A pair of familiar rinks will serve as Saskatchewan’s squads at this year’s Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
CURLSASK announced on Thursday that Matt Dunstone’s foursome and Sherry Anderson’s squads had been named as the province’s representatives for the 2021 national championships, which will be held in a bubble at the Markin McPhail Centre in Calgary.
“It’s exciting to know that we’re going to get the chance to compete again, but it’s a weird feeling in a way as we didn’t win anything,” said Kirk Muyres, who is the second for the Dunstone rink.
“Everyone wanted to compete for the chance to represent Saskatchewan, but that’s something that just wasn’t going to happen this year due to the (COVID-19) pandemic.”
“It’s always an honour to represent your province and I’m particularly excited because the other three girls I’m playing with (Nancy Martin, Chaelynn Kitz and Breanne Knapp) have never been to the Scotties before,” Anderson added.
“They have experience from competing at major events, but it’s always different when you make that first trip to the Scotties.”
This year’s Scotties, which will run from Feb. 19-28, will be Anderson’s 10th trip to the nationals and her first since she won the Saskatchewan playdowns in Melfort three years ago.
“It will be different this year, especially without any spectators, and you won’t have the opportunity to socialize with the other teams as you would have in the past,” Anderson said.
“That’s something I always look forward to at the event as you get a chance to see people from around the country that you’ve gotten to know over the years.”
The Dunstone rink, which also includes third Braden Moskowy and lead Dustin Kidby, is looking to build off of a third place result at last year’s Brier in Kingston, Ont.
Muyres, who joined the squad this spring, skipped for his province at the 2019 event and captured a bronze medal with Steve Laycock in Calgary six years ago.
“We haven’t really figured out what our next steps are going to be yet now that we know we’re going,” Muyres said. “We’re hoping to get some sort of practice under our belts before we head to Calgary for the Brier (which runs from March 5-14).
“I think it’s going to take a little bit to get used to playing without fans and not having the social aspects of the Brier that we are used to, such as going to the Patch or signing autographs, but I think we’ll get used to it right away and everyone will just be excited to compete again.”
CURLSASK selected their teams based on their performances over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
Unlike the Dunstone rink, which had three players back from last year’s team, two-time defending Saskatchewan woman’s champion Robyn Silvernagle only had two players back from last season.
“This has been a very challenging year for CURLSASK navigating through a pandemic and we thank you for going above and beyond during this challenging time,” the Silvernagle rink said in a prepared statement.
“Your efforts and hard work did not go unnoticed.”
CURLSASK also announced on Thursday that Mike Armstrong and Ashley Quick will represent the province at the 2021 Home Hardware Mixed Doubles Championship, which will also be held in Calgary.
The pair were to have competed at last year’s nationals in Portage La Prairie, Man., but it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
A total of 18 rinks are expected to compete in the Scotties and the Brier, as the fields were expanded to include three Wild Card rinks.
Mike Fournier (Quebec) and Dustin Mikkelsen (Yukon) were added to the Brier field on Thursday, while Jill Brothers (Nova Scotia) and Laurie St-Georges (Quebec) joined the confirmed rinks for the Scotties.
Jamie Murphy’s squad will represent Nova Scotia at the Brier, but Murphy himself will be unable to attend the event due to work commitments and quarantine requirements.