There has never been more on the line at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Earlier this season, Curling Canada announced that for the first time in history the Canadian women’s curling championship will have the same purse as the Tim Hortons Brier.
"This has been one of my goals since I joined Curling Canada in 2016, and a lot of hard work behind the scenes with our stakeholders went into making the announcement possible," said Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson in December.
"We've long known that our athletes should (be) compensated similarly because they all work extremely hard to reach their high levels of performance. We were excited to make that happen for this year's events."
From Feb. 15 to 23 in Moose Jaw, Sask., 16 of the best rinks from coast-to-coast will battle for a purse of $300,000, with the winner earning an impressive $100,500 in cold, hard cash. The runners-up will get $65,000 while the third-place team will go home with $45,000. The remaining $85,000 will be divided up amongst the remaining 13 teams depending on the final standings.
But that’s not it. The last team standing will book a spot to the 2021 Roar of the Rings Olympic trials in Saskatoon, Sask., and will have the privilege to represent Canada at the 2020 world women’s curling championship next month in Prince George, B.C.
This is how the week breaks down: The 16 rinks are divided into two pools of eight. Each team will compete in round-robin play (seven games) within their pool. From there, the top four teams in each pool will advance to the championship pool. In this round, every rink will play four games against teams in the opposing pool. The top four teams advance to the regular page playoff where the Scotties champion will be determined on the second weekend.
Here’s a look at the two pools and each team’s seeding. At first glance it appears Pool A is the strongest with one or two top notch teams likely to miss the championship round all together.
(1) Manitoba - Kerri Einarson
(4) Team Canada - Chelsea Carey
(5) Alberta - Laura Walker
(8) Saskatchewan - Robyn Silvernagle
(9) Northern Ontario - Krista McCarville
(12) New Brunswick - Andrea Crawford
(13) Nunavut - Lori Eddy
(16) Quebec - Noémie Verreault
(2) Ontario - Rachel Homan
(3) Wild Card
(6) British Columbia - Corryn Brown
(7) Prince Edward Island - Suzanne Birt
(10) Northwest Territories - Kerry Galusha
(11) Nova Scotia - Mary-Anne Arsenault
(14) Yukon - Hailey Birnie
(15) Newfoundland and Labrador - Erica Curtis
The Scotties is returning to Moose Jaw for the second time in six years as Jennifer Jones won her fifth Canada championship in the prairie city back in 2015.
You can watch all the curling action throughout the week from Mosaic Place on TSN and streaming on TSN.ca, the TSN App or TSN Direct.
Take a closer look at the teams competing wit TSN.ca’s Scotties preview.
Wild Card Game
Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg) vs. Tracy Fleury (East St. Paul)
With Manitoba being the curling powerhouse it is, it’s no surprise the 2020 Scotties wild card will feature two rinks from the prairie province.
Kerri Einarson edged Jennifer Jones in a thrilling Manitoba final to earn the right to don the Buffalo in Moose Jaw. As a result, Jones will battle Tracy Fleury in the wild-card game, the woman she defeated in the provincial semifinals.
Who will win the Wild Card game at the Scotties?
This matchup will be evenly matched as Fleury has taken four of their seven clashes against each other this season. Jones beat Fleury in the Shorty Jenkins Classic final back in September before Fleury answered back in the semifinals of the Colonial Square Ladies Classic and the quarterfinal of the Curlers Corner Autumn Gold Curling Classic. They split their two most recent games at playdowns.
Overall, Team Fleury hold a record of 55-22 this season compared to Team Jones’ record of 41-25. The winner will be placed in Pool B as the No. 3 seed and will instantly become a top contender to capture the Tournament of Hearts title. If the 45-year-old Jones can get past Fleury, she’ll have a chance to pass Colleen Jones for the most national championships of all-time with seven.
The wild-card game should be one of the best during the week in Moose Jaw.
Manitoba - No. 1
Skip: Kerri Einarson Third: Val Sweeting Second: Shannon Birchard Lead: Brianne Meilleur Coach: Patti Wuthrich
Season Record: 42-17
WCT Highlights: Winners at Booster Juice Shoot-Out and Curlers Corner Autumn Gold Curling Classic
World Ranking: 3rd
Rundown: Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson is a Manitoba champion for the second time in her career. Einarson, 32, won the provincial crown after executing a perfect draw to the button in the 10th end of the final, forcing opponent Jennifer Jones to attempt a highly difficult shot for the win. Jones wrecked on the guard to hand Einarson the title. Einarson and her rink of former skips fell to Alberta’s Casey Scheidegger in the wild-card game last year, but return this year with room to make a mistake or two. Einarson led an entirely different rink to the 2018 Scotties final also as Team Wild Card, falling to Jones. Einarson has picked up a pair of victories on the WCT this year with a finals appearance at the Tour Challenge on the Grand Slam circuit in November. Team Einarson should be fun to watch at the Scotties this year.
Canada - No. 4
Skip: Chelsea Carey Third: Sarah Wilkes Second: Dana Ferguson Lead: Rachelle Brown Coach: Dan Carey
Season Record: 32-26
WCT Highlights: Finals appearance at Booster Juice Shootout and Prestige Hotels & Resorts Curling Classic
World Ranking: 13th
Rundown: Chelsea Carey will be wearing Team Canada colours for the second time in her career at the Scotties as the defending champ. The 35-year-old stunned Rachel Homan in last year’s Scotties final, storming back from a 5-1 deficit to win her second career Canadian championship. Carey finished third in 2017, the first time she skipped Canada at the Scotties. Team Carey has yet to win an event this season and made the playoffs in just one of four Grand Slam events. They may not be playing their best, but they weren’t tearing up the World Curling Tour heading into last year’s national championship either. Look how that turned out.
Alberta - No. 5
Skip: Laura Walker Third: Kate Cameron Second: Taylor McDonald Lead: Nadine Scotland Coach: Brian Chick
Season Record: 48-20
WCT Highlights: Winners at the Mother Club Fall Curling Classic and DEKALB Superspiel
World Ranking: 19th
Rundown: Former Canadian junior champion Laura Walker is going to her first Scotties Tournament of Hearts after a breakout season with a new rink. After a somewhat disappointing 2018-19 campaign, the 29-year-old joined forces with third Kate Cameron, second Taylor McDonald and lead Nadine Scotland this season and the results have been promising. Team Walker is playing nearly 30 games above .500 with three final appearances and two event wins on the World Curling Tour. They saved their best for most recent with a 9-0 showing at playdowns. Walker’s rink went winless at their lone elite-level Grand Slam this season, so the jury is still out whether they’ll be able to contend for a playoff spot in Moose Jaw. Still, Team Walker is one of the more intriguing rinks at this year’s Scotties.
Saskatchewan - No. 8
Skip: Robyn Silvernagle Third: Stefanie Lawton Second: Jessie Hunkin Lead: Kara Thevenot Coach: Lesley McEwan
City: North Battleford
Season Record: 24-25
WCT Highlights: Quarters at National
World Ranking: 32nd
Rundown: Robyn Silvernagle and her rink out of the Twin Rivers Curling Club in North Battleford will be the hometown team this year at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts after defending their provincial crown. Silvernagle, 32, made a solid run in her first Scotties appearance last year in Sydney, N.S., losing to Ontario’s Rachel Homan in the semifinal. Team Silvernagle have yet to win on the WCT this season, but are still one of the better teams in this year’s field. Let’s see if their green-and-white clad fans can propel them to another playoff appearance and maybe a spot in the championship tilt. Saskatchewan last won the Scotties in 2011 when Amber Holland defeated three-time defending champion Jennifer Jones in the final. Snapping the nearly 10-year drought on home soil would be one of the greatest curling moments in provincial history.
Northern Ontario - No. 9
Skip: Krista McCarville Third: Kendra Lilly Second: Ashley Sippala Lead: Jen Gates Coach: Rick Lang
City: Thunder Bay
Season Record: 30-9
WCT Highlights: Winners at Curl Mesabi Classic
World Ranking: 48th
Rundown: Thunder Bay’s Team Krista McCarville won all seven of their games at playdowns as the foursome will represent Northern Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for a second straight season and the eighth in McCarville’s career. The 37-year-old led her rink to another playoff showing in 2019, the fourth straight Scotties she was able to accomplish the feat. McCarville lost to Rachel Homan in the page 3 vs. 4. Northern Ontario will once again be playoff contenders in Saskatchewan.
New Brunswick - No. 12
Skip: Andrea Crawford Third: Jennifer Armstrong Second: Jillian Babin Lead: Katie Forward Coach: Daryell Nowlan
Season Record: 26-8
WCT Highlights: Winners at the Steele Cup Cash and Atlantic Superstore Monctonian Challenge
World Ranking: 70th
Rundown: Andrea Crawford, 34, is heading to a second straight and ninth career Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw. Crawford is bringing the same rink that went 3-4 in Sydney, N.S., in 2019. This year, however, Jennifer Armstrong will be throwing third stones instead of Jillian Babin. Babin moves down to the second position. Crawford, who won the 2005 Canadian junior title, has never made the playoffs at the Scotties. We’ll see if the slight lineup tweak gets them into the championship pool this time around.
Nunavut - No. 13
Skip: Lori Eddy Third: Sadie Pinksen Second: Alison Griffin Lead: Kaitlin MacDonald Coach: Donalda Mattie
Season Record: 1-3
WCT Highlights: Played in the Royal LePage Women’s Fall Classic
World Ranking: 250th
Rundown: Ontario’s Lori Eddy will skip Nunavut as the team’s out-of-territory curler, making her first appearance at the Canadian championship since losing to the great Sandra Schmirler in the final of the 1997 Scotties as a member of Alison Goring’s team. Nunavut picked up their first main draw victory at the Scotties last year and with Eddy in the fold they should be able to add to that mark.
Quebec - No. 16
Skip: Noemie Verreault Third: Alanna Routledge Second: Marie-Pier Cote Lead: Jill Routledge Coach: Michel Blais
Season Record: 7-2
WCT Highlights: N/A
World Ranking: 150th
Rundown: Noemie Verreault is heading to her first Canadian championship after going 7-2 at the Quebec Scotties, capping it off with a victory over Laurie St-Georges in the championship game. Quebec will look to improve on their 0-7 performance at last year’s tournament.
Ontario - No. 2
Skip: Rachel Homan Third: Emma Miskew Second: Joanne Courtney Lead: Lisa Weagle Coach: Marcel Rocque
Season Record: 37-15
WCT Highlights: Winners at Colonial Square Ladies Classic and Canada Cup
World Ranking: 8th
Rundown: Ottawa’s Rachel Homan went a perfect 9-0 at the Ontario Scotties to defend her provincial title. Homan’s squad is having a pretty solid season, highlighted by a victory at the Canada Cup which punched an early ticket to the 2021 Roar of the Rings Olympic trials. However, they’ve been unable to qualify for the playoffs in all four Grand Slam events. The 30-year-old skip will look to capture her fourth career Canadian championship in Moose Jaw after falling to Alberta’s Chelsea Carey in a heartbreaking final last year. This foursome should be a lock for the playoffs and are once again the favourite to stand atop the podium on championship Sunday.
British Columbia - No. 6
Skip: Corryn Brown Third: Erin Pincott Second: Dezaray Hawes Lead: Ashley Klymchuk Coach: Allison MacInnes
Season Record: 45-19
WCT Highlights: Winners at the Driving Force Decks International Abbotsford Cashspiel and Kamloops Crown of Curling
World Ranking: 21st
Rundown: Corryn Brown, 24, qualified for her first Scotties Tournament of Hearts in dramatic fashion. In the provincial final against defending champion Sarah Wark, Brown put up a deuce in the 10th end to tie it before scoring a single in the extra to win in improbable fashion and book a trip to Saskatchewan. Aside from playdowns, Team Brown has had a solid season on World Curling Tour in 2019-20, picking up a pair of event victories. They haven’t played many top tier squads so we’ll see how they handle themselves against the Rachel Homans of the world at the Scotties. Still, Team Brown should secure a spot in the championship pool if everything goes to plan.
Prince Edward Island - No. 7
Skip: Suzanne Birt Third: Marie Christianson Second: Meghan Hughes Lead: Michelle McQuaid Coach: Mitch O’Shea
Season Record: 45-12
WCT Highlights: Winners at the Spitfire Arms Cashspiel
World Ranking: 26th
Rundown: Suzanne Birt is bringing back the same crew that made a solid run last year at the Scotties in Sydney, N.S. P.E.I. finished with a 6-5 record and a spot in the championship pool. Birt has played a lot this season, appearing in nine WCT events, qualifying eight times. The 2001 world junior champ will make her 11th appearance at the Scotties in Moose Jaw. Birt has proven in the past she can be a contender, namely a third-place finish in Kitchener, Ont., back in 2003. Expect the Scotties veteran to be back in the championship pool.
Northwest Territories - No. 10
Skip: Kerry Galusha Third: Sarah Koltun Second: Jo-Ann Rizzo Lead: Shona Barbour Coach: Amanda Gates
Season Record: 16-14
WCT Highlights: Semis at Stu Sells Toronto Tankard
World Ranking: 51st
Rundown: Yellowknife’s Kerry Galusha is back for her sixth straight Canadian championship and the 17th over her career. This time the 42-year-old is bringing veteran Jo-Ann Rizzo to play second as a replacement for Brittany Tran, who was part of the team in Sydney last year when they missed the championship pool. Rizzo, 54, has been around the game for a while but this will be her first appearance at the Canadian championship. However, she was a win away from representing Canada at the Olympics in 2014 after falling in the final of the Olympic trials to Jennifer Jones as a third for Sherry Middaugh. Will the added experience get Galusha into the championship pool? They should have the talent to get it done.
Nova Scotia - No. 11
Skip: Mary-Anne Arsenault Third: Christina Black Second: Jenn Baxter Lead: Emma Logan Coach: Stuart MacLean
Season Record: 25-12
WCT Highlights: Winners at the Curling Store Cashspiel
World Ranking: 53rd
Rundown: The last time a squad wearing Nova Scotia colours captured the Scotties title was in 2001 when Colleen Jones edged out defending champ Kelley Law on a measure to win her third of six Canadian championships. (Team Jones won the next three years as well, but as Team Canada). Now the woman who played second on that dynastic rink will look to make a run and bring the Scotties back to the Maritimes. Mary-Anne Arsenault will skip Nova Scotia in Moose Jaw after beating her former skip in their provincial final. The 51-year-old has proved she still has something left in the tank, making the semis just two years ago in Penticton, B.C., before losing to Team Wild Card’s Kerri Einarson.
Yukon - No. 14
Skip: Hailey Birnie Third: Chelsea Duncan Second: Gabrielle Plonka Lead: Kimberly Tuor Coach: Lindsay Moldowan
Season Record: N/A
WCT Highlights: N/A
World Ranking: 324th
Rundown: This year’s Yukon rink will have some star power. Whitehorse’s Hailey Birnie, who has acted in such shows as Supernatural and Smallville, will skip the territory at nationals. Birnie played third for Nicole Baldwin last year, finishing with a 1-6 record.
Newfoundland and Labrador - No. 15
Skip: Erica Curtis Third: Erin Porter Second: Julie Devereaux Lead: Beth Hamilton Coach: Eugene Trickett
City: St. John’s
Season Record: 6-2
WCT Highlights: N/A
World Ranking: 199th
Rundown: Erica Curtis (formerly Erica Trickett) has played in two prior Scotties as a lead for Stacie Curtis in 2017 and 2018, but will make her debut as a skip in Moose Jaw. The Newfoundlanders were forced to win two tiebreakers at provincial playdowns before downing Mackenzie Mitchell’s squad in the final. The eastern province, skipped by Kelli Sharpe, finished with a 1-6 record last year and will likely finish in a similar position once again.