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Fewster sisters intent on winning national Scotties second time around

Four years ago she won her first trip to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts playing third for Patti Knezevic.
Now she’s going again to the Canadian women’s curling championship this week in Sydney, N.S., as third for Chilliwack skip Sarah Wark and the thrill is just as sweet for Kristen Pilote.
“As a little girl it was a dream to get to the Scotties but to get there twice is pretty amazing,” said the 32-year-old Pilote, part of the Fewster clan, who learned how to curl rocks at the Prince George Golf and Curling Club with her 34-year-old sister/teammate Jen and their father/coach, Rick Fewster.
“I’ve never been to Nova Scotia so I’m super-excited to go. We’re going to be right on Cape Breton so hopefully we’ll get a bit of time to take in the surroundings a bit.”
Pilote knows curling, not sightseeing, is the reason for this trip and she would love nothing better than to dethrone defending champion Jennifer Jones.
Wark, Pilote and her sister Jen Rusnell, who plays lead, as well as second Carley Sandwith of Victoria and alternate Michelle Dunn of Chilliwack will open the 12-team tournament Saturday against host Nova Scotia.
Two weekends ago in Quesnel, after breezing to the top of the provincial round-robin standings with a 6-1 record, Wark and her crew beat Corryn Brown of Kamloops in the first playoff game, then beat her again in a 7-4 final.
“We were very confident going in,” said Pilote. “We knew we just had to go out and play our game and we did that and everything came together. All week we had a lot of close games and we had to work for it. One of the things we’re really good at is digging in and pulling it out in the end and in the final we were in pretty good control of the game.”
Pilote has faced a few of the teams they’ll see in Nova Scotia and has no reason to believe their run of good fortune will end any time soon.
“We’d love to make the championship round and I think if we continue to play the way we did last week I think we have a good shot at it,” she said. “With going before, the initial thought of playing the best teams in the country is not as daunting as it might have been. If we’re going, then we’re also one of the best teams in the country.”
Dunn was originally listed as the lead for the provincial tournament but suffered a rib injury in early December and Rusnell took her spot in Quesnel. They’ll ice the same lineup to start with in Sydney.
Pilote and Rusnell teamed up with Knezevic and Rhonda Camozzi on an all-Prince George team to win the B.C. championship in 2015. But they went winless at the Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., dropping B.C. into a relegation qualifying round the following year. Despite their lack of national success under the glare of the TV cameras, Pilote said it made them better curlers.
“Our result was unfortunate for sure,” she said. “You don’t go in expecting to end up in the bottom but we still had a fantastic experience there and enjoyed every minute of it and regardless of the results there we still had great games and what we did gain there is going to help us a ton this week.”
Fewster took over as coach when Jeff Richard of Kelowna was playing in the B.C. men’s championship at the same time in Quesnel. Fewster, a five-time Kelly Cup champion who was part of Les Abriel’s team at the 2000 provincial men’s championship, will retain his coaching duties in Sydney. He calls himself “a freeloader,” but Pilote and her sister are obviously glad to have him in their corner.
“Having Dad there I think is a dream for him too,” said Pilote, mother of a 2 1/2-year-old son and an insurance adjuster in Squamish. “He coached us as kids and it’s pretty cool we get to experience this together, the three of us.”
Pilote, Wark and Dunn are in their third year playing together and have known each other since they were kids playing against each other in juvenile and junior tournaments. Wark, a former provincial junior women’s and mixed champion, did exceptionally well this season on the B.C. cashspiel circuit and they finished second to Brown in the season standings.
In the final game in Quesnel, Pilote made an astounding 89 per cent of her shots and Fewster knows better than anyone how far his girls have climbed up the competitive ladder.
“They’ve matured a lot in their playing ability,” said Fewster. “Kristen shot 89 per cent in the final, she was a star. I watched a rerun of the game and I’m not sure where she lost her points, she made everything. I’m speaking as a dad but I’m pretty proud of her, those are awesome numbers. The whole team played well.
“Jen took a couple years off and she was a late entry into this one and she played very well. It’s great to see my daughters playing together again and doing what they love. They both love the game and could easily live and breathe it if they could make some money at it.”
The Scotties winner will represent Canada in the 2019 world championship next month in Silkeborg, Denmark. B.C. hasn’t won the national title since Kelly Scott of Kelowna in 2006.

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