Swift Current’s Kelly Schafer will look to add another green jacket to her collection when she joins Robyn Silvernagle and her team from the Twin Rivers Curling Club in North Battleford for the Viterra Scotties Provincial Women’s Curling Championship in Estevan this weekend.
Schafer is playing third for Silvernagle, the 2019 and 2020 provincial champion, with Sherry Just and Kara Thevenot on the front end. The team earned a spot in provincials after qualifying out of the last chance tournament on Silvernagle’s home ice earlier this month.
“It was in November I got a call from Kara, we saw her at Mixed Nationals in Prince Albert, and then she gave me a call afterwards and said, ‘how do you fancy putting together a team of us that have been semi-retired or just kind of taking time off and going for a run for the Scotties?’” Kelly said. “It sounds like fun, not much commitment at the start of the season and then still a little bit of excitement as we prepare for provincials. We played last chance qualifiers and obviously made it through and here we are in Estevan ready to compete.
“One of the volunteers opened her house up to us, so we’re staying there... Robyn has her little boy, Colt, with us and we’ve been well looked after already,” she added. “It just shows how excited everybody is in the community to welcome all these women to Estevan. I went to the arena last night to drop off a few things and it looks amazing. The ice makers have done a great job, all of the volunteers so far, and actually our local ice maker for the Swift Current Curling Club, Jason Braaten, is in charge of making the ice here as well. I know he always makes great ice, so we’re excited to get on.”
Schafer has a wealth of championship experience, representing Scotland in women’s play at three Winter Olympics, nine European championships and seven World Championships, including a second-place finish with Eve Muirhead’s team at the 2010 World Women’s Championship in Swift Current. Since moving to the city about a decade ago, she’s won the Saskatchewan mixed team championship three times.
Having competed in both Saskatchewan and Scotland, Schafer says there are some differences between competitions in those locations, saying Scotland uses a round robin format for their championships compared to the triple-knockout events used in Saskatchewan and adds while curlers in Scotland get lots of support from fans, curling in Canada has a bigger fan base.
“We didn’t get the opportunity to play in big arenas in our national events and it just shows the importance that people place on curling here, and that’s part of the big event,” Schafer said. “People ask me if I miss competing, and when it gets to this time of year then I do just because there’s such big hype and the whole atmosphere of playing those big events, just the formality and tradition of everything, and you want to get down and get your championship mindset on and just play.
“It’s just so much fun and the fans are amazing and they’re so knowledgeable, too,” She added. “It’s fun to interact with everybody, and family, friends, everybody makes a trip to come and support their favourite team.”
Schafer and Team Silvernagle will play their opening game of the triple-knockout event against Brooklyn Stevenson and her team from Regina's Highland Curling Club tonight at 7:30pm from Affinity Place. Curling continues through the weekend with the Page Playoffs on Saturday and the semi-final and final on Sunday. Feature games will be streamed live on the CURLSASK YouTube channel and broadcast on SaskTel MaxTV.
The winning team will represent Saskatchewan at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Kamloops, BC, from February 17 to 26.