Wood returning to world curling scene

Steven Mah
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Kelly Wood will play fifth for Scotland at the Ford World Women's Curling Championship in Lethbridge. Southwest Booster file photo.

Swift Current’s Kelly Wood will be returning to the international curling scene in a major way this weekend at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship in Lethbridge beginning Saturday.

Wood will be the fifth for Eve Muirhead’s Scotland rink. Wood played third for Scotland in 2010 when Muirhead skipped the team to a second-place finish at the World Championship in Swift Current. She moved from Scotland to Swift Current last year.

There is no guarantee that Wood will play but she said that Scotland has a reputation for altering their line-up during tournaments.

“We are renowned for replacing players if they aren’t playing well enough. So if their stats aren’t as high as they should be and we are losing games then I’ve known a majority of tournaments where Scotland has traditionally replaced players, especially if the players that are there can fill any position and are able to do that.”

Barring injury or illness, Wood said that if a change were to be made during the tournament it would be the coach’s call, usually in consultation with the skip.

“Usually it is about two games in before coaches start talking about things like that. There is usually an average or a benchmark that we set for our players going to Worlds of what we should be making per position. Even if they are winning games there is an expectation that your player’s specific position should be an averaging a certain percentage. So if it is well below then the scoreline would be looked at, that player’s playing ability, and then they would go from there.”

Though Wood has not been curling at the international level this season, she said she will be ready if called upon.

“Because I am here thankfully I have still been playing. If I didn’t think I could fill any position on that team I would have said no right now. It is not a holiday venture for me. Sometimes fifth is looked upon in that sort of way. For me it is pretty important in terms of if I didn’t think I could fill the position then I would have said no, especially because I have been away from Scotland for a year.”

Wood said the  role of a fifth can be a complex one.

“You have to be flexible in that you can play one minute and then not play the next minute, depending on whether it is team dynamic or whether there is issues. You have to be prepared psychologically for every eventuality.”

Though she and Muirhead have plenty of experience together, she will be joining a relatively unfamiliar team in Lethbridge.

If I didn’t think I could fill any position on that team I would have said no right now Kelly Wood

“So you just have to do what is best for the team and what the coaches ask and in between kind of support the rest of the players. It is a unique role. During the evenings I will match all the players rocks and stones so that when they go to play in the morning or in their games their stones are well matched.”

It will be a reunion with Muirhead, one of the crowd favorites at the World Championships in Swift Current two years ago. Muirhead abandoned her team and started again with a new junior team after Wood moved to Swift Current last year.

“Eve and I, as far as how we get on, we will talk most weeks anyway like as friends. I think she respects my experience as a player and where she should be going or could be going both as a skip and with her team.”

Wood said that it was just bad timing when she moved to Swift Current.

“We would have probably had a long career playing together if I hadn’t moved to Canada. It was a tough decision in the end. She was only 21 and I am about to turn 31. It was just one of those wrong time, wrong place things.”

Her upcoming return to the international curling scene has her thinking about the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Wood and Muirhead finished seventh at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics together. She also played second with Rhona Martin at the 2006 Torino Olympics where Great Britain tied for fifth.

“It has kind of got me thinking about next year and a run for the 2014 Olympics for Great Britain. We will see how it all pans out.”

Wood cannot play for Canada unless she becomes a Canadian citizen. She cannot even enter provincials here.

Great Britain’s selection process for the next Olympics has yet to be released but Wood said that anybody from England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, or Wales can apply and the coaching staff would likely select the team after that.

Wood expects Scotland to be a serious contender at the World Championships this year.

Muirhead and Scotland recently won gold at the European Championships in Russia in December.

“For a new team that is a big achievement. A lot of the teams that are going into the Worlds, they have played already throughout the year. Now Eve has a lot of experience and so have the girls. They have a good strong coaching team behind them and then I am there to support that position if necessary.”

Organizations: Ford World Women's Curling Championship

Geographic location: Scotland, Swift Current, Lethbridge Great Britain Canada Sochi Vancouver England Ireland Northern Ireland Wales Russia

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