The words ‘junior’ and ‘veteran’ are not often seen in the same sentence, but they both work when describing Team Scoffin and Team Koltun.
The two Whitehorse curling rinks will compete in their sixth consecutive M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships at the start of February in Napanee, Ont.
The two teams secured the trip to the nationals by winning the Yukon Junior Men’s and Women’s Championships over the weekend at the Whitehorse Curling Club.
“The goal is always to get back there and we’re happy to have a playdown because some years we haven’t had one,” said Koltun coach Lindsay Moldowan. “We’re excited to go and excited to represent the Yukon again.”
“We’re just excited to be going and happy to have the opportunity to be there,” said Team Scoffin skip Thomas Scoffin.
Team Koltun, which includes Chelsea Duncan, Linea Eby and Jenna Duncan, defeated Team Mahoney in a best-of-three playdown to head back to the nationals, winning 15-2 and 11-1.
“It’s exciting to go back – I think it always is,” said skip Sarah Koltun. “It’s different for the team this year, all being in different places, but we’re just excited to get to go compete again.”
The younger Team Mahoney, skipped by Kelly Mahoney, was the only other team vying for the spot. Though not attending the nationals, the team will have a big season as Yukon’s representative female rink at the upcoming Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse.
“They are very determined young ladies and they want to do well, and I think their hard work will show that week (at the Arctic Games),” said Koltun.
With a last-minute withdrawal from the only other male team, Team Wallingham, Scoffin’s rink only had to show up to represent the Yukon next month in Napanee.
“A hollow victory may be a way to describe it,” said coach Wade Scoffin. “But nonetheless, it’s an opportunity for us to go again.
“It’s been a lot of work getting to this point and we hope we can have a really strong performance. Some of the more experienced teams we’ve played against (at nationals) have aged out, so maybe we’ll have some better opportunities to have a stronger finish.”
Joining Thomas on the team are third Mitchell Young, second David Aho and lead Will Mahoney. Aho, a newcomer to the team, will be skipping his own rink to represent the Yukon at the Arctic Games.
Both teams gave strong performances at last year’s junior nationals. Team Koltun produced the best finish of a Yukon rink in over a decade, going 6-6 to tie for seventh. For the second year in a row Team Scoffin went 5-7, placing them in eighth.
With three of Team Koltun’s members out of town attending two different schools, it would seem the lack of team-play might hinder their performance. But they don’t seem worried about it.
The team has been together for so long its chemistry is enduring. And since each member is playing with other rinks – even on university teams – the skill will also remain, said Moldowan.
“From what I’ve seen, the chemistry remains the same,” she said. “The nice thing about our team is that we have been together for a long time. We’re not just like a team anymore, we’re really good friends – we’re more like family. So we’re constantly in touch on, pretty much, a daily basis. They are all curling as well … So the technical aspect isn’t lacking either.”
Added Koltun: “We Skype a lot and we were meeting up every other weekend for a while, just going to bonspiels in Alberta and up here in November for another bonspiel.”
Next week Thomas, who holds the record for the youngest skip at the junior nationals at age 12, will be skip for Canada’s team at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. He will be on a mixed rink with curlers from throughout Canada.
In addition to five national appearances, Thomas Scoffin and Koltun have represented the Yukon at the last three Arctic Winter Games, going back to 2006, and the last two Canada Winter Games in 2007 and 2011.
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