Chelsea Carey tried on the Canada jacket for the first time this summer, in preparation for a trip to the China Open, Sept. 18-24 in Beijing, an international event that sets the stage for the city’s role as host of the 2014 world men’s curling championship.
If all goes according to plan, she’ll be sizing up another Canadian uniform this December, back on home ice in Winnipeg, following the medal presentations at the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto, Dec. 1-8, in the MTS Centre.
“I don’t even have a Manitoba jacket yet,” said Carey, who has yet to represent the province at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Her closest call came in 2011 when she lost to Cathy Overton-Clapham in the provincial final. “It’s pretty cool to think I could have two Canada’s before a Manitoba.”
A fifth-place finish, after the final point-tally in last season’s Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) standings, secured a spot in the Canadian Curling Trials for the Carey foursome that includes Kristy McDonald, Kristen Foster and Lindsay Titheridge.
Qualifying for the biggest event in Canadian curling through the CTRS process is an arduous task. “It was both exciting and relieving,” said Carey, describing the team’s feelings when they finally achieved their goal.
“It’s three long years of counting points every week, and counting other teams points, just to see where you stand. It’s just so much pressure knowing you need to keep picking up the points. So, it’s definitely a relief when you know you’ve actually made it.”
The Carey team had prime opportunities over the past two years to avoid some of that pressure with appearances in the Capital One Canada Cup, which offered a direct berth to the Trials for the women’s and men’s champions.
“In our first year, we lost in the final, but we learned a lot from the experience,” said Carey, referring to the 2011 Canada Cup where she faced hometown rival Jennifer Jones in the championship showdown. “It was really our first big game on television, and it was a lot different than anything we were used to.”
“There’s definitely some additional pressure there, knowing there’s a chance to qualify, so you don’t have to go through the weekly process of counting the points. But, in the end, it’s just great to get a spot… regardless of how you get it.”
Carey was literally born into the game. As a young girl, she watched on television as her father Dan, playing third for Manitoba’s Vic Peters team, won the 1992 Brier. “It was really an eye-opening experience, with all the crowds and the media and the interviews. That was when I first realized, this is something I could really see myself wanting to do.”
“I grew up as a rink rat. I used to follow him around to all his games. He thought I was a bit crazy… there’d be a game at eight in the morning, 45 minutes out of town, and he’d say “you don’t really want to go do you?” – but, I’d be there.”
As the saying goes, ‘what comes around goes around’, and come December, father Dan will be right there at her side in the MTS Centre, as coach of Team Carey.
Aside from the trip to China, requiring a direct flight from Edmonton following the team’s opening event at the World Curling Tour’s Saville Shoot-Out, the Carey crew hasn’t made any major changes to its pre-season regimen.
“Our training program is pretty much the same,” she said. “We’ve worked hard the past couple of years, and it’s worked for us, so we’ll stay with what got us there. We’ve made a few tweaks here and there, but it’s mainly the same.”
With respect to the experience of playing in front of the partisan crowds in the MTS Centre, Carey admits she doesn’t really know what to expect. “For the women especially, we just don’t have a chance to play in NHL-size arenas. Even the Scotties are played in mid-size buildings… it will be a pretty intense experience.”
“Our first time in a big arena, and having it at home on top of that, it’s going to be insane – we’re really hoping the crowds will be there to support us.”
“You Gotta Be There” for every second of the excitement when 16 of the top teams in the game compete for the honour of representing Canada at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Pick your seat in the MTS Centre right now, just by clicking here.