Sarah Wark rink ready to take next step

The first step to getting back to the Scotties B.C. Women’s Curling Championship approaches for Sarah Wark and her Victoria Curling Centre foursome, which is off to Kelowna for the first of two open playdown events.

After coming so close to winning a provincial title last year, the team is excited about the opportunity to get back.

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One draw — that slid about 18 inches too long — was all that kept the talented skip and her crew of third Simone Brosseau, second Michelle Allen and lead Rachelle Kallechy away from an appearance at last year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask.

The crushing extra-end loss (she had a chance for the win in the 10th end with the draw for two) to Prince George’s Patti Knezevic will long be remembered by the 29-year-old skip, who hails from Duncan.

But the defeat also provided a much valued lesson.

“It’s good to remember stuff like that. It’s good to remember how hard it can be and how good it can be at the same time,” said Wark. “It’s only made us better and really brought the team together.

“We want to be in that [provincial final] game again. It’s nice to have the experience of that game now. We hadn’t had that before and we can only build on that and I feel like we’d be more prepared this year.”

The team has made a slight change from 2015 in that Kallechy is now holding the broom in the house on Wark’s final two stones.

The foursome has played in four events this season — the Cloverdale Cash Spiel, Prestige Hotels and Resorts Curling Classic, Hub International Crown of Curling and the Coronation Business Group Ladies Classic in Maple Ridge. They finished second to Diane Gushulak in the latter.

The Wark team lost 8-3 in that final after defeating Gushulak 4-1 earlier in the round-robin. The VCC-based team also downed Kesa Van Osch’s Nanaimo rink 9-8 at that event. Van Osch — with Kalia Van Osch at third, Shawna Jensen at second, Caley St. Blaze at lead and Marika Van Osch as the alternate — will also be at the playdowns this weekend, the only other Island team competing among the seven teams looking for three qualifying spots.

“We didn’t think it was our best performance as a team, but there was a lot of fight there and it was nice to qualify and make some money coming into November,” Wark said of the Maple Ridge event. “We’re feeling confident in ourselves, in how we’re throwing and managing ourselves as a team, so it will depend on a lot of stuff once we get [to Kelowna].”

It is the same curling club in which Wark qualified last season.

“I think we’re just excited that playdowns are finally here. We’ve been waiting since January to have another crack at it,” said Allen, the second. “[Provincials] has definitely been the goal coming into the season.

“We talked a lot about what we did last year and where we can improve. Hopefully, we’ve ticked all those boxes and can achieve the goal of getting to provincials. It’s always a bit of a dogfight to get there, but hopefully we’ll be successful,” she added.

And maybe have that chance to win a B.C. crown.

“Once you’re there and once you’ve had that taste, you want to get back. So it’s definitely on the longer horizon list of goals, but there’s a lot of work to do between now and then,” Allen said.

Wark opens play against Amy Gibson of Royal City Curling Club at noon on Friday. Van Osch faces Stephanie Prinse of Chilliwack in that same opening draw.

The A-event qualifier will be determined Saturday at 9 a.m., with the B winner advancing Saturday at 7 p.m. The final berth will be earned Sunday at 1 p.m.

EXTRA ENDS: Knezevic has an automatic berth to the B.C. championship as defending champion and veteran Kelly Scott earned the other automatic spot through CTRS points in the province.

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