To see Kelly Scott enter a provincial championship as the prohibitive favourite is nothing new in B.C. curling.
What is new this week at the women’s playdowns in Maple Ridge is the composition of the Kelowna rink. Third Shannon Aleksic and second Karla Thompson will play with Scott for the first time at a B.C. championship, replacing longtime team members Jeanna Schraeder and Sasha Carter, who stepped aside this season to spend more time with their families.
Kelowna’s Sarah (Wazney) Pyke is back for her third season at lead, as Scott pursues her seventh provincial crown this week at the Golden Ears Winter Club.
Despite playing a limited schedule, it didn’t take long for chemistry to develop for the new foursome.
“We were all on the same page with how much we wanted to play, so I think we all enjoyed the life and curling balance,” said Scott, a two-time Canadian women’s champ. “It was good to experience that, to feel fresh each time we played and it was a novelty not to see each other all the time. We’re happy with what we’ve done and feeling good going to provincials.”
With Aleksic (Abbotsford) and Thompson (Kamloops) each living in other cities, the Scott rink intentionally lined up a quieter schedule than usual this season—playing in just four events on the World Curling Tour.
The results were mostly promising for the newly-configured team which qualified in three of the competitions, including reaching the finals in both Vernon and Maple Ridge.
At provincials, the Scott team will play in an eight-team triple knockout format. Defending champion Kesa Van Osch from Nanaimo, Victoria’s Dailene Sivertson—a former teammate of Scott’s—and Royal City’s Kristy Lewis will be among the rinks competing.
Scott has yet to lose to any rink in the field this season.
But even as the favourite, Scott knows there are no guarantees—as evidenced last year when the Kelowna rink was upset in the final by Van Osch.
That loss ended Scott’s four-year reign as B.C. champ.
“It just goes to show you, you can’t take anything for granted,” said Scott, who qualified for provincials by winning the CTRS (Canadian Team Ranking System) points race.
“We’re feeling confident, but we know it’s not a given, we know we have to work hard and play very well. If we don’t perform well, we know other teams are capable of stepping up.”
The Scott team hasn’t played in an event for six weeks and, because team members live in varied locations, practises as a group have also been few and far between.
Coach Brent Giles said the Scott rink will need to play relaxed, but at the same time can’t take too long to find its comfort zone in Maple Ridge.
“We’ve got to patient in what we do, and perform like we’ve been practising for the last few days,” Giles said. “It’s the first time we’ll be playing since the end of November, so the key will be trying to bring it all together and get things working like they were early in the year.
“In a triple-knockout format, you can’t really afford a couple of early losses,” he added, “so you really want to have a good start and be consistent throughout.”
Despite the thousands of hours on the ice over the years and the work that goes into remaining competitive, Kelly Scott remains passionate about the sport.
The lure of making it to her ninth Scotties national women’s championship next month in Moose Jaw and the hunger of her teammates are two motivating factors.
“The thought of getting to the Scotties and being surrounded by teammates you enjoy at the same time, that keeps me going back to the rink,” said Scott. “I think this year has given me a spark, things are really brand new. I still have that competitive side, and of course I want to do well for my teammates…it would be nice to see them have success.”
Scott opens the B.C. curling championship Wednesday night against Kesa Van Osch.
The final will be played Sunday at 1 p.m.
B.C. Scotties teams:
Kelly Scott—Kelowna/Golden Ears
Kesa Van Osch—Nanaimo
Kristy Lewis—Royal City
Patti Knezevic—Prince George
Sarah Wark—Victoria/Juan de Fuca