Homan rink to battle the men in Elite 10 curling

Organizers of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling threw local fans an in-turn when they expected an out-turn on Wednesday, announcing Rachel Homan’s Ottawa team will be competing in the Elite 10, slated for March 17-20 at The Q Centre in Colwood.

Originally sold as a top-10 men’s team event, Homan and her rink of third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle joins nine of the best men’s teams in the world for the four-day event.

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The foursome is the No. 1-ranked women’s rink on the World Curling Tour and is the first women’s team to compete in a men’s GSOC event since Sportsnet acquired the series in 2012.

“We’re very excited for the opportunity to play in this unique event,” Homan said of the tournament, which takes on a different match-play format. “The Pinty’s Grand Slams have provided such a great platform for teams to develop over the years and this will just add to that.

“We try to always just play our game and this will be no different. Just focus on our shots, no matter who we’re playing,” she added in a statement.

Homan, who did not qualify for this year’s Scotties after losing out in the Ontario finals, will be facing the likes of men’s No. 1-ranked Mike McEwen of Winnipeg, who defeated Sweden’s Niklas Edin to claim the inaugural Elite 10 championship in 2015.

Edin, who won the Ford World Men’s Championship in Victoria in 2013, will also be here, as will Brad Gushue of St. John’s, Calgary’s Kevin Koe and Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock. Rounding out the field are Toronto’s John Epping, Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers, Calgary’s Charley Thomas and Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher.

McEwen, Gushue, Koe and Laycock are all competing at The Brier, March 5-13.

The Elite 10 format is a match-play event where teams attempt to win the most ends per game in order to advance. Unlike a skins game, match play does not allow for carryovers as each end is worth the same amount. The Elite 10 features a $100,000 purse.

“Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling is dedicated to growing the game of curling in new and exciting directions — providing challenging new formats for the players and premium competition coverage for the fans,” Rob Corte, Sportnet’s vice-president, Live Events and News Production, said in a statement. “Team Homan’s unquestionable talent and competitive drive will be a welcome addition to the Elite 10’s star-powered competition field.”

Originally slated to be an all men’s event, the top 10 World Curling Tour’s year-to-date Order of Merit (as of Feb. 15) on the men’s side received invites. Brad Jacobs, Glenn Howard and John Shuster, of the U.S., couldn’t make the event.

There will be three draws on the Thursday and Friday of the week, followed by quarter-finals and the semifinals on Saturday. The championship final is slated for Sunday, March 20.

Check selectyourtickets.com or thegrandslamofcurling.com for ticket details.

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