With four months to go until the 2024 Co-op Canadian Open in Red Deer excitement builds in the community.
From Jan. 16-21, the top men’s and women’s teams from across the world will head to Servus Arena in Red Deer to compete in the fourth event of the 2024 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season.
Kevin Martin, who retired from the sport in 2014, is an 18-time Grand Slam champion and won gold for Canada in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Since retiring he’s become a TV commentator for the sport and on Thursday explained his excitement for the upcoming event.
“It’s a huge event in the world of curling,” he said. “Anytime you can get the world’s best together in one spot it’s bound to be a good show.”
The tournament will feature 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world. It will also mark the first time a major curling event will be held inside the Servus Arena.
The format includes a triple knockout preliminary round and in order to reach the playoffs, teams need to win three games before they lose three.
Calgary’s Team Bottcher was the men’s 2022-23 champion and on the women’s side, Team Fujisawa from Japan took home the victory.
In order to qualify is dependent on team rankings in the World Curling Federation and those who will participate are yet to be determined. There will also be one spot reserved for the winner of the Tour Challenge Tier 2 event and another team will be filled by a sponsor’s exemption.
“It usually works out to be seven or eight Canadian teams and then the rest of the field is from around the globe,” he added.
“There’s no limit as to how many teams can come from any particular country. The world championships it’s one team from each country but the Grand Slams don’t work like that. It’s off the world rankings and you have to be top 16 which is really fun for the fans.”
Martin explained the competition in curling on the world stage within the last decade has improved. Teams from countries such as Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Scotland, Italy, and the U.S. have strong teams.
“Ten years ago we would never have said that Italy is one of the strong teams… There’s a huge amount of international depth now and a lot of people come from those countries to watch the event,” he said noting the economic impact for the city.
He praised the city after spending time curling at the Pidherney Centre over the years. For a city that can put on big events, Martin explained Red Deer is the perfect spot.
“The interest and the amount of fans locally is huge,” he said. “What a perfect time of year to have the event in Red Deer. It’s right after the holidays so what a perfect Christmas gift.”
Organizers also announced that weekend passes are now available for purchase as well as full event passes. Information on where to purchase can be found on thegrandslamofcurling.com.