Realty One

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - Five wins into the Canadian women's curling championship, Michelle Englot still felt weird about the buffalo on her back.

"I don't think it's going to wear off, really,'' the Manitoba skip said at the Scotties in St. Catherines.

After running Saskatchewan's house seven times at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts during her career, the 53-year-old from Regina is as surprised as anyone she's wearing the crest of her neighbour province.

Gaining an Olympic trials berth was top of mind for third Kate Cameron, second Leslie Wilson and lead Raunora Westcott when they sought a replacement for Kristy McDonald.

They were a strong team that lost last year's Manitoba final to Kerri Einarson, but McDonald wanted a break.

With her 43-34 career Hearts record and almost 30 years of competitive curling, Englot was the woman they called.

"She had a couple of things we wanted, which was someone with experience and someone who has done what we want to do,'' Cameron said.

"We wanted someone relatively close. We knew Manitoba didn't have the skip we needed that was available.''

Englot's Regina team was going in different directions because of work and family commitments. Englot says she was encouraged to exchange green for yellow.

"They said I'd be crazy not to take the chance to play with an established team like this,'' she said. "It's exciting to play with these girls and they're so committed and talented.

"I feel like a rookie. It is like a rejuvenation.''

Manitoba and Ontario's Rachel Homan were the frontrunners entering Tuesday at 5-0.

Saskatchewan's Penny Barker was 0-4.

The top four teams at the conclusion of the round robin Friday advance to the Page playoff. Ties for fourth are solved by tiebreaker games.

Englot faced her former province Sunday morning and prevailed 8-5 over Saskatchewan. Englot acknowledged the weirdness factor was high playing the team in colours she'd worn so many times at the Hearts.

"I'm glad we got it over with early in the week actually because then that's story is done and we can just move on,'' she said.

Despite the Saskatchewan-Manitoba rivalry manifested mostly in the CFL, Englot said she didn't experience much backlash on social media for her switch.

"The buffalo is heavy,'' is a saying when it comes expectations of Manitoba curlers. That's where she saw raised eyebrows.

"I was asked what I was thinking going to the deepest province in women's curling,'' Englot said.

Her team beat reigning Olympic champion and seven-time Manitoba champion Jennifer Jones in a playoff game en route to a provincial title.

As curling becomes more professional, elite players switch teams more often. Residency rules were previously left to each respective province or territory.

There was occasionally a loose interpretation of what constituted living there.

Curling Canada intervened in 2015 to declare teams could carry "one non-resident outside of the Member Association they choose to represent, but the other three players will be subject to stricter proof-of-residency rules.''

Englot skipping Manitoba this year is a dramatic by-product of that ruling, but Jones no longer lives in Manitoba. She resides in Ontario.

"There's a lot of people that use it, but I think it's more prominent because it's our skip,'' Cameron said.

"A lot of players are seconds, leads and thirds, so it's not as noticeable. (Englot) doesn't live in Manitoba. She lives in Regina and works there.''

Men tend to be more nomadic than women in the sport, Englot said.

"It's particularly hard for women to move,'' she explained. "I'm lucky where I'm at a point in my career and my life where my kids are grown and self-sufficient. I was able to do this.''

Adam Casey, who lives in Winsloe, P.E.I., will skip Saskatchewan and Calgary's John Morris is back calling the shots for B.C. at next month's Canadian men's curling championship in St. John's, N.L.

Nunavut will be skipped 61-year-old Nova Scotia resident Jim Nix.



Anonymous said...

Go Michelle!

Anonymous said...

Just doesn't seem right. These players need to reside in the province they are representing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining how curlers can move and the rules for doing so.

Anonymous said...

Funny things happen here . Now it is okay to pull for an out of Province girl who used to play for Saskatchewan in curling , but you can't say a word about out of town players that play for the RUSH. Now that is complete B.S.

Dean said...

some of you really need to get help

Anonymous said...

Back in the day curling was represented by regions,now it is a professional sport where the regional representation is a grey area.

As for Saskatoon with the Rush, they are professional players and can reside wherever they wish. If their standard player contracts do not require they maintain a residence during the season then who cares? Plus why would you even want to reside in Saskatoon during the winter??

Anonymous said...

Curling news on Rod Pedersen's blog. The next thing you know some wacked out billionaire with bad hair and a terrible attitude will be the President. Oh wait!

Anonymous said...

sad to say but penny barker and team sask are not in the class of most of the field at this years Scotties.