Ruby Shanley makes her Alberta Scotties debut at the age of 87, when the St. Albert Curling Club hosts the Tournament of Hearts.
The St. Albert curler was chosen to hold the broom for the ceremonial first rock on the opening day of the Jan. 25 to 29 competition.
"I've never been in the Scotties and this is the best thing. I qualified without trying," a delighted Shanley told the Gazette after rocking the ice Wednesday morning in the St. Albert 50-plus mixed league.
Astonishment turned to amazement for Shanley over the selection.
"I said, 'Oh my goodness, there must be somebody else.' But no there wasn't so I was really excited," said the seven-time grandmother and a very proud great-grandmother.
"I am very honoured."
Delivering the rock for Shanley is Emily Clark, skip for the St. Albert finalists at the 2016 provincial U18 juvenile championships, and the sweepers are Addison Hafso and Aubrey Kennedy of the St. Albert Little Rocks program.
So, will Shanley call for an in-turn or an out-turn?
"I will ask the person who will throw the rock which they prefer because some like to have an in-turn and some like to do the out-turn. It's their choice, especially when they're throwing the first rock."
The ceremonial glitz and glamour has Shanley on pins and needles.
"I will be nervous when the time comes."
The celebration starts at 5:30 p.m., leading up to the second draw of the day at 6:30 p.m.
The 12-rink provincials, presented by Jiffy Lube as the title sponsor, features 12 draws in total and on Sunday, Jan. 29 the semifinal is 11 a.m. and the final is 5 p.m. and Sportsnet is broadcasting both playoffs.
"It's a real honour for the club," Shanley said of the first Alberta Scotties in St. Albert since 1984. "You have a lot of enthusiastic curlers here and they're all proud to be part of the organization."
Shanley will be a keen observer of the event.
"It's going to be really exciting. I will be here for sure."
The Taché Street facility is Shanley's home away from home.
"I've been curling here for about 55 years," said the Sturgeon County resident. "I started curling Wednesday nights and then I went to the day curling (twice a week) once I got the kids in school.
"The ladies had a Wednesday night draw and I started in that because our kids (three sons) were little. When they had their supper and were ready for bed my husband looked after them and I came down here and curled."
For more than 20 years Shanley has been active in the popular 50-plus league.
"I'm here on Wednesday mornings but quite often I get called to curl on Mondays as a spare," said the nimble sweeper with pinpoint draw weight from the lead position. "I skipped for most of the years I curled here and then when I got into this league I downgraded."
Not even a broken right leg 12 years ago slowed Shanley down.
"I backed over a rock here (at the club) and fell but I curled the next fall."
Shanley (nee Clarke) threw her first rock while growing up on a mixed farm operation near Star City, Sask., located approximately 120 kilometres southeast of Prince Albert and 18 km east of Melfort.
"I've curled I would say about 70 years and I started in high school," she said. "The high school got to use the ice after the regular curlers at the end of the season and we had a little bonspiel."
Shanley quickly embraced the sport for life.
"It was the camaraderie of the teams together that I really liked. It's a real team sport and it's not an 'I' game. You're not the sole hero of the whole thing," she said. "It wasn't the competition I was interested in, I just loved to curl."
The staunch supporter of any curler from Saskatchewan worked for Shell Oil "in the scouting department" before embarking on a variety of volunteer projects in her retirement years.
"Those were the people who scouted other people's oil wells and you had to do up the reports for that so that was fun, just like curling."
Meanwhile, $100 full event packages for the Alberta Scotties, including single general admission tickets to each of the 12 draws and entrance to the opening an closing ceremonies, are available online through www.stalbertcurling.com until Sunday.
For one day only, full event packages can be purchased at the door Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Also, single draw tickets will only be available at the door approximately one hour prior to the start of each draw.
Prices are $10 for draws one to eight and $20 for draws nine to 12.
Youths under the age of 12 are free when accompanied by an adult ticketholder.
Admission is also free for the Friday and Saturday night's live entertainment supplied by RAVE ON in the Owl's Nest in the Friendly Giant Lounge from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Sunday's pancake breakfast at 10 a.m. is free as well with a ticket to the 11 a.m. semifinal.
All 12 teams have been finalized for the Alberta Scotties and they are as follows.
Team Sweeting of Saville Community Sports Club (2015/16 highest-ranked Alberta rink in the Canadian Team Ranking System): skip Val Sweeting, Paul Kane High school teacher Lori Olson-Johns at third, second Dana Ferguson, lead Rachelle Brown.
Team Scheidegger of Lethbridge Curling Club (top CTRS point leader as of Dec. 1): skip Casey Scheidegger, third Cary-Anne McTaggart, second Jessie Scheidegger, lead Stephanie Enright.
Team Chyz of Glencoe Club (CTRS point leader for Alberta Tour events): skip Nadine Chyz, third Heather Jensen, second Rebecca Konschuh, lead Heather Rogers.
Team Kleibrink of Okotoks Curling Club (second highest CTRS point leader for Alberta Tour events): skip Shannon Kleibrink, third Lisa Eyamie, second Sarah Wilkies, lead Alison Thiessen.
Team DeJong of Sexsmith Curling Club (Peace Curling Association A qualifier): skip Delia DeJong, third Teryn Hamilton, second Amy Janko, lead Morgan Watchorn.
Team James of Fairview Curling Club (Peace Curling Association B qualifier): skip Trisha James, third Michelle Gnam, second Raeleigh Milner, lead Chelsey Whitney.
Team Baird of Saville Community Sports Centre (Northern Alberta Curling Association A qualifier): skip Holly Baird, third Pam Appleman, second Leslie Rogers, lead Chana Martineau.
Team Flory of Avonair Curling Club (Northern Alberta Curling Association B qualifier): skip Karynn Flory of St. Albert, third Richelle Nanninga, second Sydney Lewko, lead Sarah Brown.
Team Scott of Saville Community Sports Centre (Northern Alberta Curling Association C qualifier): skip Holly Scott, third Megan Anderson, second Tara Lamoureux, lead Trina Ball.
Team Ramsay of North Hill Curling Club (Southern Alberta Curling Association A qualifier): skip Geri-Lynn Ramsay, third Jody McNabb, second Brittany Tran, lead Claire Tully.
Team Virtue of Lethbridge Curling Club (Southern Alberta Curling Association B qualifier): skip Kalynn Virtue, third Shana Snell, second Amanda Craigie, lead Kaitlin Stubbs.
Team Marthaller of Lethbridge Curling Club (Southern Alberta Curling Association C qualifier): skip Jodi Marthaller, third Tessa Ruetz, second Nicole Larson, lead Valerie Ekelund.
The winner advances to the 2017 Canadian Scotties, Feb. 18 to 26 at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ont.
Visit www.2017jiffylubealbertascotties.com for draw times.