Team Koltun has set a high-water mark for female Yukon rinks at the junior nationals.
The Whitehorse team fought its way to fourth place in the women’s division of the Canadian Junior Curling Championships last week in Fort McMurray, Alta.
It is the best-ever finish for Yukon women at the junior nationals.
“It’s really exciting. It’s the best we’ve ever done,” said skip Sarah Koltun. “It’s crazy to see how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown over those years.
“It’s a bit disappointing that we didn’t make the semifinal when we were that close. But at this point, we can’t dwell on that. We just have to embrace how well we did and be proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
“I’m really happy with how we ended up,” said coach Lindsay Moldowan. “My girls fought really hard, played really well and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
“Obviously we would have preferred to be in the semifinal. But we also realize we accomplished something … a team representing the Yukon has never accomplished before for junior girls.”
The Koltun rink, which includes third Chelsea Duncan, second Patty Wallingham and lead Jenna Duncan, finished the round-robin tied for third with a 7-3 record.
With only the top three teams advancing into the playoffs, Team Koltun played a tiebreaker against Ontario, but lost 6-5 Friday afternoon. Team Ontario, which had the hammer in the final end, won it on their final shot.
Earlier that day Team Koltun finished the round-robin with a 10-3 win over Ontario, which went on to take bronze.
For the tiebreaker, “We had to change venues and it was a different game,” said Moldowan. “Ontario came out swinging. We curled well too, but I think the big difference was that Ontario was a different team in the afternoon than they were in the morning game.”
The change in venues made a difference, agreed Koltun.
“Just adjusting to the difference in ice between the club and the arena,” she said. “And the other team came out really strong and we just missed a couple of key shots.”
Last week was Chelsea and Koltun’s seventh trip to the junior nationals on Team Koltun. Koltun is eligible for one more trip next year while Chelsea is aging out.
“I’m pretty proud of our fourth-place finish,” said Chelsea. “I think we all went in hoping to be in a final game, but we all curled really well and it just wasn’t meant to be. We just have to be proud of what we did accomplish.”
The team’s previous best showing at the junior nationals was in 2011, tying for seventh with a 6-6 record. At the time, that was the strongest finish for the Yukon since 1999.
As determined by shooting percentages over the championships, Chelsea was named to the First Team All-Stars and Koltun was named skip of the Second Team All-Stars.
“That was pretty exciting for us,” said Koltun. “I never expected to get one of those. Seven years ago I never thought I’d be winning one of those awards.”
Team B.C. captured the gold with a 6-3 over Manitoba on Sunday.
Looking forward: “I think all of us have quite the future ahead of us beyond juniors,” said Chelsea. “We just have to think of that and move on. What we did accomplish is quite amazing for a Yukon team.”
The team has already proven they have the aptitude for adult competition. In their first Women’s World Curling Tour event, Team Koltun went 5-2 for third place at the Valley First Crown of Curling in Kamloops, B.C., in October.
“It’s great that they’ve been able to show Canada that, just because we’re from the North, doesn’t mean we can’t compete at the same level as these other kids from the bigger provinces,” added Moldowan.
See coverage of the Yukon’s junior men’s team and Whitehorse’s Thomas Scoffin in Wednesday’s Yukon News.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org