CURLING Preview: Star-studded World Cup Grand Final in Beijing, including John Shuster’s rink for the U.S.

Sweden's Olympic Champion Anna Hasselborg

The finale of the first season of the World Curling Federation’s World Cup circuit comes this week in Beijing (CHN), with eight teams invited to play. The winners of the first three legs:

● 1: Kevin Koe (CAN) ~ in Suzhou (CHN)
● 2: John Shuster (USA) in Omaha (USA)
● 3: Matt Dunstone (CAN) ~ in Jonkoping (SWE)

Koe, Shuster and Dunstone are all ready to go in Beijing, but will face a tough challenge from Sweden’s Niklas Edin, the 2013-15-18-19 World Champion. Ross Paterson will skip a talented Scottish team that won the 2018 Worlds bronze medal. Norway’s entry is led by 2014 World Champion Thomas Ulsrud.

● 1: Rachel Homan (CAN) ~ in Suzhou (CHN)
● 2: Satsuki Fujisawa (JPN) in Omaha (USA)
● 3: Min-Ji Kim (KOR) ~ in Jonkoping (SWE)

In Beijing, Fujisawa and Kim are in, but Canada will be represented by Jennifer Jones’s rink, the 2018 World Champions. Sweden, powered by two-time Worlds silver medalist Anna Hasselborg, and reigning World Champions Switzerland – skipped by Silvana Tirinzoni – are the likely favorites. The U.S. was also invited and will have Nina Roth’s rink; she was the 2018 U.S. Olympic Trials winner.

Mixed Doubles:
● 1: Laura Walker/Kirk Muyres (CAN) ~ in Suzhou (CHN)
● 2: Kristin Skaslien/Magnus Nedregtotten (NOR) in Omaha (USA)
● 3: Kadriana Sahaidak/Colton Lott (CAN) ~ in Jonkoping (SWE)

All three stage winners are in, along with 2016 World Champions Jenny Perret and Martin Rios of Switzerland and 2018 silver medalists Maria Komarova and Daniil Goriachev of Russia. Americans Sarah Anderson and Korey Dropkin reached the playoff rounds of the 2018 World Championships, but did not advance further.

In the Grand Final, prize money will be paid – reportedly a first for national teams – with $27,000 for the winner and $13,000 for the runner-up team, and lesser amounts for each round-robin and playoff win, in the men’s and women’s divisions. In Mixed Doubles, the winners will receive $13,500 and $6,500 for the runner-ups. There are payouts for the round-robin and playoff wins as well.

Look for results here.