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Saskatchewan’s top female curlers ready to shine during the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Estevan

The 2023 Viterra Scotties Tournament of Hearts will run from Jan. 25-29 at Affinity Place. Twelve teams from across Saskatchewan have qualified for the event.
The process of converting ice to curling occurred Saturday at Affinity Place.

ESTEVAN — After several years of waiting, the finest curlers in Saskatchewan are about to showcase their skills for local curling fans.

The 2023 Viterra Scotties Tournament of Hearts will run from Jan. 25-29 at Affinity Place. Twelve teams from across Saskatchewan have qualified for the event.

It’s part of what will be a busy stretch for curling in Estevan. Once the Scotties wraps up, the process of preparing for the SaskTel Tankard men’s provincials will begin. That tournament will run from Feb. 1-5, also at Affinity Place.

Scotties-Tankard committee chair Devon Fornwald said they’re pretty much ready to go. The committees have everything finalized, and now they’re eagerly waiting for the games to start.

The process of converting Affinity Place from a hockey arena to a curling rink started on Thursday with the removal of the Plexiglas around the rink. Installation of lights and an overhead camera for TV broadcasts happened Friday. Conversion of the ice from hockey to curling started Saturday.

The ice is ready to go for today.

“Our club members are going to go down and curl Tuesday night at 7 o’clock,” said Fornwald. “There will probably be four sheets of ice going out there, so they get to try the ice out first, and that actually helps the icemaker see what the ice is doing, and see if he needs to do any little changes to the ice to get it to where he wants it to.”

Wednesday morning the curlers will show up for their assigned practice times to get to know the ice.

The curling will begin on Wednesday night with the opening ceremonies. The opening draw is at 7 p.m. Wednesday. (For the draw schedule, please see page A10).

Fornwald said there is a lot of excitement for the event. The first eight teams to qualify were announced just before Christmas, and the final four teams advanced through a last-chance qualifier in North Battleford in early January.

“It was good for the people organizing, because we needed to finalize some details with the team services,” said Fornwald.

It helps to have a team with local connections entered. The Cindy Ricci rink, with former Estevan resident Ricci serving as skip, qualified through the last chance.

“A lot of people know them and know their names, so hopefully people come out and cheer them on and get their excitement going and really push them towards winning the event,” said Fornwald.

There are some great teams entered that have won provincial titles in the past, and there are some new teams looking to win a provincial championship for the first time.

Among the teams joining the Ricci rink for provincials will be the defending provincial champion, Penny Barker, and her rink competing out of the Moose Jaw Curling Club.

There will be three teams out of the Sutherland Curling Club in Saskatoon, with Skylar Ackerman, Madison Kleiter and Jessica Mitchell serving as the skips.

Teams skipped by Ashley Howard, Lorraine Schneider and Brooklyn Stevenson are curling out of Regina’s Curling Club.

Also entered will be Sherry Anderson’s rink from the Nutana Curling Club in Saskatoon, Amber Holland from the Kronau Curling Club; Nancy Martin from the Martensville Curling Club, and Robyn Silvernagle from the Twin Rivers Curling Club in North Battleford.

“I think there’s going to be some great curling to come and watch. The women’s curling is getting stronger and stronger, and our teams are always in the fight in the Scotties when they get to the national event,” said Fornwald. “I think having the talent that is coming to play here, those 12 teams, is really going to help Saskatchewan pick a really good team, and they’re going to put on a really good show when they make it to the national Scotties.”  

Tickets sales starting go very well.

“Everyone is getting exciting. Things are coming together really well, and I think it’s going to be a great event for the people curling, the organizers, the volunteers and the sponsors,” said Fornwald. “I think we’ve done quite well on our sponsorship area with a lot of the local businesses stepping up to help us out with this event.”

The business community in Estevan is great at helping out whenever possible, he said.

The Scotties-Tankard is expected to have a large economic spinoff. When Estevan hosted the Tankard in 2018, it was believed that the event generated $2 million-$3 million in economic activity for the city.

“The restaurants were full. The hotels were full. The grocery stores – a lot of these people will buy groceries for their hotel rooms to try to cut down on costs a little bit,” said Fornwald.

With two five-day events, Fornwald expects it could be $3 million or $4 million combined from the Scotties-Tankard.

“That’s great news in the middle of winter when there’s not a lot going on,” said Fornwald.

Fornwald stressed this event has a great committee that has done a terrific job of organizing the event. They have things so well organized that they have made Fornwald’s job as chairman much easier.

The staff at Affinity Place and the City of Estevan have also been very co-operative, converting dressing rooms to different groups of officials and volunteers and helping to ensure the event happens.

“They do a lot of work to help us out with this event,” Fornwald said.

The Scotties-Tankard should also help boost the club’s profile when it comes to hosting future events. Two weeks after Estevan hosted the 2018 Tankard, the curling club was called to host the Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling in December of that year.

“That was a great event, too, and a great thing that really showcased Estevan to the rest of Canada and to the world, because we had comments from people from Europe on some of the websites who were saying ‘Wow. Estevan is a great venue for this curling.’”

For full coverage of the Scotties, including photos and stories each day, be sure to visit our provincial news hub at

Next week’s edition of the Mercury will have full coverage of the Scotties and a preview of the Tankard.