Swede open to challenge

DOUG GRAHAM, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

KINGSTON, ONT. - Neither a crammed competitive schedule or sickness could keep Sweden's Niklas Edin from coming to Kingston for the BDO Canadian Open.

The Edin rink, three days after the Euro championship in Moscow, booked into Kingston on Tuesday.

"We're not 100% in a happy place, but we always feel good coming to Canada to play," said Edin, adding that "two of us" were felled by sickness enough last week that the team almost bowed out of the European championship final.

Edin and his Karlstad teammates Sebastian Kraupp, Fredrik Linberg and Viktor Kjall toughed it out, though, losing a last-rock 7-6 decision to Norway's Thomas Ulsrud.

Edin said curling events such as the Canadian Open Grand Slam event at the K-Rock Centre are just too valuable to miss in terms of his team's development campaign towards the Olympics in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

"We can't afford to skip these events. European teams have to take all (development opportunities) we can to play against the best in arenas and get (used to) situations like the Olympics and world championships," Edin said.

"These are the best events we can play in. It is good for our future to get these tournaments under our belts."

Edin, 26, said the Grand Slams are not just good for the players but also for spectators.

He said the inclusion of the five-rock free-guard zone rule for the first time is a bonus for curling fans looking for multi-rock movement from the big-shot raise takeouts.

"It is going to be a lot of fun for the crowd. Fun for the players as well, but probably frustrating for those who cannot get the angles right," Edin said.

"The format (five-rock rule) is more for TV than for the players, I think."

None of the teams are sure how the additional rock out front of the rings, which can't be removed until the sixth rock of an end, will play out.

Edin is expecting the eight-end games to be packed with offence.

"I expect a lot more offensive games. I don't think (a rink) can go really defensive unless they are up three or four points", he said.

"You probably will need to make a couple of good runbacks or doubles to get out of an end."

Edin, who finished third in the world championship won by Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton last spring, is playing in his eighth Grand Slam event.

Edin made history last spring when he became the first non-Canadian in the 10 years of Grand Slam competitions to play in a final, which he lost to Kevin Martin.

Team Sweden lost out to Glenn Howard in the season's first Grand Slam event in Sault Ste. Marie last month.

The six-team Pool A grouping, which includes Edin, is arguably the deepest of all three pools.

Mike McEwen of Winnipeg, Brad Gushue from St. John's, Scotland's Tom Brewster and Ontario-based rinks skipped by John Epping and Mark Kean are in Pool A.

Edin noted that in other Grand Slams, he has had Martin most frequently in the same pool. McEwen overtook Martin for the No. 1 seeding in Grand Slam events and that has caused a shakeup in pool positioning.

Not that replacing Martin with McEwen makes it any easier.

"We need to be at our best to come out of the pool," said Edin, adding he would be happy even with a 3-2 record, which would put his rink in a tie-breaker round Saturday morning.

"If we manage to make the playoffs, we'd be really happy with that," Edin said.

"You need to really step it up both tactfully and playing-wise in Grand Slams. You need all the angles right."


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