Tickets on sale and volunteers still needed for Pinty’s Grand Slam event coming to Niagara this fall. Photo credit: Facebook/Curling Canada
As plans for the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling – coming to Niagara Falls in October – continue, Curling Canada has announced some major changes.
Canadian four-player curling teams looking to qualify for the 2026 Winter Olympics now have a defined pathway to lead them to Italy.
Guided by findings from the High Performance Review conducted following the 2022 Winter Olympics, and in consultation with Sport Canada, Own The Podium and high performance curling athletes, there will be a slightly different format and qualifying process for the Trials, as well as new guidelines for Wild Card Teams to qualify for the Brier, presented by AGI, and Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The Brier and Scotties are the men’s and women’s national championships respectively.
“We feel confident that these changes will give our high performance athletes the best opportunity to succeed,” said Katherine Henderson, Chief Executive Officer of Curling Canada.
“There were a lot of voices, from athletes, funding partners, and coaches, who played a valued and significant role in getting us to this point and while there is still work to be done, we feel we are in a better place leading to the 2026 Winter Olympics.”
The four-player Canadian Curling Trials, scheduled for Nov. 22-30, 2025 will be an eight-team event and will feature, for the first time in Trials history, a best-of-three final.
After a single round-robin draw, the top three teams will reach the playoffs, with second place playing third in a semifinal, and first place going straight to the final.
There will also be changes in place for the Scotties and Brier, beginning with next year’s Canadian championship events, in Calgary and Regina respectively.
First and foremost, while the competition format will remain basically the same as that used for the past two years (18 teams, two nine-team pools, six-team playoffs), tiebreaker games will be eliminated, bringing Canadian championship events in line with the world championships and Olympics.
A modified playoff format will see the first-place team from Pool A meeting second place from Pool B, and vice versa, in the first round of the playoffs, with the winners going directly to the Page playoff 1-2 game, while the losers meet the third-place finishers in the pools. The winners of those games will advance to the Page playoff 3-4 game.
As well, for the next three Scotties and Briers, more teams besides the defending champion Team Canada will qualify well in advance of the events as Wild Card teams.
Giving teams the chance to qualify for the Scotties and Brier earlier through the Wild Card process is aimed at giving teams the opportunity to better balance their training and competition schedule, explained David Murdoch, Curling Canada’s Director, High Performance.
“Having teams chasing points through playing in multiple events for the first half of the season to improve their chances for a Wild Card berth really detracts from the time they could be spending training on the ice or in the gym, as well as resting and recovering from events and travel,” Murdoch said.
“This will give teams with high performance ambitions a much better opportunity to better plan their training and playing schedule around peaking for national and international competitions in the same way the plan around peaking for the Trials and Winter Olympics.”
And one of those events is the aforementioned Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, coming to Niagara Falls and the Gale Centre from October 17 to October 22 of this year, and with not one but two tiers of action, the Hearing Life Tour Challenge features a total of 32 men’s teams and 32 women’s teams.
More information can be found here.
Rod Mawhood is a lifelong Niagara native who has had the pleasure of working in all three mediums – Radio, Print and TV – for over 20 years. His first announcing gig was with the then St. Catharines Stompers. Since then he’s worked in radio and TV in Toronto, and currently is the announcer for the Niagara IceDogs and Niagara River Lions.
Rod also covers the Buffalo Bills for FOX Sports and the Buffalo Sabres for NBC Sports.