Two Grand Slam events added to curling bubble in Calgary

The Pinty's Cup is awarded to the season champions in the Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling series. (Anil Mungal)

Add two more competitions to the Calgary curling "bubble" that’s slated to hold several events later this season.

The Grand Slam of Curling said Thursday that it plans to host The Players’ Championship and Champions Cup at Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. Dates have yet to be finalized, but both bonspiels will likely be held in the spring.

The announcement comes two days after Curling Canada first unveiled curling hub plans for the Alberta city. The federation intends to hold the 2021 men’s and women’s national championships, the mixed doubles championship and the men’s world curling championship in Calgary.

Curling Canada plans to adopt a similar model to the one the NHL used when it completed its pandemic-interrupted campaign by using "bubbles" in Toronto and Edmonton. Spectators were not allowed in the hockey venues and that will be the case for curling as well.

Conditional on government approval, the proposed curling events will adhere to strict health guidelines to prioritize the safety of players, staff and all involved, Sportsnet said in a release.

The Players’ Championship was originally set for April 7-12 in Toronto. The Champions Cup had been scheduled to close out the Slam season from April 29-May 3 in Olds, Alta.

"Exploring the hub city concept allows Sportsnet to support curlers as they return to the game they love, while delivering world-class competition to fans across Canada," said Rob Corte, vice-president of Sportsnet and NHL Production. "The safety and well-being of all those involved, including players, staff and organizers, will be of primary importance as we work hand in hand with our partners and health officials to host a safe and responsible event for all."

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts will likely kick things off in the bubble in late February. The Tim Hortons Brier is expected to be played in early March, followed by the mixed doubles competition.

The men’s worlds, a World Curling Federation event hosted by Curling Canada, are set for April 3-11. The women’s world playdowns are scheduled for March 20-28 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Over the coming months, local event organizers will continue to work with the Public Health Agency of Canada to finalize event plans and health protocols, Sportsnet said.

Competition format, prize money and broadcast details will also be announced at a later date. All games will be held on the Olympic-sized ice at the Markin MacPhail Centre.

The first four events of the 2020-21 Grand Slam season were cancelled last spring.

Sportsnet owns and operates the top-flight curling series. A total of $2.1 million in prize money is normally available each season on the Grand Slam circuit.

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