OTTAWA — If Chelsea Carey could tell you one thing, it’s that even though her Calgary rink beat Jennifer Jones in round-robin play at Canada’s Olympic trials and put an end to Team Jones’ 19-game winning streak, you ought to calm down.
“It’s like, ‘Oh, you just beat the defending Olympic gold medallist,” the 33-year-old skip said, minutes after her team handed Jones’ Winnipeg foursome its first loss at the Roar of the Rings. “I think of Jennifer as Jennifer. I see her, we chat, and then we go out and play.
“We play these same teams every week.”
That may be true, but this week at the Olympic trials is a little different and that win on Wednesday at Canadian Tire Centre, a 7-5 victory, was extra poignant.
It not only brought Team Carey to 5-0, but it came on the same day that Carey’s granddad was laid to rest. He died on Saturday, and Carey described him as a huge curling fan who “would have wanted me to be here, and he would have wanted me to pour all my energy and heart and soul into that game, and that’s what I did.”
She did. The result is Team Carey is the only women’s team with an undefeated record in their pursuit of an Olympic berth. And Carey’s rink of veteran third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jocelyn Peterman and lead Laine Peters has now not only knocked off the Olympic champs, but earlier in the week they also beat the other favourite, reigning world champion Rachel Homan and her Ottawa rink.
“It’s great to beat those two teams, and we think they’re gonna be there at the end of the week in the playoffs,” Carey said. “It’s a great feeling, but we still have a lot of work to do.” That’s been her message after each of her five wins so far.
The win over Jones marked the 10th of Carey’s career as a skip, in 29 meetings. Should her team cruise to three more victories over the next two days, they’ll earn a bye into Sunday’s final. Carey, who doubles as a sales rep at The Brick, said they would enjoy this win “for about five minutes, and then we’ll get right back to business.”
That outlook seems to be working so far. The turning point against the Olympic champs in Wednesday’s game came in the fifth end, when Carey stole three to take a 5-2 lead after Jones’ final rock drew short. Jones was curling at 63 per cent to that point, and finished at 64 per cent compared to Carey’s 74 per cent. It wasn’t what you’d call a pretty game for either side.
“Both teams I think fought the ice a little bit, but we took advantage on the end with a steal of three, we took advantage of a few misses and got some rocks in some good spots,” Carey said.
She managed to steal a deuce in the sixth after Jones’ final stone came up short again, and Team Carey took a commanding 7-2 lead. While Jones stole two in the ninth to reduce her deficit to two, Carey’s Calgary rink held on for the win.
“I just didn’t have the line,” Jones said, afterwards. “That’ll have to be better if we’re going to make the playoffs. We’ll figure it out.”
She added: “I think we’re made of something a little bit more than just crumbling after one loss. I expect us to come out tomorrow and play well.”
Everybody does, really. Her team had won the last two Grand Slam events ahead of these Olympic trials, and came in with the hot hand.
Next up for Team Jones is Team McCarville in Thursday’s 2 p.m. draw, and they’ll meet Homan in a big game on Friday night. Team Carey meets Team Tippin (1-4) Thursday, and then plays a doubleheader on Friday ahead of Saturday’s playoffs, but Carey isn’t thinking that far ahead.
“It’s so easy, especially at an event like this, to be thinking about results,” she said. “As soon as you get into results, you’re done. You cannot be thinking, ‘If I miss this shot, if I make this shot, if we win this game, if we lose this game.’ That’s the worst place you can be mentally.
“Anything you can grab onto about the moment you’re in right now is the thing that helps get you through games like that and keeps the nerves at bay.”
She knows this isn’t just any other tournament, but Carey says she’s doing her best to try to treat this week that way.
After her team knocked off Homan in their opener, everybody was talking about how they’d upset the defending world champions.
“OK, it’s a regular Saturday. We see these teams every week.”