Recently, Jon Solberg faced a bit of a dilemma.
As business manager of the Whitehorse Curling Club he knew that some would expect him to attempt a run at the Brier with a Whitehorse rink. However, with the breakup of his hometown rink he lacks the time to pull together a cohesive team.
So he’s taking a different route. He’s signed on with an NWT rink.
“I am choosing to curl with a team from the territories, whether it’s from Whitehorse or Yellowknife, it’s the opportunity to represent both areas at the Brier level,” said Solberg.
“Two of my players from last year chose not to curl this year and the other one chose not to curl competitively because he’s an ice technician (and) has some aspirations for high-level icemaking.”
Solberg has joined Yellowknife’s Team Koe, its premier rink, which will be vying for one of three spots to compete against Yukon in Yellowknife February 12-15. The top two teams will earn spots to the Brier taking place March 7-15 in Calgary, Alberta.
“(There was) a policy change that had gone into place in NWT allowing Yukon residents to curl out of NWT,” said Solberg. “It’s a new policy that came out in the fall.”
The move should be little surprise to those who have kept up with the two-time Brier curler. Between September and December of last year Solberg joined Team Koe for four spiels.
“We both invested to travel south and compete at high-level competitions to try and improve our skills and get to the next level,” said Solberg.
“Two of the bonspiels we did quite well in and two of them not so well.”
At their first bonspiel in September at the Royal City Curling Club in Vancouver, Team Koe only suffered three losses, each against big names.
Two losses were dispatched by Kevin Martin’s rink, the current world champion and last year’s Brier champions, and a third from last year’s semifinalist at the Brier, Pat Simmons. As a result, Team Koe came one game short of qualifying for the Westminster Spiel.
More recently, Team Koe made it to the quarterfinals of the Whitehorse’s Skookum Cashspiel in November.
“Initially, the plan was to just play in cash-spiels down south and look at some Olympic qualifying berths,” said Solberg. “As the season progressed, Jamie Koe from Yellowknife offered a position on his team—on his Yellowknife team.”
The business manager has played at the Brier in 2002 out of the territories, and again in 2005 out of Northern Ontario, going 3-8 in both.
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