Road To The Olympic Games

Curling

Jacobs wins 'Battle of the Brads' to capture curling's Tour Challenge

As the temperature drops, the snow falls and winter’s grip tightens across the Canadian landscape, curlers are now heading into the hottest stretch of the roaring game’s season.

Hasselborg beats Einarson as elite teams continue Canada Cup prepartions

Brad Jacobs defeated Brad Gushue in a thrilling 6-4 game to capture the Tour Challenge Slam on Sunday. (@grandslamcurl/Twitter)

In what's become known as the "Battle of the Brads", Jacobs and Gushue put on quite the show Sunday afternoon in Nova Scotia to capture the Tour Challenge Slam.

In front of a capacity crowd, both teams traded brilliant shots. On so many occasions it looked as though a big score was imminent, only for Gushue or Jacobs to make a spectacular play to save their teams.

The game came down to the final shot as Gushue looked to make a tough triple runback to score two for the win. His rock crashed into a pile of granite, narrowly missing to score two and secure victory. Jacobs stole a single point in the final end to make the final score 6-4.

It's the first Slam victory for Jacobs with newly added Marc Kennedy on the team. Kennedy took over at third position after Ryan Fry announced he was leaving the team during the offseason. It's Jacobs' fifth career Slam victory – he also won the Tour Challenge last year.

"I'm still shaking. That was one heck of a game by both teams," Jacobs said after the win. "Marc is doing a lot for us right now. I'm really proud of the guys."

On the women's side, Sweden's Anna Hasselborg defeated Manitoba's Kerri Einarson, 8-5, to claim the Tour Challenge title. It was Hasselborg's third Slam title in her career.

Hasselborg, the reigning Olympic champ, scored three apiece in the third and sixth ends for a 7-3 lead and held on from there to earn the victory. 

Hasselborg shot 83 per cent, compared to 70 from Einarson.

Olympic state of mind

As the temperature drops, the snow falls and winter's grip tightens across the Canadian landscape, curlers are now heading into the hottest stretch of the roaring game's season.

After two Grand Slam events, the most recent wrapping up Sunday in Pictou County, N.S., teams are trying to carve out their place atop this country's curling elite – before long, the 2021 Olympic qualifier will arrive and while it may seem far off to fans, it's front of mind for curlers.

Everything these top-tiered teams are doing is in preparation for those 10 pivotal days in late November into December 2021 – with the aim of wearing the maple leaf at the next winter Olympics.

The first opportunity for curling teams in Canada to punch a ticket to the 2021 Roar of the Rings in Saskatoon is nearing. In late November, seven men's teams and seven women's teams will gather in Leduc, Alta. for the Canada Cup. Not only is there $40,000 up for grabs for both the winning men's and women's teams; a spot in the Olympic qualifier is also on the line – the sooner a team knows they've earned a spot in the massive curling event, the easier the mapping out from now until that time becomes.

Heart of season heats up

A flurry of curling action is about to hit the pebbled ice in the coming months. After the Canada Cup in late November, teams will close out the first half of the Slam season in Conception Bay for the Boost National. There's one more Slam in Yorkton, Sask. at the beginning of January before teams turn their attention to the Scotties and Brier.

This year's Scotties is in Moose Jaw, Sask running throughout mid-February. Last year Chelsea Carey stormed back against Rachel Homan to win the women's title. The Brier is being held in Kingston, Ont. Kevin Koe defeated Brendan Bottcher to claim the Tankard.

The mixed doubles national championship is also on the radar of many elite curlers now – that goes next March in Portage la Prairie. Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant captured last year's championship. They went onto lose the world championship to Sweden. No Canadian team has ever won a mixed doubles world championship.

The women's world championship is being held in Prince George, B.C. this winter while the men's worlds is being held in Glasgow, Scotland. The mixed doubles world championship is being hosted by Kelowna.

The Slam season comes to a close in April and even stretches into May with events in Toronto and finally Olds, Alta. to end the year.

With files from the Canadian Press

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