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The Scotties Tournament of Hearts is for champions only. It’s for curling’s best. It’s for big shots.
And it’s where big shots are made – the kind of impossible throws where a team uses skill, sweeping, shouts and some kind of magic to make a 20-kilogram granite stone dipsy-doodle down a sheet of ice.
Nanaimo curling skip Kesa Van Osch made the kind of throws it takes to get to this tournament. At nationals, as each province’s representatives try to necessarily one-up each other, she might have to make even trickier shots.
“I’m probably going to have to. There’ll be some times where you’ll have to throw a shot that’s not something you normally throw,” Van Osch said. “I find those the most fun … It’s not your regular, standard draw and it makes it a little more interesting and different.”
The entire week ahead in Montreal is going to be interesting and different for Team Van Osch. The 22-year-old skip and her Victoria-based rink including Stephanie Baier, Jessie Sanderson and Carley Sandwith are all young players making their first appearance at curling’s premier women’s event.
“The biggest thing we’ve been told is it’s nothing like we’ve ever been to before,” Van Osch said. “There’s so much more media involved, it’s lights and cameras, it’s flashy, it’s the big show. It’s something that everybody tries to get to but not everybody does.”
Thinking about some aspects of the tournament makes her nervous, she said, so she tries to think about the curling itself – the part she knows best.
The team’s coach, Cindy Tucker, said she’s trying to help the young women “keep their feet on the ground,” but at the same time reminding them to go into nationals confidently.
Team Van Osch, after all, placed first in the round-robin at provincials and beat veteran B.C. rep Kelly Scott twice that week.
“It’s not like they lucked their way through a game and managed to get themselves there,” Tucker said. “So I think they can hold their heads up and say, ‘We deserve to be here.’”
Through it all, the young team has been a gracious winner, not bold or brash, but certainly beaming.
“We’re really excited to be able to learn and play at this level that we’ve never played at before…” said Baier, the team’s third.
“We’re going out there and doing what we love. We know how lucky we are to go out there and compete at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. It’s all of our dream to do so and we want to make sure we enjoy our time there.”
The young women have readjusted their goals and expectations in search of optimum performance at the Scotties.
“We want to put our best effort out there,” Tucker said. “We’re no longer Team Van Osch, we’re Team B.C., so there’s a responsibility that goes along with that.”
They will play each shot and each game the best they can, Van Osch said, and see where that leads them.
“Our year has been a success, but you want to play well,” said the skip. “We want to go there, we want to play well, we want to perform to make Nanaimo, Victoria and the province of B.C. proud.”
ICE CHIPS … The entire tourney will be televised on TSN. B.C. begins play Saturday (Feb. 1) at 11 a.m. Pacific time with a game against Prince Edward Island … The B.C. team picked up a fifth, Patti Knezevic from Prince George … For an article on the pressure of playing in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, check back at www.nanaimobulletin.com/sports on Saturday.