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Pictou County hosting world's best curlers

Jennifer Jones practices at the Pictou County Wellness Centre on Nov. 5.
Jennifer Jones practices at the Pictou County Wellness Centre on Nov. 5. - Kevin Adshade

WESTVILLE ROAD, N.S.

A Grand Slam of Curling event isn’t as big as a world championship.

That doesn’t mean the world’s best aren’t trying to beat each other at the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, being held at the Pictou County Wellness Centre this week.

“These are, honestly....some of the Slams are the favourite events to play in,” said two-time world champion Jennifer Jones.

“They compare to a world championship, or a Scotties – you’re playing against the best teams, and that’s really all you want.”

On both the men’s and women’s side this week, 14 of the top 15 teams in the world are playing.

Jones, a native of Winnipeg, has done it all: she’s a six-time Canadian champion (tied with Nova Scotia’s Colleen Jones for the most ever), went undefeated at the 2014 Winter Olympics to win a gold medal, and has won world curling titles 10 years apart; in 2008, and again in 2018. She has won 15 Grand Slam titles, the most ever, and is considered one of the greatest curlers in history.

“You definitely want to come out here and play well, and try to win,” she said.

“The Slams are the toughest events in the world to win: all the best teams are here and it’s always nice to play on great ice in front of a great crowd, against the best.”

Ontario’s Rachel Homan is a three-time Canadian champion (2013, 2014 and 2017) and won a world title in 2017.

“It’s exciting to see so much talent, and it’s going to be a tough competition. Everybody wants to win here,” Homan said after her team had a practice session on Tuesday afternoon, a few hours away from her first match.

“The crowds are awesome on the east coast, they always bring huge crowds. So we’re excited to be playing in front of a loud crowd.”

Homan’s rink, like many of those playing at the PCWC, is intent on getting to the world championships, which in 2020 will take place in Prince George, B.C.

“It’s early and we’re having more training coming up as the season gears up. We’re hoping to get better and better as the tournaments go by,” she said.

“The goal is always to win every game we go out and play,” she said. “Getting back to worlds is something we really strive to do, so we’ll see where the season takes us.”

BIG CROWD

Organizers wanted to fill the PCWC on opening night (Nov. 5), and they came very close, as a near-capacity house full of curling fans watched the opening ceremonies, and the start fo the competition.

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