For one team, it was being on the curling ice in August. For the other, it is relief after two years' worth of stress associated with trying to claw their way into the Olympic Curling Trials at the MTS Centre in December.
Beyond those items, it's mostly business as usual this fall for qualifiers Jennifer Jones and Chelsea Carey as they prepare for the eight-team Roar of the Rings.
Part of the preparation includes the $60,000 Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Women's Curling Classic at the Fort Rouge Curling Club, which began Friday.
"We haven't really changed very much this year," Jones said Friday between beating Brandon's Stacey Fordyce 7-1 in her opener and a 6-4 decision over Bingyu Wang of China in the evening draw. "All the training and preparation has happened over the last three years. So you kind of start back then to try new things.
"This year is all about getting confident and fine-tuning things. We kind of have the same schedule we normally do; we just wanted the weekend off before the trials.
"You want to make sure you're rested, which we feel we will be with this schedule."
The four-time national champion of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts has put five major competitions on that schedule for her St. Vital Curling Club team that includes Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer and Dawn McEwen.
Apart from those, it's six out of seven days a week in the gym or on the ice for practice or events.
"You kind of look over the last three years, we've been trying to figure it out for this year," she said of scheduling "We didn't change anything this year. We looked at a few adjustments in the last couple of years to see what would work and what didn't."
Ice this summer in Winnipeg was a help.
"We were on the ice in August," Jones said. "That wasn't new for us -- except that we (used to have to) go to Edmonton to do that, so this was obviously more convenient and we could go more frequently. We've been training since July and come the fall, you just want to stay sharp and you're on the ice as much as you can be.
"But you also want to have some rest."
Jones has had her trials spot secure since 2011. Carey was the last of the six direct qualifiers to lock it up, earlier this year in April.
"The pressure is kind of the opposite because we spent three years trying to get our spot and counting points, in that battle," Carey said between her Friday games. She posted a 5-4 victory over Karen Fallis of Thistle to open the 32-team event but later dropped a 6-5 decision to Michele Jaggi of Switzerland. "It was exhausting, sometimes frustrating to have to do that all the time for three years. "So this year is like a treat -- we're done, we're qualified. We're able to just kind of relax and play, which is a really nice feeling after struggling through in the last couple of years and trying (to figure out) how to ignore all this pressure about the points.
"But now there's excitement and anticipation because it's sneaking up on us. Once you start playing, you're so busy and it goes by like this."
Carey, too, had scheduled the five major fall events as preparation. That includes next week in Abbotsford, B.C., then in a couple of weeks in Saskatoon.
"What the CCA does, which is really smart, is that it holds the Canada Cup, which was a qualifier for the trials, every year in the first week of December," Carey said. "We've spent the last three years preparing to peak then, so it's kind of the same thing because it's what we've been doing.
"We know how to plan that, how to do that.
"So this really doesn't feel that different, schedule-wise or planning-wise."
The Fort Rouge team, which includes Kristy McDonald, Kristen Foster and Lindsay Titheridge, has not gone to coasting mode since locking up its trials' spot, Carey said.
"Everybody's getting excited," Carey said. "We're not quite where we want to be, but we're getting close. The whole idea is to peak then. We're on track with where we want to be and how we want to be playing come trials."
This week's event continues through the weekend and concludes with the playoff round on Monday.
see results on c10