Wednesday, 14 March 2012 13:23

Swift Current resident to play at women’s curling Worlds

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By Matthew Liebenberg — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Swift Current residents will have a familiar face to cheer for at the World Women’s Curling Championship that starts this weekend in Lethbridge.

Scottish curler Kelly Wood, who has been residing in Swift Current since May 2011, will be the fifth or alternate player for Scotland’s Eve Muirhead at the event that runs from March 17 to 25.

Local curling fans became familiar with Wood when she came to Swift Current for the 2010 World Women’s Curling Championship. She played as a third for the Scotland team, which was then also skipped by Muirhead. At that competition the Scottish team lost 8-6 to Germany in the gold-medal game.

Wood is excited about the prospect to be reunited with her former teammate, but she admitted it was a surprise.

“It’s quite unexpected for me to be asked to go, especially if you’re out of the country and if you’re not part of the system,” she said. “It’s good that they still see that I can bring value to a team because they need to know that I’m ready to play.”

Since moving to Canada she has remained active on the ice.

In addition to being a regular player at the Swift Current Curling Club, she has played a couple of tournaments with a Winnipeg team.

Muirhead, a four-time world junior women’s champion, will make her third appearance in women’s World play. Since 2010 she has completely overhauled her team with great results. Last month, she won the Scottish title and in December she skipped the team to Scotland’s first women’s European curling championship title since 1975.

Wood said the Scottish team has an effective process through which players are assessed on their statistical performance.

“The coaches will decide whether those players are hitting the percentages that they see acceptable for medal positions,” she explained. “Usually, the players get two, three games to work themselves into their position and if they still aren’t producing good performances after that usually we call in the fifth player.”

Although she is eager to play, her opportunity to do so will depend on team dynamics.

“Sometimes players aren’t necessary playing well — they can have a little off game — and the coaches won’t throw them off,” she said. “It’s important that team dynamics are good.”

Even though her time on the ice might be limited, Wood still believes she can contribute to the team’s success.

“As a young team it’s good to have that reassurance from me as well,” she said. “It can be a lonely place when you’re a skip and you’re in the big arena with so much expectation on you and your team. It’s good to have people around you that you can trust and you can call upon at any time.”

She has worked quite a bit with Muirhead before she came to Canada.

“I think we would have had quite a successful future together if we’d continued to play and I hadn’t moved,” Wood said. “We trust each other and she respects my opinion and support.”

She admitted she has missed the interaction with the Scottish players, but at the same time she is happy about the transition she has made to a new life in Swift Current.

“I was ready to have a break,” she said. “It’s been good to know new systems, get back into work and things, but I miss competing at that level, for sure. I guess that’s why I’m excited about this World championship.”

Until she has obtained Canadian citizenship, a process that might still take a few years, she will not be eligible to play for Team Canada.

In the meantime, she might still have the opportunity to be considered for Great Britain’s Olympic team in 2014, but she has not yet decided on that.

“Those things are still in the back of my mind,” she said. “I’m eligible to still do that, so I’m not sure what the future is in terms of that, but it’s exciting to know that I can still be called upon on such a competitive level to play.”

Scotland’s first game at the women’s curling Worlds will be on March 17 at 4 p.m. against Russia. Canada’s opening game will be at 9 p.m. against the United States.

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