The field at the Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre this weekend may end up being deeper than the one at the provincial Tankard.
And this weekend’s Saskatchewan Player’s Association Curling Tour Championship will go a long way to help determine the field at the SaskTel Tankard.
“From 1 to 16 there are no gimmies in this field. It’s as strong as I’ve seen in an event on the Sask. Curling Tour ever in all of my years of curling,” said Travis Gansauge, Sask. Curling Tour organizer.
The SCT championship will feature 16 rinks in a modified triple-knockout format. The winner of the event will earn an automatic bid into the Tankard. The top two finishers in the SCT standings will also receive automatic bids.
“It’s such a tight race this year between the teams that are vying for the spots allocated on the tour for the provincial Tankard,” said Gansauge. “There’s about six or seven teams that are jostling for the two spots.”
The top two Saskatchewan rinks in the World Curling Tour standings will also get Tankard spots. Scott Bitz leads the WCT provincial standings.
The rink with the most points combined from the WCT and STC tours will also get a spot in the Tankard and Moose Jaw’s Mark Herbert looks to have that spot sewn up in they need since they can’t be caught.
Gansauge plays lead for Herbert in a rink that features Rob Auckland at third and Matthew Froehlich at second.
The Tankard will be held in Assiniboia from Feb. 1-5.
The tour championship features defending provincial champion — and former world junior champion — Steve Laycock and his rink which features Moose Jaw third Joel Jordison. Carl deConinck Smith, last year’s Tankard runner-up, will also be on hand.
Veterans like Bruce Korte, Al Schick and Jamie Schneider will be in field as will Braeden Moskowy who is the reigning national junior champion.
Former CIS national champion Chris Busby and his rink — with Moose Jaw’s Dane Roy at second — will also take part. Former Dominion provincial champions Shawn Joyce and Darren Camm will also take part.
The event opens Friday with draws at 6 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
The A qualifiers will be determined at 10 a.m. Saturday, while the two B and C event qualifiers will be determined at 7:30 p.m.
The quarter-finals will be held Sunday at 10 a.m., semifinals at 1 p.m. and the final will follow at 4 p.m.
The winners will earn $2,800.