Junior curlers rock

Kesa Van Osch's Nanaimo Curling Centre rink prepares for challenge of provincial championships.

Nanaimo curling skip Kesa Van Osch sends a rock down the ice last Thursday in Christensen Collison Cash League play at the Nanaimo Curling Centre.

Nanaimo curling skip Kesa Van Osch sends a rock down the ice last Thursday in Christensen Collison Cash League play at the Nanaimo Curling Centre.

For the Van Osch sisters, it just wouldn’t seem like Christmas without curling.

As always at this time of year, the Nanaimo girls are getting ready to take on the challenge of Curl B.C. provincial championships. This year it’s Kesa Van Osch skipping a junior team that includes Kalia Van Osch, Marika Van Osch and Brooklyn Leitch.

The Nanaimo Curling Centre members are always contenders at provincials, and certainly this year the girls are among the favourites.

They go in as a top seed after winning the A final at coastal playdowns, sweeping through their three games undefeated.

“I think we played amazing, probably the best we’ve played all year,” said Kesa. “Three straight wins to get the A qualifier felt pretty good.”

The team started the final slowly, but recognized subtle changes to  the ice conditions as the game wore on, and adjusted seamlessly.

“It gave us a lot of confidence, really brought us together as a team,” Marika said. “It was really good for us.”

For the Van Osch sisters, it was their first time qualifying through the A, though Leitch, who is from Vancouver, had won the A before.

“It makes us feel better, but I think it’s [also] a little bit more intimidating for the other teams we’re playing because we’re seen as the top team out of our region, one of the top teams at provincials,” Kalia said.

Kesa said her team considers itself merely one of the favourites.

“There’s another team or two out of the Interior that are definitely favourites as well,” said the skip. “You never know until it starts.”

But all four girls already know a lot about what to expect, having made trips to provincials both in juvenile and junior.

They know the tournament is different than any other part of the season. At qualifiers, teams don’t necessarily need to finish first to move on. At provincials, only one team gets British Columbia jackets.

“You’ve really got to shine this one week to make it through,” said Leitch.

It is just one week to shine, but the girls will try to remember they do have the whole week to do so.

Kalia said her team has the experience to be able to pace itself at provincials.

“To win first, you don’t have to win every single game,” she said. “But you have to be confident in yourself, you have to relax and you just have to have fun, enjoy it and believe in your team and believe in yourself for the week.”

For 20-year-old Kesa, it will be her last appearance at junior provincials. By now, she has an idea about what it might take to win, and an idea about how to enjoy the experience.

“[It’s] believing in your team that they can do it, that you have complete confidence in them. Playing your game the way you know how and having fun…” she said. “I want to do the best we can. It’s not do or die.”

GAME ON … Provincials start Tuesday (Dec. 27) at the Victoria Curling Club. The first game for the Nanaimo team is at 3:30 p.m. against the tough Corryn Brown rink out of Kamloops. The tourney runs until Dec. 31.