The 16 teams who have qualified for the 2019 Provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts will arrive in Gimli on January 22nd and get their first look at the hockey arena transformed into a curling facility for one of CurlManitoba's premier events.
"Volunteers are all in place and our final meeting will be January 6th hopefully and we'll kind of fine tune all the areas," said host committee co-chair Lynn Hoplock. "We've been working very closely with the RM of Gimli who runs the facility we're going to be in. They've graciously allowed us to come into the facility on January 13th to start developing and putting together the building for the event."
The Gimli Recreation Complex last hosted the Scotties in 2008 and that year 20-year-old Kerri Flett qualified for her first Provincial Women's Curling Championship.
Eight years later Kerri Einarson won her first Provincial Scotties at the Sun Gro Centre in Beausejour.
Hoplock says it's huge for the community that Einarson and her team of Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Meilleur are competing next month.
"Kerri lives here and her family is very active in the community. Her husband Kyle curls, their twin girls have started to curl and Kerri is the facility often. She's just a super person and you can feel it in the community - they're very excited to come and watch her team curl."
One notable abscence is eight-time champion Jennifer Jones who won the Provincial Scotties in Killarney; captured the Canadian Championship in Penticton and then won gold for the second time at the World Championship in Thunder Bay.
Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes, Jocelyn Peterman and Dawn McEwen will be Team Canada at the 2019 National Scotties in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
"Manitoba is a really hard province to come out of and this year, with or without Jennifer, this is no exception," Hoplock said. "Some of the younger teams were very good in juniors and now they're strong womens teams and you have Darcy Robertson and Barb Spencer who have been in a lot of Scotties and come with a huge amount of experience. It will be hard to beat those teams. Kerri has done exceptionally well with her new team and I know the community is behind her but she's going to have to work very hard to win this Scotties because the field is phenomenal and there is a lot of tough teams to face."