NWT’s Galusha nabs spot to Scotties

It has now been a full decade since the Yukon had a team make it to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canada's women's curling championships. And now it's going to be at least another year before another makes it.

It has now been a full decade since the Yukon had a team make it to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canada’s women’s curling championships. And now it’s going to be at least another year before another makes it.

NWT 2, Team Galusha, snagged the one spot allocated for the two territories at the Yukon/NWT playdown at the Whitehorse Curling Club on the weekend.

Team Galusha, headed by Yellowknife’s Kerry Galusha, went 5-1 over a double round-robin, putting the skip on her way to her sixth Scotties.

For Yukon 1, Team Baldwin, playing their first territory playdown as a team and ending with a 2-4 record, it was a good learning experience.

“I think our team grew from this experience and we’re just going to continue on,” said skip Nicole Baldwin.

Though finishing with a losing record, Baldwin’s rink, which includes Kerry Campbell, Ladene Shaw and Lisa Abel, saw four of their six matches end in extra ends.

Comprising Yukon 2 was Team Hewitt, made up by Jaime Hewitt, Leslie Grant, Corinne Delaire and Diane Huber, finishing with a 1-5 record.

NWT 2, Team Cormier, who made it to the Scotties last year, completed the playdown in second with a 4-2 record.

Improving as they went, Team Balwin first suffered a 7-1 loss to NWT 1 before pushing them to an extra end in a 9-8 loss in their second encounter.

“We weren’t shooting that well in that (first) game, last night we were shooting much better,” said Baldwin. “Instead of just following them, we played to our strengths, which was key.”

The last Yukon team to make it to the Scotties was Team Hatton in 2000, led by skip Sandra Hatton, who is now Sandra Mikkelsen.

Seeding complete for men’s playdown

While one territorial playdown ended over the weekend, another moved into the final stage of preparation.

The Whitehorse Curling Club was also the scene of the Yukon Men’s Curling Championship. With just two rinks entered, the championship was basically the seeding process for the men’s Yukon/NWT playdown for a spot at the Brier, Canada’s men’s championships, in Yellowknife February 10-13.

In the best-of-three playdown, Team Solberg took on the title of Yukon 1 with 8-2, 8-2 wins over Team Yeulet.

“We played fairly decently, and so did the other team, but we got a few of the important breaks throughout the games,” said skip Jon Solberg. “The weekend was a great opportunity for both teams to weigh each up, so to speak, because we’ll end up playing each other twice over in Yellowknife.”

On the team with Solberg, a four-time Brier competitor, are Doug Gee, Clint Ireland and Darol Stuart, all of whom have made at least one Brier appearance.

Joining skip John Yeulet on Yukon 2 are Herb Balsam, Bob Walker and Gord Zealand.

“When both teams go over, we do go as one collective unit,” said Solberg. “When the other team is doing really well, we do our best to support the other and we give the NWT teams really good games.”

In Yellowknife, Solburg and Yeulet, who will also be competing there in the senior men’s playdown with a slightly different rink, will be taking on the team of Jamie Koe, the brother of Galusha, who won the NWT Men’s Curling Championship in Yellowknife over the weekend. Koe beat out the team of Steve Moss, who will vie for the territories’ Brier spot as NWT 2.

Junior teams off to best start at nationals

Team Scoffin and Team Koltun, competing at the Canadian Junior Championships in Calgary, are off to the strongest starts for Yukon rinks at a national competition in years.

Led by skip Thomas Scoffin – the youngest skip at the competition – Team Scoffin was sitting with a 4-3 record in sixth place of the boys’ standings at time of press on Tuesday. Included in their wins was a large 10-1 upset over Alberta on Monday.

Sarah Koltun’s girls’ team moved to a 3-4 record Tuesday afternoon with a 10-5 loss to PEI.

Children’s team takes silver at Kelowna Games

Some local youth curlers didn’t just get some big event experience last weekend, they took in some hardware.

Competing at the International Children’s Games for athletes 12-15 in Kelowna, BC last weekend, Team Whitehorse defeated Team Kelowna 6-4 for a silver in girls’ curling.

“It was an awesome experience for the kids, just being able to see the different cultures there,” said Whitehorse girls coach Rhonda Horte. “It was a mini Olympics in a way, because there were other sports there.”

Playing on the team that also took wins over Kelowna, Kamloops and Abbotsford, were Kelly Mahoney, Bailey Horte, Kelsey Meger, Nicole Gauvin and Sian Molloy.

“The girls were in control for the whole game; they played really well,” said Horte. “The last end they made all their hits and played it really clean, made some good peels.”

Whitehorse was also represented in the boys’ draw, taking fifth.

Getting some international competition, the boys’ team, which includes Joe Wallingham, Brayden Klassen, Liam Finnegan, Bailey Muir-Cressman and Shawn Kitchen, took losses against Seoul, Korea and Chesterfield, Virginia before beating Abbotsford, BC.

“It was a good game. It’s too bad we had to play them right off the start because the kids were a little nervous,” said boys’ coach Dean Klassen, of the opener against Seoul.

After defeating a Kelowna team in the consolation round, Team Whitehorse downed Team Waterloo from Ontario for fifth place.

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