HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
With a tough day ahead, Yukon’s Team Koltun has high expectations and the might to back them up.
The female curling rink, in Halifax this week for the Canada Winter Games, will be facing Ontario Wednesday morning and Quebec in the evening.
But with a 6-5 come-from-behind win over PEI to start on Sunday, a hard fought 5-3 loss to Alberta subsequently, and then a commanding 5-2 victory over Newfoundland and Labrador on Tuesday, Team Koltun, headed by skip Sarah Koltun, is coming out of the gate strong.
“We’re starting to find our groove and are starting to play pretty well, so we’re hoping that will continue for the rest of the week,” said Koltun. “We are going to take it one game at a time, one shot at a time, play our best and hopefully that’s enough to pull off a couple wins.”
If she sounds confident, it’s because she’s downed rinks from both Ontario and Quebec recently – quite recently.
Not even two weeks ago, competing at the Canadian Junior Championships in Calgary, Koltun defeated both Ontario and Quebec in the last games of the round-robin to finish with a 6-6 record, the best record by a junior Yukon team at the nationals in over a decade.
“Everyone here is definitely beatable – anyone can beat anyone on any given day,” said Koltun. “So hopefully we’ll come out on the good end of the next couple games.”
Joining Koltun on the ice in Halifax are Jenna Duncan, Linea Eby and Patty Wallingham. (At the junior nationals Chelsea Duncan, a four-year member of team who exceeds the Games’ age restrictions, was on the team instead of Wallingham.)
In the PEI match, Koltun’s most exciting yet, the Yukon rink scored four consecutive points over the final four ends, including the extra end, for the win.
“After we got our single point with the hammer in the sixth end, we knew at that point we just had to try and steal, and, being two down, we knew we had to steal one in the seventh, and try to steal in the extra (end),” said Koltun. “That’s what we did. And after stealing two ends we were feeling pretty confident about our stealing game and we were able to steal one last one.”
Playing on the high quality ice at the Whitehorse Curling Club – openly praised by Olympic champions like Kevin Martin and world champ Kevin Koe – could work against the team, which now has to adjust to the “straight” ice in Halifax.
“The first couple games we were struggling with the ice,” said Koltun coach Lindsay Moldowan. “The ice back home has a lot of curl to it, and generally when we go out to the junior nationals, we play on similar ice. This ice here, we are finding it very straight and the girls haven’t had a lot of experience playing on ice like this.
“I’m proud of what they’ve done so far,” she added. “Obviously the first game against PEI they came back in the last four ends to get that win, so as a coach I’m always proud of them when they fight so hard for something they want.
“The game against Alberta, I can’t be disappointed in them because they played well and fought back in that game as well. They just came up on the losing end of things.
Team Koltun’s opponent on Thursday, in a crossover game between pools, was not determined by press time. Semis and finals take place on Friday.
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