Chelsea Carey reflects on her team’s wild up-and-down curling season

TORONTO — Calgary skip Chelsea Carey took a break from curling after coming home from a disappointing performance at the recent world women’s championship in Denmark.

She didn’t throw stones for almost a week once she returned. The respite gave her a chance to rest some nagging aches and pains and gave her time to decompress after a surprising eighth-place finish.

“My body was pretty much a mess after worlds and partially because I needed the break,” Carey said Thursday. “So yeah, you take some time, at least a few days, to try not to think about it.

“It’s hard not to think about it.”

After a stirring comeback victory over Rachel Homan in the national final, Carey was tabbed as a contender at the worlds but never really got on track.

She missed the six-team cut after finishing in a three-way tie at 6-6. It was the first time a Canadian team had missed the playoffs at the event in 20 years.

Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni went on to beat Olympic champion Anna Hasselborg of Sweden 8-7 in the final. South Korea, Russia, China and Japan were the other playoff teams.

On the heels of the 2018 Winter Olympics, the competition was another example of how international teams have caught up to or surpassed Canada — a longtime curling powerhouse — on the world stage.

“They’re working really hard at the game and they’re getting really good at it and they are really good at it,” Carey said. “It’s not even like they’re coming, it’s they’re here. It’s happened.”

Carey noted the field at this week’s Players’ Championship is indicative of what has become a new normal on the elite curling scene. Five of the 12 women’s entries are international teams.

Carey and her team of third Sarah Wilkes, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachel Brown improved to 2-1 on Thursday afternoon with a 6-4 victory over Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

In the morning draw, Homan posted an 8-5 win over Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man. The Ottawa team secured first place in this season’s Pinty’s Cup standings with the win to earn a $75,000 bonus.

In late afternoon play, Homan dropped a 9-1 decision to Tirinzoni while Fleury edged Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones 5-4. Robyn Silvernagle of North Battleford, Sask., got by Switzerland’s Elena Stern 5-4 in an extra end.

After eight draws, Hasselborg and Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., shared first place in Pool B at 3-0 while Silvernagle led Pool A at 3-0.

Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., defeated Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., 8-6 to move into sole possession of first place in Pool B at 4-0. Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher shaded Regina’s Matt Dunstone 7-6 in the other late afternoon men’s game.

World champion Niklas Edin of Sweden was set to face Calgary’s Kevin Koe on Thursday night in a rematch of last week’s world final in Lethbridge. Edin entered play as the Pool A leader at 2-0.

Round-robin play continues through Friday night.

Carey said her 2018-19 campaign has felt like “three different seasons.”

Brown missed the first few months of the campaign after having a baby in October. The players are in their first season together as a foursome and have had to adjust to positional changes along the way.

“There’s so much we’ve gone through and changed, it’s been really quite insane,” Carey said.

The rink made a quarterfinal appearance at the Canadian Open before really finding its stride. Carey topped a tough Alberta field to win the provincial title before taking the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

“It’s pretty nuts for a brand new team,” she said. “We’ve really only played together for three months. So it’s been a crazy, crazy season. But obviously some great things and lots to build on from here.”

The online trolls came out when the team struggled at the world championship. Carey said she was connected at times during the week but made sure to turn off her notifications on social media.

“It really is hard to believe the horrible, horrible things people say,” she said. “And it honestly doesn’t matter if you’re playing 100 per cent and are undefeated. They are still going to find something.

“There is zero good that comes from getting involved in that and paying attention to that.”

Carey will also play in the Grand Slam season finale at the end of the month. The Champions Cup is set for April 23-28 in Saskatoon.

The Players’ Championship finals are set for Sunday. Winning teams receive $30,000 apiece from a total purse of $300,000.

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