Canada's best competing right alongside local Fredericton curlers
The PointsBet Invitational kicked off Wednesday afternoon in the capital city
The biggest names in Canadian curling are in Fredericton this week.
And they're playing right alongside some local legends.
The PointsBet Invitational kicked off Wednesday afternoon at Willi O'Ree Place with the top men's and women's players.
They include second-ranked Tracy Fleury of Ontario, fourth-ranked Kerri Einarson from Manitoba and Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador, who is number one in the world.
For the next five days, 16 men's and 16 women's teams will play each other in a single-elimination tournament — one loss and the team goes home.
Up for grabs is $350,000 in cash prizes, including $50,000 for the top team in each division.
WATCH | Meet Jack, the local curler who's going up against Canada's top athletes
Thursday night will see a Fredericton underdog get a crack at the competition.
Jack Smeltzer, 24, is a graduate student at the University of New Brunswick and not a professional curler.
But he was skip of the best team at Fredericton's Capital Winter Club last season, so he and his teammates will be competing as New Brunswick's host committee.
"We were doing a few practices at the club yesterday, and there's a one-time world champ on the sheet next to me, and then there's a two-time world champ on the sheet next to me on the other side," said Smeltzer. "So, it's pretty special to be among these types of players."
While he's honoured to be on one of the 16 teams vying for the $50,000, he's realistic about his odds. But some of friends might not be.
"He texted me a screen-shot, it was a five-dollar wager," said Smeltzer, about a text message he received from a friend yesterday. "And for us to win the whole thing it would pay them $50,000, so yeah, maybe 1 in 16 isn't the right odds."
Team Jack Smeltzer takes on Alberta's Team Kevin Koe (World Curling Team Ranking System #4) Thursday night at 7 p.m.
In addition to pros taking on the local hopefuls, there are a variety of celebrities curling against each other Friday night. That includes Canadian Olympian Donovan Bailey, some former NHL stars and actor Pat Roach who plays Randy on Trailer Park Boys. Hopefully, he'll keep his shirt on.