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Karlee Burgess heads to Korea for another world curling championship

Karlee Burgess got a tap on the shoulder from the champion Alberta rink skipped by Kristen Streifel, asking her if she'd like to join them as the alternate for the worlds. The reward: a trip to South Korea for the official test event for the 2018 Olympics. Canada, with three straight gold medals in women's play, begins Wednesday against Hungary.
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Second Karlee Burgess delivers a rock to sweepers Janique LeBlanc and Kristin Clarke last year. (BOB WILSON / Curling Canada File)

It may not be exactly how Karlee Burgess planned it, but a world championship is a world championship.

Hilden's Burgess,a  first-year student at Dalhousie University in Halifax and a third-generation Nova Scotia curling champion, was part of the Mary Fay foursome to win the provincial, Canadian and world junior women's curling championships a year ago. Fay and Burgess also teamed up on a Canadian mixed team to win gold at the Youth Olympics in Norway.

Despite Fay's departure from the game to focus on her studies, Burgess hoped this year's team, with Kristin Clarke throwing skip stones, would be able to repeat last year's run of success. They were able to win provincials again, but there was no magic at the nationals.

But Burgess got a tap on the shoulder from the champion Alberta rink skipped by Kristen Streifel, asking her if she'd like to join them as the alternate for the worlds. The reward: a trip to South Korea for the official test event for the 2018 Olympics.

Canada, with three straight gold medals in women's play, begins Wednesday against Hungary.

"It's going to be interesting, I'm really excited," Burgess said earlier this week as she boarded a flight in Vancouver bound for Seoul. "I've already seen pictures of the venue and it looks pretty cool. And I know in the town they already have the Olympic rings up."

With Burgess on board, the Alberta team gains someone who walked the same path a year ago. The Nova Scotia team had to fight for its title in Denmark, losing to the United States in their playoff opener before bouncing back to beat them for the gold medal.

"It's experience," she said. "Having represented Canada, I can help with those new feelings of wearing the Maple Leaf for that first game. I can express how I felt, what my emotions were and help them calm down."

It's not in her nature to sit on the sidelines, but that's what she signed up to do. Her duties will be to help out at practice, match rocks and scout some of the other teams. 

"But I'll be a cheerleader. I'll have those positive vibes for the team  If something is not going our way, I'll do something to bring them back together."

She didn't know much about her new teammates until they asked her to join in. That gave her a day with them at the nationals in British Columbia.

"They are really good girls, and I can definitely see them as friends now that we've travelled a bit together. I was in Edmonton on the weekend training with them.

"Of course, I'd rather be playing, but I'm super honoured to be wearing the Maple Leaf again, and I might get some chances to throw on the ice. I'm excited to be going along with them."

B.C.'s Tyler Tardi is skipping the Canadian men at the worlds. Tardi and teammate Sterling Middleton were the teammates for Fay and Burgess on the gold-medal mixed team at last year's Youth Olympics.



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