Kalia Van Osch throws a rock while her sister Marika times the stone’s progress during practice Tuesday at the Nanaimo Curling Centre. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Team Van Osch ready for bright lights as Scotties start today

Team B.C. embraces some of the distractions that will come at curling nationals

Team Van Osch is ready to curl at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, and also to handle everything else that comes with being a part of such a high-profile event.

Nanaimo’s Kesa, Marika and Kalia Van Osch, along with teammates Amy Gibson and Rachelle Kallechy, are in Penticton for Curling Canada’s women’s championships, which start Saturday, Jan. 27.

Kesa has curled at the Scotties before, but it will be a new experience for her sisters.

“We watch the Scotties on TV every year and we watch all these teams compete multiple times every year at the Grand Slams and stuff,” said Marika. “I don’t know whether we’ll be star-struck, but I think it will be exciting for us to finally play all these teams.”RELATED: Nanaimo’s Van Osch sisters together as Team B.C. at Tournament of HeartsRELATED: Closer look at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts field in Penticton

Aside from the competition, curlers attend special events, sign autographs, participate in a skills competition, and have media obligations.

“I think going into it this time and knowing that it’s there is huge, because you expect it, you’re not kind of caught off-guard,” Kesa said.

Kalia said through her sister’s experience, the team can go to nationals calmer and more prepared. Even though Kalia and Marika are making their Scotties debut, they’ve both been to junior nationals and have plenty of experience curling at televised events. Kalia said she enjoys playing on TV.

“So many people support us that when the chance actually comes up [so they can] get to watch, we’ve got to be excited they can watch and cheer and give us that extra momentum we need,” she said.

Kesa said she notices the TV cameras for the first few minutes of the game, then mostly tunes it out – same with the fans and the activity in the stands surrounding the sheets.

She said she recognizes that a major event such as the Scotties Tournament of Hearts has to involve reaching out to the community and promoting the game.

“There’s a lot more than just curling when you go there, and when you go there the first time you don’t realize how important all that stuff is,” she said. “I mean, that’s what keeps the sport alive.”

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts is being held at Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre from Jan. 27-Feb. 4. Team B.C.’s first game is Saturday, Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. when it takes on Team Canada, skipped by Winnipeg’s Michelle Englot.

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