Team Koltun proved their mettle at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Montreal, Que., last week.
The Whitehorse rink defeated medal contender Saskatchewan 6-5 with a steal in the final end on Thursday to finish their run at the Canadian women’s curling championship. Saskatchewan went on to place fourth with a loss to Manitoba in the bronze medal game.
The win was the Koltun crew’s second of the Scotties, having beaten Team P.E.I. 10-3 on Feb. 2.
“The first one was huge,” said skip Sarah Koltun. “We knew we’d be able to keep up with the teams, but we didn’t know how many wins we were going to be able to get out of it. So getting that first win, and winning by such a large margin, was really cool.
“The second one was huge too. We were kind of disappointed the way the week was going for us because we had quite a few really close matches, but we never had hammer in the last end. So it was really hard for us to generate that last win.
“We were feeling like we were coming out on the bad side of games that could have gone the other way. So being able to get that win in the last game was really good.”
Team Koltun was playing in their first Scotties last week and was also the first Yukon rink to compete at the championship in 13 years.
At the end they placed 12th with the same 2-9 record as Quebec, but a loss to la belle province during the round-robin broke the tie and put them in last.
In addition to the two wins, the Yukon team, which includes third Chelsea Duncan, second Patty Wallingham, lead Andrea Sinclair and fifth/coach Lindsay Moldowan, had one-point losses to Newfoundland, B.C. and New Brunswick.
“Overall we’re happy with how we performed; we showed that we’re a very skilled team coming out of the North,” said Koltun. “But at the end of the day we really want to be competitive, so it was really a stepping stone to our future. We want to keep getting better and be one of those top-four teams.
“It showed us a lot and where we need to go to get better, what steps need to be taken to get to the next level.”
A stomach bug didn’t help the team’s run. Both Koltun and Moldowan fell ill during the week. It was so bad Team Koltun was Koltunless in a 7-3 loss to Nova Scotia on Feb. 5. Koltun did return for a 12-2 loss to Ontario later in the day.
“They were able to hold their own for the first bit, but playing with three is not exactly easy, especially at an event that is this high calibre,” said Koltun. “They did well considering the situation.
“I tried to come back for the game that afternoon, but they were tired from playing with three and I was really tied and weak from having been sick all the night before. That game didn’t go very well.”
“If I wasn’t sick, I would have gone in and replaced Sarah when she was sick,” said Moldowan, who coached the team with Gordon Moffatt. “It’s a little unfortunate that we got hit by that flu bug that slowed us down a little bit. But overall, looking back on the week, it went really well. The experience was really great, we had some really great games, even though we didn’t come out on the winning end of a lot of them, we stayed close on the score and made some good shots.
“We’re proud of it for sure.”
Of the close losses in Montreal, there is one in particular the team would like back.
In their opening game Alberta’s Val Sweeting on Feb. 1, Koltun went up 4-1 after five ends, but fell 7-5 when Sweeting scored three in the ninth.
Sweeting and her team went on to take silver with an 8-6 loss to Rachel Homan’s Team Canada, the defending champs, in the final.
“We just had one really bad end and weren’t able to pull it off,” said Koltun.
Koltun is the first skip in history to lead a team at the Scotties and the Junior Canadian Curling Championship in the same season. The Canadian Curling Association believes she is also the third youngest skip to compete at the Scotties but hasn’t confirmed that.
“We’re on our way home now, we’ll take a couple days off and then meet up to discuss everything that’s happened and where we’re planning to go from here,” said Koltun.
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