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The Eh Game

Scotties 2013: For BC’s Kelly Scott, change is no obstacle at all

Don Landry
Eh Game

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Kelly Scott's dominance of British Columbia has led to yet another berth in The Scotties. (CP)

Maybe it's cliche, but that doesn't mean it isn't apt.

In the world of Kelowna's perpetual curling champ Kelly Scott, the more things change the more they stay the same.

Scott, who will be skipping in her eighth Scotties beginning this weekend in Kingston, Ontario, has never been caught off guard by the line-up changes that have seemed as constant as her sunny disposition. After all, she saw it coming.

“We made a change at our lead position about six years ago," Scott said, chronicling the beginnings of a team state of flux that has never seemed to subside.

"Every change since then has ben due to a pregnancy," she added, laughing. "We got together as a team in our early twenties and we knew that we would grow together and certainly pregnancies and family would be in the near future, so we were somewhat prepared for that."

Those changes haven't exactly derailed Scott's national curling scene ambitions. With yet more line-up changes to begin this season, the latest incarnation of her Kelowna crew chalked up another British Columbia Championship. That was Scott's fourth in a row and sixth in nine years. No B.C. skip before her had ever won four straight.

Being aware of the changing dynamics from season to season was a key element to adjusting to those changes, says Scott. "We just had to take each year and go ‘okay, this year what are we up against and what do we have to work around?’ I think just a real solid foundation with our team allowed us to work through all those little kinks along the way.”

Not that there wasn't some consistency. Same skipper, year in and year out, and second Sasha Carter has been with her every step of the way, also making her eighth Scotties appearance in Kingston. Carter bumped up to third stones for last year's nationals - where she famously bounced back from a midweek flu-ridden hospital stay to return to action - but is back to throwing seconds this time around.

Which brings us to the changes Scott had to manage this season. The re-addition of vice Jeanna Schraeder, who'd been Scott's third since 2006, but took last year off, might seem a fairly easy change to employ. There was also a brand new lead, Sarah Wazney, who replaced Jacquie Armstrong, gone after spending three years with Team Scott.

“She (Armstrong) decided that something had to give in her world so she had to give more time to work and family and curling was on the outs," said Scott. "So, that forced us to look for a player. We were lucky enough to hook up with Sarah” (who moved from Manitoba to Kelowna).

Scott admits the team needed some time to gel, despite the familiarity she had with Schraeder.

“Certainly we’ve come along way since September. Sasha had just had her second baby in August... a new player in the mix with Sarah... and Jeanna had last season off, so was just coming back. We had lots of inconsistencies to work through this fall. We just really worked our butts off in December and January and really came together as a team."

The results have been just about letter perfect so far, with Scott feeling there may be even more improvement in the offing.

“I think there’s still certainly room for improvement but we’re close. we’re really, really close. I think if you asked any one if us right now, we don’t even know how good we can be as a team. That’s exciting to explore.”

What Scott has really no interest in exploring over the upcoming ten days in Kingston is another round of the flu. As mentioned, Carter was especially hammered by a virus that roared through last year's Scotties in Red Deer. Scott and her teammates have been very careful to try and limit their exposure in 2013.

“At provincials we didn’t shake hands," she said. "It was a head nod or an elbow bump instead. And wiping down the rock handles and just kind of being a germ-a-phobe, really. Sounds a little over the top but you’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Despite that run-in with a flu bug, Scott's team came just one step short of taking it all in 2012, falling to Heather Nedohin (who's team returns this year as Team Canada) in the final.

If good health befriends them and her rink hits on all cylinders, would Scott feel poised to get back to the top of the mountain?

“Nothing is ever a given," she said.

As skip of an ever-changing team, she would know.

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