third Grant Hardie this week due to personal commitments with alternate Ross Whyte getting the call off of the bench.
Team Edin, who pulled off a golden double capturing the Olympic and world championships, showed no signs of slowing down finishing runners-up to Mouat in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship. It was a remarkable run playing as a trio with lead Christoffer Sundgren on the mend due to a lower-body injury. We’ll have to wait and see if Sundgren will return to the lineup for the season finale.
Local fans will have plenty to cheer for with four Alberta-based teams in action. Kevin Koe and Brendan Bottcher are the veterans on the scene — and playing in their final event with their current lineups — while Karsten Sturmay and Ryan Jacques are the next generation knocking on the door of opportunity.
It’ll also be the last tournament for Brad Jacobs’s team with the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., skip planning to step back for at least a season while second Brett Gallant plans to move on from Team Gushue’s club in St. John’s, N.L., to join the new Team Bottcher. Both Brads are always ones to watch and will like to end things on a high note.
|Pool A||Pool B|
|Brad Gushue (St. John’s, N.L.)||Niklas Edin (Karlstad, Sweden)|
|Kevin Koe (Calgary)||Bruce Mouat (Stirling, Scotland)|
|Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.)||Brendan Bottcher (Edmonton)|
|John Epping (Toronto)||Jason Gunnlaugson (Winnipeg)|
|Karsten Sturmay (Edmonton)||Korey Dropkin (Duluth, U.S.)|
|Ryan Jacques (Edmonton)||Soo-Hyuk Kim (Uiseong, South Korea)|
What are the major storylines to watch in the women’s division?
Anna Hasselborg and her Swedish squad made history two weeks ago in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship by becoming the first women’s team to win a career Grand Slam — checking all four majors off of the list. They can add their names to the record books again as a title victory in the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup would make them the first women’s team to win all six different titles in the series. Only Brad Gushue has completed that feat on the men’s side.
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup is the newest event in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling and has only been held five times previously with Ottawa’s Rachel Homan winning the title three times (2017, 2018 and 2021). Homan was also runner-up to Jennifer Jones in the inaugural event in 2016. All four of those tournaments were held in Alberta. Coincidence? This will be the team’s last event with lead Joanne Courtney, who is stepping back from the sport, and you know they’ll want to cap their run with a bang as the defending champions.
Jones and Tracy Fleury’s teams from Manitoba are ones to watch as well as they’ll be disbanding after the event. Fleury, who defeated Jones in the Masters women’s final in October, will look to bookend the season with another Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title.
Kerri Einarson and her Gimli, Man., team are also coming in hot as runners-up in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship and Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni, who will lose front-enders Melanie Barbezat and Esther Neuenschwander after the season, should be a favourite here, too as the three-time reigning world champion. Tirinzoni topped Einarson for the Champions Cup title when the event was last held in front of fans in 2019.
|Pool A||Pool B|
|Tracy Fleury (East St. Paul, Man.)||Anna Hasselborg (Sundbyberg, Sweden)|
|Kerri Einarson (Gimli, Man.)||Silvana Tirinzoni (Aarau, Switzerland)|
|Eun-Jung Kim (Gangneung, South Korea)||Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg)|
|Rachel Homan (Ottawa)||Tabitha Peterson (St. Paul, U.S.)|
|Un-Chi Gim (Uijeongbu, South Korea)||Madeleine Dupont (Copenhagen, Denmark)|
|Cory Christensen (Chaska, U.S.)||Amber Holland (Kronau, Sask.)|
How do I watch the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup?
Single draw tickets plus weekday, weekend and full tournament passes are available to purchase at the door or online at champions.goigniter.com.
As mentioned previously, broadcast coverage of the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup begins Thursday at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).