Eight seasons and 105 episodes of Below Deck will be at Corryn Brown’s fingertips in the Calgary curling bubble, along with another shot at the women’s national title.
“I’ll probably watch all the Netflix that my partner [Matt Whiteford] doesn’t want to watch when we’re together, binge some trashy TV,” Brown said with a laugh, noting it might be time to rewatch Suits.
Scouting opponents and studying ice conditions are, of course, atop the to-do list for skip Brown, whose Kamloops Curling Club rink, which includes third Erin Pincott, second Dezaray Hawes and lead Sam Fisher, will represent B.C. at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which will get underway this Friday at the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.
But there will be down time — lots of it.
Pincott, Brown, Fisher and coach Allison MacInnes, each of whom has been in total lockdown mode at their respective homes since Valentine’s Day, will leave Kamloops on Wednesday morning, linking up to convoy with Peachland resident Hawes in Sicamous before continuing on to Calgary.
Day Zero testing for COVID-19 will be conducted upon arrival. Team members will then proceed to their individual hotel rooms in the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, which is less than two kilometres from the rink.
They will be holed up in their rooms for most of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, allowed to meet for practices, but barred from team gatherings away from the ice.
“Sitting around your room all day isn’t going to be great for being ready to play, so I think we’ll try to do as much as we can to stay somewhat active, so we’re not just in this kind of lackadaisical attitude,” Brown said, noting online yoga sessions may pencil into the team agenda.
A sense of normalcy is expected to return on Saturday, when teams will be permitted to gather away from the ice after receiving a second negative test.
The team’s first action is slated for Saturday, a 5:30 p.m. clash with Quebec, the beginning of B.C.’s light early-tournament schedule, with only three games in the first four days of action.
“We’ll be paying attention to the ice because the team we’ll be playing will already have a game under their belt,” Brown said. “You can learn tendencies of the team, but it’s mostly seeing what the ice is doing, seeing if anything has changed from our pre-event practising. There is lots of scouting that can be done.”
Brown fifth Stephanie Jackson-Baier will provide an extra set of eyes. The Victoria resident will also be competing in the Home Hardware Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship, which gets underway on March 18 in the Calgary bubble.
“A big reason why we picked Steph is her previous Scotties experience,” Brown said. “That’s really huge to have. She brings a wealth of knowledge and I think it’ll be a really great fit.”
Fisher is the only team member who has not seen action at the Canadian championship.
The Kamloops Curling Club rink made its debut at women’s nationals last year in Moose Jaw, finishing sixth with the help of standout play from lead Ashley Klymchuk, who stepped away from Team Brown after the tournament and gave birth to twins in September.
Fisher will miss out on much of the pageantry that traditionally accompanies the Scotties.
“You’re not going to be as awestruck with different things, like getting your Scotties necklace and doing the banquet and the up close and personals,” Brown said. “All of those extra bits that kind of take up your time are gone. That makes it a bit easier. You can only go from the hotel to the rink and back. But it’s too bad that Sam won’t be able to experience that.”
Team Brown earned its way to the 2020 national championship by winning its first provincial women’s crown last February in Cranbrook.
This year, Curl BC chose to send the Kamloops rink on the back of its standing as defending B.C. titleists, as the 2021 provincial championships were pre-empted by the pandemic.
No spectators will be allowed into the Markin MacPhail Centre. Brown wishes family could be in Calgary for this career highlight, but said it may prove advantageous that Alberta representatives will not be able to feed off of a home crowd.
Joining B.C. in Pool A are Wild Card No. 1 Tracy Fleury (who will not be participating, replaced by skip Chelsea Carey of Calgary), Jennifer Jones (Manitoba), Suzanne Birt (Prince Edward Island), Sherry Anderson (Saskatchewan), Laurie St-Georges (Quebec), Melissa Adams (New Brunswick), Lori Eddy (Nunavut) and Sarah Hill (Newfounland/Labrador).
In Pool A are Kerri Einarson (Team Canada), Rachel Homan (Ontario), Laura Walker (Alberta), Mackenzie Zacharias (Wild Card No. 2), Beth Peterson (Wild Card No. 3), Kerry Galusha (Northwest Territories), Jill Brothers (Nova Scotia), Krysta Burns (Northern Ontario) and Laura Eby (Yukon).
Four teams from each pool will move on to the Championship Pool, from which three playoff teams will emerge.
The No. 1 seed will advance to the final (a 5:30 p.m. start on Feb. 28), with the second and third seeds to square off in semifinal action.
TSN will provide coverage of every draw.
“People will be itching to watch on TV,” said Brown, whose team’s most recent competitive action was on Nov. 12. “I’m sure the ratings will be the best they’ve ever been because people have been deprived of curling for a long time.”
Netflix will provide coverage of Below Deck.
“I’m really into some of those trashy Slice shows,” Brown said. “I might continue with that. It will be nice when we can congregate as a team, meet after games and maybe play some board games.”