With empty stands and weakened field, 2022 Scotties take on different feel_laser freckle removal glasgow

With empty stands and weakened field, 2022 Scotties take on different feelThe 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts is set to begin Friday in Thunder Bay, Ont., in front of an empty stadium and absent two big names who are competing at the Olympics.

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Page playoffs return for women's curling national championship in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Jim Morris · The Canadian Press(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

To prepare for this year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Krista McCarville and her rink from Thunder Bay, Ont., spent time with a sports psychologist learning how to cope with the excitement and pressure of playing for the Canadian women's curling championship in front of a hometown crowd.

Instead, because of concerns created by the Omicron variant, the stands at the Fort Williams Gardens will be empty when McCarville's Northen Ontario team steps on the ice for its first game Friday night against Chelsey Carey's Wild Card 2 rink from Regina.

"It's something you can feel when your hometown crowd is cheering so much," said McCarville, the 2016 Scotties silver medallist who is making her ninth championship appearance. "It could be a little bit of an advantage when you have all the fans on your side and cheering for you.

"Then all of a sudden, you're in your hometown and you can't have any [fans]. It's super disappointing. But once we step on the ice it doesn't matter what city we are in. We focus and zone into our game."

Ontario will allow up to 500 fans at sports events beginning Monday, but Curling Canada says because of COVID-19 concerns its "erring on the side of caution" and not allowing any fans or media into the arena during the round robin portion of the competition.

Fort William Gardens is shaping up! Only a few days until the competition kicks off! Who’s excited!?<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/STOH2022?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#STOH2022</a> <a href="https://t.co/mwo2upnw97">pic.twitter.com/mwo2upnw97</a>


There is a chance spectators might be allowed for the final three days of the event that ends Feb. 6.

This will be the first experience of a strict bubble for McCarville and her rink of third Kendra Lilly, second Ashley Sippala, lead Sarah Potts and alternate Jen Gates. She believes teams who have played in a bubble before will have an edge.

"They would know how they felt last year and probably expect the same sort of things this year," said McCarville. "The teams that have never been in this sort of bubble, are we going to feel frustrated because we can't leave?

"We have some things planned. We have some games that we're going to bring. It nice that on our team we're great friends."

Two-time defending champion Kerri Einarson from Manitoba said there are advantages to playing before empty stands.

"It's definitely different," the Team Canada skip said. "It's a lot more quiet so it kind of makes it a little easier because you can actually hear your teammates and not have to yell over the crowd or those other distractions."

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