Skip to content

Moose Jaw’s Barker looks back on Viterra Scotties win and toward what’s ahead

With Scotties Tournament of Hearts only two weeks away, two-time provincial champion talks about incredible weekend that was and outlook for even tougher games in near future
Team Barker trophy2
Penny Barker and her Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre rink of third Christie Gamble, second Jenna Enge, lead Danielle Sicinski and coach Mark Lang with the Viterra Scotties provincial women’s curling championship trophy.
Anyone who has curled has faced a similar shot.

A wide-open take-out on an opponent’s rock sitting on the edge of the eight-foot, nothing in front, nothing backing, just throw and go.

But when that shot is for a Viterra Scotties women’s provincial curling championship, even someone with the curling pedigree of Penny Barker will be feeling it a bit.

That was exactly the situation on Sunday afternoon in Assiniboia, as Barker settled into the hack leading Regina’s Chelsea Carey 7-5 and needing nothing more than a take-out to win her second provincial title.

“It’s that wide-open hit that you’ve made so many times in your life but it just means so much,” the Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre skip said. “You try and take that out of the equation, and it’s just ‘weight, broom, it’s an outturn, you’ve thrown to this spot’ and it’s just very ‘keep with the process, it’s just another throw’.

“I took a couple of breaths to slow the heart rate down a bit and I told myself that I was confident I was going to throw this well and we can hold it with the sweepers. I just had to think of it as another shot I had to make in the game.”

Barker let fly, sweepers Jenna Enge and Danielle Sicinski kept things clean, Christie Gamble watched the line and halfway down the ice Team Carey second Stephanie Schmidt waved to Barker to let her know it was a good shot. A couple seconds later, it was all over, and the celebration was on.

“Once I released it, I knew I’d threw it well and it was nice to see it going down and doing exactly what we thought it was going to do,” Barker said.

Barker, third Gamble, second Enge and lead Sicinski will represent Saskatchewan at the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts beginning Jan. 28 in Thunder Bay, marking the second trip for Barker and Sicinski and first for Gamble and Enge.

The Scotties win came on the heels of an incredible season leading up to the provincial tournament, as Team Barker had all sorts of success on the Saskatchewan Women’s Curling Tour and earned the top seed from the tour heading into the tournament.

Once the games started at the Prince of Wales Cultural Centre, it was just a matter of following the same plan and keeping on keeping on.

“We were feeling good going into it, the whole year has been more about making shots and the whole process and let the results come from the process, thinking about it that way,” Barker explained. “So we just wanted to make sure we were confident in ourselves coming in. We wanted to make sure we stayed calm and just take it shot-by-shot and not let any one missed shot get us down.

“Of course we missed shots and things happened, but we just focused on the next one. Then even when we were down in games we just found a way to get back in it and stay positive and keep supporting each other. That just showed on the weekend and we were able to be resilient and roll with things.”

In the end, the only team to beat Barker was Carey, who won the A-side final and Page Playoff 1-2 game over the local skip. Barker would defeat fellow Moose Jaw product Amber Holland in the semifinal to advance to the final.

Even with that success, there were plenty of close scores for the local crew, something Barker felt was a product of the close competition they’d faced all season.

“I think being able to play here and have Saskatchewan be so strong, it definitely helps you prepare for the next level,” Barker said. “And playing all year against these teams, we knew we were going to have to play consistently and play consistently well in order to come out on top. So it felt good to be playing tight games and ones where you’d have to make big shots in order to win.”

The battles against Carey were also close -- Barker lost by two in their first meeting and by one the second time they played -- and as a result gave them the confidence they’d need against the two-time former Scotties national champion.

“We knew that if we could have made a couple more shots in those first two games, it could have gone the other way, and we knew it was a one-game showdown, it didn’t matter what happened previously,” Barker said. “We just had to be confident in our abilities, and it was a lot of staying calm and staying in the moment.”

As one might expect with such an incredible occasion, there were plenty of happy tears as the Barker foursome celebrated their win, the culmination of a tremendous amount of time and effort throughout the year.

“It’s a feeling like the hard work has paid off, the process has come through, and there’s some relief there that all this time we’d put into it had paid off,” Barker said. “You can work hard and it’ll never happen, too, so you just have to stay with it and be confident in your abilities. 

“Then it’s just pure happiness and joy and being proud of your team and it’s everything rolled into one… we’d supported each other so well through this year and had a lot of big games this year and it was so nice to be able to win the biggest one when we needed to.”

Now to deal with the gigantic, imposing elephant in the room.

The 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts is slated to begin in two weeks' time, in the midst of an especially virulent wave of the ongoing pandemic. Whether or not the tournament will take place is the product of much speculation, but Barker and crew are willing to do whatever it takes to be able to play.

“We’re trying not to get too hung up on what that’ll look like, there will be lots of protocols in place and we need to make sure we keep ourselves safe no matter what,” she said. “We’ll be keeping our bubbles small, it’ll likely be just the team with lots of testing and things like that. But that’s the environment we’re in right now and we’re just happy to be curling and able to do what we love to do.”

Once things get going, having been a part of the national championship back in 2017 -- and their increased experience playing against that kind of field -- is certain to help.

“We have a lot more experience in playing bigger events compared to when we were there last, like playing on arena ice,” Barker said. “There’s a lot more to get used to with the swing and the speed and if there are fans there and how that affects things, and just the feeling of being at the Scotties.

“Events like the Pre-Trials just prepare you to know how you’re going to be feeling in those games, where to put the broom and that kind of stuff. We just like we’re so much better prepared to play in the Scotties this time.”

The field they’ll face is rapidly coming together and will feature a host of names familiar to those who took in the 2020 Scotties in Moose Jaw, including now two-time defending national champion Kerri Einarson out of Manitoba,

“We’ll do like we’ve done this whole year,” Barker said. “We know there’s going to be a lot of great shots made against us, so we’ll just try and do the same. Stay confident, play our game and just support each other.”

For the latest on the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and scores from throughout the event, be sure to visit www.curling.ca/2022scotties/.