Anderson reflects on unique Scotties experience

Photo Courtesy of Curling Canada Sherry Anderson gives out instructions to her sweepers during Saskatchewan’s game against Kerri Einarson’s Team Canada rink at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary last week.

Although there were no fans in the stands at the Markin McPhail Centre in Calgary last week, Saskatchewan skip Sherry Anderson was so focused on the task at hand that she didn’t notice the different atmosphere at this year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts until she was off the ice.

“I tend to get into my own bubble when I play,” Anderson said on Wednesday. “There have been lots of times in the past that I walked off the ice and the girls would say to me ‘did you see what was happening in Section D or did hear what they were yelling?’ and I didn’t even notice it.

“It was certainly a different experience though when we were up in the stands and we watched a few of the games. A really good shot was made by one of the teams and no one was cheering other than us. I was clapping, but it’s just not the same when there is only one person doing it.”

Anderson’s 10th trip to the nationals will certainly go down as one of the most memorable in her career as it was held in a bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a great experience, especially for the girls (Nancy Martin, Chaelynn Kitz and Breanne Knapp) who had never been there before, but I feel bad for them that they missed out on all of the fun stuff that takes place off the ice during the week that makes the Scotties such a great event,” Anderson said.

“Once we got going and playing the games, it really felt like we got into a grove of a normal event. Nancy and Chaelynn have the experience of playing at the Mixed Doubles nationals and Breanne has played at the Junior Nationals and at Grand Slam events, so I think that helped out as well as they felt comfortable playing on arena ice.”

Anderson’s rink from the Nutana Curling Club went 6-2 in Pool B play to finish in a tie for first place with Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones and Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges.

However, their run at the playoffs would end in the Championship Pool as four straight losses left the team with a 6-6 record and in a tie for sixth place with St-Georges and Chelsea Carey’s Wild Card rink from Manitoba.

“Unfortunately, I tend to always remember the losses or the shots I missed,” Anderson joked.

“All of the games were memorable in a good or bad way, but we all made some really good shots during the week. I was really proud of the team shot that we made in the final end against the Tracy Fleury rink (which was skipped by Carey). We had a draw for two to win the game and the girls swept the rock very well so that we could those points.”

The team’s fifth, 2011 Scotties champion Amber Holland, also made an appearance during the week as she filled in at skip in a Championship Pool contest against Beth Peterson’s Wild Card rink as Anderson dealt with a back strain.

“I always try encouraging that we have someone that can step in at any position when we bring a fifth to any event,” Anderson said. “If a skip or a lead goes down, they can step into that role with the least amount of disruption throughout the lineup instead of having to juggle around two or three positions.

“It was an educated move on our part to have Amber step in for us at any position if she had to.”

While Anderson’s curling season is now complete, Martin and Kitz will return to Calgary later this month for the Mixed Doubles nationals, where they will be paired up with Tyrel Griffin and Kyler Kleibrink respectively.

“I think the experience of being in the bubble at the Scotties will certainly help them, especially when it comes to knowing what to expect and what to plan for,” Anderson said.

“You can’t just hop over to the drug store across the street to get Band-Aids or whatever else you need, so you have to take it upon yourself to be organized ahead of time.”

Meanwhile, Anderson will soon be preparing for another golf season before returning to the curling rinks later this fall.

“I was looking out at the golf course here in Delisle earlier today and it’s still pretty white out there,” Anderson joked. “So it will still be a little while yet before we start golfing again.

“Hopefully the world is a little closer to normality by the time we get to September and we can start our curling season then.”