Will the Grand Slam become the essence of curling in Canada?
The numbers are down for the Brier and Scotties in venues that once filled the rafters. This year, the McEwen team, considered the best in the world, was a no-show at the Brier. The experiment with this year’s Brier – relegation (The “Prior”) and Team Canada(?) – did not flop entirely, but it sure made a curling nation restless. A poor Nova Scotia showing perhaps has Haligonians staying away in droves from their World Championships.
Teams talk of the four year cycle. It has nothing to do with curling’s national events. It has to do with over-the-top Olympic fever. Watch for changes there, too. There are fewer cities willing to fund the extravaganza of sport.
But the Grand Slams have taken on a new flavour! They have expanded this year and television has grabbed hold. They ensure that the best curling is portrayed every time the ice is pebbled. What team does not want to get an invitation? Flag waving often takes place, international teams attend and the money is growing. The live audience needs to grow, but that will come with time. Put the events in appropriate size arenas and demand will lift seat prices. And we are guaranteed to see the best curlers, including Team McEwen.
The future of the curling elite game is with the Grand Slam format.