News Tour Challenge

Lawes, Jones to meet in HearingLife Tour Challenge women’s final

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Kaitlyn Lawes and Jennifer Jones won just about everything you could think of in curling during their 12 seasons together from Olympic gold to Canadian and world championships.

That also includes six Grand Slam of Curling titles but now, they’ll square off for the next one in Sunday’s HearingLife Tour Challenge women’s final.

Lawes reached her first Grand Slam final as a skip after her Winnipeg-based club defeated Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., 6-4 during Saturday night’s semifinals.

Jones, whose team is based out of Winnipeg and Altona, Man., advanced by a 7-5 score over Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg.

“I’m so excited,” Lawes said. “We played them twice last week, so it’s always a great game. I think both games either went into an extra end or tied going into the last end. So, I’m hopeful that we’ll give the fans a good game.”

Both teams had to claw their way into the playoffs with 2-2 records and avoided missing the cut thanks to draw-to-the-button shootout totals. Lawes snuck in as the final seed and also eliminated No. 1 Team Eun-Ji Gim of South Korea 7-4 earlier Saturday during the quarterfinals.

“I’m really proud of the team,” said Lawes, who returned to her skip roots last season. “We started off a little bit slow losing our first two games, but we kept learning and I’m just really excited to be in our first Slam final.”

It was deuces wild to start against Einarson with the teams trading pairs of points back and forth in the first couple of ends and again in the third and fourth with the score all square 4-4 heading into the break.

Lawes stole her way into the lead in the sixth after Einarson clipped her own guard to give up a single. The five-time Grand Slam champion Einarson successfully blanked the seventh end to keep last-rock advantage for the final frame. Team Lawes delivered another strong defensive end and forced Einarson into attempting a tricky runback that missed the mark to tack another stole point on the scoreboard.

“I think the biggest thing in that game was just patience and believing that we could hang in there,” Lawes said. “It was a little bit trickier tonight for us with a little bit of extra curl, so we just tried to hang in there and persevere.”

Jones, who bounced Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni 7-4 in the quarterfinals, also surged in the second half during the semis. Down 3-0 at the break, Jones rallied with a three-ender in the fifth to tie it up and then stole three in the sixth when Hasselborg rolled too deep on her last. Hasselborg took two in the seventh to close within one, however, Jones held control in the final frame to add another single.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Team Brendan Bottcher and Italy’s Team Joël Retornaz will clash in the men’s final.

Bottcher said it’s great as it’ll be his third Grand Slam final in four events following title wins in the Co-op Canadian Open and KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup last season.

“I think we ended last season with a lot of momentum and we started this season with a lot of momentum and more than anything, we’re having fun out there,” said Bottcher, whose Calgary-based club has already won three titles on tour this season. “This week’s been a bit of a battle. We lost a couple of games, had to grind our way to make it into the playoffs, but I think the guys have been really resilient and I’m just happy to be playing on Sunday.”

It’s the second-ever Grand Slam final for Retornaz, whose team captured the WFG Masters a year ago to become the first Italian club to win a title in the series.

“It’s amazing,” said Retornaz, who brings a 5-1 record into the men’s final and will start with the hammer. “We didn’t think we would go this far. Well, we hoped we could go this far and we knew we had the skills to go this far but making two finals in so few Slams, it’s amazing. We’re reaching the playoffs in every competition we’re doing and definitely what we are aiming for. We’re really proud and had a hell of a performance here today, so I think we deserve to be there.”

Although Bottcher (4-2) lost to Gushue in a tight battle during round-robin play, the tables were turned during the semis. Bottcher opened the scoring with a steal in the second and counted deuces in the fourth and sixth ends to hold a late 5-2 advantage. Gushue was limited to his third lonely single in the seventh, and Bottcher added one more point in the eighth.

“To be honest, our first game against Gushue was probably the best game we’ve had this season,” Bottcher said. “They played really well. I had a shot to likely win that game that we just missed by a millimetre. It’s hard to say that loss was a bad game, but we rebounded well. We played a good game against (Korey) Dropkin yesterday when our backs were against the wall and that’s what it takes.”

Earlier, Bottcher upended Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller 5-3 and Retornaz topped Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin 6-2 in the quarterfinals.


South Korea’s Team Eun-Jung Kim will play Denmark’s Team Madeleine Dupont in the Tier 2 women’s final.

Kim downed Canada’s Team Danielle Inglis 10-4 and Dupont defeated Canada’s Team Jolene Campbell 12-2.

Japan’s Team Yusuke Morozumi meets Team Daniel Casper of the United States in the Tier 2 men’s final.

Morozumi beat Canada’s Team Karsten Sturmay 7-4 and Casper clipped Canada’s Team Mike McEwen 8-3.

The winners of the Tier 2 will receive berths to join the top group for the Co-op Canadian Open in January.


The women’s finals kick off Championship Sunday live on Sportsnet at 10:30 a.m. ET / 7:30 a.m. PT followed by the men’s finals on Sportsnet East, Ontario, Pacific and Sportsnet 360 at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT. Online streaming is available via Sportsnet+ (Canada) and Yare (international).