Shots were made, the crowd clapped and cheered, horse bells rang, and the excitement of curling filled Sylvan Lake’s multiplex as 12 of Alberta’s elite women’s curling teams vied for a chance to represent the province at the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
In the end, the young team skipped by 26-year-old Val Sweeting doubled Cheryl Bernard’s veterans 8-4 after nine ends for the championship.
Sweeting’s team went undefeated through the 2014 Jiffy Lube Alberta Scotties Tournament.
“It’s an honour to represent Alberta at the Scotties,” said Sweeting, who won the provincials for the first time in 2010, the youngest skip ever to do so. Her competitor in the final, Cheryl Bernard, was the silver medallist at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“Any way you get to the final is good, but the fact that we stayed strong and stayed with it every game … it’s a great feeling going into the Scotties for sure,” Sweeting told the Advocate. She and her teammates, third Dana Ferguson, 24, second Joanne Courtney, 23, and lead Rachelle Pidherny, 26, will represent Alberta in the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts Feb. 1-9 at Montreal.
Besides Sweeting (who’s ranked third) and Bernard (10th), three other teams competing at Sylvan Lake are among the top ten in the Canadian Curling Association’s Canadian Team Ranking System.
— Renee Sonnenberg (sixth), Heather Nedohin (eighth) and Crystal Webster (ninth).
That made for some very competitive and intense action throughout the five day triple knockout tournament — action which was watched by a growing crowd each draw.
The semi-final and final games were televised on Sportsnet West, swelling the ranks of those who watched the action.
“It’s been a very exciting week,” said Noreen McCallum, the host committee chairperson. “We’re really happy with how the event has gone. With the resources of our great volunteers, we met all the demands placed on us.”
Nearly 200 volunteers helped ensure the Scotties, the second one held in Sylvan Lake in the past five years, ran smoothly.
“Many people put in many hours,” she said.
The committee also enjoyed tremendous support from the corporate community, said McCallum. “They were really behind us.”
“One of the things we hoped would happen was raising an awareness of the sport of curling and our ongoing need for a new facility in Sylvan Lake,” said McCallum.
“There was excellent curling, excellent sportsmanship. The ice was superb,” she said. Bernard echoed comments on the ice condition when talking to media representatives.
Asked what’s on the agenda next, McCallum said, “a few of us need to recover first”, noting they hosted the juveniles last year and the Alberta Scotties in 2009.