Must-see curling

ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

Organizers of the 2007 BDO Classic Canadian Open announced ticket pricing and draw times at the MTS Centre yesterday. All that's left now is to fill the seats -- which shouldn't be a problem, if the last two years are any indication.

The Asham World Curling Tour will slide into Winnipeg's downtown rink Jan. 24-28 and will feature some of the top teams in the sport competing for the first-place, $30,000 prize. With a hundred grand in cash (the total purse) up for grabs, the MTS Centre stop is earning a reputation as a must for curling's elite.

"Obviously, the brier championships and the provincials rank up there because they accumulate points towards the Olympic trials, but the Grand Slams are amongst the most important events," said local skip Kerry Burtnyk, whose foursome will be one of the 18 teams in the five-day event.

The dough is nice, and so too is the charitable contribution the event makes to the Children's Hospital Foundation, but don't discount the value of a big crowd. Roughly 100,000 curling fans have filed into the rink over the past two years.

"There have been huge crowds over the last two years and we're really thrilled to be able to play host to this event," True North Sports & Entertainment spokesman Kevin Donnelly said.

"The last two years the crowds that have shown up at the MTS Centre have been the biggest ever for any Grand Slam events since (the tour) began four or five years ago," said Burtnyk. "It's a fairly new type of competition, so to have that many people come out and watch is great. It is the best curling anyone is going to see anywhere.

"It's better than the curling you're going to find in any other event."

With draws starting Wednesday, Jan. 24th , the round-robin portion of the event goes until Saturday morning. Tie-breakers, if necessary, will go that afternoon, with the quarter-finals and semifinal scheduled for Saturday night.

The final, which will be broadcast live on CBC, is scheduled for noon Sunday.

Organizers said the final field of 18 has not been confirmed yet, but joining Burtnyk's rink will be 2006 Olympic gold medalist Brad Gushue and defending BDO Classic Canadian Open champ Jeff Stoughton.

Ticket packages for the event go on sale this morning through the usual Ticketmaster avenues.


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