Allison MacInnes is tasked with making sure her team is not focused on what it wants to accomplish.
Odd, but true (well, kind of).
Team B.C.’s coach does not want skip Corryn Brown, third Erin Pincott, second Dezaray Hawes and lead Ashley Klymchuk to concentrate on anything but the rock they are throwing at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which gets underway on Saturday in Moose Jaw.
Don’t think about how many points this win would be worth, be done with dreams of sponsorship and national governing body dollars, stamp out thoughts of becoming national champion and, please, forget about the Olympics.
“We’re really not going into the Scotties looking at points or Olympic pre-trials,” MacInnes said. “You really just have to stay in the moment. It is such a huge event and there are so many things going on.”
The Kamloops Curling Club quartet is eighth in women’s Canadian Team Ranking System points, which are important in determining access to events such as the Road to the Roar Pre-Trials.
Teams that get there can advance to the 2021 Roar of the Rings, the tournament that decides which teams represent Canada at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
Brown is a top 10 outfit in the country — the best in B.C. — and the ultimate goal is the Olympics, which are closer to the rink’s grasp than ever, but need to be furthest from mind, MacInnes said.
“All year, I tried to make provincials as normal as possible,” MacInnes said. “I do that now with the national Scotties. The more you can normalize it, it kind of takes the pressure off for them to just go and curl.”
MacInnes highlighted other carrots potentially up for grabs for the Brown ladies, more exciting possibilities they should definitely not be thinking about.
“The more games you win, because the strength of the field is so high at a Scotties, the more points we could potentially get — and not just points, but potential funding,” she said.
“This year, they announce an equity-pay funding for teams, through Curling Canada. That would really help this team potentially get to the next level.”
But don’t think about that.
“And if they could, say, make the top three, they could maybe become carded athletes, which means getting X amount of money from Curling Canada and a bunch of other benefits, like access to national coaches,” MacInnes said.
Just remember, though, to forget about those things.
Team leader Melissa Soligo, Curl BC’s high performance coach, and fifth Dailene Pewarchuk will help MacInnes fine-tune the rink’s one-shot-at-a-time mentality.
The Scotties winner will don the Maple Leaf at the World Women’s Curling Championship next month in Prince George, earn direct entry to the 2021 Roar of the Rings in Saskatoon and return as Team Canada to the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay.
Team Brown has so much to not think about.
Sixteen teams are split into two pools of eight, based on their CTRS standing as of Dec. 31.
They will play seven round-robin games within their pool, with the top four teams in each pool moving into the Championship Pool.
The four teams from Pool A will play the four teams from Pool B on Feb. 20 and Feb. 21, with the top four win-loss records (including the preliminary round) moving into the traditional Page playoffs, which start on Feb. 22.
The gold-medal game is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23.
Brown’s schedule, Kamloops time: vs. PEI (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.), vs. Northwest Territories (11:30 a.m., Sunday), vs. Wild Card (4:30 p.m., Sunday), vs. Ontario (4:30 p.m., Monday), vs. Yukon (6:30 a.m., Tuesday), vs. Newfoundland/Labrador (6:30 a.m., Wednesday), vs. Nova Scotia (11:30 a.m., Wednesday).
— Curling Canada