Krista McCarville is hoping she can take a planned year off and instead turn it into an Olympic dream.
The Thunder Bay curler and her team will take the first steps of that journey this week, when they open the Canadian Olympic pre-trials in Kingston.
Her team of Ashley Miharija, Kari Lavoie and Sarah Potts open their pre-trials play on Tuesday against Crystal Webster of Alberta.
“I’m really excited,” McCarville said while watching her husband Mike play in the Courtesy Freight Superspiel at the Port Arthur Curling Club on Sunday.
“I love arena ice, and I always seem to play a little better when we’re in that setting. I’ve always felt like arena ice is the ice I love the most, and it’s just such a fun place with the crowd and the atmosphere.”
The mother of two had announced her intentions to take this curling campaign off to spend time with her family and ease the transition back to her teaching career.
Instead, a phone call from the Canadian Curling Association at the end of April changed her plans. She will be one of 12 teams vying for two spots in the main Roar to the Rings Olympic trials.
She is hoping to capture lightning in a bottle for the second time, as in 2010 she parlayed a strong pre-trials into the main Olympic trials, where her rink finished two wins shy of playing in Vancouver.
She will be up against stiff pre-trials competition. Also in the field are the last two Canadian Olympic skips, Cheryl Bernard and Shannon Kleibrink.
McCarville will also have to get past formers Scotties Tournament of Hearts winners Kelly Scott and Amber Holland.
So far this season her team has been playing in the Fort William Curling Club league, and has played in a pair of out-of-town bonspiels.
While the team did not have the success they were looking for in either Blaine, Minn. or Toronto, the former four-time provincial champion skip is hopeful there is a simple explanation.
“We’re hoping all of our good shots are meant for the pre-trials,” she said.
“I hope we get hot, and stay hot, and keep on for the trials as well.”
One of the first things McCarville plans to do when she gets a practice session in Kingston is get to work learning the ice.
She wants to hit the ground running.
“I think for myself, the key is to learn the draw weight,” McCarville remarked. “I feel that once I have the draw weight I can shoot any shot.”
This week can serve as the beginning, or the end, of the season for McCarville, as she is only playing competitively to chase the Olympics.
When she had announced her plans for a hiatus, the remaining members of the team recruited Tirzah Keffer of Fort Frances to round out the group.
Those four have been playing together in the Tbaytel Major League of Curling this season, with Miharija skipping the group.
While that squad won’t be chasing a Scotties berth later this year, McCarville said she believes the experience Miharija gains by calling a game helps in the vice role she will fill throughout the week.
“Skipping is a different perspective,” McCarville said. “She’s always really good at helping me decide on different strategies. It’s always important with a back end duo having someone you can rely on.”
The skip is also looking to draw on the voice of a former Brier champion and Olympic medallist in new coach Richard Hart.
The team’s long-running coach, Rick Lang, can’t serve due to a conflict of interest with the CCA. Instead, Hart is providing a different perspective, and McCarville said his coaching style is complementing the team really well.
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