By Kevin Rothbauer,
Cowichan Valley Citizen
When the Glen Harper Curling Centre plays host to the 2017 Scotties BC Women’s Curling Championship next month, it will mark a homecoming for one of the competitors.
Skip Sarah Wark spent six years curling out of the Duncan Curling Club before moving back to the Mainland in April. Last weekend, she qualified to return to Duncan as part of the eight-team field for the Scotties.
“I get to go back!” Wark said. “I’m so excited. I don’t get to go back very often. It’s an expensive trip.”
Now representing the Chilliwack Curling Club, Wark earned her return trip to Duncan by going undefeated to win the A event at a playdown event in Abbotsford just before Christmas. The three rinks to qualify from the Abbotsford playdowns rounded out the eight-team field for the provincial tournament.
Born in Winnipeg, Wark grew up on the Lower Mainland. After six years in Duncan, she returned to Chilliwack earlier this year to be closer to her family, including two young nephews.
“I get to play in a league with my dad, which I haven’t done for years,” she added.
Wark noted that she has received a warm reception back in the Fraser Valley.
“The Chilliwack Curling Club has been so welcoming,” she said.
It will still be a little unusual to return to the Glen Harper Curling Centre as a guest.
“It’s definitely going to be weird, but I really have found a nice home in Chilliwack,” Wark said. “The members have been so supportive of my new team here.”
That team includes third Kristin Pilote, second Stephanie Prinse and lead Michelle Dunn. The foursome is coached by Kelowna’s Jock Tyre.
As comfortable as she is in Chilliwack, Wark still has some allegiance to her old club.
“I have a big place in my heart for the Duncan Curling Club,” she said.
Even though she represented Duncan for several years, Wark isn’t expecting to be the unanimous crowd favourite at the Scotties in Duncan. The Island representative will be Nanaimo’s Kesa Van Osch, who skipped her team to the championship in 2014 at the age of 22.
“They always represent the Island very well,” Wark said. “I’m sure they’ll be a big favourite.”
Other teams likely to get lots of support, in Wark’s view, will be those skipped by Marla Mallett of Maple Ridge, who won the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts when it was held in Victoria in 2009, and defending champion Karla Thompson of Kamloops.
Wark has appeared in eight BC Scotties since 2008, missing only one. She finished second in 2015 and third in 2011. She won the 2014 B.C. mixed championship, which was held in Duncan as part of a Kerry Park rink with Wes and Myles Craig and Michelle Allen, and represented Duncan when she won bronze at the 2009 Canadian mixed championships.
Her goal this year, as usual, is to win the whole thing.
“It always is,” she said. “There’s a great field this year, as aways. I’ve got a new team this year. You never know what’s going to happen. We’ve been practicing really hard.”
The 2017 Scotties BC Women’s Curling Championship will take place at the Glen Harper Curling Centre, home of the Duncan Curling Club, from January 17-22. The final four games of the event will be televised on Shaw TV on January 21 and 22.
The winning team will represent the province at the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts in St. Catharines, Ontario in February.