Estevan’s Affinity Place is geared up and ready to go with the 2023 edition of the provincial Viterra Scotties and the SaskTel Tankard. Curling fans will see their Saskatchewan favourites on the men’s and women’s sides contend for the right to head to their respective national competitions, the Scotties and the Brier. The Estevan venue lends itself so well to curling that the spiels are being run back to back. The Scotties get under way today, January 25, and rolls through the 29th. The Tankard picks up on February 1 to 5.

“It is a beautiful facility,” says Steve Turner, championship director with CurlSask. “Volunteers are hard at work and the ice is set. We’ve been absolutely blown away; we’ve passed the 200 person count for volunteers which is just phenomenal. The number of people who are out here wanting this to be a memorable, successful event is just breathtaking. We are so thrilled with the community and the support, and we can’t feel more welcome than we do right now.”

The field for both events is among the most exciting for curling enthusiasts in recent memory. For both men’s and women’s events, the field is rife with veterans, but also with talented newcomers who are making their marks in the junior ranks, and men’s and women’s competition at the same time. 

“This is such an exciting field,” Turner confirms. “Penny Barker’s team is coming back to defend her title, and Robyn Silvernagle, who had a brief hiatus from the sport, is back just at the 11th hour having grabbed a qualifying spot at our Last Chance Event. You see some of the familiar names we’re used to seeing like the Amber Hollands, the Sheri Andersons, and the Nancy Martins. Then you have some up and coming stars, graduating out of the junior ranks - the Skylar Ackerman team and Madison Kleiter. We’ve got Cindy Ricci, a local fan favourite and a very recognizable name. It’s a phenomenal field.”

The same applies to the men’s tankard field with the return of some well known curling names like St. Gregor’s Dallan Muyres and Humboldt’s Dustin Kalthoff returning with new shooters gleaned from the east-central area. 

“There’s striking similarities between the men’s and women’s. Colton Flasch’s team is back as our defending champion, and we have some other perennial favourites such as Steve Laycock skipping his own team. The Hartung team is one that’s always in the running, as well as Team Jacobson. We’ve also got some of the younger teams like the Daymond Bernath team who was our Junior provincial champion last season. Logan Ede, fresh off a Sunday victory in our Junior Men’s Provincial Championship, has also qualified in one of our four spots in the Last Chance. So we’ve got a great cross section of the veterans and the rookies.” 

Action will be on daily at Affinity Place. If you can’t make it down to Estevan, Turner says you can head to CurlSask’s YouTube Channel to catch each draw’s action. Evening games and the finals will also be carried by SaskTel Max. 

Enjoy the full interview with CurlSask's Steve Turner.