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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Masters is Coming...and the Ladies Are Ready!

I admit I have been very one-sided in only talking about the men's action on the World Curling Tour but this weekend is the Masters and I will do my best to breakdown both the men's and women's draw.  This is a huge event with the best teams in the world hitting the ice, both deserve equal attention on #TwineTime.  As a quick reminder on the format, the draw consists of the Top 15 teams (men and women).  Teams are placed into 3 pools of 5 with the top 8 OVERALL teams advancing to the playoffs.  In theory one pool could produce multiple teams qualifying while another pool may only see 1 or 2 teams qualify.

To read my tale of the tape on the men's side, visit HERE!

Let's start with the ladies...

WOMEN

Pool A

Team Jennifer Jones (WCT Ranking: 1) - The Olympic champs are rolling right along and look just as strong.  Similar to the comments made about Team Jacobs this season, these Gold medalists do not appear to have any Olympic-hangover either.  Their draw isn't a cake walk at this event but there is no reason to think they shouldn't win their pool
Projection: 4-0

Team Val Sweeting (7) - The addition of Andrea Crawford (originally from New Brunswick) was a question mark at the beginning of the season as to how she will mesh with this team.  So far I would consider it a positive partnership.  Andrea and Val have opposite personalities that seem to gel quite well together.  This team started the season strong with two finals appearances but has missed qualification their past two events.  Which team shows up in Selkirk?
Projection: 2-2

Team Anna Sidorova (6) - Haven't seen too much of the bronze medalists from last year's world championships this year.  They have qualified in their two previous events but this is a Grand Slam field.  A bit unknown on how they will do coming over from Russia and playing.  This team could finish anywhere from 3-1 to 1-3 in this field.  The positive is they play Team Jones in their final game so they will already know what they need to do....and Jones may already have a playoff spot locked up by then.
Projection: 2-2

Team Heather Nedohin (11) - The addition of Amy Nixon seems to be working for this team.  They have qualified at both of their previous events.  This is a very deep field though so they could be in tough this weekend.
Projection: 2-2

Team Alison Flaxey (15) - Most will probably write this team off in this event, given the field they will compete against.  Not the best results heading into the Masters either.  However, never count out a underdog team not expected to compete.  Any team can beat anyone on any day.  Having said that, unfortunately I do not see this team picking up a win in this pool.
Projection: 0-4

Pool B

Team Rachel Homen (2) - Two-time defending Canadian champ and two-time defending Masters champ.  In fact, this event has only had one winner in its history and they are back for more.  Hard to really bet against this team.  Even with the new line-up this year, they are still rolling along and curling at a high percentage.  Should have no trouble qualifying.
Projection: 4-0

Team Sherry Middaugh (9) - Well if you are looking for a team outside the top 2 coming in on a hot streak, Team Middaugh is the team to look at.  Qualified at their past three events, including a win and runner-up finish, this team is ready to take on a very competitive field.  I think they match up quite well with the teams in their pool and have a very good chance at qualifying.
Projection:2-2
Team Silvana Tirinzoni (5) - A Swiss team capable of winning the entire weekend?  Heck, in this field there are more than one.  Team Tirinzoni have won two of their three events this season (with a SF appearance being their other result).  They know how to score points.  They know how to win on tour.  They have confidence.  This is a very dangerous team who can easily be playing on Sunday.
Projection: 3-1
 
Team Chelsea Carey (16) - Still not sure what to make out of this team.  Chelsea made the big move to Edmonton after a 3rd place finish at the Scotties, formed a new team and started the season strong with an event win in Edmonton.  Unfortunately, that seems like a season ago.  They have not qualified at their past three events.  Given the strength of this field and how successful their competition have been in comparison, it could be a long weekend for Team Carey.
Projection: 1-3

Team Alina Patz (12) - The second Swiss team in the field started the season strong, similar to Team Carey.  A runner-up finish to open the season followed by a top 5 finish seemed like this team was ready to take on the tour.  Unfortunate results in Sweden and at home in Switzerland have this team left wondering how to right the ship.  Can they put up a fight in their games?  Probably.  Can they secure the wins needed to qualify?  Probably not.
Projection: 0-4

Pool C

Team Eve Muirhead (3) - Been a bit of an up and down start to the season for a fan favorite from Scotland.  A runner-up finish to start the season was followed by a disappointing result in Sweden but a qualified result in Basel.  This is a strong international pool they find themselves in so they will be VERY familiar with their opponents.  They lost in the final last year to Homan and would love to get some revenge.  They may not have looked convincing this season so far but never count them out.
Projection: 3-1 

Team Margaretha Sigfridsson (4) - Ah Team Sweden!  Always a threat.  Always curling high percentage.  I think this is one team both Team Jones and Team Homan were happy to avoid in pool play.  This is a team that can play some cat and mouse with wide open ends but then put a ton of rocks in play and end up scoring a 4 spot on you quickly.  Watch out for them.
Projection: 3-1

Team Binia Feltscher (8) - Another Swiss team in the field.  Oh and the defending world champions.  Underdogs, I don't think so.  Dark horse, perhaps.  Although, how many expected them to win the world championship last year?  This team seems quite happy with the dark horse, under the radar role...they may even embrace it.  To be fair, can you really ever call the world champs a dark horse?  In this field, and in this pool, oddly enough yes.  Plus they did just win in Basel.
Projection: 3-1

Team Sherry Anderson (10) - With Stef Lawton taking some time away from the ice, Sherry Anderson takes over.  An experienced skip with an experienced team, the ladies from Saskatchewan can never be counted out.  They show up at tour events every year and come away with very strong results.  They are always a threat.  Unfortunately the new line-up has not yielded the same results from previous years.  This team has yet to qualify in any of their events.  They will be hard pressed to do the same here.
Projection: 1-3

Team Kristy McDonald (25) - The unknown in the pool.  A good recent result in Portage will give this team confidence heading into the Grand Slam event.  Unfortunately, they are in a pool of international death with Olympic and World Champion caliber opponents.  They will be over-matched all weekend.  They will have home province support though, which could help.
Projection: 0-4

Qualified Teams:  Team Jones, Team Homan, Team Tirinzoni, Team Muirhead, Team Sigfridsson, Team Feltscher, Team Middaugh, Team Sweeting

Women's Championship:  Team Homan over Team Jones - The European teams are coming on strong at this event but come on, this is the final we all want and expect.  Team Homan stay undefeated at this event and pick up another Grand Slam victory.