Kim Dolan will be attending her 13th Canadian women's curling championship starting Saturday
If experience counts for anything, Kim Dolan should be shoo-in for the playoffs at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts national women’s curling championship, which starts Saturday in Montreal.
But if Dolan, this year’s P.E.I. provincial Scotties winner, has learned anything in her 13 appearances as player and coach at the nationals, it’s the results on the ice that matter, not the speculation.
This time, it happens to be on stadium ice at the 4,750-seat Maurice Richard Arena, a surface many Maritime entries have little experience with.
“Arena ice is different. It will be quick. We’ll have a number of days to adjust our weight, hopefully we can make that adjustment faster,” Dolan said Thursday before her rink left for Montreal. “I don’t consider it a competitive disadvantage. We’re certainly skilled enough. We can’t go in being afraid of it. That’s what we have to deal with.”
Dolan and her rink of third Rebecca Jean MacDonald, second Sinead Dolan, and lead Michala Robison (alternate is Jackie Reid, coach is John Likely) hit the ice today when practice sessions begin. There is also a skills competition to help the teams adapt to the surface.
The rubber hits the road Saturday when Dolan’s crew opens versus the B.C. champion rink at 3 p.m. AT, skipped by 22-year-old rookie Kesa Van Osch of Victoria, a former B.C. junior winner, who beat the juggernaut rink of Kelly Scott, an eight-time B.C. champion.
“This is a new team that beat Kelly Scott to get here. I expect a good team,” said Dolan.
The teams play an 11-game round-robin draw that concludes Friday,
The top four teams make the Page playoff round, which sees the first- and second-place teams playing for a berth in the final, which is Sunday,
The third- and fourth-place teams tangle for a semifinal berth on Saturday, Feb. 8. The loser of the three-four game plays the semifinal loser for bronze on Feb. 9.
The winner represents Canada at the Ford world women’s curling championship in March in Saint John, N.B.
The defending Scotties champ is Rachel Homan from Ottawa. Homan and third Emma Miskew, second Alison Kreviazuk and lead Lisa Weagle wear Team Canada colours in Montreal.
Also in the mix is three-time Canada Cup champion Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon, Manitoba’s Chelsea Carey, a solid performer on the cashspiel circuit, and Alberta’s Val Sweeting, who had a solid run at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Winnipeg.
Sarah Koltun, 20, of Whitehorse makes history as the youngest skip to ever play in the Scotties and also the only skip to compete in the Scotties and Canadian junior championships in the same season.
Quebec’s entry is Allison Ross, out of the Glenmore Curling Club near Montreal.
On the other end of Koltun is Heather Strong of Newfoundland and Labrador (it’s her 11th Scotties) and Dolan, 55, who welcomes the changes in curling she’s watched during the last 30 years.
“It’s not a hitting game anymore. It’s a little bit more of a finesse game. More rocks are in play. The changes are a good thing. They’ve brought the level of interest in curling to a whole new level,” said Dolan.
“I certainly wouldn’t be playing if it didn’t have a lot more to it.”
In a twist this year, the two teams with the fewest overall wins in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Scotties will compete at a pre-event qualifying tournament before the 2015 Scotties in Moose Jaw, Sask.
Those teams play off against Northern Ontario and Nunavut, both eligible for Scotties for the first time in 2015, for the final berth.
Team Canada, as defending champion, and 2015 host Saskatchewan are exempt from the play-in tournament. Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut can send teams for the first time.
“It’s not a hitting game anymore. It’s a little bit more of a finesse game. More rocks are in play. The changes are a good thing. They’ve brought the level of interest in curling to a whole new level. I certainly wouldn’t be playing if it didn’t have a lot more to it.” P.E.I. skip Kim Dolan
So far, the two-year win totals are Manitoba (20), B.C. (16), Ontario (14), Saskatchewan (11, exempt), New Brunswick (11), Quebec (10), Nova Scotia (9), Alberta (8), P.E.I. (8), Northwest Territories (6), Newfoundland and Labrador (6) and the Yukon (0).
Kim Dolan’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts appearances:
1983, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1992, 2012, 2014 - skip.
1995, 1997, 1999 - third.
2002, 2005, 2008 - fifth (also coach in 2008).
THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL — Round-robin schedule for the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women’s curling championship, Feb. 1-9 at Maurice Richard Arena (all times Eastern):
First Draw, 2 p.m.
Nova Scotia vs. Newfoundland & Labrador; New Brunswick vs. Quebec; B.C. vs. P.E.I.; Yukon/NWT vs. Alberta.
Second Draw, 7 p.m.
Alberta vs. B.C.; Canada vs. Manitoba; Quebec vs. Newfoundland & Labrador; Ontario vs. Saskatchewan.
Third Draw, 9 a.m.
Manitoba vs. Saskatchewan ; P.E.I. vs. Yukon/NWT; Canada vs. Ontario; Nova Scotia vs. New Brunswick.
Fourth Draw, 2 p.m.
Quebec vs. Canada; Ontario vs. Newfoundland & Labrador; Saskatchewan vs. Alberta; Manitoba vs. B.C.
Fifth Draw, 7 p.m.
Newfoundland & Labrador vs. Yukon/NWT; Alberta vs. Nova Scotia; New Brunswick vs. B.C.; P.E.I. vs Quebec.
Monday, Feb. 3
Fourth Draw, 2 p.m.
P.E.I. vs. Ontario; New Brunswick vs. Saskatchewan; Manitoba vs. Nova Scotia; Canada vs. Yukon/NWT.
Seventh Draw, 7:30 p.m.
New Brunswick vs. Alberta; Newfoundland & Labrador vs. P.E.I.; Yukon/NWT vs. Quebec; B.C. vs. Nova Scotia.
Tuesday, Feb. 4
Eighth Draw, 9 a.m.
Saskatchewan vs. Quebec; B.C. vs. Ontario; Alberta vs. Canada; Newfoundland & Labrador vs. Manitoba.
Ninth Draw, 2 p.m.
Yukon/NWT vs. B.C.; Nova Scotia vs. Quebec; Newfoundland & Labrador vs. New Brunswick; Alberta vs. P.E.I.
Draw 10, 7:30 p.m.
Canada vs. Nova Scotia; Manitoba vs. Yukon/NWT; P.E.I. vs. Saskatchewan; New Brunswick vs. Ontario.
Wednesday, Feb. 5
Draw 11, 9 a.m.
Alberta vs. Newfoundland & Labrador; P.E.I. vs. New Brunswick; Nova Scotia vs. Yukon/NWT; Quebec vs. B.C.
Draw 12, 2 p.m.
Quebec vs. Manitoba; Canada vs. B.C.; Ontario vs. Alberta; Saskatchewan vs. Newfoundland & Labarador
Draw 13, 7:30 p.m.
Ontario vs. Yukon/NWT; Saskatchewan vs. Nova Scotia; New Brunswick vs. Manitoba; P.E.I. vs. Canada.
Thursday, Feb. 6
Draw 14, 9 a.m.
Quebec vs. Alberta; B.C. vs. Newfoundland & Labrador.
Draw 15, 2 p.m.
Nova Scotia vs. P.E.I; Ontario vs. Manitoba; Saskatchewan vs. Canada; Yukon/NWT vs. New Brunswick.
Draw 16, 7:30 p.m.
B.C. vs. Saskatchewan; Newfoundland & Labrador vs. Canada; Quebec vs. Ontario; Manitoba vs. Alberta.
Friday, Feb. 7
Draw 17, 9 a.m.
Canada vs. New Brunswick; Yukon/NWT vs. Saskatchewan; Manitoba vs. P.E.I.; Ontario vs. Nova Scotia.
End of round robin