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Road to the Scotties
Christina Black couldn’t have been more disappointed in her curling career than she was last January.
The Sydney River native appeared in the Nova Scotia provincial final with the chance to secure a spot in the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, an event taking place at Centre 200 in Sydney.
Unfortunately, Black’s team was defeated in the championship draw by Jill Brothers and did not participate in the national women’s curling championship in front of her family and friends last February.
“It was devastating,” said Black, a third with Team Arsenault. “There’s nothing worse that can happen than last year and it hurt not playing in the tournament.”
Although the 32-year-old thinks about last year’s final every so often, the loss has motivated the team, which now turns its attention to returning to the Scotties tournament.
Black and her teammates – skip Mary-Anne Arsenault, second Jennifer Baxter, lead Emma Logan and fifth Kristin Clarke — will participate in the provincial championship this week at the Dartmouth Curling Club.
The seven-day tournament will feature Arsenault, Team Colleen Jones, Team Mary Myketyn-Driscoll, Team Theresa Breen, Team Tanya Hilliard, Team Julie McEvoy, and Team Mary Mattatall.
The defending provincial champion, Team Brothers, will also take part in the tournament. The team finished the 2019 Scotties with a 2-5 record.
“It’s going to be a tough week, but I think we’re feeling good about our game and we’ve been ramping up and playing better as the year has gone on,” said Black, who began her career at the Sydney Curling Club.
“All the teams are pretty close, and I think it’s going to come down to whoever pulls it together and has their best week going into the playoffs.”
Team Arsenault earned their spot in the provincial tournament after posting a 2-0 record in pool A at the provincial qualifier in early December in Berwick.
Black has attended two Scotties Tournament of Hearts in her career.
In 2015, Black participated in her first-ever Scotties event in Moose Jaw, Sask., which is also the host city for the 2020 tournament next month.
Black would later attend the 2018 Scotties tournament in Penticton, B.C., where Team Nova Scotia was successful in capturing a bronze medal.
Black would like nothing more than to return to Moose Jaw and have an opportunity to win the national championship.
“We didn’t want to be really good in October, we want to be really good next week,” said Black. “We planned out our season and how we would practise and approach the year in order to be ready for this tournament and possibly the Scotties.”
Along with playing in various tournaments, Black and Team Arsenault also took part in the Tour Challenge Tier II competition in early November at the Pictou County Wellness Centre in New Glasgow.
Black believes her team is familiar with the competition set to hit the ice at the provincial tournament and isn’t overly worried.
“It’s a small curling province and we know all the teams because we’ve played them,” said Black. “I think we know what to expect from most people, but everyone ramps things up for provincials and there’s a lot of good teams, so it will be a fun week.”
Team Arsenault will begin the tournament on Monday at 8 p.m. against Team Breen, before facing Team Myketyn-Driscoll on Tuesday at 2 p.m.
The team will continue the round robin Wednesday with a pair of games against Team Mattatall at 9 a.m. and Team Brothers at 7 p.m., before challenging Team McEvoy on Thursday at 2 p.m.
The group will wrap up the preliminary round Friday with draws against Team Hilliard at 9 a.m. and Team Jones at 7 p.m.
“Jill Brothers' team is there and they’re the same as last year, so we know they’re going to be strong, and Collen Jones is always strong, so it’s going to be an interesting week of curling.”
The tie-breakers, if necessary, are scheduled for Saturday at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Meanwhile, the semifinal will be held later in the day at 7 p.m.
The championship draw is slated for Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
The winner of the tournament will secure a spot in the 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Feb. 15-23, in Moose Jaw.
Five teams have already earned a spot to the Scotties including the defending champion Chelsea Carey (Team Canada), Suzanne Birt (Prince Edward Island), Kerry Galusha (Northwest Territories), Lori Eddy (Team Nunavut), and Hailey Birnie (Yukon).
In the men’s provincial tournament, also taking place this in Dartmouth, Brent MacDougall, originally of Sydney, will look to advance to the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier, Feb. 29 to March 8, in Kingston, Ont.
MacDougall’s team includes third Martin Gavin, second Paul Dexter and lead Kirk MacDiarmid.
Skip: Mary-Anne Arsenault
Third: Christina Black
Second: Jennifer Baxter
Lead: Emma Logan
Fifth: Kristin Clarke
Monday – 8 p.m. – vs. Team Breen
Tuesday – 2 p.m. – vs. Team Myketyn-Driscoll
Wednesday – 9 a.m. – vs. Team Mattatall
Wednesday – 7 p.m. – vs. Team Brothers
Thursday – 2 p.m. – vs. Team McEvoy
Friday – 9 a.m. – vs. Team Hilliard
Friday – 7 p.m. – vs. Team Jones
Saturday – 9 a.m. – Tie-Breaker No. 1 (If necessary)
Saturday – 2 p.m. – Tie-Breaker No. 2 (If necessary)
Saturday – 7 p.m. – Semifinal
Sunday – 2:30 p.m. – Championship
*The winner will represent Nova Scotia at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Feb. 15-23.