Scotties Tournament of Hearts
The Tournament of Hearts is the annual Canadian women's curling championship. Created in 1981 in St. John's, NL, it is sponsored by Kruger Products, and named after a brand of facial tissue, Scotties. The Tournament of Hearts is an integral part of competing in women's CURLING in Canada; the winning team becomes curling's Team Canada for the year. The competition has been held in provinces across the country.
Curling is one of the most popular sports in Canada. Approximately one million Canadians participate in amateur curling. Though people from all the provinces and territories participate in the sport, curling is especially popular on the prairies, and Winnipeg is considered the sport's national capital. Men have a sponsored national championship event, the BRIER, which started in 1927. Women's curling was not nationally organized until much later. The first women's national curling championship, called the Diamond D after the sponsor Dominion stores, was held in 1961. The Lassie took over as the national curling championship in 1972, under the sponsorship of the Macdonald Tobacco Company.
Starting in the late 1970s the Canadian government's stance on tobacco changed and a strong anti-smoking message dictated that a tobacco company could not sponsor the women's national championship. The Canadian Ladies Curling Association sponsored the national championship until the Tournament of Hearts was established in 1981.
The first official Tournament of Hearts took place in 1982 in Regina, Saskatchewan. The winning team was from Nova Scotia, led by skip Colleen Jones. Jones won a total of 6 national championships during her career, with Tournament of Hearts wins in 1982, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. The 1985 champion and 1988 Calgary WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES gold medalist Linda Moore became involved in covering the championship for television and helped to ensure the popularity of the event. Legendary Canadian women's curling champion Sandra SCHMIRLER won the Tournament of Hearts 3 times, in 1993, 1994 and 1997.
A total of 12 teams compete in pre-trial competitions based on the number of points acquired during prior curling competition in the provinces and territories. The pre-trial competition is in triple knockout format, and 4 winning teams are selected to advance to compete for the national curling competition. Another 4 women's teams pre-qualify for a total of 8 women's curling teams vying to compete for the national championship. The Tournament of Hearts competition format is in round robin style. During years that coincide with the Winter Olympic Games the Tournament of Hearts is one of several factors that determine which women's team will represent Canada at the Olympics.
The Tournament of Hearts is a popular event and well attended by fans. Over 70 000 people attended in 2009, the 9th highest attendance in tournament history. The highest number of people ever attending a Tournament of Hearts occurred during 1998 in Regina, with almost 155 000 people.
Skip Jennifer Jones led the Winnipeg team to 3 straight championship wins, in 2008, 2009, and 2010, though the Calgary team led by Cheryl Bernard prevailed at the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials and represented Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, where they won silver.