The Road to Red Deer: Prairies Update

The excitement is building in advance of the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, and nowhere is it more evident than here in “Wild Rose” country. Curling fans across the province are anxious to know which team will be wearing Alberta’s colours when play gets underway at Red Deer’s Westerner Park on February 18.

Cheryl Bernard (Photo Michael Burns)

That team will be determined through provincial championship play at the 2012 Alberta Scotties Tournmanet of Hearts, which will be contested from January 25-29 at the Sobey’s Arena in Leduc. The 12-team event will feature a knockout format in advance of a four-team Page playoff. Shannon Kleibrink and her Calgary Winter Club rink of Amy Nixon, Bronwen Webster and Chelsey Bell will make the trip to Leduc as the defending Alberta champions. Edmonton’s Heather Nedohin and Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard earned entries for their teams based upon CTRS points accumulation, while Calgary’s Crystal Webster advanced by way of performance on the Alberta Women’s Curling Tour. The remainder of the field will be determined through regional qualifying play. The Peace Curling Association will advance two teams when play concludes at the Women’s Districts in Sexsmith on January 8. Three qualifiers will emerge from Southern Alberta Curling Association playdowns which will be held in Airdrie from January 6-9, while three more teams will survive Northern Alberta Curling Association playdowns at Edmonton’s Thistle Curling Club over the same weekend. Fans can be certain that the team emerging from the Leduc shootout will be battle-tested and ready to represent the home province with pride in Red Deer. Saskatchewan: Four of the twelve teams which will comprise the field for the Saskatchewan SaskPower Scotties Tournament of Hearts are now in place. Regina’s Michelle Englot has skipped Saskatchewan teams to six national Scotties appearances and will join Saskatoon Granite Curling’s Stephanie Lawton, Saskatoon Nutana’s Trish Paulsen and Humboldt’s Jolene Campbell at the provincial finale. Englot, Campbell and Lawton all qualified through the accumulation of Canadian Team Ranking System points, while Paulsen advances as the highest ranking team on the Saskatchewan Women’s Curling Tour.

Jennifer Jones with (l) Jill Officer and (r) Dawn Askin (Photo Michael Burns)

The SaskPower Women’s Southern Playdowns will advance four teams through competition at the Weyburn Curling Club, January 12-15, while the Prince Alberta Curling Club will host the SaskPower Northern Playdowns and also advance four teams over the same weekend. The Humboldt Curling Club will be the site of the provincial final, which will feature pool play in advance of a four-team Page playoff system. The action runs from January 25-29. Manitoba: Four-time Canadian Scotties champion Jennifer Jones and her Winnipeg St. Vital team of Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer and Dawn Askin will be the team to beat when play gets underway in Portage la Prairie in late January at the 2012 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts.  Defending Manitoba champion Cathy Overton-Clapham of Winnipeg’s Fort Rouge Curling Club will also be in the hunt as part of the 16-team final field which will feature pool play in advance of a four-team Page playoff. Two noteworthy Assiniboine Memorial rinks will make the trip to the Portage Credit Union and the provincial finals which will run from January 25-29. Scotties veteran skips Janet Harvey and Barb Spencer must be respected. So too will Jill Thurston and her Winnipeg Granite Club foursome and last year’s provincial runner-up Chelsea Carey out of the Morden Curling Club. Any number of  these teams could be in the mix come Page playoff time at the end of the competition. One thing is for certain: the team that survives this competitive field will prove to be worthy to wear the Bison on their backs in Red Deer at the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.