Baldwin wins curling title, heading to Yellowknife with Koltun

Team Baldwin and Team Koltun will take on N.W.T.’s best at the start of next month for a spot at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Team Baldwin and Team Koltun will take on N.W.T.’s best at the start of next month for a spot at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The two Whitehorse teams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 going into January’s Yukon/N.W.T. playdowns after the Yukon Women’s Curling Championship at the Whitehorse Curling Club on the weekend.

Team Baldwin regained the Yukon title and will be Yukon 1 at next month’s playdown and Team Koltun will be Yukon 2. They were the only teams entered in this year’s championship.

“I’m really pleased with the way we were curling and I’m glad we’ll have two great representatives for the Yukon in the territorial (playdowns) this year,” said skip Nicole Baldwin.

N.W.T. also held their women’s championships over the weekend with three teams competing.

Baldwin and Koltun will face Yellowknife’s Kerry Galusha as N.W.T. 1, and Inuvik’s Melba Mitchell as N.W.T. 2., at the Yukon/N.W.T. playdowns to be held January 3-6 in Yellowknife.

Galusha has claimed the two territories’ one spot at the Scotties five of the last six years.

If Baldwin or Koltun can pull off a win in Yellowknife, either team will be the first from Yukon to play at the Scotties – the national women’s championship – since Whitehorse’s Team Hatton in 2000.

Team Baldwin, which includes third Ladene Shaw, second Helen Strong and lead Rhonda Horte, took the Yukon title in a three-game series against Koltun.

Tied one game each, Baldwin stormed out to a 4-0 lead Sunday morning and held on for a 6-3 win.

“We definitely weren’t playing as well as we could have and that resulted in the two losses,” said Koltun skip Sarah Koltun. “We went into it knowing we were going to make it to Yellowknife either way, so it took a little bit of the pressure off. But we still would have liked to perform a bit better.”

Team Koltun, which consists of skip Koltun, third Chelsea Duncan, second Patty Wallingham and lead Andrea Sinclair, took the first game 6-4 Saturday morning before dropping the second game 9-3 in the afternoon.

“In the second game our team wasn’t as sharp as we were in the morning,” said Koltun.

The Baldwin rink has had other success so far this season. Team Baldwin and Whitehorse’s Team Paslawski became the first Yukon rinks to reach the semifinal at the Dominion Curling Club

Championships last month in Thunder Bay, Ont.

“We set out some goals and we did fantastic when we were at Dominions and we thought we’d go for the Yukons and territorials,” said Baldwin. “The team is feeling good, we’re doing good.”

Baldwin last won the Yukon championships in 2011 on a team with Shaw. Baldwin went to the Scotties as an alternate for Galusha in 2007, the same year she took a Yukon team to the mixed curling nationals.

Baldwin has skipped a team to win the women’s A division at Whitehorse’s International Bonspiel eight times.

Koltun will be back in action at the Yukon Junior Curling Championships this weekend in Whitehorse. She will be playing with her junior rink that includes Sinclair as third, Wallingham remaining as second, and Jenna Duncan – Chelsea’s little sister – as lead.

If successful, it will be Koltun’s eighth straight junior title and conversely will send her to her eighth consecutive Canadian Junior Curling Championship. Last season Team Koltun placed fourth at the junior nationals.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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