Skip keeping flexible

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- Scottish skip Kelly Wood has a lot on her plate this week as she carries the hopes of the host team, tries to make sure defending Olympic champion Great Britain qualifies for the Turin games and attempts to impress the Olympic team selection committee.

Wood, 23, is one of 10 players being considered for five spots on the Great Britain Olympic team. The list includes mostly skips as the nation looks to repeat the gold medal won by Rhona Martin in 2002 at Salt Lake City.

"I'm hoping to be there, and I'd be happy to play any position," Wood said. "At the moment it's about who would be the strongest at each position, and I think I'm quite flexible in what position I can play."

It's certainly an unusual selection process by Canadian standards but not that uncommon in European curling circles.

"It's a positive step forward, and they are trying to go about it in the right way," Wood said. "I think the idea, theoretically, is good to pick four really strong players. Especially when you are playing against the best countries in the world, you have to give yourselves a chance."

THREE CHEERS: Chinese and Russian players have the kind of team cheers a Canadian might expect to hear at a football game.

Other countries show team spirit with group high fives after virtually every shot, successful or otherwise.

It's safe to say, they do things a little differently on this side of the pond.

LITTLE EMOTION

In North America, the custom has always been for curlers to show as little emotion as possible -- except at exceptional moments, like at the end of championship games -- and celebration is generally kept to a bare minimum.

So it's the subdued Canadians and Americans who look out of place in the group of high-energy curlers at the world women's curling championship.

"I'm not sure why it's so different, but I think it shows a lot of enthusiasm, so I don't think it's a bad thing," Canadian second Jill Officer said yesterday at the Lagoon Leisure Centre. "It's really neat to see that energy among the other teams. I'm not really sure why Canadians don't do it, but we just don't."

RUSSIAN ROULETTE: Another big difference in curling philosophy is exhibited by the Russian team here.

The squad was hand-picked by coach Olga Andrianova, with an eye on the Olympics, and the coach has complete control over the team during competition.

The team showed up here with Olga Jarkova listed as the skip, but when the games began she was playing second and Lucy Privivkova, who was listed as the fifth, was holding the broom.

Then yesterday, Jarkova was struggling in the early ends against Japan and Andrianova replaced her with fifth Tana Nekrasova.

Privivkova is just 18 years old and her lead, Ekaterina Galinka, is only 16, but the team is playing decently under the watchful eye of the experienced coach. And if they aren't faring well, they aren't on the ice for long. Andrianova rotates players and positions regularly, as she sees fit.

PEBBLES: Another big event Winnipeggers will be interested in is headed for Grand Forks, N.D., in 2008. The World Curling Federation announced yesterday that Grand Forks has been awarded the world men's championship that year. The event will be played at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, which was also home of the World Junior Hockey Championship this year, which drew 195,000 fans, many of them from Manitoba.


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