Scotties (First Weekend)

The Scotties — the Canadian Women’s Curling Championships — started this weekend, and there are a couple of points I wanted to make instead of waiting until the end of the week to comment on them.  And they really revolve around teams that are being skipped by someone who the team isn’t named for.

Let me clarify that:  teams are generally named for their skips, even in this case where they are officially named by their province or as one of the three wild card teams.  But in general in curling if the skip can’t attend a tournament — which doesn’t happen all that often but has happened a bit more the past couple of years — in general the team is still named after them because the team is still “theirs”, but someone else steps in or steps up to skip the team.  So even though the team is being skipped by someone else you would still refer to the team by the name of their regular skip and then simply reference the temporary skip as calling the shots and throwing the fourth stones.

Now, we already knew that we’d have a Team Homan skipped by Emma Miskew, since Rachel Homan is playing mixed doubles in the Olympics and can’t be here.  I had posited after a very minimal amount of research that they would use Allison Flaxey as an alternative and put Lynn Kreviazuk — that I accidentally called “Cheryl” — in as a regular player, but what they are doing is putting Flaxey in at second, moving Sarah Wilkes to third, but having Flaxey take on what is normally the third’s role and “hold the broom” for the skip stones, meaning that she does the call from the rings on the very important last rocks that Emma Miskew is throwing.  This was done to maintain the sweeping duo of Wilkes and Joanne Courtney, who are excellent sweepers that have obviously worked together and gotten to know each other quite well.  So their team looks like, well, something that I would have come up with:  what looks like a lot of changes that could have been done simpler but which follows from a number of very simple facts that, ultimately, shows that that is really the best solution.

The other team was a bit of a surprise, as Tracy Fleury’s team had to start, at least, without her as Tracy Fleury tested positive for Covid before leaving for the event.  They made less changes, as I think they simply bumped everyone up in the throwing order — so Selena Njegovin, the third, becomes the skip — and added Robyn Njegovin to fill in the last spot.  They hope to get Fleury back sometime mid-week, the last I heard.

Now, I pretty much figured that Miskew wouldn’t have too much trouble taking on the skip role because in the past she’d been doing a lot of the talking and strategizing and so would be able to, well, just keep doing that.  But Njegovin didn’t seem to be someone who had done that very much and who instead relied on Fleury to make most of the calls, and so there was some doubt in my mind that she’d be able to step into the strategizing role (I wasn’t too worried about either of their shot-making, although again Miskew seemed more calm and able to do that than Njegovin might have been).  And so far, after three games, the teams are … an identical 2 – 1.  Both of them lost to a somewhat upstart New Brunswick team, that has been to the Scotties a number of times but isn’t well known.  Miskew beat Newfoundland and Labrador — who is another relatively unknown team — and then beat perennial playoff contender Northern Ontario — which is also the home rink, even though there are no fans in the stands here — that was a 2 – 0 team until that point.  Njegovin beat again relative unknown Saskatechewan before beating another less well-known but perennial contender in PEI.

So despite being missing their skips and not replacing them with another skip — as Fleury’s team did last year for some events by bringing in Chelsea Carey — the teams are doing pretty well.  I also like the teams, so I’m happy about that.

EDIT:  And the two teams played each other this morning.  I was wrong about where Robyn Njegovin slotted in, as she slotted in at third.  And Team Fleury beat Team Homan in a game that feature a 5, a 4, and a couple of 3s, and so was a very offensively oriented game (and Team Fleury probably won based on a couple of steals).


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