Silvernagle wins third provincial curling title under improbable circumstances
Team put together at last minute practised once before entering last-chance playdowns
How Robyn Silvernagle even made it to the Scotties is remarkable, but taking the latest provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts title — with her rink of third Kelly Schafer, second Sherry Just and lead Kara Thevenot — after just one practice together is an amazing achievement.
Silvernagle's North Battleford rink won the provincial tournament yesterday in Estevan, Sask., downing Martensville's Nancy Martin 8-4 in the final to win her third championship in five years.
Silvernagle has been out of competitive curling while taking care of her son Kolt, who was born in 2021 and needed multiple surgeries.
"He spent almost a year in the hospital since he was born. [Kolt] had to have eight surgeries and a lot of hard, bumpy roads along the way in that year. But he persevered and yeah, he's here with us," Silvernagle said.
"We lived in Edmonton pretty much for the past year until August and then we finally got to come home and feel like we have a normal life.
"But curling wasn't really an option, there was just so much going on and it's a huge commitment."
Then Silvernagle and Thevenot, who also wasn't curling, chatted and threw out the idea of forming a team for the playdowns.
"I made sure I had the support to have someone take care of Kolt while I was playing," Silvernagle said. "And I was like, OK, I'm good to go on that front. So let's find a couple more players."
Thevenot talked with Schafer after meeting at a mixed bonspiel in Prince Albert and Just also came on board.
"I said yeah, why not? It's not so only a couple of weekends, like that's no big deal," said Schafer, who lives in Swift Current but is no stranger to national and international play.
Originally from Scotland, Schafer has represented Scotland at three Winter Olympics as part of the Eve Muirhead team. That team came second at the 2010 world championship in Swift Current where Schaefer ended up finding love and staying.
The Silvernagle team got together for just one practice before entering the last chance playdowns where they qualified for the provincial tournament.
"Then here we were this weekend, complete and to the bitter end," laughed Schaefer, who has also won three provincial mixed titles.
"At the last chance spiel the first couple games were pretty rocky," said Silvernagle.
"We didn't have high expectations, but as we've been playing, we've definitely gotten better and we've gelled really well as a team."
Silvernagle said the last couple of years have put her curling successes into perspective.
"This was definitely the most relaxed I've played in a final," she said.
"You put your heart and soul into it, but in the end, when people say health is everything, it's so very true."
Silvernagle wasn't sure if there would ever come a time when she would get back to the Scotties and she was fine with that.
"I thought, you know, I'm happy that I got to two Scotties and if I don't get there again, it's OK," she said. "But of course we're competitive people and want to get there again. So this one's a little extra special."
Especially when Kolt was in the stands watching his mom.
"That was pretty incredible. You know, last year, not knowing if he would even be here with us. So it was a pretty amazing moment."
The Silvernagle rink will now represent Saskatchewan at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts beginning Feb. 17 in Kamloops, B.C.
Other teams competing at this year's Scotties are:
- Clancy Grandy (B.C.).
- Kayla Skrlik (Alberta).
- Jennifer Jones (Manitoba).
- Krista McCarville (Northern Ontario).
- Rachel Homan (Ontario).
- Laurie St-Georges (Quebec).
- Andrea Kelly (New Brunswick).
- Christina Black (Nova Scotia).
- Suzanne Birt (Prince Edward Island).
- Stacie Curtis (Newfoundland and Labrador).
- Kerry Galusha (Northwest Territories).
- Hailey Birnie (Yukon).
- Brigitte MacPhail (Nunavut).
- Kerri Einarson, defending champion, of Gimli, Man.
Three wild-card entries will come from Curling Canada's Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) of the top three non-qualified teams to fill out the 18-team Hearts field.
With Files from The Morning Edition and The Canadian Press