Reigning curling world champion Kevin Martin of Edmonton will try for his third consecutive Canadian Open title when the third leg of the Grand Slam of Curling begins Wednesday night in Winnipeg.
CBC Sports will provide live coverage of the playoff rounds, beginning with Saturday's quarter-finals (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 3 p.m. ET) and semifinals (bold, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET) and ending with Sunday's championship final (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).
The championship-game coverage includes the final round of the Capital One Million Dollar Button contest, in which contestants will have a chance to attempt to cover the button for $1 million.
Martin — the all-time leader with 14 Grand Slam victories — secured the top seed for the Canadian Open after overtaking Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont., in the World Curling Tour's Order of Merit by reaching the final of last week's Canada Cup qualifier in Edmonton.
Martin has yet to reach the final of a Grand Slam this season. Howard beat Kevin Koe to win the season-opening Masters of Curling in Waterloo, Ont., in November, and Toronto's Wayne Middaugh beat Brad Gushue of St. John's to take The National in Quebec City in December.
The fourth and final Grand Slam of the season is the Players' Championship in Grand Prairie, Alta., in April.
The top 13 ranked Canadian teams outside of Manitoba and the top two ranked Manitoba-based squads in the Order of Merit standings as of Dec. 15 qualified to compete at the Canadian Open, with the remaining three spots going to international skips.
The 18-team field includes Olympic gold medallist Gushue, and past world champions Martin, Howard, Middaugh, Randy Ferbey of Edmonton, Greg McAulay of Richmond, B.C., and Kerry Burtnyk and Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg.
The host city has two more representatives in 28-year-old Mike McEwen (Winnipeg, Man.) and 24-year-old Reid Carruthers.
Carruthers's 16th-ranked team was added after the withdrawal of 15th-ranked Shawn Adams of Halifax, who bowed out due to work commitments.
The international entries are Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, Tom Brewster of Scotland, and American Pete Fenson.
The Grand Slams are part of the Canadian Curling Association's qualifying process for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Based on their performance in the four elite events, rinks can earn points towards securing a berth in the Canadian Olympic trials in Edmonton in December 2009.
Martin and Howard have already secured two of the eight spots. Ferbey, Koe, Stoughton, Burtnyk, Middaugh and Pat Simmons of Davidson, Sask., have clinched places in a 12-team qualifying tournament — rumoured for Toronto — from which four rinks will advance to the Canadian trials.