Canadian Open returning to North Battleford

With the success of their first trip to the area, it felt like it wouldn’t take long for the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling to make another visit to the North Battleford.

The return engagement at the Civic Centre will take place from Jan. 8 to 13 next year as the Meridian Canadian Open will once again be held here.

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“In the six years that Sportsnet has been involved with the Grand Slam of Curling, the crowds we saw in North Battleford and the entire week there made it by far the best event we’ve ever done,” senior event manager Kristi Petrushchak said.

“We’re coming back to work with a very experienced and well connected organization committee that’s connected to the community, and those strong ties made it such a huge success the first time around. We’re looking to have some more engagement with local sponsors, but other than that, it’s more about making things even better than they were in 2017.”

Unlike their last visit to North Battleford in 2017, which took place just from Jan. 3 to 8, there will be more of a gap from the holiday season to the opening draw of the event.

“We never want to have our events happen at the same times as the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Tim Hortons Brier or the major events in Europe, as we want to make sure the top teams in the world have a chance to play here,” Petrushchak said.

“That extra week after Christmas works out well for us as it gives us an extra kick when it comes for fans to purchase tickets. We might have to figure out a way to sneak in some extra seating though, as it was pretty much packed for every draw in 2017.”

Tickets for the event are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks.

Another big difference from the previous event, which was won by Brad Gushue on the men’s side and Casey Scheidigger in the women’s division, will be with the teams themselves.

With the latest four-year Olympic cycle coming to an end, a number of the top rinks in Canada and around the world have made changes to their lineups.

“That’s going to make the whole year really interesting,” Petrushchak said.

“Everyone’s already looking towards 2022 and the different dynamics will see from the new rinks, along with those that are going to be staying together, will make things really exciting.”

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