When the Scotties Tournament of Hearts gets underway, Veteran curler Amber Holland will be joining the Saskatchewan representatives Sherry Anderson team as their fifth.

The Scotties will be at a bubble in Calgary starting Feb. 19, and the preparation for this one is different.

“I think our preparation now includes what we need to do to keep ourselves safe before we head to the bubble and then everyone’s safe when we get in the bubble,” said Holland. “There are a lot more things with being diligent, and social distancing, adhering to the protocols in place from Curling Canada. So that’s different. Obviously, we haven’t been able to get together as a team. So that means zoom calls, group texts and a lot of different ways to communicate to prepare.”

This will be Holland's seventh appearance at the Scotties, including winning as a skip in 2011. But she has been a fifth before at other events.

“I know the role has changed and has become more of an administrator in the off-ice areas versus some of the on-ice areas,” Holland said. “Really, the role does become more of a cheerleader, trying to do the things to make sure the team is ready to focus, just on playing on the ice and everything off the ice, you’re helping to take care of that.”

While the role of a fifth has changed, fifths do occasionally get some time on the ice, though,

“You do have to be mentally prepared for that, and knowing my readiness if I need to go in and play is that I have played at that level before and really it is as simple as hitting the broom at the right weight.”

The pool that Holland and the Anderson rink are in this year is as solid as ever. The Wild Card rink of Tracy Fleury will be skipped by former Scotties champion Chelsea Carey, and along with that are B.C.’s Corryn Brown, the legendary Jennifer Jones and PEI’s scrappy Suzanne Birt team which was ranked ninth last year on the Canadian tour standings.

“Every Scotties, it’s difficult to get into the playoffs,” Holland said. “You’re always playing great teams every year and there are so many moving parts, and obviously with this year the moving parts are going to be different. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. I think this team is ready to go and put their best foot forward, and control what we can control which is only ourselves. And do the cliché, one-shot-at-a-time, one-game-at-a-time and focus on that and hopefully we’ll be there at the end of the week.”

Unfortunately for whoever wins the Scotties this year, the winner will once again not have a world championship to go to. The 2021 Women's World Curling championship that was supposed to go ahead in Switzerland has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was also to serve as a qualifier for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

The World Curling Federation says it is exploring a variety of options going forward, including rescheduling the world championship or replacing it with an alternative Olympic qualification event.

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