So far, two of provincial entries for the 2006 Scott Tournament of Hearts have been decided and one is no stranger to London and area fans of women's curling.
Suzanne Gaudet of Charlottetown, who won the Southwestern Ontario Women's Charity Cashspiel here in 2003, is back for her third attempt at the national championship, which starts Feb. 25 at the John Labatt Centre.
She won her provincial title last weekend with an 11-3 win over Charlottetown CC clubmate Shelley Bradley.
"It feels so good," Gaudet said earlier this week. "Especially after the disappointment of last year when we lost in the (P.E.I.) final."
Gaudet, whose rink of Susan McInnis, Nancy Cameron and Tricia Affleck is in its second season, is looking for a better finish than her last Hearts appearance, when she went 2-9 in Red Deer, Alta., in 2004.
Something like her Hearts debut would be more like it, when she went 10-1 in the round-robin and eventually finished third in 2003 in Kitchener.
She may come from Canada's smallest province, but Gaudet isn't lacking in top-level experience. She's also been in five Canadian juniors, winning in 2001 and 2002 and adding a world title in 2001. And the fact she's already been a winner in London certainly doesn't hurt.
"Being comfortable with a city is always good. It's nice to go back to a familiar place," she said. "We're playing pretty good and consistent at the moment. Hopefully, we can put together another good year like we had (in 2003)."
The other provincial rep with her ticket already booked is Eve Belisle of Quebec, who will be making her Hearts debut. The Lachine CC skip and her rink of Pamela Nugent, Martine Comeau and Saskia Hollands beat Chantal Osborne of Thurso 7-5 in their final, stealing one in the 10th.
Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, of course, is already entered as defending champion. The champions in Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia., Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Territories will all be decided tomorrow. Ontario's championship begins Monday in Fort Frances and Saskatchewan's championship starts Wednesday.
Skills on display
The Ford Hot Shots skills competition for the Tournament of Hearts will be held at the JLC. The preliminary round is Feb. 24 from 1-4 p.m., with the finals Feb. 25 at 12:30 p.m. Players will attempt a number of different shots of varying degrees of difficulty.