Homan, Jacobs headline Tour Challenge Tier 1

The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season is set to begin with the all-new Tour Challenge event starting Tuesday night in Paradise, N.L.

For the Tier 1 group, the top 15 men’s and 15 women’s teams were invited based on the World Curling Tour’s order of merit rankings. In the event a team declined, the next ranked team was invited.

Programming Alert: Watch the Tour Challenge live on Sportsnet with coverage starting Thursday at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT

Tier 1 teams not only have the chance to earn Rogers Grand Slam Cup bonus points at the Tour Challenge, the winners of the event will also receive invites to the Champions Cup, the season-ending Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event featuring event winners from the year.

Let’s take a closer look at the Tier 1 teams set to compete at the Tour Challenge.

TIER 1 WOMEN’S DIVISION

TEAM CAREY

Lineup: Chelsea Carey, Amy Nixon, Jocelyn Peterman, and Laine Peters

Hometown: Calgary

Carey won two titles on the World Curling Tour last year and finished runner-up at the Alberta Scotties, but parted ways with her rink at the end of the season. She joined the former members of Team Nedohin after their skip Heather Nedohin decided to step back from competitive curling.

TEAM FELTSCHER

Hometown: Binia Feltscher, Irene Schori, Franziska Kaufmann, and Christine Urech

Lineup: Flims, Switzerland

Team Feltscher, the 2014 world champions, captured the European Championship and Women’s Masters Basel titles last season. They competed at all three women’s Pinty’s GSOC events last season and qualified for the playoffs at the Masters and Canadian Open events.

TEAM FLEURY

Lineup: Tracy Fleury, Jenn Horgan, Jenna Walsh, and Amanda Gates

Hometown: Sudbury, Ont.

Team Fleury won the Northern Ontario title last season and defeated the Northwest Territories and Yukon teams in a pre-qualifier round to become the first rink to represent their region at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Fleury has added former skip Crystal Webster as a fifth player this season.

TEAM HASTINGS

Lineup: Julie Hastings, Christy Trombley, Stacey Smith, and Katrina Collins

Hometown: Thornhill, Ont.

The members of Team Hastings have played together for over 20 years. They won the Ontario title for the first time this past season to represent the province at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

TEAM HOMAN

Lineup: Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney, and Lisa Weagle

Hometown: Ottawa

Homan, the 2013 and 2014 Scotties champion, fell just short of making it a three-peat and had to settle for the bronze medal at the national tournament. The team also finished runner-up to Team Muirhead at the inaugural women’s Canadian Open tournament last season.

TEAM JONES

Lineup: Jennifer Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer, and Jennifer Clark-Rouire

Hometown: Winnipeg

The 2014 Olympic gold medallists won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last season and earned silver at the world championship. Jones also captured the Manitoba provincial title for a seventh time in her career. Clark-Rouire is filling in for lead Dawn McEwen, who recently gave birth to a baby girl.

TEAM KIM

Lineup: EunJung Kim, KyeongAe Kim, SeonYeong Kim, and YeongMi Kim

Hometown:: Uiseong, South Korea

Team Kim started their winning their hometown Uiseong International Curling Tour event in August as they now look to make their Pinty’s GSOC debut. Kim finished runner-up at two World Curling Tour events last year.

TEAM MCDONALD

Lineup: Kristy McDonald, Kate Cameron, Leslie Wilson-Westcott, and Raunora Westcott

Hometown: Winnipeg

McDonald earned the bronze medal at the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts with Team Carey. She formed her own team last season and they won their first event together capturing the Mother Club Fall Curling Classic title. They also competed in all three Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s events.

TEAM MIDDAUGH

Lineup: Sherry Middaugh, Jo-Ann Rizzo, Lee Merklinger, and Leigh Armstrong

Hometown: Coldwater, Ont.

Middaugh finished runner-up to Team Hastings at the 2015 Ontario Scotties. The rink won two titles on tour last season claiming the Shorty Jenkins Classic and the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard.

TEAM MUIRHEAD

Lineup: Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, and Sarah Reid

Hometown: Stirling, Scotland

Muirhead won the inaugural women’s Canadian Open last year and also captured the Players’ Championship to earn the Rogers Grand Slam Cup as the overall bonus points leader.

TEAM PAETZ

Lineup: Alina Paetz, Nadine Lehmann, Marisa Winkelhausen, and Nicole Schwaegli

Hometown: Baden Regio, Switzerland

Team Paetz defeated Team Canada to claim the gold medal at the 2015 world championship. Paetz also won gold at the 2012 worlds as the alternate for Team Switzerland.

TEAM ROCQUE

Lineup: Kelsey Rocque, Laura Crocker, Taylor McDonald, and Jen Gates

Hometown: Edmonton

Rocque capped her junior career winning another gold medal, becoming the first Canadian female skip to win back-to-back world junior titles. She’s now set to make her Pinty’s GSOC debut with the former members of Team Carey, who finished runner-up at the 2015 Alberta Scotties. Rocque and McDonald, who won the 2014 world junior championship together, also captured the Canadian Interuniversity Sport title last season for the University of Alberta.

TEAM SIDOROVA

Lineup: Anna Sidorova, Margarita Fomina, Aleksandra Saitova, and Alina Kovaleva

Hometown: Moscow, Russia

Team Sidorova had a strong run during the second-half of last season earning the bronze medal at the world championship and capturing gold at the Winter Universiade. They also had a career-best Pinty’s GSOC result at the 2015 Players’ Championship finishing runner-up to Team Muirhead. Lead Ekaterina Galkina is taking a break from competitive curling and Alina Kovaleva, 2013 World Junior Championship gold medallist, will fill in for her this season.

TEAM SWEETING

Lineup: Val Sweeting, Lori Olson-Johns, Dana Ferguson, and Rachel Brown

Hometown: Edmonton

Team Sweeting earned their first career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title last season at the Masters. Sweeting also captured the Alberta provincial title for the second consecutive year and earned silver again at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

TEAM TIRINZONI

Lineup: Silvana Tirinzoni, Manuela Siegrist, Esther Neuenschwander, and Marlene Albrecht

Hometown: Aarau, Switzerland

Tirinzoni competed in all three Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s events in 2014-15 and qualified for the playoffs at the Masters. The team also won the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard last season.

TIER 1 MEN’S DIVISION

TEAM BOTTCHER

Lineup: Brendan Bottcher, Tom Appelman, Bradley Thiessen, and Karrick Martin

Hometown: Edmonton

Team Bottcher had a breakout season at the Pinty’s GSOC series last year reaching the semifinals at all three events they competed at. They should shed the underdog tag this season and be considered legit contenders.

TEAM CARRUTHERS

Lineup: Reid Carruthers, Braeden Moskowy, Derek Samagalski, and Colin Hodgson

Hometown: Winnipeg

Team Carruthers qualified for the playoffs at three Pinty’s GSOC events last year in their first season together. The reigning Manitoba champions now will look to make the next step and move up to Grand Slam contenders.

TEAM CASEY

Lineup: Adam Casey, David Mathers, Anson Carmody, and Robbie Doherty

Hometown: Charlottetown

Team Casey made their Grand Slam debut last season at the National, becoming the first P.E.I. rink to play in a Pinty’s GSOC event. Casey made one switch during the off-season replacing Josh Barry with David Mathers at third. Mathers won the 2012 Players’ Championship with Team Epping and captured the Ontario Tankard title with Team Kean last season.

TEAM DE CRUZ

Lineup: Peter de Cruz, Benoit Schwarz, Claudio Paetz, and Valentin Tanner

Hometown: Geneva, Switzerland

Peter de Cruz skips the team while throwing second stones. De Cruz is a world bronze medallist after defeating Team Canada, skipped by Kevin Koe, at the 2014 tournament.

TEAM EDIN

Lineup: Niklas Edin, Oskar Eriksson, Kristian Lindstroem, and Christoffer Sundgren

Hometown: Karlstad, Sweden

Team Edin defeated Thomas Ulsrud and Team Norway for the gold at the world championship last season. Edin also finished runner-up at the inaugural Elite 10 to match his personal-best Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling result. Team Edin already maintained their golden touch to win the Baden Masters tournament in August.

TEAM EPPING

Lineup: John Epping, Mathew Camm, Patrick Janssen, and Tim March

Hometown: Toronto

Epping is a two-time Grand Slam champion winning the National (2008) and Players’ Championship (2012). He added Camm to his team for the Players’ Championship last season and reached the semifinals.

TEAM GUSHUE

Lineup: Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, and Geoff Walker

Hometown: St. John’s

Team Gushue captured two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles last season winning the Masters and Canadian Open. Gushue also represented Newfoundland and Labrador for a 12th time in his career at the Brier. It’ll be a homecoming event for Gushue in Paradise, N.L., although the team was also the fan favourites last season at the Elite 10 in Fort McMurray, Alta. (aka the second-largest city in Newfoundland).

TEAM HOWARD

Lineup: Glenn Howard, Wayne Middaugh, Richard Hart, and Scott Howard

Hometown: Penetanguishene, Ont.

Glenn Howard is a 16-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champion. He shuffled his lineup this season reuniting with Middaugh, moving Hart over to second and bringing his son Scott on board to play lead. Scott Howard previously played for Team Kean and represented Ontario at the Brier last season.

TEAM JACOBS

Lineup: Brad Jacobs, Ryan Fry, E.J. Harnden, and Ryan Harnden

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Jacobs won his first career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title at the Players’ Championship to finish last season. Team Jacobs, the 2014 Olympic gold medallists, also earned the Rogers Grand Slam Cup as season champions.

TEAM KOE

Lineup: Kevin Koe, Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing, and Ben Hebert

Hometown: Calgary

Team Koe have won a combined 36 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles. They finished the Boston Pizza Cup last season undefeated to represent Alberta at the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier.

TEAM LAYCOCK

Lineup: Steve Laycock, Kirk Muyres, Colton Flasch, and Dallan Muyres

Hometown: Saskatoon

Team Laycock captured the bronze medal at the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier. They had a career-best Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling result finishing runner-up at the Canadian Open last season.

TEAM MCEWEN

Lineup: Mike McEwen, B.J. Neufeld, Matt Wozniak, and Denni Neufeld

Hometown: Winnipeg

McEwen made it to the final at four of the five Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events last season and captured the National and Elite 10 championships. The rink won a total of eight titles on tour in 2014-15. It’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to match that phenomenal performance but then anything’s possible, right?

TEAM MICHEL

Lineup: Sven Michel, Marc Pfister, Enrico Pfister, and Simon Gempeler

Hometown: Adelboden, Switzerland

Michel skipped the Swiss team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Marc and Enrico Pfister joined Team Michel this season after representing Switzerland at the 2015 world championship with Michel as their alternate.

TEAM MURDOCH

Lineup: David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, and Michael Goodfellow

Hometown: Stirling, Scotland

Murdoch is a two-time world champion. He has skipped Great Britain at the past three Winter Olympics and his team earned the silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Games.

TEAM SHUSTER

Lineup: John Shuster, Tyler George, Matt Hamilton, and John Landsteiner

Hometown: Duluth, Minn.

Team Shuster captured the U.S. National Curling Championship last season. Shuster has represented the U.S. at the past three Olympics and claimed the bronze medal in 2006.

Source:: sportsnet.ca

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