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Wednesday, 9 January 2019

#CanadianOpen Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: Bracketology Battle in Battleford
The rings run red for the Canadian Open




"Red Rings. Red Rings. Red Rings."

If you go stand in your bathroom, lights off, look into the mirror and say the above three times in a row, a haunting image of Kevin Martin will look deep into your curling soul!

Ok so maybe that is just a curling urban legend (that I also may have just created right now) but the rings are about to run red for the annual Canadian Open, the third major of the Grand Slam of Curling season.

January brings cold, snow and grand slam curling action folks. And this is one of my favourite #gsoc events of the season.

One of the main reasons I love the Canadian Open is because we finally see a format change. Unlike the other events on the #gsoc calendar, this event operates a more #wct traditional triple knockout format. Good bye pool play and 2-2 records landing you a playoff spot. If you want to make the money and earn the big points, you need to have a winning overall record coming into the playoff round.

Now of course it is not unheard of for a 3-2 #CSideGrind team to go on and hoist the championship trophy. It has been done twice before. In fact last year's men's and women's finalists (Niklas Edin and Michelle Englot) both qualified for the playoffs from the C-side.

On the flip side, qualifying with a perfect 3-0 record from the A-side has not translated into playoff success. In the history of the event only one A-side qualifier has claimed the title (John Epping, 2015). So should we just assume the smart path to the title is by qualifying via the B-side route with a 3-1 record? It seemed to work for both of last year's champions (Peter De Cruz and Chelsea Carey). Even more enticing, both qualified in the Qualifier #4 spot. Hmmm....are you superstitious?

If so, maybe we should brush up on our history a bit more before analyzing the 2019 field. Are you up to date on your #CanadianOpen knowledge? Could you breeze through a Jeopardy category title "Canadian Open" with ease? Time to find out.

#HistoryLesson



  • The Canadian Open is the second oldest event on the #gsoc calendar with its first offering being in 2001. The upcoming Players' Championship is the oldest, originating in 1993. The Canadian Open is also classified as one of the four "majors" of the grand slam circuit, along with The Masters, The National and the Players' Championship. The Canadian Open has offered the same purse through its entire run of an event, topping at $100,000.
  • The third major of the season has been through a few name iterations in its 18 year history. Collectively the event has seen 4 different title sponsors (Telus, M&M Meat Shops, BDO, Meridian) and 8 name changes. Now, to be fair, outside of title sponsor changes the name changes have been pretty minor to the unknowing eye such as going from BDO Classic Canadian Open (2006, 2007) to BDO Classic Canadian Open of Curling (2007) to BDO Canadian Open of Curling (2009 - 2011). The current name, Meridian Canadian Open, has held firm since 2015.
  • Wayne Middaugh was the inaugural champion in 2001 defeating Jeff Stoughton in the final. This would be "Wayner's" only Canadian Open title as skip but he would add another Canadian Open to his resume playing vice with Glenn Howard for the 2012 victory. As for Stoughton, he would win his lone title in 2006 defeating John Morris in the final. Stoughton would also pick up a second runner-up finish in 2011, losing to Manitoba rival Mike McEwen.
  • The most Canadian #CanadianOpen champion is Kevin Martin. Martin collected 5 Canadian Open titles during his career (2002, 2005, Jan. 2007, Dec. 2007, 2010). He also added a runner-up finish in 2009, losing the final to Glenn Howard.
  • Canadian Open champions have come from 5 different provinces. Alberta leads the way with 6 thanks to Martin's 5 and Kevin Koe's lone title in 2013. Ontario is next with 4, most recent being John Epping in 2015. Manitoba has 3, most recent being Mike McEwen winning the double in 2011. Newfoundland and Labrador have 2 titles both belonging to Brad Gushue (2014, 2017) and Saskatchewan have 1 title (Glen Despins, 2003).
  • Last season marked the first time a non-Canadian team would hoist the Canadian Open trophy when Switzerland's Peter De Cruz defeated Sweden's Niklas Edin in the final. This was also the first time no Canadian team reached the championship game. For Edin, last year's finals loss would be his second consecutive Canadian Open runner-up finish.
  • Speaking of runner-up finishes, Glenn Howard leads the way with 3 second place results. Jeff Stoughton, Randy Ferby, Brad Gushue and Niklas Edin each have 2 runner-up finishes.
  • The women on tour were finally invited to participate in the Canadian Open in 2014 where Scotland's Eve Muirhead would defeat Rachel Homan for the inaugural crown. Homan would extract revenge in 2015 however when she would defeat Jennifer Jones in the final to claim her lone Canadian Open title (thus far anyway). The women's event has at least always offered an equal purse to the men's event at $100,000.
  • There has yet to be a double winner on the women's draw at this major. Muirhead and Homan won the first two while the past two have gone to two Alberta teams skipped by Casey Scheidegger (2017) and Chelsea Carey (2018).
  • In regards to host ice, the Canadian Open has always had a prairie province vibe to it. Winnipeg, Manitoba has hosted 5 times (most recent 2010). The only other city prior to this year to host more than once is Yorkton, Saskatchewan (2014, 2015). North Battleford will host the 2019 edition, its second hosting opportunity after previously serving as host in 2017. Last year's event was held in Camrose, Alberta.

Ok so a brief history lesson on the Canadian Open. If you followed along I am confident each of you could clean the Jeopardy category board....should "curling" or "Canadian Open" actually ever make its way onto Jeopardy. Come to think of it, Alex Trebek is Canadian so get on Trebek and help #growthesport already!!

Now I have a secret to share with you all. I have an obsession. It is a healthy obsession, I think anyway. But it is one that consumes my sports mind and delights my little heart. I have a #Bracketology obsession. I love the NCAA #MarchMadness basketball tournament where you start with a bracket of 68 and slowly whittle your way down to a championship game and coronation of your ultimate survivor. Each year I enter at least 5 or 6 (ok actually around 10 or 11 who am I kidding) brackets into a bunch of different pools just because I love it so much. It is an obsession, I can admit it.

The Canadian Open is the one major event of the season where I can, loosely, apply the same mentality on the curling ice. No more #Bracketology on the hard court only. For one major #gsoc event a year I can finally take the #Bracketology mentality onto the ice.

The Canadian Open also has a history of some #TeamUpset results or, from a Bracketology perspective, a double digit seed taking down the higher seeds and claiming the title. Last year's winners would have probably been a mid-major seed. 2017 champion Casey Scheidegger would have been a low #BracketBuster seed when she won her title. First-time champions are being crowned on the regular it appears now so perhaps another Bracket Buster team can emerge victorious this season.

For this week's preview blog post, we can apply the #Bracketology mentality. Each of the qualifying teams has been seeded, with heavy consideration on their current #TwineTime Power Rankings position, and we break down the draw as such. Who are the favourites? Who are the #BracketBusters, normally referred to as #TeamUpset? Time for the #CanadianOpen Seed Report!

Bring. It. On.

#Bracketology



Meridian Canadian Open

North Battleford, SK

2018 Champions: Team Peter De Cruz and Team Chelsea Carey

Format: 16-team triple knockout with 8 qualifiers.

MEN

Favourites:

1. Team Epping (1) - The top team on the #TwineTime ranking for a record 16 consecutive weeks nabs the #1 seed in Battleford. And why not? They already collected one major slam this season, The Masters, and have one other #wct title to their credit. Although they have cooled off a bit as the weather got colder, failing to qualify at the Tour Challenge and National. Their grip on the #1 ranking is slowly loosening as well so a strong result is needed here or the record run at the apex of the mountain might come to an end. A win would also give Brent Laing slam title #17 and Craig Saville slam W #14!!

2. Team Mouat (3) - The hottest team on tour right now? Well when you win the European Championship, reach the final of The National and win a #wct event as lead up into the first major of 2019, tough to argue against the young Scots. Add in a SF finish at The Masters and no team has been as consistent at the #gsoc this season. They are rolling in momentum and confidence right now and are a very serious threat to pick up their second career major this week.

3. Team Koe (4) - The Masters finalist. Canada Cup finalist. The National SF finish. Could this be the event the new-look Team Koe gets over the hump and win their first #gsoc together? Koe currently sits as the #1 team in the world rankings and would love to solidify their #1 spot with a slam title in Battleford. Sasky pride will be on display with this team too as the front end muscle of Colton Flasch and Ben Hebert are both born in the host province.

4. Team Edin (5) - The #SwedishVikings have not had the best slam season, by their standards. Dropping for 0-for at the Elite 10 and picking up only 1 win at the Tour Challenge were disappointments. On the flip side a SF appearance at The Masters and QF appearance at The National are encouraging. The Euro finals loss was tough but the team arrives in Battleford fresh of another Swedish national title victory last weekend. If we base our outlook on the team from results at #gsoc "majors" expect to see Team Edin in the playoff bracket this weekend looking for their first Canadian Open title and revenge over last year's heartbreak finals loss to De Cruz, where they gave up a steal in the 8th end of a tie game.


Watch Out For:

5. Team Jacobs (6) - The Return of Fry Guy! All eyes will squarely be on Team Jacobs and Ryan Fry making his return to the ice and team since the infamous incident in Red Deer back in November. The last slam Fry competed in was the Tour Challenge, a #gsoc victory for Team Jacobs. While he missed The National, Jacobs slid on without him going undefeated in the RR with super-spare Matt Wozniak before a tough QF loss to Howard. The Jacobs team, collectively, has been curling well this season (don't forget the Canada Cup victory with Marc Kennedy) so expect Fry to fit right back into the fold with his boys and contend for this slam title. Plus you can bet Fry would love nothing better to silence his critics than going out and curling light's out first event back and collecting the W.

6. Team Dunstone (7) - #DunnyIsMoney...literally this season! The new look team from Sask has grabbed this season by the you know what and showed it who is boss. When you start the season on the outside looking in, plan a smart schedule and win a few events (3 now to be exact) you can quickly move up the ranking mountain and find yourself hovering around the Top 5. What a season thus far! Their best slam result was the QF at The Masters so it is time to see them become a regular fixture in the playoff bracket. This would be the perfect event too as Sasky fans are dying for a Sask #gsoc winner right now.

7. Team Gushue (9) - After starting the season with a #gsoc win at the Elite 10 it has been a consistent mild disappointment for the defending Canadian champs. Are the boys from The Rock qualifying for the playoffs? Sure. But they have failed to advance beyond the QF. Now sure qualifying all the time is still a win and something most teams on tour would gladly label as a success for the season but expectations are elevated for Team Gushue and they seem to have hit a small QF wall right now. Expect them to qualify, sure. But what will they do once they get there? Unknown.

8. Team De Cruz (14) - The defending champions always earn respect from the blog and Switzerland's Team De Cruz is no exception. Last year's run to the title was a bit unexpected but those who follow the sport could be nothing short of happy for this team as, prior to the breakthrough, had failed to advance beyond the QF at an slam. The team reached the SF of the Tour Challenge this season but did have some mild disappointment in failing to win a game at The National. And lets not forget missing the playoffs at the European Championships as well. However this is a new year and the Swiss boys started the season with a strong SF showing at the Perth Masters last weekend.

#BracketBusters:

13. Team McDonald (10) - One of the #TeamUpset flag bearers of the season, who saw Team McDonald in the Top 10? They have a tour title to their credit, have played 9 events already this season and have qualified for the past two slams now. They were the Tour Challenge Tier II runner-up finishers and yet here they are playing alongside the Tier II winners (more on them shortly) based on qualification merit alone. They went 1-3 at The National in December so they will be looking to improve here. The triple knockout format favours them though as this is what they are more used to playing #wct events. If you are looking for a dangerous #BracketBuster, Team McDonald could be the leading candidate.

14. Team Muyres (15) - Welcome our Tour Challenge Tier II champions! Team Muyres won their way into the field with their Tier II win but lets remember they also qualified for the last major, The National, on their own merit. They also put forth a strong showing, going 2-2 and just missing the playoffs. #TeamBro is really starting to find their footing as a new team and with home province fans behind them could be a dangerous floater in the draw. The Muyres boys are returning from a nice time of fun and sun over the holiday season as lead Dallan Muyres got married. Congrats Dallan!

15. Team Calvert (18) - Watch out for Team Calvert folks. While this team has been focused on mainly playing events in their home province of Manitoba, they are winning...and winning a lot. They have 3 tour event titles to their credit, including back-to-back wins prior to participating in The National, their first #gsoc event of the season. While they missed the playoffs with a 1-3 record, they have now qualified for back-to-back majors and the glitz, glam and excitement of the first will be worn off for the second. Plus we get an exciting rivalry match-up in the opening round when Calvert takes on former MB junior rival Matt Dunstone!!!

16. Team Kleiter (NR) - Curling fans may not be familiar with the name Rylan Kleiter but if you follow the Canadian Junior championships every year you should know his name. Kleiter has competed at the past two Canadian championships and, just last weekend, clinched the #3peat in Saskatchewan to punch his ticket to the 2019 championships. This is a great sponsors exempt invite for the event. Kleiter has proven himself to be a strong future contender for the home province and the opportunity for a junior team to compete on the slam ice will provide great growth and learning for the young team, similar to what we saw when Tanner Horgan was invited to compete at The National in Sault Ste. Marie back in 2016. Always be weary of a team coming off a tough tournament victory like a provincial championship and playing with nothing to lose. Team Kleiter opens with Team Koe....welcome to the slams boys!

The Field:

9. Team Howard (8) - Still a threat. Still competing at slams. Still looking for #gsoc title #17 to close the gap on rival Kevin Martin (18 titles) for the all-time lead. Howard has reached the SF at the past two slams remember, Tour Challenge and The National, so do not underestimate them here as well.

10. Team Bottcher (11) - We haven't really seen a lot for the Brier silver medal winners this season. They didn't start their season until Week 7 at the Shorty Jenkins with a SF showing but did win their second event of the season the next weekend in Portage. They did reach the final of the Tour Challenge, their only slam appearance this season. When we don't see a team as often on tour you don't really know what to expect. A challenger for the playoffs, certainly. A threat to win? Who knows!? From failing to qualify to reaching the final, all parts of the spectrum seem to be in play with this team.

11. Team Carruthers (13) - #TeamBFF luckily took home a title over the holiday season in Japan to perhaps save a bit of face for the opening half of the year. To say it has been a struggle is an understatement. Heading into the season many people bought into the pairing of Manitoba contenders Reid Carruthers and Mike McEwen as the formation of a male super-team. The results have been more a mixed bag though. The Elite 10 finals appearance, followed with a championship win at the Stu Sells Toronto were a great start to the season but the wheels have slightly fallen off the train. They have failed to qualify at The Masters, Tour Challenge and The National and went winless at the Canada Cup. Ok sure everyone is still saying this team is playing with the line-up and it is too early to hit the panic button. However, when other new teams like Dunstone, McDonald and Muyres are finding just as much success, and in some cases more, you have to wonder how long we can call this a sheep in wolves clothing? This team NEEDS a strong result here to build momentum heading into the provincial playdown portion of the season.

12. Team Gunnlaugson (17) - The National finally ended the run of disappointing slam results for Jason Gunnlaugson. The QF showing erased the previous results of failing to win games, let alone qualify. Can they take momentum out of the result and carry it over into 2019 though? Gunner is always a threat, especially if you leave him with some nice runbacks or big hits to score multiple points or get out of a sticky situation. The question always is can he do it for 8 ends over 4 or 5 or 6 games in a week? Huge opening game vs. Edin.


Opening Round Games: (3) Koe vs. (16) Kleiter, (5) Jacobs vs. (8) De Cruz, (10) Bottcher vs. (11) Carruthers, (6) Dunstone vs. (15) Calvert, (1) Epping vs. (14) Muyres, (2) Mouat vs. (13) McDonald, (4) Edin vs. (12) Gunnlaugson, (7) Gushue vs. (9) Howard


Qualifiers: Team Mouat, Team Dunstone, Team Jacobs, Team Edin, Team Koe, Team Muyres, Team De Cruz, Team Gushue

MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP: Team Edin def. Team Mouat


WOMEN

Favourites:

1. Team Homan (1) - I thought when the New Year's Day rolls around we move ahead the calendar....but according to Team Homan we may be turning back the clocks. Welcome to 2015? You may remember back in 2015 when Team Homan was the dynamo juggernaut on ice, picking up three consecutive slam titles and steamrolling the competition. Well fast forward to 2019 and here we are on the cusp on Homan collecting a third consecutive slam win once again, following up the W's at the Tour Challenge and The National. Oh and throw in the Canada Cup SF, heck no wonder this team is #1 in the world. Can they replicate the magic of 2015? Well when did Homan collect her lone Canadian Open title? 2015. Where? Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Stars aligning once more?

2. Team Hasselborg (2) - If Homan doesn't want to collect a third slam of the season, I know another team who would be happy to do so. The #SwedishVikings started the year winning the inaugural Elite 10 and The Masters. In between those two events they won a tour event in Stockholm and followed up their Masters win by winning their first European Championship. From a tour perspective, their loss in the QF at The National was the first #wct event they entered this season where they did not win (remember they didn't compete at the Tour Challenge due to prep for European's). Homan may be the current juggernaut everyone is talking about but the Olympic champs are right beside them in the conversation.

3. Team Einarson (3) - But wait....what about #TeamSkipper? The new Team Einarson already has collected 4 #wct titles on the season. They have back-to-back championship final appearances from the Canada Cup and The National. Don't forget the SF appearance at The Tour Challenge too. And remember they started the season outside the #gsoc window looking in, not having enough points to qualify for the season-opening Elite 10 due to the new team formation. From week 5 to week 19 they are now situated as the #3 ranked team and a real threat to collect their first slam title together. Val Sweeting has been here before, having won two #gsoc titles as skip. Shannon Birchard experienced winning big events last year as a sub for Team Jones in winning the Scotties. Given recent history showing the Canadian Open becoming the breeding ground for first-time #gsoc titles, should we really be betting against Team Einarson in Battleford?

4. Team J. Jones (4) - Speaking of the Scotties champ, never count out Jennifer Jones and crew. The slam season has been consistent for Jones but not filled with championship glory...yet!? A SF appearance at the Elite 10 and The National, a QF appearance at The Masters and Tour Challenge...good results but not Jones-esque right? We expect a slam title(s) from the Queen of Curling. In fact, until the Canada Cup win the team had not tasted tournament victory this season. This could be the perfect time to charge into the winner's circle, especially when seeing three other teams above her being listed as higher favourites for the title.


Watch Out For:

5. Team Tirinzoni (6) - The new look Tirinzoni is an interesting team to keep an eye on. While they have not tasted victory this season on tour they have also not tasted bad defeats or underperformed either. The finals appearance at the Elite 10 and the European Championships. A SF result at The National. A QF at the Tour Challenge. Strong results card to this point of the season but not blowing you out of the water like Homan or Hasselborg or Einarson right? We are almost sitting back and asking "when?" not "if" we see Tirinzoni claim her second slam title, following up the amazing victory over Homan at the 2015 Tour Challenge Tier I. Over the past three and a half seasons Tirinzoni has been one of the most consistent skips at the slam level. In fact, when she failed to qualify for the playoffs at The Masters this season, it ended her run of 10 straight #gsoc playoff appearances spanning two years. This run included two finals appearances and three SF finishes. Pencil Tirinzoni into your playoff bracket now....but what happens then is the real wildcard.

6. Team Scheidegger (10) - Could anybody be more excited about the Canadian Open returning to Saskatchewan than Casey Scheidegger? Back in 2017 Scheidegger was the #BracketBuster of the event, qualifying in the 8th and final #CSideGrind spot and knocking off Jennifer Jones, Val Sweeting and Silvana Tirinzoni en route to her maiden slam title. If we go off OOM rankings at that event, Scheidegger would have been the #14 seed...and emerged victorious! Fast forward two years and now Scheidegger is a regular fixture on the slam scene and a consistent threat to the playoff bracket. She added a finals appearance at last year's National and reached the SF at this year's Masters. The team also has a tour title from their season opening event in Edmonton. The National last month was disappointing, failing to pick up a win, but new year, new attitude, fond memories? They say lightning does strike twice in Saskatchewan, Scheidegger wants to put that theory to the test.

7. Team Fujisawa (11) - Japan's Fujisawa may be the silent but deadly, fly under the radar team in this field. The Japanese champs have not received a ton of attention this season, outside their Curling World Cup leg two victory of course. They reached the #PACC final before succumbing to Korea's Min-ji Kim. At the slam level, they went 2-2 at The Masters, just missing the playoffs, but qualified for the QF at The National. We all know the smiling, high-fiving Team Fujisawa is going to give you a run for your money. But can they put all the weapons together for six or seven games in a row to make a run for the championship? We are still waiting for that answer....

8. Team Muirhead (29) - When you have won 6 collective #gsoc titles, including 3 Players' Championships and be a previous Canadian Open winner, you better believe you are going to fall under the Watch Out For category regardless of how you season may be playing out. She failed to qualify at The Masters and missed the playoffs at Euro's. However, Muirhead is always a slam threat and seems to really get excited and elevate her game on the #gsoc ice. She looked like the slam champ of old in reaching the QF at The National and has some momentum coming to Battleford. Remember this team is still transitioning to the addition of Jennifer Dodds at vice after long-time third Anna Sloan stepped away from the sport. The chemistry between Muirhead-Sloan is not going to be replicated overnight but Muirhead-Dodds seem to be landing closer to the comfort zone now, meaning this team can be a threat once more. What a sizzling opening round game we get with Muirhead vs. Hasselborg too!


#BracketBusters:

13. Team Stern (8) - The next "Swiss Miss" Elena Stern makes her #gsoc major debut this week and is the leading candidate for a #BracketBuster team to be weary of. Team Stern won their way into the field by claiming the Tour Challenge Tier II title in November but don't sell this team short as a "tier II" team. They have had a very strong season on tour as well. They won a big event in Basel, reached the SF at DEKALB and, just a few weeks ago, reached the SF in Qinghai. Stern has played in 3 World Junior championships, winning bronze in 2015, and won gold at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games. We know Switzerland has a history of producing strong female curlers, like Alina Paetz, Silvana Tirinzoni and Binia Feltscher, and Stern is the future next generation star of the sport to continue the #HoppSchwiiz chants. This could be a huge coming out party for her and this team to the entire curling world.

14. Team Wrana (12) - Speaking of strong former junior teams transitioning to the women's game, Sweden's Isabella Wrana is the prototype for success. The 2017 world junior champ and last year's world silver medal winner has had a breakout 2018/19 campaign, capped with winner her first #wct event of her young career at the Shorty Jenkins. She won her second career title at the Paf Masters in Finland in October. The Canadian Open will mark her fourth career #gsoc appearance and third this season after qualifying for the Tour Challenge and The National. While she has failed to qualify in previous slam appearances, it really is only a matter of time before we see another Swedish team in the playoff bracket and with a triple knockout format, this could be the breakthrough.

15. Team Walker (25) - The story around the newly formed Team Walker has been one of hills and valleys. The team started the season slow, as expected with a completely new line-up, but gained steam in reaching the QF at the season opening Elite 10. The team went on a slight middle stretch of the opening half of the season failing to qualify in two events but seemed to turn things around with another QF appearance at the Tour Challenge. The bronze medal win over the holidays in Karuizawa brings some momentum into 2019 and with a team stacked full of experience one can never underestimate them. It is all about consistency, consistency, consistency. Can they find their rhythm and make a playoff push in Battleford or dip back into the valley after a few weeks of climbing the hill?

16. Team Silvernagle (24) - The sponsors exempt invite brings some Sasky excitement to the women's draw with Team Silvernagle. But being from the host province is not the only reason this team was invited to the Canadian Open. The new look Team Silvernagle has put together a solid first half of the season. The last time we saw this team compete on the #wct was back in November when they won an event in Red Deer and reached the SF in Lloydminster. Remember Silvernagle is joined by four-time Sask champ Steph Lawton at vice, who herself has collected four #gsoc titles in her career (most recent Players' Championship 2012). Plus Team Silvernagle is based out of North Battleford so expect the home fans to rally behind them this week. Fan support can make a huge difference in close games. Can the #13thMan mentality of Saskatchewan sports fans carry their lone female rep in the field into the playoffs? A dangerous #16 seed here.


The Field:

9. Team Carey (9) - The defending champion skip and her new team will look to #DefendTheIce...in team name at least. Similar to most new teams this season, it took a few events to really get the gripper on the ice for Team Carey this season but the tour win in Portage followed by the SF appearance at The Masters helped put this team on the map once again this season. There have been struggles since The Masters however, failing to qualify in their past three events. Can Carey navigate the pressure of defending champ and right the ship or do the struggles continue?

10. Team Robertson (13) - Are people finally ready to consider Team Robertson a legit threat on tour? We know the Manitoba women's curling scene is a crowded house and Team Einarson leading the way on coverage and expectations but last year's Manitoba Scotties runner-up has become a consistent playoff threat on tour the past few seasons. Look at the team's record on #gsoc ice this season folks. QF appearances at both slam events they participated in, The Masters and Tour Challenge. Chalk up a few early season #wct titles in Winnipeg and Saskatoon and one can see why this team has flirted with a Top 10 ranking all season. Can they make it 3 for 3 in slam qualifying?

11. Team Fleury (16) - When Tracy Fleury jumped provinces to Manitoba and joined forces with the trio of former Team Einarson, many people wondered how the new dynamic would work. The SF appearance at the Autumn Gold in Calgary over Thanksgiving weekend was breakout event for the new team. They followed it up with a QF appearance at The Masters and reached the final of the Tour Challenge. We have only seen them on the #wct ice once since the Tour Challenge when they went 1-3 at The National and failed to qualify. They did represent Canada at the Curling World Cup second leg in Omaha but also failed to reach the championship final. Closing in on Manitoba provincials this team needs to find their footing and gain some momentum quick. The one advantage for Fleury could be her history here. In two previous appearances at the Canadian Open she has reached the QF both times (2016, 2017).

12. Team Roth (47) - Don't let the ranking fool you folks. The main reason behind the lower ranking next to Team Roth is due to the team not playing a ton of #wct events this season. We have only seen the team compete in 6 tour events and they have only qualified in 1 of those events, reaching the SF at the Tour Challenge Tier I. They went 2-2 at The Masters, just missing the playoffs losing a TB, and went 1-3 at The National. While slam team shows up this week? The one who qualified at the Tour Challenge or missed the playoffs altogether at The Masters and The National?


Opening Round Games: (2) Hasselborg vs. (8) Muirhead, (6) Scheidegger vs. (9) Carey, (5) Tirinzoni vs. (7) Fujisawa, (4) Jones vs. (14) Wrana, (3) Einarson vs. (12) Roth, (11) Fleury vs. (16) Silvernagle, (1) Homan vs. (15) Walker, (10) Robertson vs. (13) Stern


Qualifiers: Team Hasselborg, Team Einarson, Team Homan, Team J. Jones, Team Tirinzoni, Team Muirhead, Team Scheidegger, Team Fujisawa

WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP: Team J. Jones def. Team Hasselborg


There you have it rock heads and stoners. What say you on the seed report for the #CanadianOpen? Agree with the predictions? Disagree with the seeding? Who do you think will take the championship trophy on Sunday? And who is your leading candidate for a #BracketBuster? Share your opinions and predictions in the comment section below and/or on social media.

And always feel free to share, like, RT this blog post to help generate continued interest in the sport of curling, the Grand Slam of Curling, the Canadian Open and always help #growthesport.

#StayTuned


Keep one eye glued to your television watching the action in Battleford but also pay attention to the results across the pond in Bern, Switzerland this weekend for the #Tour500 International Bernese Ladies Cup. There are a few big name teams competing, most notably Team Kovaleva, Team Sidorova, Team Nakajima, Team Jentsch, Team Schori and Team Feltscher to name just a few. An opportunity for those teams not playing in the #gsoc to still pick up some valuable points at a large #wct event.

ICYMI don't forget to check out the first #PowerRankings of 2019 and see which teams are starting the year on top and which are trying to make their move up the mountain.

There are also provincial playdowns underway this week with PEI crowning their Scotties and Brier representatives and St. John's, NL hosting the Newfoundland and Labrador Scotties. In addition we have provincial qualifiers on-going as teams try to punch their ticket to their respected provincial championships.

Good luck and good #curling to all....