Sunday, February 22, 2009

Scotties blog is on the air

And another guest blogger has arrived. Hey... we told you it was an Insane Curling Week!

Elaine Dagg-Jackson has been coaching curling since 1989, starting with Team Julie Sutton. She went on to coach the Japanese national teams and is now deeply entwined in the Canadian national coaching program.

She also lives in Victoria, host city of the 2009 STOH women’s nationals... and she’s now a TCN Blogger!

Behind the Scotties scenes
by Elaine Dagg-Jackson

VICTORIA – The 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts got off to its usual spectacular start here in Victoria with the Opening Banquet at the Victoria Conference Centre. Former Scottie champion and TSN commentator Cathy Gauthier was the emcee, and the evening was filled with memories as past champions from the host province of British Columbia were honoured.

They were all there... members of the Lindsay Sparkes team (Lindsay and Robin Wilson), the Linda Moore squad (Linda, Lindsay, Debbie Jones-Walker and Laurie Carney), Team Pat Sanders (Georgina Wheatcroft, Louise Herlinveaux and Deb Massullo), Team Julie (Sutton) Skinner (Julie, Jodie Sutton Green and Melissa Soligo), the Kelley Law team (Julie, Georgina, and Diane Nelson Dezura) and, of course, the Kelly Scott team (Kelly, Jeanna Schraeder, Sasha Carter, Renee Simons).

Julie Skinner represented the champions with a tell-all speech and some photos which provided a glimpse into the various hair fashions through the decades, including a few of my own past hair trends I would just as soon forget.

The best sponsor in the history of women’s sport continued to please the competitors with Kruger and Robin Wilson handing out 43 diamonds to those who have participated at multiple Scotties. For each repeat win, the curler is awarded a new diamond to her necklace or bracelet. The professionalism and class that Kruger brings to this tournament is truly amazing, and creates an incredible allegiance from the curling masses.

Another special presentation occurred with the long-overdue World Championship rings presented to the Kelly Scott team. When the Worlds are held in Canada, the event is sponsored by Ford of Canada and the winners receive World rings supplied by the sponsor. However, when the event is hosted outside Canada the winners went ringless.

A recent agreement by the Canadian Curling Association and the World Curling Federation has now provided Team Scott with rings from their 2006 victory in Aomori, Japan.

The Hot Shots was won by Alberta skip Cheryl Bernard with Saskatchewan’s Sherri Singler the runner-up and Quebec’s Nancy Belanger third. Organizers were surprised when Team British Columbia – skipped by Marla Mallett – elected to sit this one out, the first time in the history of the Hot Shots a team has elected not to participate.

When you arrive at an STOH event it sometimes seems like it takes forever to get started. The teams often arrive on Wednesday, and some don’t play until Saturday night. But now the round robin is underway (Kruger Products photo by Andrew Klaver, above) and the first games have been played – some with predictable results, and some surprises.

Team Canada, Quebec, Ontario and host province BC have come out swinging, and others predicted to be leaders have not fared as well. But the thing about the Scotties – like the Brier – is that it is a long, long week, and you never know what is going to happen. You have to literally take it one game at a time and hope you’re still alive at the end of the week.

We’ll see how the rocks roll in the coming days!

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