Chelsea Carey is back.
Curling's most sought-after free agent is returning to the pebbled ice next season — and this time she'll be wearing Saskatchewan colours.
Carey will be skipping a team that includes Jolene Campbell, Stephanie Schmidt, Jennifer Armstrong and Rachel Erickson.
It's a five-person team, just like what Jennifer Jones and company are doing.
"I'm excited to play. I think we'll have a great time and there's potential for us to make some noise. That's all I'm looking for. Let's work hard and see what happens," Carey told CBC Sports.
"There's a lot of benefit to the five-person team. There are so many events in a season. Steph and Jo have families. There's a lot of upside, as we've seen with Team Jones."
The two-time Scotties champion, who was born and raised in Manitoba, has represented four different jurisdictions at the national championship - Team Manitoba, Team Alberta, Team Canada and Team Wild Card.
Carey's team disbanded after the 2020 season. Third Sarah Wilkes left Carey to join Team Rachel Homan. Carey's front end of Dana Ferguson and Rachel Brown then moved to Team Kelsey Rocque.
Tracy Fleury opted to stay away from Calgary bubble
Carey stepped in this past Scotties and skipped Tracy Fleury's team. Fleury opted to stay away from the Calgary bubble to take care of her daughter Nina, born last July and diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy, called infantile spasms.
Now Carey is ready to assume skipping her own team again, hoping to make it to another Scotties representing a fifth different location.
"According to some of the people I've been talking to nobody has represented five different teams. I tied John Morris at four when we were Wild Card," Carey said.
This newly formed team came together quickly. And they had to. Campbell, Schmidt, Armstrong and Erickson had already prepared to join forces heading into this year. Carey reached out a while ago but there were just so many unknowns for her to join them.
Less than a month ago Carey reached out again when she heard Campbell was going to be skipping. Three weeks later they're the newest team on the curling block.
"Going to Scotties is the main focus," Carey said. "No one knows what the hell is going on for next season. I doubt we're going to have a chance at the Trials. It would be great if we did and we're going to try and play in every event."
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Campbell led Saskatchewan at 2016 Scotties
Campbell skipped Saskatchewan at the Scotties in 2016 and was an alternate for Amber Holland's championship team in 2011. Schmidt, formerly McVicar, has been on a number of teams, most recently skipping a Saskatchewan foursome.
Armstrong had previously played for New Brunswick's Andrea Crawford before joining Schmidt's team last year. Erickson was also part of Schmidt and Armstrong's team last season.
"I haven't played against them that much. I see potential. I see players who are really good and have not been able to play at the highest level for a variety of reasons," Carey said.
She says the team has had a number of Zoom meetings to talk about next season but that there's still a lot to work through as they prepare for.
"At the end of the day, part of the problem is that we're not sure what the season will look like," Carey said.
"We're starting with very few points. I think we should get to take mine from two years ago. And then we'll get a few from Jennifer when she played with Andrea Crawford.
Carey, who currently lives in Calgary, says she's not sure where she'll be living next week but adds it won't be Saskatchewan.
"This is going to be the first time, if we do end up at the Scotties, that I've had to be the import. I've never been the import," she said.
Carey had come to terms with not playing next season and set her sights on potentially forming a new team for the next Olympic cycle. Now she's back. And is motivated to get back to the ice.
"It just happened to be an opportunity that seemed like something that has potential to be really good. It was enough to motivate me to put the work in."