CHARETTE A HAPPY MAN
By Joe Pavia
There is no brush lock up this time.
With the immanent start of the WFG Masters of Curling Grand Slam event next Tuesday in Okotoks, Alberta, competition director, Gatineau’s Pierre Charette, is a happy man. At the 2015 Masters Charette had to lock brooms up between games so players couldn’t fiddle with the brush pads. “It’s going to make my job a lot easier.”
He continued, “It will be quite a change – a welcome change. From what I hear from a few spiels across Canada and in Europe it’s kind of back to normal. And I have received some good feedback that the teams are pretty happy that it’s back to hitting the broom and throwing the right weight.”
There are seven Slam events this year with every indication they will continue to grow. According to the recently inducted Curling Hall of Famer, Charette says: “The purses are up $300,000 this year. The 4 majors (events) get the bulk of the money.
We got more and more sponsors and a presenting sponsor for all the events this year I believe. We are going to more places this year. We have more and more communities that want our event.”
This season’s roster of events spans the entire season. Besides the Masters there’s the Tour Challenge (begins November 8), the National (December 6). The Canadian Open (January 3), the Elite 10 (March 16), the Players’ Championship (April 11 and the Championship Cup (April 25). All of them use the five-rock rule format.
Sportsnet owns the series and has devoted plenty of capital, both human and financial, at the series. According to Charette “We went from televising the semi and the final to now in some weeks we have 11 games on TV starting on Thursday afternoon. Then we have separate finals for both the men and the women. It’s great for the teams.”
The increase in coverage helps these teams attract national sponsors, more so than in the past. “We had four slams and two games televised. So that was eight times you had a chance to be on TV if you were the best team. Now we have seven events with eleven games televised now you got seventy-seven chance of getting on TV. Most teams will be on TV if you had a successful year so there is more of a chance of attracting national sponsors.”
Teams are invited as per their standing in the Order of Merit list compiled by the Tour. For the Masters the defending women’s champion and three-time winner is Team Homan. The lady’s roster, like the men’s side, is a stellar field. The newest addition is Allison Flaxey who at one point were ranked number one this season. Ottawa’s Lynn Kreviazuk is second.
Charette thinks that the Slams are a good incentive for tier two rinks. Although players pay for all their own expenses a losing team can even make money. “Just the round robin games are worth $2,000 (a win) now. So even if you don’t qualify lets say you go three and two and lose in the tiebreaker you won $6000 so it will probably cover your expenses. Even a new team if they win one they get $2000 so it pays some expenses.”
Over and above this one spot is available in the Canadian Open for the Tier 2 winner of the Tour Challenge with all expenses paid.
WINNERS’ CIRCLE: The winners of the OVCA Junior Superspiel qualifier in Almonte Sunday were Jordie Lyon-Hatcher, Jordan McNamara, Pascal Michaud, Kayla Gray, Marie-Elaine Little and Emma Wallingford. They now advance to Broker Link OVCA Superspiel beginning October 28.
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The Hogline Curlers Proshop is owned and operated by an experienced curler - Joe Pavia.
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Joe has been involved with the curling world for decades as a player, organizer and curling commentator. He’s the weekly curling columnist for the Ottawa Sun where his Wednesday column is eagerly anticipated and is indeed available across the country.