New-look Team Scott makes season debut in Vernon

Time has a funny way of playing tricks on us. While it may seem like a while since Kelowna’s Kelly Scott was a dominant force in women’s curling, you don’t actually have to look too far back to be reminded that she’s been a consistent factor in the outcome of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for nearly a decade.
BC skip Kelly Scott watches her shot during 4th draw action at the 2013 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, February 16, 24th, Kingston, Ontario The Canadian Womans Curling Championship.

Kelly Scott’s new team will be in action this weekend in Vernon, B.C. (Photo, CCA/Andrew Klaver)

Sure, the eight-time B.C. champion hasn’t won the event since 2007 — her second in succession. But it’s easy to forget that she lost the final in Red Deer, Alta., in 2012, and won bronze in Kingston, Ont., in 2013. With Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones winning gold in Sochi, and Ottawa’s Rachel Homan winning back-to-back Scotties of her own, Scott may not have gotten all the respect she deserves in recent years. This weekend, however, Scott is taking to the ice with a new crew. She, along with Shannon Aleksic, Kristen Recksiedler, and Sarah Pyke are playing in the World Curling Tour’s Prestige Hotels & Resorts Curling Classic in Vernon, B.C. — their first event in the 2014-2015 season in pursuit of valuable Canadian Team Ranking System points. While they rank 34th on the WCT’s Order of Merit, much of that has to do with forming an entirely new team, and as B.C.’s highest-ranked team, Scott and Co. are looking forward to another crack at the national championship. This weekend, Scott will go up against the likes of Edmonton’s Val Sweeting, Edmonton’s newest resident skip Chelsea Carey, and Halifax’s Mary-Anne Arsenault in a 32-team event, competing for a share of $37,000. Carey, meanwhile, has confirmed her entry into the first Grand Slam of the season, the Masters of Curling in Selkirk, Man. Barely edging out Switzerland’s Michèle Jäggi for the last guaranteed spot, the new Alberta foursome is trying to ride that momentum through the Vernon event, with an eye on some playoff cash, and CTRS points. The Canadian men’s race this weekend, however, is far less eventful. Several of the top international teams are competing in Switzerland for the Basel Swiss Cup, but no Canadians decided to make the trip to Europe for that event. Perhaps they’ve decided to take a weekend off, before they head to the High Park Curling Club next week for the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard. Only a few of the top men’s teams are in action this weekend, mostly on the men’s side of the Vernon event. We see the debut of Jim Cotter’s revamped team. Following the loss of skip John Morris (who threw third rocks), Cotter’s team — which finished second at the Tim Hortons Brier last March— is moving on with a new third, Ryan Kuhn. Along with Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatsky, the Vernon foursome is looking to cash in at their first event of the year. The new Cotter team also will be playing at the Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling, presented by Meridian Manufacturing Dec. 3-7 at Encana Arena in Camrose, Alta. — the first event of the 2014-15 Season of Champions. The men’s side of the Prestige Hotels & Resorts Curling Classic hosts 16 teams, and also features former World Junior Champion Brendan Bottcher (Edmonton), and 2010 U.S. Olympian Chris Plys. The event also features some international squads, including Japan’s Yysuke Morozumi and South Korea’s Se Hyeon Seong. Meanwhile, the Avonair Cashspiel has drawn 40 teams (20 men’s/20 women’s) to Edmonton to fight for a total of $22,000.