Northern Ontario curling fans know who they’ll be cheering for at the upcoming Scotties Tournament of Hearts and the Tim Hortons Brier, Canada’s national curling championships.
Thunder Bay’s Krista McCarville’s team is off to the Scotties, while Sudbury’s Tanner Horgan rink moves on to the Brier after their big victories at the Northern Ontario Curling Association playdowns, which wrapped up on Sunday in Kenora,
For McCarville, the turnaround is a quick one, as the Scotties are set to get underway Feb. 17 in Kamloops, B.C.
“Usually what we do is we rev up the practice a little bit more before competition,” McCarville stated. “We’re going to be practising often, practising as much as we possibly can.
“But we have lives, we have children, we have full-time jobs, so we have to have a balance as well, because we don’t want to get exhausted. So we do what we can.”
McCarville stated she’ll also be working with a sports psychologist to ensure she’s mentally prepared for the big bonspiel.
She said the team does have a few advantages though: the McCarville team — Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala, Sarah Potts and coach Rick Lang — has played before against many of the other teams that have earned a spot in this year’s Scotties.
“We are very familiar,” McCarville said of the competition. “And it helps that we’ve been together since 2015-2016.
“We’ve been together for quite some time,” she said. “We know each other really well. We’re like a second family together, really, because we spend so much time together in the winter.
“It’s nice and reassuring knowing that I’m going away with these girls, and Rick, and we are super good friends.”
While McCarville’s team has played together at the national championships before — placing second in the 2023 Scotties, which were held in Thunder Bay — this year will mark the first time Horgan has skipped his own team at the Brier.
However, he’s been there as an alternate for the Brad Jacobs team in the past. There’s other Brier experience on the Horgan team as well: third Darren Moulding has competed in the Brier several times, and collected the 2021 tournament with the Brendan Bottcher rink.
“It’s been Brad Jacobs in the Brier for almost countless years now,” Horgan said. “We have big shoes to fill. Northern Ontario is very used to a team doing quite well at the Brier, and we’re hoping that we can fill those shoes and continue along in that tradition.”
Horgan stated the team — which also includes Colin Hodgson and Jake Horgan — will spend the weeks leading up to the Brier practising and staying as healthy as possible.
“The Brier is a really long week,” he said. “They really fit a lot in for you, so we want to go in there with a really good frame of mind, well rested.” The 2023 Brier will take place from March 3 to 12 in London, Ont.