News Tour Challenge

Retornaz beats Bottcher in extra end to win HearingLife Tour Challenge men’s title

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Italy’s Joël Retornaz edged Canada’s Brendan Bottcher 4-3 in an extra end to win the HearingLife Tour Challenge men’s championship Sunday at the Gale Centre.

It’s the second Grand Slam of Curling title for the Trentino-based quartet of Retornaz, third Amos Mosaner, second Sebastiano Arman and lead Mattia Giovanella after earning their first less than a year ago at the WFG Masters.

Retornaz said he’s super happy and proud of the way his team performed all week.

“It’s amazing, it’s unbelievable,” Retornaz said. “I never would have thought that I could win two Grand Slams. Two or three years ago, I never would have thought I would play in a Grand Slam. Winning Slams now, it’s not a habit but it’s what we’re supposed to do and these are the kinds of games we want to play.

“We work very hard, we train a lot, we travel a lot, we take away time from our families. We do that to get to play finals and to win events like this. It’s very demanding but when you win there’s nothing like it in the world.”

Team Retornaz qualified for the playoffs as the No. 1 seed with a 3-1 record, defeated Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin 6-2 in the quarterfinals and doubled up on Scotland’s Team Ross Whyte 6-3 in the semifinals.

Retornaz and his crew, who curled 94 per cent in the final, needed a clutch draw to the button from their skip while facing three counters in the opening frame to score a single.

“That’s what I’m supposed to do as a skip,” Retornaz said. “The team expects me to make those shots and they work very hard through the end. It’s my turn to finish off their work and sometimes their work is maybe not perfect, so I had to take some responsibility from that and have to make my shots.

“It was not a super start from us but the outcome of the first end was good. … I think we controlled the game, we played the scoreboard and we had a good performance.”

Bottcher also had to draw against three for his first point in the fourth.

Retornaz, who never trailed in the match, made another sharp draw in the fifth that stopped in time at the back of the four-foot circle to retake the lead.

Bottcher, whose team curled 87 per cent, blanked the sixth end but wrecked on a guard in the seventh to give up a steal and fall behind 3-1. The five-time Grand Slam champion bounced back in the eighth end with just enough room to bump and unlock Retornaz’s rock to count the equalizing two points that forced the extra end.

Retornaz took on a risky double takeout with his last shot in OT and pulled it off for the big prize.

“We know they’re a great team, they’re one of the best teams in the world and we couldn’t expect them missing shots,” Retornaz said. “We knew we had to be better than them and outperform them. These kinds of games you can win, you can lose, you just need to stay focused until the end and you get your chances and that’s what we did.”

Meanwhile, Team Daniel Casper of the United States beat Japan’s Team Yusuke Morozumi 6-2 to win the HearingLife Tour Challenge Tier 2 men’s title.

Casper earned a berth to join the top teams in the world for the Co-op Canadian Open, Jan. 16-21, in Red Deer, Alta.

Earlier, Team Jennifer Jones defeated Team Kaitlyn Lawes 7-4 in an all-Canadian final to win the HearingLife Tour Challenge women’s championship.

South Korea’s Team Eun-Jung Kim topped Denmark’s Team Madeleine Dupont by an identical score in the Tier 2 final and also earned a spot in the Co-op Canadian Open.


The Grand Slam of Curling season continues with the KIOTI National, Nov. 7-12, at the Pictou County Wellness Centre in Pictou County, N.S.

All tickets and passes are now available, visit to purchase yours today.