Team Yukon returned from the 2020 Canadian Junior Curling Championships held in Langley, B.C., from Jan. 18 to 26 with an 0-9 record, but plenty of things to build on as they prepare for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse.
Although the competition was open to both men’s and women’s teams, the Yukon was only represented by a women’s team.
The team started the event with conceded draws against B.C. and Ontario before losing to Saskatchewan and conceding the final three draws of the pool.
In the seeding pool, Team Yukon conceded to Nunavut, Northern Ontario and Prince Edward Island
Consisting of lead Dannika Mikkelsen, second Taylor Legge, third Neizha Snider and fourth Bayly Scoffin, Team Yukon was considerably younger than most of the teams at the U21 event, meaning it was less about winning the bonspiel and more about improving and gaining experience, said coach Sue Ross.
“They just understood that they have to come back (to the championships) and we need to practise our takeout shots a little more for accuracy, they need to be able to read the ice a little bit better, they need to be able to judge their weight better,” said Ross. “They’re all excited about getting back on the ice and improving in those very basic aspects of the game and then moving from that onto more strategy and setting up more of those big fancy double shots that everybody likes to see.”
Ross said despite the lopsided scores and record, the team played better as the event went on.
“The scores don’t tell the story at all really,” said Ross. “We improved every single game there. Shot percentages went up from the first game right through to the last.”
The team’s draw against Saskatchewan, a 13-6 loss, was tied through seven ends.
“That was a cliffhanger for us,” said Ross. “To stay tied with such a strong team for seven ends was huge.”
Ross added that opponents and opposing coaches were quick to give a piece of advice where warranted.
“They learned a lot about strategy. The other teams were really wonderful to help them out and give them little tips (and) the other coaches were really good,” said Ross. “They learned that lots of those other teams, some of the girls were there when they were younger too, and kind of had to go through the pain of losing and just developing their skills and getting better.”
It seems the experience has done nothing but amplify the team’s desire to get better.
“I think it does add to both the excitement and the confidence,” said Ross. “They were asking me if we were going to be back on the ice this week and I kind of gave them the week off.”
Starting this weekend though, Ross said it’ll be back to the usual practices as well as mid-week sessions to further improve, all with the goal of a medal.
“I expect as a team we’ll be much more competitive and possibly get a medal that we didn’t get the last time we were there,” said Ross about the AWG. “I think a bronze medal is quite realistic, and maybe higher.”
Though the focus was squarely on curling for the week, Ross did share that the team also squeezed in some shopping.
“On a lighter note, our skip … bought herself a prom dress,” said Ross. “That was a fun little event we all went on.”
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