The biggest event in Canadian curling has finally arrived.
The Tim Hortons Curling Trials get underway this Saturday from the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon as nine of the best men’s and women’s rinks in the nation will battle it out over the next week (Nov. 20-28) to determine which teams will earn the right to represent Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing this February.
With so many talented teams in the field, it won’t be easy to predict the winner, let alone the three teams that will make the playoffs.
Let’s take a closer look at the Tim Hortons Curling Trials from a betting perspective and see which squads might have the best value.
To win Trials: +150
To make three-team playoff: -294
Tracy Fleury isn’t usually the odds-on favourite to win events such as the Tim Hortons Curling Trials.
But the way she and her East St. Paul, Man., rink have played this season, it’s easy to see why that’s the case this time around.
Team Fleury are 30-5 on the season and have won three events on Tour, including a Grand Slam event last month.
They’re the hottest team in curling coming into the Trials and they could win it all if they remain that way.
Fleury and company don’t have any prior experience at this event, so time will tell if they can handle the pressures of being top contenders with so much on the line.
To win Trials: +235
To make three-team playoff: -192
Next up are the defending Trials champions in Team Rachel Homan.
The rink from the Ottawa Curling Club won the 2017 Trials in front of hometown fans, beating Chelsea Carey in the final.
Team Homan didn’t medal at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the first time Canadian women failed to reach the podium. They’ve suffered some heartbreak on the national curling stage over the last quadrennial as well, losing three straight Tournament of Hearts finals.
Homan’s team hasn’t played its best in the big games recently, but if it finds its 2017 form (winners of the Scotties, Worlds and Trials), there’s a good chance the team could be on a plane to Beijing come the new year.
It will, of course, take a team effort with Joanne Courtney and newcomer Sarah Wilkes setting the table for long-time third Emma Miskew and the skipper.
To win Trials: +245
To make three-team playoff: -189
The two-time defending Canadian champions might have been given the best odds to win the Trials if not for Fleury’s strong play this season.
Kerri Einarson and her rink from Gimli, Man., have won the Scotties Tournament of Hears the past two curling campaigns and have been one of the best squads in the sport since forming after the 2017-18 season.
Team Einarson hasn’t won an event this season and are 0-4 against Team Fleury.
However, Einarson’s rink has been through the wringer once or twice, showing incredible determination and resiliency to make the women’s worlds playoffs last season to cap a marathon stay inside the Calgary bubble.
There’s no question they have what it takes to outlast this dynamite field. They’ve proven that more than once over the last couple seasons.
Fleury and Einarson square off in the Trials opener on Saturday. What a way to start the tournament.
To win Trials: +815
To make three-team playoff: +158
Jennifer Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes and Dawn McEwen (as well as Kristie Moore of Team Casey Scheidegger) are the only curlers in the women’s field at the Tim Hortons Curling Trials who have medalled at the Winter Olympics.
Alongside second Jill Officer, who stepped away from the sport a few seasons ago, they went a perfect 11-0 at the Sochi Games in 2014 to become Canadian heroes.
Eight years later, the three Manitoba curlers, plus newcomers Jocelyn Peterman and Lisa Weagle, have a chance to get back.
At 47, Jones will be the oldest skip in the field and has competed in every Trials since 2005. The six-time Canadian champion may no longer be in the prime of her career, but she can still hang with the best on the pebbled ice.
Team Jones sports a record of 25-12 and made the final of the Masters last month, dropping the contest to Team Fleury.
To win Trials: +2700
To make three-team playoff: +405
The next tier of potential winners is led by Edmonton’s Laura Walker.
Team Walker went home with the bronze medal at last year’s Scotties after a strong week in the Calgary bubble. They had Rachel Brown play lead at the event as a replacement for Nadine Scotland, who was pregnant at the time.
They haven’t been able to reach the same level of play so far in 2021-22, holding a record of 18-16.
To win Trials: +2700
To make three-team playoff: +435
Team Krista McCarville might have the best value in the Tim Hortons Curling Trials women’s field.
The 39-year-old skip and her rink from Thunder Bay have been together for seven seasons now and have become perennial contenders at the Scotties despite playing a very limited Tour season.
Team McCarville has made the page playoffs in each of its four Scotties appearances together but have yet to win the final game. The squad missed the playoffs at the 2017 Trials by one game with a 4-4 record.
At the Pre-Trials last month, they came back from 4-0 deficits in back-to-back games to punch their ticket to Saskatoon.
It could finally be time for McCarville and company to win the big one.
To win Trials: +3200
To make three-team playoff: +450
Casey Scheidegger is bringing back the same lineup that went 3-5 at the 2017 Trials.
Team Scheidegger got off to 2-0 starts at those Trials in Ottawa before losing five of its next six games.
It had a somewhat similar fate at its two Scotties appearances, putting together strong round-robin performances before getting cold in the championship pool and missing the playoffs.
Scheidegger can definitely contend with the best in curling. It’s just a matter of if she and her teammates can stay consistent all week at the Trials.
To win Trials: +3400
To make three-team playoff: +480
The addition of the talented front-end duo of Rachel Brown and Dana Ferguson makes Team Kelsey Rocque one of the more interesting teams in the field.
Brown and Ferguson have played at multiple Scotties, Trials and world championships over their careers and could be a stable force for Rocque and third Danielle Schmiemann, strong junior curlers who are still looking to find their way on the pro circuit.
Rocque, 27, made the semifinals at the most recent Grand Slam event which was the best result of her career.
The potential for greatness in Team Rocque is there, but maybe not quite yet.
To win Trials: +6600
To make three-team playoff: +775
Of all the teams in the men’s and women’s fields at the Tim Horton Curling Trials, Jacqueline Harrison’s rink out of the Dundas Valley Golf & Curling Club has the longest odds by far to win it all.
Will Team Harrison prove everyone wrong and compete for a playoff spot in Saskatoon?