You can’t keep a championship curler down.
Kelowna’s Kelly Scott found herself without long-time friends and teammates Jeanna Schraeder and Sasha Carter at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season when the pair stepped aside to donate more time to their families.
But it didn’t take the veteran skip long to find two new curlers, with third Shannon Aleksic, who formerly played with Kelley Law’s New Westminster-based foursome and second Karla Thompson of Kamloops joining Scott and lead Sarah Pyke, who is back for a third season.
“Personally, I knew I wasn’t done with the game,” Scott told the Kelowna Capital News last month, shortly after her new squad reached the semifinals of the Prestige Hotel Classic in Vernon and earned $4,400 in the process.
“I just didn’t know what was next. But at the first point of contact with the new players, we were all on the same page on what level of commitment we wanted to make. I decided then that I really was ready to come back and play.”
The new foursome decided to play a scaled-back schedule this season and have already pocketed $12,400, good for 14th spot on the World Curling Tour women’s money list. The team will be looking to add to that total during the Red Deer Curling Classic Friday to Monday at the Pidherney Centre.
Scott, a six-time B.C. champion, two-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts (Canadian) champ and winner of the 2007 world title, is among 28 skips hoping to lead their respective rinks to victory in the $39,000 event.
The glittering field includes the likes of two-time Scotties winner Rachel Homan of Ottawa and 2012 Classic champion Chelsea Carey, who finished third in the 2014 Scotties at Montreal while representing Manitoba and has recently moved to Edmonton.
Other names of note include Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary, Heather Nedohin of Edmonton and 2012 Saskatchewan champion Michelle Englot of Regina. Jill Thurston’s Winnipeg crew, 10th on the WCT money list with $18,650, could be considered a darkhorse contender, while rinks skipped by Mari Motohashi of Japan and Alina Paetz of Switzerland, Hannah Fleming of Scotland and Suji Kim of South Korea add an international flavour to the women’s field.
Scott, who lost the Scotties final to Nedohin’s Alberta rink in 2012 at the Enmax Centrium, will face Jodi Marthaller of Lethbridge in Friday’s opening draw at 9:30 a.m.
On a local note, Whitney Eckstrand, Brittany Tran and Amy Janko, all of Red Deer, Brittany Whittemore of Delburne and Rebecca Konschuh of Sundre are also competing this week. Eckstrand is with Nadine Chyz of Calgary, Tran tosses lead stones for Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Janko is with Delia DeJong’s Grande Prairie foursome, Whittemore is the second for Brenda Doroshuk of Edmonton and Konschuh holds down the lead position with Crystal Webster’s Calgary quartet.
l The 32 teams entered in the men’s division of the Curling Classic will play Friday games at both Michener Hill and the Pidherney Centre, will all games eventually moving to the Centre Saturday afternoon.
The field includes defending Classic champion Brock Virtue of Calgary, 2012 champ Brendan Bottcher and 2004 winner Mark Johnson, both of Edmonton. Jamie King of Edmonton took top honours in 2006 and is back, while 2007 champ Kurt Balderston is now tossing third stones for Johnson.
Representing Red Deer are rinks skipped by Harvey Kelts, Lowell Peterman and Dustin Eckstrand, who has Scott Cruickshank at third and Shaun Planaden and Wade Thurber at second and lead.
Shaun Meachem, formerly of Red Deer, throws fourth stones for Drew Heidt’s foursome out of Kindersley, Sask. Meachem, as skip, captured the 2012 Saskatchewan mixed title with a Swift Current rink.
International men’s entries this year are headed by Mario Freiberger and Marc Pfister of Switzerland, Alexey Tselousov of Russia, Seung Min Kim of South Korea and Seattle’s Brady Clark.
Both the men’s and women’s finals will go Monday at 3 p.m. at the Pidherney Centre.
Friday’s opening draws:
Women (At Pidherney Centre)
9:30 a.m. — Kristie Moore, Edmonton vs. Dianne Gushulak, New Westminster; Trish Paulsen, Saskatoon vs. Shannon Kleibrink, Calgary; Kelly Scott, Kelowna vs. Jodi Marthaller, Lethbridge; Chelsea Carey, Edmonton vs. Norma Brown, Strathmore; Hannah Fleming, Scotland vs. Tiffany Game, Edmonton; Casey Scheidegger, Lethbridge vs. Tanilla Doyle, Calgary.
1 p.m. — Crystal Webster, Calgary vs. Teryn Hamilton, Calgary; Susan O’Connor, Calgary vs. Suji Kim, South Korea; Brett Barber, Biggar, Sask. vs. Nadine Chyz, Edmonton; Michelle Englot, Regina vs. Brenda Doroshuk, Edmonton; Dailene Sivertson, Victoria vs. Delia DeJong, Grande Prairie; Mari Motohashi, Japan vs. Leslie Rogers, Edmonton.
First-round byes: Rachel Homan, Ottawa; Heather Nedohin, Edmonton; Jill Thurston, Winnipeg; Alina Paetz, Switzerland.
9:30 a.m. (At Pidherney Centre) — Josh Heidt, Kerrobert, Sask. vs. Chris Baier, Victoria; Brock Virtue, Calgary vs. Alexey Tselousov, Russia; Mark Johnson, Edmonton vs. Dustin Eckstrand, Red Deer; Aaron Sluchinski, Airdrie vs. Bill Merklinger, Yellowknife; Kevin Marsh, Saskatoon vs. Matt Willerton, Edmonton; Brendan Bottcher, Edmonton vs. Harvey Kelts, Red Deer.
9:30 a.m. (At Michener Hill) — Wade White, Edmonton vs. Jason Ackerman, Regina; Sean Geall, New Westminster vs. Warren Cross, Edmonton.
1 p.m. (At Pidherney Centre) — Brady Clark, Seattle vs. Lowell Peterman, Red Deer; Jamie King, Edmonton vs. Thomas Usselman, Calgary; Grant Dezura, Maple Ridge, B.C. vs. Dave Manser, Lethbridge; Rob Schlender, Edmonton vs. Scott Manners, Lloydminster; Marc Pfister, Switzerland vs. Rob Johnson, Calgary; Sean O’Connor, Calgary vs. John Stroh, Medicine Hat.
1 p.m. (At Michener Hill) — Mick Lizmore, Edmonton vs. Seung Min Kim, South Korea; Mario Freiberger, Switzerland vs. Drew Heidt, Kindersley, Sask.