Jon Solberg, business manager of the Whitehorse Curling Club, knows of a nickname for this year’s Tim Hortons Brier circulating among his friends. They are calling it, “the Reunion in the Rockies.”
“My old team from northern Ontario, that I went to the Brier in 2005 with, is going again this year too,” said Solberg. “It’s going to be a bit of a reunion for me for I know quite a few people at this Brier.”
Solberg will be heading to his third Brier in March as part of Team Koe out of NWT. The Koe rink earned their ticket to Canada’s curling championship by outperforming two other NWT rinks and Yukon’s lone rink, Team Cowan, last weekend in Yellowknife.
“Because they are the host territory, they are entitled to put an extra team in,” said Solberg. “So they claimed three teams from their territorial level to play in this event.”
Team Koe sealed the deal with a 6-4 win over Cowan Sunday. The rink had also won its first encounter 7-4 the previous day.
“The Cowan team was very solid all game, right up and down the lineup; from lead to skip, they all played phenomenal,” said Solberg. “They had us on the run quite often and we had to make some pretty big bail shots.
“Our skip made some tremendous shots in the last half of the game when we really needed it.”
Tied 3-3 after five ends, Cowan made a steal in the sixth to go up by one. After a scoreless seventh, skip Jamie Koe made a tough shot through a port to knock a Cowan rock off the four-foot ring and stuck it for two.
“He made a shot with a light take-out weight,” said Solberg.
Team Koe then increased their lead in the ninth with a tap-and-roll by Koe, leaving the rock on the button.
“The only shot Cowan had was a straight-draw to the button to score his one point,” said Solberg. “Unfortunately he was only a couple inches shy of making that shot, so we ended up stealing a point.”
Koe closed the door on the Cowan rink in the 10th end, successfully executing a peel and running Team Cowan out of rocks.
Solberg is hoping that experience will be a factor at the Briar. Not only is he making his third appearance at the Brier, but so is Koe. Even better, teammate Brad Chorostkowski is making his fifth trip.
“So we’ve got an awful lot of experience from the three of us from recent Briers that’ll make a huge difference for us in Calgary,” said Solberg.
“The field is extraordinarily good this year, from West Coast to East Coast, and every game is going to be tough.”
If experience does turn out to be an advantage, Solberg has an extra feather in his cap: this will be his second trip to a Brier in Calgary, having gone to one there in 2002.
“I know there’ll be a lot of family down there cheering us on from across the country,” said Solberg.
Contact Tom Patrick at