Former Olympic gold medallist Russ Howard is well aware of how impressive Affinity Place is. The two-time world champ was in Estevan back in 2018 for the Canada Cup.

"This is outstanding, it's just spectacular," said Howard, who is also a two-time Canadian champion. "All of the sightlines are incredible, the size of it is fantastic. It'd be a hell of a place for a hockey game here with the Bruins. I've been in a couple million arenas over my lifetime, and this is as good as it gets."

Howard is back in town for the provincial Scotties and is coaching his daughter Ashley and her rink from Regina.

"We started very slow, and we've just slowly gotten better and better and better until we went undefeated to get here in the last event. So who knows, they could scare a few teams," Howard said.

"I think it's going to be really wide open," he continued. "I can't even pick a favourite other than last year's winner of course, Barker, they're a very good team, really solid, but they haven't played a lot this year. Amber Holland, Silvernagle's got a new team, our team, there's all kinds of talent here. And even the teams that are probably ranked 8th, 9th, 10th, there's going to be upsets, there just are. It's curling."

Howard, who is a mainstay on TSN's national curling coverage, says smaller communities like Estevan always deliver when it comes to hosting events like the provincials.

"This is what it's all about, this is what curling's all about, especially out west I find. You go to these smaller communities, they embrace the event, it's no problem getting volunteers, people are friendly," he said. 

"Coming from New Brunswick, I find the knowledge of the curling fans out here is just off the charts. It's kind of fun for a player or a coach to come off the ice and somebody in the crowd recognizes you and says, 'Why did you play that shot in the 5th end?'"

"It's just really cool. People are into it and that helps us."