Curlers know their way around the ice

Talya Jesperson

Talya Jesperson

There won’t be any curling skips more qualified to read the ice conditions at provincials than Shaelyn Rice.

The 16-year-old, after all, is ice-making assistant at the Nanaimo Curling Centre. She gets the sheets in tip-top shape, then she curls on them herself.

“I’m here almost every day but I like it here – it’s like my home,” said Rice.

The skip and her teammates Morgan Beech, Marika Van Osch and Talya Jesperson begin play at Curl B.C.’s juvenile girls’ provincials this Friday (March 4) at Lake Cowichan. All the girls know what to expect, as they’ve all qualified multiple times in the past.

“It gets pretty intense,” said Beech. “There’s a lot of really good teams that like to win.”

The Rice rink can certainly be competitive, so long as it plays as a team. The girls haven’t curled as a foursome for a full season, though they were able to sweep undefeated through playdowns at Juan de Fuca in January. Building chemistry is so important, said Jesperson.

“You’re carried by spirit, so if everyone’s having a good time it makes for a win,” she said.

The new member is Beech, who makes the trip all the way from her Campbell River home to practise and play in Nanaimo. Rice is shuffled back to the leadership role – she was also skip in 2009, so she’s experienced in calling shots.

“We all throw generally the same so it’s easy for me to tell what’s going to happen,” she said.

And she knows that her team needs to keep calm and have fun to be successful.

“If you look at it like it’s the end of the world, well then it will be,” she said. “But if you look at it like it’s just another game that’s fun, then it will be fun, and we’ll see how it goes.”

ICE CHIPS … Shaelyn Rice’s curling team plays at Curl B.C.’s juvenile girls’ provincial championships at Lake Cowichan starting Friday (March 4). The team’s first game is against Chilliwack’s Ali Renwick … Canada Winter Games gold medallist Corryn Brown, of Kamloops, is in the same pool as the Rice rink.