Team Koltun back for third run at Scotties

Team Koltun is Team Yukon once again. After taking a year off from competing, the Whitehorse rink has reunited and is set to represent the territory at the Canadian women’s curling championships.

Team Koltun is Team Yukon once again.

After taking a year off from competing, the Whitehorse rink has reunited and is set to represent the territory at the Canadian women’s curling championships.

As the only team to register for the Yukon women’s championship, Team Koltun has been acclaimed champion and will compete at the 2017 Scotties Tournament Of Hearts in St. Catharines, Ont., Feb. 18-26.

They will face N.W.T., Nunavut and New Brunswick in the qualifying round at the Scotties.

“We’re very excited to represent the Yukon again,” said skip Sarah Koltun. “It’s what we aim to do every season we compete.

“We know that the teams coming out of those provinces are really strong, so it’s definitely not going to be a walk in the park. We’re going to have to bring our A game if we want a chance to get back to the main event, which is ultimately our goal going into this.”

Next month will be Team Koltun’s third Scotties appearance. They were ousted with a pair of close losses in the pre-qualifying tournament in 2015 and picked up two wins at the team’s first Scotties in 2014.

The team took last season off to focus on school.

“I was doing a very intense program last year so it just made sense for me to take the year off and focus on that rather than trying to balance too much stuff,” said Koltun, 23. “I felt like if I were to try to play I wouldn’t be able to put in the amount of time and effort that my team would expect out of me.”

The Koltun rink, which includes third Chelsea Duncan, second Patty Wallingham and lead Jenna Duncan, has competed at three World Curling Tour events so far this season.

They placed third at the Cloverdale Cash Spiel in Surrey, B.C. in September; went 1-3 at the Hub International Crown of Curling in Kamloops, B.C. in October; and tied for fifth at the Driving Force Abbotsford Cashspiel in November, losing in the quarterfinal to the eventual winning team — Bingyu Wang’s rink from China.

Team Koltun, which also includes fifth Helen Strong and coach Bill Tschirhart, will compete at the King Cash Spiel this weekend in Maple Ridge, B.C.

“It’s nice to be back with the same girls,” said Koltun. “Everything is familiar. At the beginning of the season, when a lot of the teams are new, we just know each other inside and out. That really gave us a good advantage at the beginning of the season.

“Getting back into the competitive routine took a bit of time, but we’re starting to come together so we’re really excited what’s going to happen the next few weeks.”

While only Team Koltun entered the women’s championship, seven teams — the most in years — are registered for the Yukon Men’s Curling Championship taking place Jan. 12-15 at the Whitehorse Curling Club.

Two-time defending champion skip Robert Smallwood, 2014 champ Pat Paslawski, are among those entered. The winning team will represent the territory at the Tim Hortons Brier, the Canadian men’s championship, in St. John’s, N.L., March 4-12.

Low registration numbers prevented two other Yukon championships from taking place in December.

For the first time since 1995 there won’t be Yukon rink competing in the boys draw at the Canadian Junior Curling Championships, which this season takes place Jan. 21-29 in Victoria, B.C. Not a single boys team entered the Yukon Junior Curling Championships that was supposed to take place the week before Christmas.

Not only was Yukon’s junior boys championship supposed to take place, so was the junior girls and the men’s and women’s masters championships.

With only one team entered in each, three teams have punched their tickets for nationals without throwing a single rock.

Yukon will be represented at junior nationals in the girls draw by Team Meger — skip Alyssa Meger, vice skip Emily Matthews, second Peyton L’Henaff and lead Zaria Netro, with coach Chris Meger.

At the masters nationals, for curlers 60 and over, Yukon will be represented by Team Zealand and Team Johnson.

Skip Gordon Zealand, third George Hilderman, second Richard Timble and lead Bob Walker will take on the nation in the men’s while skip Ellen Johnson, third Ev Pasichnuk, second Nancy Kowalyshen and lead Elaine Sumner will do the same in the women’s draw.

The 2017 Canadian Masters Curling Championship will take place April 3-9 in Guelph, Ont.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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