Megan Smith to compete at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts
Megan Smith will be traveling to Calgary, Alberta with Team Krysta Burns to compete in the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts later this February, where she will represent Northern Ontario.
From the young age of four, Megan Smith discovered her passion for curling and has been participating in the sport ever since. Smith is a Kitchener-Waterloo native but has been playing in Sudbury since she was around 12. She is extremely dedicated to the game she loves which is seen through her commitment to the four-hour drive to Bondfield, ON.
Smith, an education student and a fifth-year member of the Laurier Golden Hawks women’s curling team, will be representing Northern Ontario for the second time in her career.
Smith has already had such great success at such a young age, winning gold twice at the U Sports Championships in both 2017 and 2019 as well as winning bronze with Team Krysta Burns at the 2017 Canadian Junior Championships, where she also represented Northern Ontario.
Smith will play third for the successful Team Burns at the Scotties and will compete g alongside her long-time teammates and friends Skip Burns and Second Sara Guy. The trio have been playing together for most of their junior careers and have a strong understanding of what is expected of one other.
“Having those strong relationships helps us remove some of the stress that could result from being a new team going to an event like that…we know what to expect from each other, and we know how to help support each other when we face adversity,” Smith said.
Smith has had plenty of experience competing on a national level, but the Scotties will present additional challenges, as it is her, and some of her fellow teammates, first time competing on the women’s national stage. In addition to the stronger competition, Smith and her teammates will have to navigate first-time jitters.
“The Scotties have been a dream of ours since we were little kids, especially for the three of us who have never been , it is very exciting to have that opportunity… and we feel that we have some valuable experiences that will help us be successful at this event,” Smith said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also presented challenges to the way Smith and her teammates can practice for the event. The three newcomers to the Scotties are currently in Sudbury preparing but have run into some issues with the indoor curling clubs. Smith commented on the training situation in Sudbury.
“None of the current clubs are open, they’re taking their ice out. We are looking to get on an outdoor rink just to slide, hopefully we will be able to get on the ice a little bit to get together and use some of those muscles we haven’t used in a few months,”
This year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts marks the 60th year of the Canadian Women’s Curling Championships. The Scotties are held annually and consist of 16 teams from across Canada who compete for the title of the Canadian women’s champions. The 16 teams are made up of that year’s provincial champions, making it a highly-competitive event.
Team Burns secured their spot at the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Heart after 2020 provincial champions, Team McCarville declined the invitation to the event due to COVID-19 safety concerns. Team Burns was offered the spot as they placed runner-up at the provincial championship.
This year’s event was set to be held in Thunder Bay, ON but was re-located to Calgary, AB due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Scotties will be following the new sports standard of holding events in a bubble environment. All teams are required to quarantine for two weeks before their departure for Calgary and must provide a negative COVID-19 test before leaving. Teams will also be retested upon arrival and must produce a negative test before entering the bubble. All players will be tested again a few days into the event to ensure the athletes’ safety and others within the bubble.
With the 2021 Scotties format being held in a bubble environment and play for 2020/21, in general, being stopped by Ontario University Athletics (OUA), preparation for the event looks a little different this year. Team Burns is eager to compete but is taking the new policies one step at a time.
“We are all very competitive people so I don’t think it will be an issue of getting those competitive juices flowing by any mean. But, having open and honest conversations about what our goals are for the event both on and off the ice and just trying to prepare for those … factors may be something to consider,” Smith said.