By Winnipeg Free Press – Ed Tait

It will feature a world-class field, continues to be the jewel of the Grand Slam of Curling Series and is the last major international event prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

But Jeff Stoughton may have perfectly summed up the BDO Classic Canadian Open, scheduled to be held Jan. 20-24, 2010 at the MTS Centre, when he described it thusly:

“It is going to be a great field,” began Stoughton Wednesday at a press conference unveiling details of the event. “But there’s going to be one happy Canadian team there because that will be the team going to the Olympics.

“The other teams are going to be there trying to beat all the international teams there. It’s far enough past the Olympic trials that the hangover for the all the losing teams will be done and they’ll be ready to roll and get their second season started.”

Tickets packages for the event go on sale Thursday morning at 10 a.m. (through Ticketmaster at 204-780-3333 or ticketmaster.ca) and begin at $99 or $139 ($129 for seniors) for a reserved spot in the home and away ends. CBC TV will air live coverage of the playoff rounds and the final as well as the Capital One Million Dollar Button contest where one lucky fan will get a shot at a million if he or she can cover the button.

The total purse for the event is $100,000 and, because it will be contested a month prior to the Olympics, figures to be a final tune-up for many national and international teams. The top 14 teams in the order of merit rankings, regardless of nationality, will automatically qualify for the BDO Classic along with the top two international teams. Should they decline, they would be replaced by the next highest-ranked teams on the order of merit. The final two entries will be awarded to the 2010 Canadian and American Olympic qualifiers.

“It was an amazing experience to be curling in front of our home town,” said Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen, whose rink made it to the BDO semi-final last season. “The Capital One Grand Slam events are pretty much the hardest events you can compete in and the toughest to win. The field will be the best of the best and you really can’t experience any better curling than what will happen right here in Winnipeg. Unfortunately sometimes that amazing curling happens against you.”

“Both of us were lucky enough to reach the semifinal and both of us had our games over after five ends… losing,” added Stoughton with a laugh. “But there is nothing better. The fans here are fantastic. It’s one event on the tour where any competitive team wants to compete because it always has been the best grand slam out there. It has the best sponsors, it has the best media… no one ever backs out of this event. They all want to come to Winnipeg to compete.”

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