Saskatchewan’s top curlers haven’t had many chances to play this season, but there’s still hope for some meaningful competition with the news that Curling Canada plans to stage the 2021 Brier and Scotties championships in a Calgary bubble.
Defending provincial women’s champions Team Silvernagle have only played one event so far, but the squad still has its sights set on a third straight Scotties Tournament of Hearts appearance.
“It’s kind of a glimmer of hope in all that’s going on in the world right now, so we were very excited to hear it and we know how hard they’ve been working to try and make it as safe as possible,” second Jessie Hunkin said.
The team shuffled its lineup prior to the season, with lead Dayna Demers and third Kristen Streifel replacing Kara Thevenot and Stefanie Lawton. Streifel and Hunkin both live in Alberta, which has made it a challenge to practice together during the pandemic.
“It has restricted our team training weekends, which are kind of a big part of our year plan, but we’ve been able to have lots of individual practices, lots of Zoom meetings, lots of chats like that so that helps to an extent,” Hunkin said.
Even though competing for a Scotties championship could mean going through a quarantine and/or being isolated during the competition, Hunkin says it would be worth the effort.
“It would just mean the world to us to be able to represent Saskatchewan again and to have that opportunity. I think we would have no hesitation to jump in there and do what we do,” she said.
The road to the Scotties, however, remains a work in progress. The city of Estevan will no longer be hosting the provincial men’s and women’s championships due to COVID-19, and while CurlSask still hopes to stage some form of competition for the national berths, there is a scenario in which Saskatchewan’s Brier and Scotties reps would be selected.
That’s something both Team Silvernagle and the defending men’s champions, Team Dunstone, would prefer to avoid.
“We’ve been practicing way more, which has been nice, but the competitive juices have been flowing. We want to get playing and really at the end of the day you can’t simulate a game in a practice environment,” Team Dunstone second Kirk Muyres said.
Whatever route they take to get there, the teams that do end up in Calgary will be entering uncharted territory.
“Whoever wins or whoever gets selected is going to go to that event and who knows what you’re going to run into, because we haven’t seen these teams for almost a year now, so it’s going to be a totally different feel,” Muyres said.
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But if they do get the chance to represent Saskatchewan on the national stage again, they’ll be ready.
“It would sure be an awesome experience to be able to go that bubble, wear the green jacket and then maybe just ramp it up one more notch and win that Brier for the first time in 41 years,” Muyres said.
In the meantime, the teams will wait to find out how the qualification process will work.
“We’re going to enjoy Christmas with our families if we can, if not in person then virtually, and just wait and see what comes of this and hope for good news in the new year,” Hunkin said.