ESTEVAN - A lot has changed in Saskatchewan curling since the Viterra Scotties Tournament of Hearts was last held in Estevan in 2001.
At the time, it was called the SaskPower Scott Tournament of Hearts. The event was held at the Civic Auditorium, and it was an eight-team round robin followed by the playoffs.
This year’s it’s happening at Affinity Place with a 12-team, triple-knockout elimination draw followed by the playoffs.
But what hasn’t changed is the great play of Sherry Anderson and Michelle Englot.
Englot (curling as Michelle Ridgway at the time) won provincials in 2001, defeating Anderson 5-4 in the final. Both curlers are competing this year, with Anderson the skip of her team and Englot playing second on Brooklyn Stevenson’s rink.
Englot said at the time, she and Anderson were winning a lot of tournaments, and she’s amazed they’re still playing at a pretty high level.
“That’s the way curling is. If you keep at it, you can play at it for a fairly long time,” said Englot.
Englot has been at playdowns and other tournaments in Estevan several times since 2001, and she was at mixed provincials at the Power Dodge Curling Centre in 2019.
“It’s always nice to come back to Estevan and play, but it’s really nice to play in the arena,” said Englot.
Anderson’s strongest memory of the tournament was the semifinal against Patty Hersikorn (then Patty Rocheleau) in the semifinal.
“We decided that whatever she did, we were playing the double [takeout] for the win. We needed two to win, and she made a great shot. I said ‘You guys, this double is thin. I just have to hair that top rock.’”
Anderson thought she was going to flash the shot and lose, but the rock caught enough to pull off the double and score two to win.
Afterwards, Anderson saw Benson’s Jim Packet, a three-time men’s provincial curling champion. Packet told her it was a nice shot, and after Anderson said she wasn’t sold on the double, he said “You always play the double. You always play the double if you have a chance to win.”
Hersikorn is the third on Anderson’s team this year.
Englot would have never imagined she’d be playing at this level 22 years later.
“Curling has just been such a big part of my life. I enjoyed the people, and that’s why I played at a fairly high level after that [the 2001 tournament],” said Englot.
She was ready to retire from the sport after wrapping up her time playing in Manitoba, but she was able to join the Stevenson rink.
Anderson, meanwhile, said curling has been a passion of hers since she started playing at age eight.
“Thank goodness, I can still physically do it without too many aches and pains,” said Anderson.
Some teams burn out after a while, but not Anderson.
“I’m not in the gym for four hours a day. I’m not throwing 100 rocks a day and making it my job. This is my passion. It’s a sport. I always say sport should be synonymous with fun.”
Englot won provincials as a skip in 2008 and 2012, and also made it to nationals a couple of times while curling out of Manitoba.
Anderson, meanwhile, won provincials as a skip in 2002, 2004 and 2018. She was also part of the Stephanie Lawton rink that went to nationals several times, and represented Saskatchewan at the COVID-affected nationals in 2021.
And she has won numerous provincial and national titles at the senior level.
Englot said it’s a really strong field at provincials this year, and there won’t be any easy games. She praised Affinity Place as being perfect for provincials.
“The ice is fantastic and the volunteers have done a really great job of putting on a really great event. There’s nothing like playing in an arena, and this one is so meticulous and clean, and it’s just amazing,” said Englot.
Anderson said it’s great to be back in Estevan. She believes this is the first time she has been back in the Energy City since the 2001 tournament. She marvelled at the venue, the fans and the efforts of the host committee.
“The committees always do a great job. They were saying … they had 190 volunteers … and that really shows the community spirit and the volunteerism that is alive and well in Saskatchewan. It just makes it a lot of fun when you have a lot of people and it’s not just a handful of people doing the work.”
Anderson won her first three games to reach the A final against former teammate Nancy Martin on Friday afternoon.
Englot and the Stevenson rink, meanwhile, have been trying to qualify for the playoffs through the B event.