McConnery oozes optimism

PETER RUICCI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. -- This will mark her fifth appearance at the Canadian women's curling championship.

And Nancy McConnery, skip of Nova Scotia's representative in the 2010 Scotties, has two distinct goals entering this year's action at the Essar Centre.

The 46-year-old wants to both improve on last year's 2-9, win-loss record, and enjoy the sights, sounds and experiences that go along with vying to be the best rink in the country.

"You always wonder if you'll ever get back again," said McConnery, the defending Nova Scotia champion, who also represented the province in 2003.

Before that, she played second for New Brunswick rinks which made it to the Canadian finals in both 1993 and 1995.

"Each time you go, you have to savor it," said McConnery, who's joined for the second straight year by vice Jennifer Crouse, second Sheena Gilman and lead Jill Thomas. "You can't help but wonder whether it will be your last time. I know this year, for us it's great to be going back."

As for last year's record, McConnery makes no apologies.

She said her rink actually played relatively well.

"We didn't curl poorly. We had only two bad games," the Nova Scotia skip said. "We'd mess up on one end and that would cost us."

Competing a year ago in Victoria, B.C., the McConnery rink lost by a single point once, while dropping three other games by two points.

The plan this year, the skip said, is to at least qualify for a playoff tiebreaker.

"I think we should be able to," McConnery added.

Her confidence, she said, is based in part on the experience this team gained a year ago.

"We all get along and work well together. We'll just take things one game at a time."

Calling the Scotties week "grueling," McConnery spoke of the importance of stamina -- both physical and mental -- and confidence.

And she credits her rink's coach, Carole MacLean, for helping the team both improve and prepare to compete on the country's biggest stage.

"She watches us, looks for things and passes them along to us," McConnery said. "She's been amazing."


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