Sports

Curlers can handle Scotties spotlight

Kesa Van Osch, left, Stephanie Baier, Jessie Sanderson and Carley Sandwith hit the ice once more at the Nanaimo Curling Centre before leaving for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Kesa Van Osch, left, Stephanie Baier, Jessie Sanderson and Carley Sandwith hit the ice once more at the Nanaimo Curling Centre before leaving for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Kesa Van Osch and her teammates have made pressure-packed shots before. They've needed to, or they wouldn't be here.

But it will still be a little different, making those shots this coming week in Montreal at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with the whole curling world watching.

Van Osch and her teammates Stephanie Baier, Jessie Sanderson and Carley Sandwith will have their every throw telecast and tweeted, praised and panned.

None of the four young women have curled at nationals before, or faced quite this high of competition, with these sort of stakes.

"Obviously five minutes before you're going out for a really important game, your nerves are there, but they're good nerves," said Baier, the team's third. "That means you know it's important."

Coach Cindy Tucker has talked a lot with the team, she said, about "maintaining our little bubble" during the week. She's been to the Scotties twice as a competitor and knows about curling under pressure.

"When I was doing it there wasn't the social media that's out there now," she said. "So [we're] making sure that the girls don't get too caught up in that stuff."

But Baier said she and her team enjoy sharing their enthusiasm about the sport that way.

"We're so happy that curling is taking more of a limelight in social media," she said. "For younger people, being on TV, we're hitting a broader audience. It's not only curlers watching, it's fans of sport. So we're very excited to be a part of that."

So they might gain some Facebook friends and they might have to fend off Twitter trolls, and if it brings added pressure, well, there was going to be pressure anyway.

"Everybody wants Team B.C. to win that Scotties Tournament of Hearts," said Van Osch, the skip from Nanaimo. "But you just have to go there and do your best and try not to get yourself freaked out with all the pressure that you're going to have."

ICE CHIPS … To help cheer on the team at nationals, follow @VanOschCurling, @StephJackson16, @J_Sanderson and @carleysandwich … A feature article on the team was published in Thursday's issue of the News Bulletin and can be accessed here.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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