Three-time winner Rachel Homan will look to capture a fourth Canadian women’s national curling championship as she leads Team Ontario in the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
The tournament features teams representing every province and territory in Canada, with the winner going on to represent Canada in the World Women’s Curling Championship.
Team Homan Setting the Ice on Fire
Homan’s team is ranked No. 1 in the world this season, bouncing back strong following a disappointing performance in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The team has won three straight Grand Slam events heading into the Scotties, and also picked up a win at the first Curling World Cup event.
But Homan isn’t alone at the top of the field. Defending champion and six-time Scotties winner Jennifer Jones is seen as a legitimate co-favorite. The No. 5 team in the world will be competing as Team Canada thanks to their win last year, which earned them an automatic bid into the tournament.
“I think you’re sticking your head in the sand if you’re not looking at Homan and Jones as the two top teams in the world right now, certainly in our country,” Alberta skip Chelsea Carey told the Canadian Press. “I think that’s every bonspiel you go into, you have to look at them as being the favorites, or certainly among the favorites. So I don’t think that’s any different here.”
Betting on Canadians, for Canadians
While betting on curling isn’t exactly a major business worldwide, Canada has a special relationship with the sport. So it was little surprise to find that Canadian-facing online betting site SportsInteraction.com was one place that did have odds on the Scotties this year.
The bookmakers there agreed with Carey in large part. They see Ontario (+180) as a slight favorite over Jones’ Team Canada (+225) to win the national championship this year. But the field is deep, with Carey’s team from Alberta (+600) and Tracy Fleury out of Manitoba (+1000) also very much in the mix.
There’s also Friday night’s Wild Card game, which pits the top two teams in the Canadian Team Ranking System who didn’t otherwise qualify in a single-elimination matchup to take the last spot in the field. This year, that will see Kerri Einarson of Manitoba take on Alberta’s Casey Scheidegger to become Team Wild Card. Einarson (-212) is seen as the favorite to advance into the field, though bettors can already back the Wild Card team at +300 even before the game is played.
Saskatchewan’s Tracy Silvernagle (+1200) is also seen as one of the top playoff contenders. All told, seven of the top 13 teams in the World Curling Tour rankings will be participating in the Scotties this year.
“There’s lots of teams that could make a press for the playoffs,” Carey said. “And then you never know what happens in the playoffs.”
The Scotties uses a 16-team format, with teams split into two groups of eight. After each group completes a round-robin, the top four teams move on to the second round, where they carry over their records and play the four teams that advanced to the other group. The top four teams then enter a page playoff to determine the national champion.