‘It’s time’: Part of N.S. curling dynasty taking a step back | CBC News
Mary-Anne Arsenault isn’t done with curling completely, but her days of chasing women’s curling championships at the national and international level are over, she says.
Arsenault, 53, moved from Halifax to British Columbia two years ago, ending a legendary run in Nova Scotia curling.
“It’s time,” she said this week.
She thought she might stay on for one more year in hopes of playing in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Kamloops, B.C. But it wasn’t enough to sway her decision.
She will always be linked to Nova Scotia teammates Colleen Jones, Kim Kelly and Nancy Delahunt. That foursome skipped by Jones won five Canadian women’s championships from 1999-2004, including four in a row, and won the world championship in 2001 in Switzerland and 2004 in Sweden.
Arsenault has had some success in B.C. curling.
Her women’s team out of the Kelowna Curling Club won the provincial women’s championship and went on to play in the Scotties in Thunder Bay, Ont. They had three wins and five losses, missing the playoffs.
Silver medal at senior nationals
She also represented B.C. in the Canadian senior women’s championship, losing in the final.
She arrived in B.C. in 2020 only weeks ahead of COVID-19 restrictions, effectively shutting down her first season.
This year was different.
“We had a nice finish, winning provincials,” she said this week. “But we finished 3-5 at nationals and that stung a little.
“So I really had to think about what I’m willing to put into getting any better results, and then what my team might be able to put in.”
She said she still enjoys the game, and plans to play some at the senior women’s level, but she’s had knee trouble all season and she’s unsure how much that knee will allow her to play.
“So that’s a problem, too,” she said. “And I want to travel. So I think it is all of the things combined. But, when I told my [women’s] team, I must admit I shed a tear or two. It felt like the end of an era.”
15 Scotties appearances
Arsenault’s record will show 15 appearances at the Canadian women’s championship. There was plenty of success after the Jones foursome broke up in 2006, some with former team members and some without.
Arsenault, now the skip, Jones and Kelly combined in 2013 to win the Nova Scotia women’s championship and attend the nationals. She won a bronze medal at the Scotties in 2018 with a different roster.
She knew her most recent trip to the Scotties might be her last.
“For sure, which made it doubly hard because there were no fans and no pomp and circumstance, and not being able to hang out with Team Nova Scotia. We were definitely locked in our hotel rooms and only allowed to go to the rink and back to the hotel. The whole Scotties experience was different and not fun like it normally is.”
Jones said her former teammate has had an incredible career.
“She was so great as a second stone, winning five Canadian championships, and then she transitioned to skip, and with the exact same composure. She didn’t stress herself if the shots were more difficult. She handled the pressure of skipping so easily.”
Kelly said Arsenault wasn’t a big talker, so when she spoke the others listened.
“She was selective,” Kelly said. “She spoke when she needed to. She was a strong leader in her own way.”
Arsenault said she has “amazing memories” from her time with Jones, Kelly and Delahunt.
‘We just found ways to win’
“We just found ways to win,” she said. “We worked really hard and put in a lot of time and we were rewarded for it.
“I think we were such a close-knit group that we never gave up on each other. We always trusted and believed in each other. I think that really converted to points on the board.”
She said her former teammates encouraged her through the highs and lows of her season.
“It’s nice to have those close friends that are really feeling for you, feeling the roller-coaster, and knowing what you are going through.”
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