Young curlers face a national challenge

When curling teams from across Canada arrive at Mount McIntyre for the Canada Winter Games next month, the Yukon girls’ curling team will have…

When curling teams from across Canada arrive at Mount McIntyre for the Canada Winter Games next month, the Yukon girls’ curling team will have exactly one tournament under its belt.

Currently, it has never competed as a team.

The 2007 junior national curling championships, which run from February 3-11 in St. Catharines, Ontario, will be its first national-level challenge.

  Skip Sarah Koltun and third Chelsea Duncan are veterans of the Artic Winter Games, and lead Tessa Vibe joined the team at the end of last season. Second Linea Eby started with the team this season.

Compared to their rivals, team Yukon is green, green, green.

At 14, Duncan is the senior member of the team — the junior nationals is an under-21 tournament, and the Canada Games have an age limit of 17.

“Obviously they’re going to be the underdogs,” said assistant coach/team manager Lindsay Moldowan.

She added that it’s important for the team to stay focused when they’re down and stick together during tough matches.

“As beginning curlers, which is what they are, we’re working on the technical aspects of the game — how to throw a rock consistently, which takes about three years to learn, and we’re on year one of that process,” said head coach Gordon Moffatt.

He’s seen significant improvement in the team.

“From the beginning of the year to now it’s like night and day — light years, they have a long way to go, but they’re developing at a pace that’s exceeding our expectations.”

While the team doesn’t expect to win any medals, it is setting targets for members in each match it plays.

“We’ve got personal goals that we’ll try to achieve, like stealing points and putting together a couple good ends,” said Duncan.

Because of the small pool of female players in its age group, the team regularly plays against Whitehorse Curling Club adult league teams, and the Canada Games’ boys team as well.

Coach Moffatt said he hopes the team will stick together long enough to really get some skills and experience. In the meantime, the Canada Games and Junior Nationals are all good lessons.

“We’re just going to try to have fun, play as well as we can, and try to be competitive — we don’t have huge expectations as far as winning a medal; they’re just too young a team for that,” said Moffatt.

“We’ll learn, and in two years time, this team is going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

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