CHATHAM-KENT, Ont. — History was made in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.
Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg claimed the inaugural Princess Auto Elite 10 women’s championship after hammering Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni 4-and-2 (four skins to none in six ends) during Sunday’s all-European final.
It’s also the first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title for the reigning Olympic gold medallists, and the first for a Swedish women’s team, as they had been two-time finalists but the third time was the charm.
“It’s huge and also winning our first Slam, that is crazy for us,” Team Hasselborg third Sara McManus said. “We’re super, super happy.”
“We said to ourselves, ‘Now we’re making history,'” McManus added. “That feels pretty neat.”
Team Hasselborg posted a perfect 6-0 record through the season-opener collecting $32,000 of the $200,000 prize purse plus a berth to the year-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup taking place April 23-28 in Saskatoon.
“This has been a goal for us since we came into the Slam series,” Hasselborg said. “To do it this early in the season really proves that we are on the right track. I’m just so happy with how the team performed today. We played the best game so far.”
Match play rules are in effect at the Princess Auto Elite 10 where teams compete to win the most ends per game similar to skins only without carryovers. Points are scored by either counting two or more rocks (with the hammer) or stealing at least one rock (without the hammer). If the game is tied after eight ends, a draw-to-the-button shootout will determine the winner.
Team Hasselborg had only played the skins format once at the Continental Cup and turned to three-time world champion Wayne Middaugh to help coach them this week.
“I think we gave us some really good odds bringing in Wayne,” McManus said. “We stuck to our game plan and we had a good strategy out there, trying to believe in it and not trying to complicate things. That is the hard part. Even if you gave up plenty of points in one end you just try to stay focus and like, OK, that was just one end, so we pulled off a great week.”
Hasselborg opened the scoring in the third end when Team Tirinzoni fourth Alina Paetz needed to make a double takeout but didn’t have enough juice to roll over to the second one. That allowed Hasselborg to bop out the Tirinzoni rock and stick around to take the checkmark.
Tirinzoni conceded a steal in the fourth to fall behind by two when Paetz flashed her last looking to nudge a stone from the side into the button but sailed through the house untouched. Paetz attempted an in-off to the button facing two counters in the fifth, however, her shooter rolled too far to give up another point that had Team Tirinzoni on the ropes and needing to win out the remaining ends to force a shootout.
Hasselborg put the game to bed in the sixth with McManus delivering a triple takeout to clear the deck and set the stage. After Hasselborg drew to the four-foot circle buried under cover with her last, Paetz was forced to play an in-off double. It was handshakes instead as Paetz hit and rolled the opposite way.
“You’ve got to get comfortable and play smart and I think we stuck to our game plan the whole way,” Hasselborg said. “We did that and didn’t change anything. We knew that if we just keep playing better we’d win so we did that.”
Team Hasselborg, which also includes second Agnes Knochenhauer and lead Sofia Mabergs, picked up 12 points to start the chase for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the men’s and women’s season champions.
The Princess Auto Elite 10 features three additional unique rules: Stopwatches are banned, tick shots cannot be performed on guards sitting on the centre line until the sixth rock of play, and teams have four minutes of thinking time per end.
Previously a men’s invitational, a women’s division was added to the Princess Auto Elite 10 this year bringing parity to the seven-event Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.
Later Sunday, Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., defeated Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers 1 UP in the men’s final to capture his 11th title in the series.