ST. CATHERINES, ON – The main draw of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts gets underway today, and as is customary Manitoba sends a team that has a great chance to bring home the title.
But this year’s entry is a little different.
When Kristy McDonald announced last year that she would be stepping away from curling, her team made a long distance phone call to Regina.
“The girls, Kate [Cameron], Raunora [Westcott] and Leslie [Wilson-Westcott], approached me and asked me if I would be interested in skipping them,” explains Michelle Englot. “The opportunity was just too incredible to pass up.”
Curling Canada allows one out of province player to play on a team. Englot, who has been to the Scotties eight times wearing green, admits it’s a bit strange to wear yellow.
“We were changing and Kate said I look weird in yellow. But I don’t think there will be a rash or anything.”
Englot, who still lives in Regina and works for SaskTel, is not the first successful athlete in Saskatchewan to jump ship to Manitoba (see Dressler, Weston), but she says the support back home has been great.
“I even got a letter from the premier congratulating me, everyone at my home curling club has been super supportive. I think I’m still a Saskatchewan-born girl, and it’s what Saskatchewan is all about, supporting their athletes no matter where they are playing.”
Englot’s best results at the Scotties came in 1988, when she finished with a 9-2 record but lost to Heather Houston in the semifinal. The next year, she finished 8-3 and again lost to Houston in the semi. She missed the playoffs in her other appearances.
Manitoba is one of the favourites in this year’s tournament but at the top of the list is two-time champ Rachel Homan, playing in her home province. Defending champ Chelsea Carey, Shannon Kleibrink and last year’s runner-up Krista McCarville will also be tough outs.
The action gets underway this afternoon at 12:30 when Manitoba takes on Quebec.