It’s just days until the best curlers from around Canada step onto the ice to compete for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts national title.
Team B.C., skipped by Corryn Brown, third Erin Pincott, second Dezaray Hawes and lead Samantha Fisher will be looking for a shot at the crown when their sliders hit the ice, Saturday (Feb. 20), in Calgary.
For those watching from the Central Okanagan, you’ll likely recognize a familiar face.
Hawes reflected on the upcoming tournament from her home in Peachland. In a normal season, their team would be booked to curl every weekend. Any weekends not competing would be spent practicing together. This year, that all changed.
“It’s been a bit of a lonely season because they’re all in Kamloops and I’m in Peachland, but we’re definitely making the most of it — lots of FaceTime and all that good stuff.
“It’s been a different experience this year but we’re looking forward to getting back on the ice, and getting some games in.”
Fortunately, the team managed to get in two practices on rented ice in Vernon before heading for quarantine in Alberta. Aside from that, practicing on their own has become their new reality.
“It’s been a different year for sure,” said Hawes.
Although the Tournament of Hearts happens every year, this year’s tournament is anything but normal for the teams competing.
With little to no team practices, limited team interaction before the tournament begins, and no fans in the stands, it will be unlike any Scotties tournament in the past.
The winner would have received the honour of representing Canada at the 2021 World Women’s Curling Championship in Switzerland, however, this event has been cancelled. According to reports, the event, originally scheduled for March, may still be rescheduled.
Last year’s battle in the Tournament of Hearts final between Kerri Einarson of Manitoba and Rachel Homan of Ontario put many on the edge of their seats. After an extra end, it was Einarson who took home her first Scotties title.
This year, all the greats are returning.
Team Brown, who championed the B.C. Scotties in 2020, is entering the 2021 tournament ranked eighth overall in the country. This is their second shot at the national title, having placed sixth in the 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw. At that national tournament, Hawes shot 81 per cent, the third-highest percentage among athletes playing second.
For their first draw of the 10-day tournament, Team Brown will take on Quebec’s Team St-Georges at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, and will be focused on getting back into the groove of things.
With two additional teams in the event this year, as well as a format change to only accommodate three teams in the playoffs, the chances of making it to the finals are slimmer than they have been in the past.
Regardless, Team Brown has their sights set on the finals.
“The goal is definitely to make the playoffs, for sure,” said Hawes.
The Peachland resident will also be competing in the mixed doubles nationals, an event that follows the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier in March. She will be partnering with Tyler Tardi of Team Jim Cotter, who will be representing B.C. at the upcoming Brier tournament.
Big week ahead for @TeamBrownBC. They enter the Calgary Scotties bubble tomorrow but will still wait for test results before interacting with teammates. Two practice sessions scheduled before opening vs Quebec (St. Georges) Saturday night. pic.twitter.com/vkMOcxDE7i
— Jon Keen (@JonKeenNLSports) February 16, 2021