WFG MASTERS GRAND SLAM RECAP
The first event of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling took place in Okotoks, Alberta where the best men’s and women’s teams in the world competed in the WFG Masters.
In the men’s event, defending champions Team McEwen were hoping for a spark to help put an end to a slow start to their season and were one of eight teams to qualify for the quarterfinals including Team Murdoch of Scotland who defeated Team Koe in a tiebreaker to secure the eight and final spot in the playoffs. Once in the quarterfinals, Team Murdoch lost to team Laycock who were the only undefeated side during the round-robin portion of the event. In the other quarterfinal games, it was Team Jacobs over Team Gushue, Team Edin over Team Epping and Team Carruthers over Team McEwen.
In the semi-finals, Team Jacobs took a 4-2 lead over Team Laycock by stealing a point in the 7th. Laycock and his team came back to score two points in the 8th end but Team Jacobs took advantage of the hammer in the extra-end for a 5-4 victory. In the other semi-final, Team Edin took a 5-2 lead with a steal of one point in the 5th end on their way to an 8-3 victory over Team Carruthers that was punctuated by three points in the 7th end.
The final was a back and forth game with Team Jacobs taking a 4-2 lead in the 7th end only to see Team Edin reply with two points of their own in the 8th end to tie the game. In the extra-end, Team Jacobs missed a difficult raise with their last rock allowing Team Edin to steal a point for a 5-4 victory and their first Grand Slam title.
In the women’s event, defending champions Team Homan of Ottawa looked strong heading into Okotoks having won titles in their only two other events of the season. Although Team Homan easily qualified for the playoffs, Team Kim of Korea and Team Hasselborg of Sweden were the only two sides to go undefeated in the round-robin. In the quarterfinals, Team Kim lost to Team Flaxey of Caledon and Team Hasselborg defeated 2016 Canadian champions Team Carey of Calgary. Meanwhile, in the other quarterfinals, it was Team Tirinzoni of Switzerland defeating countrywomen Team Feltscher while Team Homan defeated Team Jones in a battle of the top two teams in the current world rankings.
In their semi-final, Team Flaxey stole a total of seven points on their way to an 8-1 victory over Team Tirinzoni including four points in the 4th end. Meanwhile, in the other semi-final, Team Hasselborg scored three points in the 1st end but then saw Team Homan steal a point in the 3rd end to tie the game 3-3. Team Hasselborg was down 6-4 heading into the 8th end but were not able to take advgantage of having last rock as Team Homan proceeded to steal their second point of the game for a 7-4 victory.
The final was a battle of Ontario involving the defending champions Team Homan from Ottawa versus the upstart Team Flaxey from Caledon. Team Flaxey got off to a good start by stealing a point in the 1st end only to see Team Homan steal a point of their own in the 4th end to take a 2-1 lead at the break. The 5th end was the turning point of this game and perhaps a tuning point in the careers of Allison Flaxey, Clancy Grandy, Lynn Kreviazuk and Morgan Court as they stole four points to take a 5-2 lead and held on for a 6-3 victory to win their first Grand Slam title. The win moved Team Flaxey to sixth in the world rankings and likely guaranteed invitations to the season’s other Grand Slams after only playing in one of the Slams last season.
10 HOT TAKES FROM THE WFG MASTERS
- Team Edin has been playing well all season and they have now filled the one gap they still had on their curling resumé by winning their first Grand Slam. It will be interesting how this victory propels them for the rest of the season.
- The most remarkable part of Team Flaxey’s victory at the Masters was that they stole 17 points in the playoffs (including the tiebreaker) against Einarson, Kim, Tirinzoni and Homan…impressive stuff against solid teams.
- Watching Glenn Howard right now is like watching Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan towards the end of their careers. We watch because we know they can still produce moments of greatness but those moments of greatness simply don’t happen nearly as often as they did early in their careers.
- Team Homan made it all the way to the final of the WFG Masters by playing a more aggressive style than it has in the past. Reaching the final of a grand slam playing a different style is a testament to the quality of the Team Homan and each of its players
- Team Gushue may have lost in the quarterfinals to Team Jacobs at the WFG Masters but they went 3-1 in the round-robin and have had an impressive start to their 2016-17 season. The team has played the whole season without an injured Brad Gushue and they remain one of the most competitive teams in the world without their skip.
- If there were any remaining doubts about Team Hasselborg they should have been dispelled by their semi-final appearance in their first Tier 1 Grand Slam appearance.
- It is too early for Team McEwen to hit the panic button but they have struggled to start the season. The former top-ranked team in the world has played in four events this season, has qualified for the playoffs twice but has yet to win a playoff game.
- Could this be a lost season for Team Sidorova? They went 1-3 at the Masters, failed to qualify for the European Championships, have dropped to 10th in the world rankings and are not scheduled to compete again until the Boost National Grand Slam in early December.
- Six months ago, Team Shuster was putting an exclamation point on a solid season by winning a bronze medal for the United States at the World Championships. So far this season, they have qualified for the playoffs in only one of their five events and went 0-4 at the season’s first Grand Slam.
- Team Kim of Korea is certainly proving that their strong 2015-16 season was no fluke. Despite their loss to Team Flaxey in the quarterfinals at the WFG Masters, Team Kim went 4-0 in the round-robing while defeating 3 top-ten teams.
If you have yet to subscribe for the “Weekly Curling Report” please feel free to do so at the bottom of this page. This week’s report includes Allison Flaxey discussing her team’s win at the WFG Masters Grand Slam, an interview with Nolan Thiessen who discusses his new role as a member of the WCF Athlete’s Commission as well as interviews with both Casey Scheidegger and Sherry Middaugh whose teams are off to strong starts this season.
WEEK 11 RECAP
Huron ReproGraphics Oil Heritage Classic
At the Huron ReproGraphics Oil Heritage Classic, Team McCormick of the U.S. won their second event of the season after qualifying for the playoffs through the C event. In their semi-final, Team McCormick stole two points in the 5th end to take a 7-3 lead and held on to defeat Team Ross of Harriston (ON) by a score of 8-4. In the other semi-final, Team Higgs of Ottawa defeated 2007 U.S, Champion Todd Birr and his rink from Minnesota by a score of 5-3. In the final, Team McCormick scored three points in the 8th end to come from behind and defeat Team Higgs by a score of 6-4.
Grand Prairie Cash Spiel
In Grand Prairie, Team Pfeiffer of Edmonton and hometown favourites Team Balderston qualified through the A side on their way to meeting in the final. In their semi-final game, Team Balderston stole two points in the 7th end to secure an 8-6 victory while in the other semi-final, Team Pfeiffer took an early 4-0 lead and held on to defeat Team Vavrek of Grand Prairie by a score of 4-3. In the championship final, Team Balderston stole three early points to take a 5-0 lead and put the game away by scoring four points in the 5th end for a 9-1 victory.
HONOURABLE MENTION PERFORMANCE
The Honourable Mention Performance of the week goes to Jake Higgs and his team from Ottawa who defeated four higher-ranked teams on their way to the final at the Huron ReproGraphics Oil Heritage Classic in Sarnia.
WEEK 12 PREVIEW
The only combined event of the week will be in Cookstown (ON) where Team de Cruz of Switzerland will defend their title at the CookstownCash presented by Comco Canada event while Team Epping, Team Howard and Team Smith of Scotland will be looking to wrest the title away from Team de Cruz. In the women’s event, Team Tippin will not be defending their title meaning that a strong mix of teams from Ontario, including Team Kean and Team Heggestad, will be vying for the championship and valuable ranking points.
The Royal LePage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic in Kemptville will be headlined by Team Middaugh, Team Ogasawara of Japan, Team Larouche of Quebec and several of the top teams from the East Coast including Team Arsenault of Nova Scotia, Team MacPhee of PEI and Team Curtis of Newfoundland.
The Ken Kurbis Galaxy Bonspiel in Winnipeg is a new event that will see many of Manitoba’s top men’s teams fighting to win the inaugural title. The field will also include two-time World Champion Al Hackner and his rink from Thunder Bay.
The Fort St. John Cash Spiel is expected to draw teams from Western Canada looking to increase their WCT and CTRS point totals.