Whitehorse curlers Sarah Koltun and Mitch Young hope seven truly is a lucky number.
The two skips will be making their seventh appearance at the Canadian Junior Curling Championship at the start of February in Fort McMurray, Alta.
“I think we have a good shot at it,” said Koltun. “If we can keep improving and working on what we have been working on. If we can play to the best of our abilities, I think we’ll have a really good week.
“It’s always exciting to go, no matter how we end up finishing. We’re just excited to go.”
Team Koltun and Team Young qualified to represent the territory at Yukon’s junior playdowns at the Teslin Recreation Complex on Dec. 22 and 23. The event doubled as the Yukon Junior Curling Championship.
Team Koltun, which includes third Chelsea Duncan, second Patty Wallingham and lead Jenna Duncan, defeated Whitehorse’s Team Horte for the spot at the nationals. After losing the first game 15-3, Team Koltun bounced back to win the next two 11-3 and 10-5.
“It was interesting. It was a bit of a different situation being away from home,” said Koltun. “The ice was totally different – we had never been there before.
“Also the rocks there, we were having a bit of trouble with. They weren’t as good as the ones that we have here.
“We struggled a lot in our first game, trying to match our rocks, which is part of the reason why we lost,” she added. “Obviously the other girls (on Team Horte) are getting better too. We figured things out in the last two games and were able to pull it off.”
Team Horte, which is made up from Bailey Horte, Kelsey Meger, Kelly Mahoney and Sian Molloy, won silver at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games.
Team Young punched their ticket for the nationals with two straight wins over Whitehorse’s Team Nerysoo. The Young rink, which includes third Will Mahoney, second Joe Wallingham, lead Spencer Wallace and coach Wade Scoffin, won 8-0 and 9-2. (Team Nerysoo is Christopher Nerysoo, Eric Bailey Muir-Cressman, Karn Seaman and Nathan Kopan.)
Next month will be both Young and Mahoney’s seventh appearance at the junior nationals and Joe and Wallace’s first.
“This is my first time as skip. I’ve actually played every single position at nationals now,” said Young. “I don’t know if anyone has done that before.
“It’s our seventh nationals and it’ll be just as tough as any of them. We know what we’re going into.”
Young and Mahoney’s first six trips to the junior nationals were as members of Whitehorse’s Team Scoffin, led by skip Thomas Scoffin, who now competes out of Alberta.
Last year at the nationals Team Scoffin went 7-5 to finish sixth. It was the first time in 15 years that a Yukon rink produced a winning record at the championship.
Team Koltun finished with a 4-8 record to place 11th last year. In 2011 Team Koltun went 6-6 to finish seventh for their best result and the strongest from the Yukon since 1999.
“They’ve been together for a couple weeks, because Sarah and Chelsea both go to school down south and are home for the Christmas break, and they’re looking good, practising a lot, and are just preparing now for Fort McMurray,” said Koltun coach Lindsay Moldowan. “There’s still a lot of work to do, but they’re on the right track.”
Chelsea, who has played on Team Koltun since the start, will also be making her seventh appearance at the national championship. Her sister, Jenna, will be in her fifth junior nationals and Patty in her first.
Sarah Koltun has competed as a skip a record six times at the junior nationals and has represented the Yukon at two Canada Winter Games. She has also curled at three Arctic Winter Games, accumulating two silver and a gold.
At the rink’s first-ever Women’s World Curling Tour event in October, Team Koltun won bronze at the Valley First Crown of Curling in Kamloops, B.C.
Team Young took fifth place at the 2012 Leduc Lions Junior Bonspiel, in Leduc, Alta., in November. They also won bronze at the Men’s World Curling Tour Flatiron Challenge in Lacombe, Alta., at the start of the season.
“I think we’ll do quite well at nationals,” said Young. “We’ve been training hard.”
Young is currently in his first year at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, where he’s vice-president of SAIT’s curling team. Koltun is studying at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., and Chelsea is at University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com