The two Brandon-based curling teams participating in the provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts at Stonewall aren’t expected to light it up this week, and they don’t have extremely high hopes for this season either.
This is the first season Stacey Fordyce’s team — which includes third Kelsey Russill, second Janelle Schwindt and lead Roslynn Ripley — has been together.
It’s also the first Scotties where Fordyce will skip, having made her previous appearance two years ago as the second for Karen Rosser’s bronze-medal winning squad. Fordyce knows expectations can’t be high for a first-year team making its debut at the provincial women’s curling championship, so she’s looking at gaining some experience for the future.
"Our ultimate goal would be to qualify and come out of our pool, but we just want to have some good games, get some good experience and have some fun," she said. "We’re not putting too much pressure on ourselves this year."
Liza Park doesn’t think there will be any pressure on her Brandon Curling Club team, either. Park, who curls with Darla Hayward, Pam Robins and Kortney Teale, is making her ninth appearance at the Scotties, but she wasn’t even planning on making the trip to Stonewall.
She decided not to play competitively this season for personal reasons and only entered the Westman regional playdowns to make sure the region would keep its two berths for the Scotties. Her team, however, got some positive results and beat Carberry’s Tina Kozak — who played third for Park at last year’s Scotties — in the B-event final to earn her trip to provincials.
Park knows just getting to the Scotties is a victory for her team. While they’re hoping to be competitive, the biggest goal for them is to get experience and enjoy themselves.
"We’re going to go into the Scotties and have fun and gain some experience from it and just see what happens," said Park, who posted a 2-5 record last year. "I don’t have any outcomes. I hope we give good games and after our last end, we’ll see where we are after that."
The first day of the championship, which starts today and runs through Sunday, will be incredibly difficult for the two Brandon squads.
Park opens up the event against four-time national women’s curling champion Jennifer Jones and will then take on three-time provincial champion Barb Spencer. Fordyce, meanwhile, will face Chelsea Carey, who fell in the last two provincial finals, and Cathy Overton-Clapham, the 2011 provincial champion, on opening day.
However, neither skip has an issue with the schedule.
"It doesn’t matter. We have to play them all at some point," said Fordyce. "We’ve played them before and had some really good games with them. Hopefully we can play our game, make some shots and have a good game with them."
"I’ve always said if you have to play them, let’s play them the first day because it’s the same out there for them out there as it is for me and I’d rather play them before they get a few games under their belt," added Park. "I just hope we’ll give a good game and I have no doubt that if we curl well that we’ll give them a good game. If you can capitalize on some breaks if you get them, then you might win."
Dauphin’s Lisa Menard is also in this year’s field.
The competition is made up of two pools of eight that will play a round robin through Saturday afternoon.
The top two teams in each pool advance to the Page playoffs. The 1-vs.-1 Page game is slated for Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on Sportsnet West and Pacific. The semifinal is set for noon on Sunday, while the final will be played at 3:30 p.m. Both of those games will be televised live on Sportsnet One.