Nova Scotia’s Scotties curling team is back with bronze

Mary-Anne Arsenault’s team competed at this year's Scotties

Skip Mary-Anne Arsenault, Second Jenn Baxter, Third Christina Black and coach Carole MacLean at the Dartmouth Curling Club on Wednesday. Baxter is showing off the ring awarded for winning bronze at this year’s Scotties.   Cam Honey

Nova Scotia’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts bronze medal winning curling team is “excited” about their tournament run.

“It’s the best experience,” said Christina Black, who throws third stones for the team. “I can’t even explain how fun it is to play and have people there cheering on your shots. It’s super fun.”

This was Black’s second time at the Scotties.

Skip Mary-Anne Arsenault, second Jenn Baxter, coach Carole MacLean and Black reunited for the first time Wednesday night, since the tournament in Penticton, B.C., Jan. 27 to Feb. 4. Lead Jennifer Crouse wasn’t able to make it.

They reflected on their experience after a game at the Dartmouth Curling Club.

Arsenault, a veteran of 13 Scotties tournaments, said she was “damn proud” of the team’s performance.

“Everything that we work for all year is to earn the right to play on those beautiful conditions and then show what we really have, and that’s what we did,” she says.

Three-time Scotties competitor Baxter said “nothing else compares” to the tournament.

“I grew up my entire life wanting to play at the Scotties and wanting to medal at the Scotties. I honestly could not be more proud to make that walk down the ice at the end of the week and be able to stand on a podium for the first time.”

As a coach, MacLean has been to a few different Scotties, but felt this one was special.

“(To see) all the things that they’ve been working on and everything come together at the right time was absolutely amazing to watch and be a part of,” she said.

Back to reality

MacLean described going to the Scotties as stepping through “a portal to a special world that not many people get a chance to experience.”

Arsenault added that, ”you feel like you’re living in a different world (at the Scotties). As soon as you know it’s time to come back it’s – sigh – back to reality.”

So when the time comes to head back to the “real world,” it hits hard. All the team members have regular jobs they got back to last week. Baxter is a teacher, Black is a banker and Arsenault is a massage therapist.

“Oh (it) sucks,” said Black about returning to work. “I wish I could be back in the Scotties all the time — that’s what you want. We work just so that we can pay for things so that we can curl, at least in my case I work so I can curl.”

The rest of the team laughed in agreement.

A fatal error

In the semifinal game against Kerri Einarson’s Wild Card team from Manitoba, Arsenault had a hog-line violation. That’s when a player fails to release their rock before the throwing line.

This meant they lost their last rock in the end and Einarson gained four points. The game ended 12-9 for Einarson.

Arsenault feels like they could have won the game.

“We had a fatal error,” she said. “That game we were right in there; we had a shot at it. We got down a number of points and still made her throw her last rock in the 10th end. I thought that was commendable.”

Next year starts now

The 2019 Scotties will be held in Sydney and will be the first time Nova Scotia has hosted since 1992. The team is already working on being there.

Black, who’s from Sydney, is “super excited” about the prospect of playing in her hometown.

“I’m seriously going to cut off my legs or do whatever I have to do to be there next year,” she said. “But instead I’m going to work harder than ever.”

That tournament is still a while away, but Arsenault feels they have a good shot at being there.

“Every time we play in those kind of conditions we finish well,” she said. “I think we’ve proved that we do belong.”