Defending Canadian and World champion, Kevin Koe of Calgary, leads a solid field on the men’s side of the Red Deer Curling Classic, which runs Friday through Monday at the Pidherney Centre.
Koe, a three-time Brier champion, comes in ranked second on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit and is eighth on the money list. He’ll see his first action a 1 p.m. Friday against Mike Siggins of Phoenix, Ariz. He is on the same side of the draw as Scotland’s David Murdock, who is a two-time World champion and the silver medalist in the 2014 Olympics.
Murdock takes on Graham Powell of Grand Prairie.
If Koe and Murdock do meet it will be in the second A-side qualifying game, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Soo Hyuk Kim of Korea is also on the lower half of the 32-team draw and faces Jamie King of Edmonton. All the bottom half draws go at 1 p.m.
Defending Red Deer champion, Mick Lizmore of Calgary is on the top half along with two-time former junior World champion Charley Thomas of Edmonton, Kyle Smith of Scotland and Jamie Koe of Yellowknife, who has Red Deer’s Chris Schille at third.
Lizmore takes on Matthew Blandford of Lethbridge, Thomas meets Jon Solberg of Whitehorse, Smith clashes with Drew Heidt of Kerrobert, Sask., and Koe faces Jason Ackerman of Regina. All the top half games are set for 9:30 a.m.
On the 22-team women’s side, defending Canadian champion Chelsea Carey of Calgary, who has Jocelyn Peterman of Red Deer at second, received a bye and faces the winner of the match between Nicky Kaufman of Edmonton and Nancy Martin of Saskatoon, who meet at 9:30 a.m. Carey, who is 10th on the money list, plays at 4:30 p.m.
One of the more interesting opening day matches will see Shannon Kleibrink of Okotoks taking on Chiaki Matsumura of Japan, who is 15th on the money list. They clash at 1 p.m.
Ursi Hegner of Switzerland, who faces Holly Baird of Edmonton, is also on the top half of the draw.
Ayumi Ogasawar of Japan, who was second in the 2015 World Championships, anchors the bottom half. She meets Jolene Campbell of Regina at 1 p.m.
Also on the bottom half is Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton, who is 13th on the money list and eighth in the order of merit, Hannah Fleming of Scotland, Min Ji Kim of Korea and Gerry-Lynn Ramsay of Calgary, who has Red Deer’s Brittany Tran at second.
Rocque will play at 4:30 p.m. and meet the winner of the game between Robyn Silvernagle of North Battleford and Kalynn Virtue of Lethbridge.
Fleming also received a bye and plays at 8 p.m. against the winner between Kim and Karynn Flory of Edmonton. Ramsay clashes with Brett Barber of Biggar, Sask., at 9:30 a.m.
Action continues all day Saturday and Sunday with the championship round on Monday.
The quarter-finals go at 9 a.m., the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. and the finals at 3:30 p.m.