Team Carey focused on the positives

Former champion comfortable as underdog heading into provincial tourney


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Chelsea Carey was a favourite the last time she played for Manitoba’s provincial curling crown.

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Chelsea Carey was a favourite the last time she played for Manitoba’s provincial curling crown.

After two finals appearances in three years, Carey entered the 2014 edition of the event as the No. 1 seed as St. Vital’s Jennifer Jones was away to focus on the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Carey lived up to the expectations as she outlasted a young up-and-comer named Kerri Einarson 6-2 in the championship game to earn the right to wear the buffalo jacket at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. It was the first and last time Carey, who curled out of Alberta from 2014-20 and Saskatchewan from 2021-22, represented Manitoba on the big stage.

Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS files

It has been nine years since Chelsea Carey represented Manitoba at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

“We were doing really well on the tour and everything but couldn’t get to the Scotties. And we went to the Olympic trials before we went to our first Scotties so I did it a little bit backwards. But yeah, it was big for us to finally win in 2014,” said Carey, who went on to finish in third that year, in a phone conversation Wednesday.

“For me, it was my first buffalo because I didn’t win in junior provincials either. So, I had been waiting a long time to get my first buffalo and it was a big deal when it happened.”

Later this month in East St. Paul, Carey will play the Manitoba playdown for the first time in nearly a decade. Unlike 2014, Carey — a two-time Scotties champion (2016 and 2019) — will be a huge underdog.

The 38-year-old from Winnipeg, who now lives in Calgary, and her new-look team featuring third Jolene Campbell, second Liz Fyfe, and lead Rachel Erickson have gotten off to a shaky start in the first year of the new quadrennial. A week before Christmas, they won a seven-team Scotties Winnipeg Regionals tournament to qualify for provincials. Outside of that, their best finish this season was a third-place showing at the Curling Stadium Martensville International back in September.

Carey did, however, have a positive week at the Grand Slam of Curling Masters at the beginning of December in Oakville, Ont., as the group went 4-2 before falling 5-4 to Einarson in the quarter-final.

“If I knew the answer, we would’ve fixed it,” said Carey when asked why the team has stumbled out of the gates.

“It just was a rough go. We felt like we were playing good enough to win and everything that needed to happen for us to lose was what was happening. We sort of just couldn’t kind of break through, but qualifying at that last grand slam was big.”

“We finally felt like the monkey was off our backs a little bit with that and we played really well in the quarter-final and actually could have, maybe should have, even won it. So, we’re focusing on the positive trend, which is what we were looking for coming into an event like provincials.”

Carey skipped wild card teams at the last two Scotties, but with her current foursome currently ranked No. 26 in the country, winning provincials is likely their only hope of making it to Kamloops, B.C., for nationals (Feb. 17-26). Curling Canada announced in November the 2023 Canadian championships for both men and women will remain 18-team formats with the top three non-qualifiers on the Canadian Team Ranking System earning wild card berths.

Fellow Manitobans Einarson (who already has her Scotties spot locked up as the reigning three-time champion), Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes and Abby Ackland are all ranked in the top 10.

You don’t have to remind Carey that getting through that trio at provincials, which runs Jan. 25-29, will be no easy feat.

“If we didn’t (feel like we could win), we wouldn’t bother going. We definitely feel like we can. And we know it’s going to be tough and we’re an underdog, but we like that. I think that’s a good place to be. So, I always relish that role and we certainly are that when you look at Jen and Kaitlyn who both had really good years. They’ll definitely be the favourites, which is fine by us. We’ll quietly go about our business and hopefully, we’re there at the end of the week.”

More than 200 teams set to compete in Manitoba Open

The registration for the world’s largest bonspiel has come to a close.

The Manitoba Open, an event that hasn’t taken place since 2020 due to the pandemic, returns in less than two weeks with 187 teams registered for the full spiel (Jan. 12-16) and 65 teams signed up for the half spiel (Jan. 13-15).

The bonspiel takes place at curling clubs across the city.

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...

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