The 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canada's national women's curling championship, is happening from Feb. 19 to 28 at the Markin McPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.
Rachel Erickson, 22, from Manor, who grew up in Maryfield and curls out of the Maryfield Curling Club is going to be at the Scotties.
Erickson threw her first curling rock at age six in the Little Rockers program in Maryfield. It was something to do after school with her friends, although when she was 14 she started taking it bit more seriously and more competitively.
“I’ve been hooked ever since,” states Erickson.
Many curling rinks were not even able to open up this season due to the pandemic.
“I was fortunate enough to get some time on the ice in Estevan but it’s been pretty slim pickings for everyone,” says Erickson.
Erickson was asked to be the alternate for the wildcard 2 team out of Altona, Man., for the Scotties. The team is skipped by Mackenzie Zacharias, Karlee Burgess (third), Emily Zacharias (second), and Lauren Lenentine (lead). Sheldon Zacharias is their coach.
Erickson went as alternate with Team Zacharias to World Junior’s in Russia last year where they won the gold medals.
She had always been a rival of this team in the past but had been asked to play as alternate in Russia and the same opportunity came up again this year to curl with this team.
“When I was asked to join the team to head to the Scotties,” explains Erickson “my answer was obviously ‘yes’…it’s pretty hard to turn that down. That was an easy yes for me. I was very excited but also very surprised just because of how this season went. It ended kind of abruptly and I kind of thought that was it.
“My team here in Saskatchewan, we knew we wouldn’t qualify on points. So being a wildcard team, none of that really came into play for us because this is our first year playing together. We are starting from scratch with the point system.
“So it was a huge surprise to hear from the girls (Team Zacharias),” explains Erickson. “But it was a good one. I’m so excited!”
During Erickson’s curling career, her most memorable moments include the 2019 Canadian Juniors in Prince Albert.
“That was the first time I had played on a national level in my home province,” explains Erickson. “It was really cool because we’re always used to our parents in the stands cheering for us but there we had the whole crowd cheering for us. They were awesome there…they brought out classes from school every day so the stands were always full. It was an amazing feeling to have them there.”
Once she arrives in Calgary everyone will be tested for COVID. She had three more Covid tests scheduled during the time they’re there. Again everyone is isolated to The Bubble so they head to the rink and back to their hotel. There won’t be any touring that’s for sure.
The first game day everyone is COVID tested again and every second day thereafter until the competition ends.
Team Zacharias plays their first game in the evening of Feb. 19.
1) The 2020 World Junior Curling Championships in Krasnoyarsk, Russia where the team won Gold. From left, Rachel Erickson (alternate), Lauren Lenentine (lead), Emily Zacharias (second), Karlee Burgess (third) and Mackenzie Zacharias (skip).
2) Rachel Erickson at the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Championships in Langley, B.C., where she threw third rocks for the Ashley Thevenot rink representing Saskatchewan. It was at this event she was later asked to join Team Canada and compete at the worlds in Russia.