The Road to Red Deer: Central Update

The Road to Red Deer continues with an update from Central Canada. Quebec:

Marie-France Larouche (Photo Michael Burns)

The eight-team field is now set for the 2012 Quebec Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which will determine the women’s provincial curling champions who will travel to Red Deer and the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Marie-France Larouche, who has represented Quebec at six national Scotties shootouts, will be the prohibitive favourite at the provincial final which will be played at the Club de Curling Kenogami in Jonquiere, Quebec, from January 25-29. She qualified her Club de Curling Etchemin foursome by finishing in first place in the Quebec Championship points race. Teams skipped by Kim Mastine, Allison Ross and Julie Hamel also qualified though their accumulation of points. Nathalie Gagnon, Sian Canavan, Marie-Christine Cantin and Helene Pelchat skipped their teams through regional qualifiers and will also be on hand in Jonquiere for the triple knockout play-down resulting in 3 teams advancing to a page playoff. It was way back in 1975 when Lee Tobin skipped the only Quebec team to ever win the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship. Ontario:

Sherry Middaugh (Photo Michael Burns)

Unlike the Brier, the province of Ontario sends only one entry to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. As a result, there are play-downs in Northern Ontario and play-downs in Southern Ontario which precede a joint championship. This year’s Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts will be held at the Kenora Curling Club from January 23-29. Ten teams will play a round-robin in advance of a four-team page playoff schedule. The four Northern Ontario teams advancing to Kenora were detrmined at the Northern Ontario provincial finals in Copper Cliff over the weekend of December 8-11. Krista McCarville, at 29 years of age, has been to four national Scotties tilts and will be among the favourites in Kenora. McCarville will lead her Fort William Curling Club team of Ashley Miharija, Kari MacLean and Sarah Lang into the fray. Sudbury’s Tracy Horgan, North Bay’s Laura Pickering and the Port Arthur Curling Club’s Marlo Dahl also advanced through Northern play. Southern Ontario will send four teams to Kenora through a zone and regional playdown process. Defending Ontario champion Rachel Homan and her Ottawa Curling Club team of Emma Miskew, Alison Kreviazuk and Lisa Weagle have survived zone play and will face regional competition in early January. Seven-time Scotties participant Sherry Middaugh and her Coldwater & District Curling Club team of Jo-Ann Rizzo, Lee Merklinger and Leigh Armstrong have had a tremendous year on tour and should be a force in regional play. Other noteworthy teams advancing out of zone play include foursomes skipped by Jenn Hanna, Kirsten Wall, Anne Dunn , Kathy Brown and Lisa Farnell. The last 2 entries into the Kenora field will be decided at the Scotties Hearts Challenge Round to be held at the Oshawa Curling Club over the weekend of January 13-15. We’ll keep you posted.