The Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings is just around the corner starting Saturday in Ottawa.
For one men’s team and one women’s team, it’ll be a “precious” holiday present as they’ll live the dream representing Canada at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February.
We already covered the men’s field (click here in case you missed it) and now it’s time to turn our attention to the women’s division. It’s too close to call a bona fide victor, so let’s do what we did last time and go through each team in alphabetical order explaining why they could win it.
1st End: Team Carey
Lineup: Chelsea Carey, Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jocelyn Peterman, Laine Peters
Although Carey won the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, missing the podium at the worlds denied her a direct Olympic Trials spot and she secured her place here via CTRS points. Overton-Clapham joined the crew this season after Amy Nixon’s retirement and a Winter Olympics is the only thing missing from her Hall-of-Fame career. Carey and Overton-Clapham complement each other quite well having gelled quickly reaching the Tour Challenge Tier 2 final and Boost National semifinals in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling. They’ve all represented Canada before at various stages and could do it again.
2nd End: Team Englot
Lineup: Michelle Englot, Kate Cameron, Leslie Wilson, Raunora Westcott
When Regina native Englot joined the Winnipeg-based trio last season, who would have expected them to win the Manitoba provincial title and come *this* close to capturing the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Despite the team’s struggles in recent Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments, Englot plays a fine strategic game that might be better suited here with the four-rock rule and fewer rocks in play. Plus, if last season was any indication, who are we to doubt Team Englot?
3rd End: Team Flaxey
Lineup: Allison Flaxey, Clancy Grandy, Lynn Kreviazuk, Morgan Court
Hometown: Caledon, Ont.
Team Flaxey was solid on tour the previous couple seasons to move up the ranks and stunned the field at the 2016 Masters to win their first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title. They’ve taken a step back this season missing the playoffs at all three Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments and will have to find that missing gear quickly here or they’ll be left in the dust.
4th End: Team Homan
Lineup: Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney, Lisa Weagle
Team Jones captured the Olympic Trials in their hometown of Winnipeg four years ago, now Team Homan looks to do the same in O-Town. The reigning Scotties Tournament of Hearts and world champions are capable of playing on a whole other level over the competition. We haven’t seen them dominate the dojo this season but you don’t win gold medals in September and October, so perhaps they’ve been saving it all for this moment.
5th End: Team Jones
Lineup: Jennifer Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer, Dawn McEwen
The reigning Olympic gold medallists look revved up and ready entering the trials on a 14-game winning streak sweeping the Masters and Boost National tournaments. No Canadian women’s squad has ever repeated as the Olympic rep, but if anyone could pull it off it is Team Jones, one of the best clubs of all time.
6th End: Team McCarville
Lineup: Krista McCarville, Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala, Sarah Potts
Hometown: Thunder Bay, Ont.
Team McCarville qualified through the pre-trials but don’t label them a darkhorse or an underdog. If they were able to tour more often like the other teams on this list they’d be right up there near the top. It’s hard to say where exactly their ceiling is right now but we’re confident in saying the sky’s the limit. The Northern Ontario club has made the playoffs at the past two Scotties Tournament of Hearts with silver in 2016 and fourth place last season. They’ve also earned a handful of tour titles since McCarville made her return to competitive curling a couple years ago. Fear the moose, indeed.
7th End: Team Scheidegger
Lineup: Casey Scheidegger, Cary-Anne McTaggart, Jessie Scheidegger, Kristie Moore
Hometown: Lethbridge, Alta.
Team Scheidegger’s season has been all about the number three. If Scheidegger scores a three-ender, it’ll be a good game for them (see Exhibit A and Exhibit B for recent examples). If their opponent scores three, well, then it’s the opposite.
It’s been quite the rocket push for Team Scheidegger, who wasn’t even on the Olympic radar at this point a year ago (and you’re either a liar or a member of Team Scheidegger if you say otherwise). Here they are though and legit contenders too. They’re heating up with a quarterfinal run at the Masters followed by a runner-up finish at the Boost National, which means they could be on fire at the Roar of the Rings. Interesting to note the Team Bernard connection with 3/5 of that club here in Moore, fifth Susan O’Connor and coach Carolyn McRorie. Considering Team Bernard won the 2009 Olympic Trials and scored silver at the 2010 Winter Olympics, that’s not a bad team to emulate.
8th End: Team Sweeting
Lineup: Val Sweeting, Lori Olson-Johns, Dana Ferguson, Rachel Brown
Sweeting should earn the most improved award from the 2013 Olympic Trials to now from a pre-trials underdog to a true threat to win. The team has won three Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles, a Canada Cup and finished runner-up at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts twice since that run. If they come out firing and can figure out the ice faster than their opponents, they’ll be playing through to the following weekend and the population of “Sweeting Nation” will grow at an exponential rate.
Extra End: Team Tippin
Lineup: Julie Tippin, Chantal Duhaime, Rachelle Vink, Tess Bobbie
Hometown: Woodstock, Ont.
Last but not least, Team Tippin was also an extra entry into this event by winning the pre-trials B qualifier. While Team Tippin lacks the name recognition and star resumes of others, there’s nothing off brand about their inclusion. They’ve won two titles on tour this season and have established themselves among the elite in short order. Besides, we’ve seen stranger things happen (like that show, Stranger Things).