A curling commentator is expecting the SaskTel Tankard in Tisdale to be exciting and competitive.
Susan Lang has been involved in commenting on many SaskCurl events on the organization’s webcasts, including the women’s curling provincials in Tisdale in 2014.
“The field is getting stronger and stronger,” she said about the Feb. 1 to 5 Tankard. “Of course, we have the well-known favourites, the Steve Laycock team, who’s been out on tour and doing extremely well this year, but we also have some other teams that have been performing at a very high level this year out on the world curling circuit, so I think Steve will be a little bit more pressured this year than he was last year.”
Lang highlighted three other teams that could be competitive with Team Laycock. Team Meachem/Casey is being skipped by Adam Casey, an import from the Maritimes.
“They have been playing very well this year, getting stronger and stronger,” she said. “They’ve worked through their new team lineup.”
Team Bruce Korte has been steady for the last two years, moving up the Canadian circuit ratings. Team Kody Hartung are also strong, but they haven’t played as much as some of the other teams.
“I would say, going in, there are four very competitive teams that could certainly take the title this year,” Lang said. “That being said, there’s another whole wave of teams right behind them that could win a game on any given day.”
Fans should also keep an eye out for some of the up-and-coming teams that have been out on the circuit playing hard. There are rinks like Team Randy Bryden and Team Scott Bitz that have proven track records.
“I think what fans should be looking out for is some exciting, well-played curling games on every draw that they attend,” Lang said.
The commentator said that Laycock’s still the favourite to win, just not the walk-through favourite they have been for the last three to four years. Still, if they didn’t manage to win the green jacket, that would be considered an upset.
“All sports [fans] enjoy seeing an upset. You’re always torn, hoping that your favourite wins because you know they will do well at the national, but we always like a refresh in all of our sports. I think it would add a new level of interest in watching who the new Team Saskatchewan would be,” she said. “That being said, I don’t think Steve Laycock’s team has any intention of letting anybody be in that underdog position. They’ve been working really hard and I don’t think they have any plans whatsoever to relinquish that stranglehold they’ve got on that provincial title.”
Lang said the community support given by Tisdale and Northeast residents is also key to the Tankard’s success.
“When we were there two years ago for the Scotties, the attendance was absolutely outstanding at every draw, the banquet was just a massive success and the excitement that you felt in the community for the women’s championships – if that rolls over into the men’s tankard competition, it will be a great vibe for spectators and competitors for this event.”