The St. Albert Curling Club delivered the winning bid to host the 2017 Alberta Scotties.
The 12-rink provincials, presented by Jiffy Lube as the title sponsor, rocks the house Jan. 25 to 29 at the six-sheet TachĂ© Street facility.
The final will also be televised on Sportsnet.
“From a club perspective it is huge,” said Jackie Rae Greening, SSAC president and host chair, at Monday’s announcement in the Friendly Giant Lounge. “It will expose new people to our club but then also it gets everyone involved here on a volunteer basis and any time you have a bunch of volunteers working together towards a common goal you have a stronger club and that’s why we want to host things like this because it will bring the club closer.”
The competition will be fierce for the right to represent Alberta at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic and thrilled that this event is coming to St. Albert,” said Lori Olson-Johns, the third for Val Sweeting, the 2015 provincial champion and Scotties Tournament of Hearts runner-up.
The Paul Kane High School teacher has curled in more than 10 Alberta Scotties as a three-time winner.
“It’s always a pretty prestigious event in Alberta. The depth of curling talent in Alberta, both men’s and women’s, is bar none one of the toughest provinces so when you earn the right to wear that crest on your back and represent Alberta at nationals there is nothing like it,” Olson-Johns said. “It’s also the stepping stone for that Maple Leaf so it’s the event we try and peak at. Every year that is the event we want to win and we want to make sure that we are at our best in that week.”
For more coverage of Olson-Johns, a second team all-star at the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, see page 53.
Winning provincials is part of the bigger picture with the Roar of the Rings, the Olympic qualifier for the 2018 Winter Games, scheduled for December of 2017.
“The Jiffy Lube Scotties is going to be important for a couple of reasons. You’re going to see the top ladies’ teams in Alberta so you’re going to see the very best trying to win the title,” Greening said. “It’s also an important year because those teams will want to get to the Scotties, the Canadian championship, because it will be all about points to get into the Olympic curling trials. It will be one of their last chances to accumulate points so that’s going to play into it when we host in 2017.”
SSAC is also hosting the Jan. 2 to 4 Northern Alberta Curling Association women’s playdowns and three rinks will advance to the Jan. 20 to 24 provincials at the North Hill Curling Club in Calgary.
“When I caught wind that North Hill in Calgary was hosting this year I went, ‘Geez, we can host that as well,’” said Greening, who has strong ties to Kelly McClung of the Edmonton branch of Jiffy Lube, through organizational committees for the Olympic Trials, Ford Worlds and Briers in Edmonton.
“The thing about having it at the club obviously is that we have so many great things here.”
SSAC spent the summer preparing the bid presentation and it was sent by courier on Labour Day. Alberta Curling Federation officials conducted a site visit and approval was granted last month.
“Sportsnet televises that last game so they had to make sure electrically we’re good,” Greening said. “The greatest thing for me too is that Sunday afternoon is going to be great exposure for our city and our club because the final is going to be televised right across Canada.”
SSAC will tap into its vast membership for volunteers.
“We’re thinking about 100,” said Greening, who will check out the provincials in Calgary with the SSAC host committee. “Calgary is going to be a really good learning tool for us because North Hill is also six sheets so we can get a feel for how many volunteers they have. We will be comparing apples to apples so we’re going to learn a lot when we’re there in January.”
The last time a provincial ladies’ championship was held in St. Albert was 1984 and Connie Bennet of Calgary was the winner.
After the completion of renovations to the front facade of the club in 2010, SSAC was the curling venue for the 2012 Canada Special Olympics Winter Games and the 2014 Canadian Open Stick Championships. SSAC also hosted the 2011 World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling at Servus Credit Union Place.
“We promised the City of St. Albert when we were given the funding (for club renovations) that we would make things happen,” Greening said. “We were given our marching orders to do that and we listened because we think it’s important for the club.”
Mayor Nolan Crouse applauded SSAC’s efforts in building up its ranks – the junior program is the largest in the province with more than 100 youths between the ages of seven and 17 – while bringing prestigious events like the Alberta Scotties to St. Albert.
“It’s going to install more interest in the sport,” Crouse said at the announcement. “Next year you’ve got the opportunity with the Jiffy Lube Scotties to involve the youth in that because it should be about young people watching role models and saying, ‘I would love to do that.’”