Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts underway

A group of rock stars have descended upon the community of Sylvan Lake and they are there to entertain you.

The Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts is underway and you will get to see the top rung of the curling ladder in our province leave it all out there on the ice.

“It’s probably the premiere event coming to town in 2014 anyway. If not the premiere event since the Scotties was here back in 2009,” said Publicity Director Lesley Hill.

When you look at the lineup of talent coming to the Scotties it’s easy to see there will be some great curling on display during the event.

Rinks headed up by Renee Sonneberg, Val Sweeting, and Heather Nedohin are fresh off the recent Roar of the Rings Olympic trials in Winnipeg and they will be joined by 2009 Canadian champion and Olympic silver medalist Cheryl Bernard.

It’s a perfect opportunity for curlers of all ages to be able to see these players up close and watch them pull off the shots most curlers only dream of.

Hill says these ladies also help dispel the image of all curlers being middle age people with brooms who finish a game and then head off to the lounge.

“They are athletes and the fitness level is way beyond anybody’s expectations,” she said. “These girls are giving up their lives to compete and compete at an elite level and they are athletes through and through.”

In spite of their lofty status in the curling world Hill says these ladies still remain grounded when it comes to mingling with their fans even during an important event such as the Scotties.

“You watch them on TV and say you know, that’s a real person there that we sat with and had a drink with or shook hands with or talked to,” she said.

For most communities the opportunity to host the Scotties is a chance to showcase the place where they live but also the place where they curl but for Sylvan Lake, there is a different twist to it .

The building is still open for curling but has been shut down twice in order to clear snow off the roof for fear of it collapsing due to the weight but also because the aging structure is in need of being replaced.

Many people will tell you how important the curling rink is in a small community but the reality is how these rinks are competing against other sports facilities like hockey arenas when it comes to tax dollars or private funding .

Hill says it’s a tough sell these days.

“You can’t keep going back to the same businesses over and over,” she said.

But hosting the Scotties might help build their case because it’s such a positive event which leaves a lasting impression on the community.

“We’re bringing in a lot of people, like the hotels are all full,” she said. “Our restaurants are going to be full. If the weather is nice people are going to wander around and shop.”

There was a proposal pitched by the Town planners to link a curling facility to a new hockey arena but the plan called for three sheets of ice with no lounge facility but the curling community wasn’t on board with that setup.

So with the possibility of a curling rink potentially disappearing from Sylvan Lake, the community is rallying around the Scotties in the mean time.

Let’s hope this isn’t the swan song for these rock stars.

sports@reddeerexpress.com

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