Tonight the North Battleford Civic Centre will see the opening draw for the 2019 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tour Meridian Canadian Open at 7 p.m.
The six-day bonspiel will have 16 men’s and 16 women’s teams from around the world competing for a combined purse of $250,000. Co-chair of Grand Slam Curling in North Battleford, Wayne Cubbon, says the event is a big moment for Canadian curling.
“It’s one of the major Canadian Grand Slams, it was one of the first four original ones. So it’s pretty exciting for everybody to be here. There’s going to be teams from all over Canada, and Europe, and the U.S.,” says Cubbon.
The teams will be practicing this afternoon for 20 minutes each before the first draw tonight. Each day will see four draws starting tomorrow at 8 a.m.
Cubbon says that the Canadian Open is different from other Grand Slams being a triple-knockout event.
“Most of the grand slams run fifteen men’s teams and fifteen women’s teams, so the top fifteen in the world. Here we have sixteen teams. So the winner of the tier two event that was run out of Thunder Bay, Ontario, the winner of the women’s and men’s tier two get to come and play in this.”
The men’s team is Kurt Muyres’ Team from Saskatoon, and the women’s is Team Elena Stern from Switzerland.
Cubbon explains that lots of effort went into transforming the North Battleford Civic Centre rink into suitable ice.
“The first thing we had to do was level the ice surface because hockey ice doesn’t have to be level, and it’s nice for us to be pretty close when we start putting the curling ice in.”
The ice was flooded about five times and cut down with a Zamboni using a laser-level to guide it. Cubbon says it was within a quarter of an inch from high to low.
Water free of impurities had to be used for the ice, before painting it white and sealing it inside a quarter inch of ice.
Thursday the civic centre will become a broadcast centre and will be shown live on Sportsnet. Cubbon says that the event was the “place to be” in North Battleford the last time around, and hopes the same for this iteration.
“We’re hoping the same thing happens again and that people come and watch. Cause you get to watch some of the best curlers in the world come play, and it’s always better to watch them live rather than on TV.”