Alberta’s Chelsea Carey wins the Scotties

Chelsea Carey celebrates after winning the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — Chelsea Carey’s curling team won a national women’s curling championship while they were still a work in progress.

Alberta claimed this year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts with a 7-6 win over Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville on Sunday in Grande Prairie, Alta.

Carey drew the eight-foot rings with her last shot of the game for the title.

Carey, third Amy Nixon, second Jocelyn Peterman and lead Laine Peters will represent Canada at the women’s world curling championship March 19-27 in Swift Current, Sask. They’ll return to next year’s Tournament of Hearts in St. Catharines, Ont., wearing the Maple Leaf.

Canadian women last won a world title in 2008 when Jennifer Jones took gold in Vernon, B.C.

Carey is the daughter of Dan Carey, who won a national men’s championship in 1992 playing third for Manitoba’s Vic Peters. He was at Revolution Place to watch his daughter win 24 years later.

"I’ve dreamed of being a Canadian champion since I watched my dad do it in 1992," Carey said. "It’s a really exclusive club and we’re lucky to be a part of it."

The skip was named the most valuable player of the tournament.

It was the first Canadian title for Carey, Nixon and Peterman. Peters won it 2012 with Heather Nedohin. When Nedohin decided to step back from the sport last year, her teammates recruited Carey.

Carey had moved to Edmonton to form a new team after skipping Manitoba to third place at the 2014 national championship.

Taking over another team meant growing pains for Carey and her teammates as they learned each other’s personalities and rock deliveries, as well as how to communicate with each other on the ice on the fly.

Peters said prior to the final "absolutely we’re still a work in progress. It’s still too new to be that dialled in."

"We certainly have put a lot of work into that this year," Carey said. "We’ve been on a ramp upwards since the middle of December when we were starting to click and get things working."

The host province finished first in the preliminary round with a 9-2 record and beat defending champion Jennifer Jones in the Page playoff between the top two seeds.

After giving up a deuce and the lead to McCarville in the seventh end of Sunday’s final, Alberta answered with two in the eighth to go up 6-5.

Alberta held Northern Ontario to one in the ninth to be tied up coming home with hammer. Carey’s open draw for the win wasn’t easy when there was so much riding on it.

"It wasn’t a difficult draw, but in the circumstances it is a difficult draw and she made it great," McCarville said.

Nixon, a 38-year-old lawyer, won an Olympic bronze medal with Shannon Kleibrink in 2006 and was representing Alberta at the Tournament of Hearts for a fourth time in her career. She and Kleibrink lost the 2008 national final to Jones.

"Standing on that podium and getting that ring was the very last thing I needed to cap off a career I’m pretty proud of," Nixon said.

Peterman, 22, is a curling instructor at the team’s Glencoe Club in Calgary. Peters, 45, works in the oil and gas industry.

"We are a very diverse mix," Peters said. "Jocelyn is really quiet. She’s a really kind person and quite, laid back. Amy is very feisty and fiery and likes things a certain way.

"Chelsea is very methodical and thinks and thinks and thinks. I’m more fun-loving. Feisty as well, but more fun-loving."

Carey, 31, left a marketing job at the University of Alberta to join the team in Calgary last summer.

"Now I’m a starving, unemployed curler in Calgary in a horrible job market," Carey said. "At some point I’m going to need to find work."

Tournament of Heart prize money combined with $144,000 in Sport Canada funding over the next two year adds up to $205,900 for Alberta.

Jones, who was the defending champion coming into this year’s tournament, beat Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson 8-7 for the bronze medal.

If Carey wins a world championship medal in Swift Current, her team gains one-of-nine women’s berths in the 2017 Olympic trials.

They’ve also earned an automatic berth in the Canada Cup in Brandon, Man., in December, as well as the 2017 World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling in Las Vegas.

Total attendance in Grande Prairie was 36,854 for an average of 1,667 per game in a 3,200-seat building.

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