Wallingham Mikkelsen rink wins senior championships

Before this past weekend, Whitehorse curler Ray Mikkelsen twice tried to qualify for a nationals through a Yukon championship. Now that he's won one, he's still not going.

Before this past weekend, Whitehorse curler Ray Mikkelsen twice tried to qualify for a nationals through a Yukon championship.

Now that he’s won one, he’s still not going.

Mikkelsen was substitute skip for the winning Team Wallingham at the Yukon Senior Men’s Curling Championships over the weekend at the Whitehorse Curling Club.

“I was subbing this weekend, so I’m not going,” said Mikkelsen. “I’m going on holidays then, anyhow. I already had it booked, so I couldn’t have gone. That’s why I didn’t put in a seniors team this year.

“But it is a little bittersweet because I tried for two other national events and I didn’t make it. And I’ve made it to a nationals and I’m not going, so it’s kind of funny.”

Team Wallingham won the Yukon title in a tight best-of-three battle against Whitehorse’s Team Hilderman, led by skip George Hilderman.

The Wallingham rink, which includes third Gordon Zealand, second Herbert Balsam and lead Don Duncan, dropped the opening game, but won the next two 5-4 and 6-5 – both in extra ends. Skip Walter Wallingham was away at the Junior Canadian Curling Championships in Corner Brook, N.L., where his son Joe was skip of Yukon’s men’s team.

“Both games went into extra ends, so our competition gave us really good games and both teams played really well,” said Hilderman. “Things didn’t go my way, but hats off to the opposition. They made the right shots at the right times … Especially in the last game, the opposing skip made a stellar shot in the eighth end to force me to draw to the four-foot to make the carry-over for the extra end.”

Mikkelsen clinched the championship with a surgical double take-out in the ninth end Sunday morning. It was a dramatic finish for the team that began the championships with a 7-3 loss to Hilderman – the only other team entered – Saturday morning.

“Our front end was struggling,” said Mikkelsen. “So I just changed strategy: I was getting them to freeze everything in the house. And we hung in there to the seventh end and then he got three on us. It was a closer game than the score indicated.”

With the Yukon title, Team Wallingham will now represent the territory at the Canadian Senior Curling Championships being held in Edmonton March 21-29.

Hilderman has gone to the senior nationals five times. His team took home a 5-6 record from the championships last year in Yellowknife, N.W.T.

“It’s pretty good because a couple guys on the team have never been to a national event, so they were really excited about it,” said Mikkelsen of Duncan and Balsam.

Had Hilderman won this past weekend, it would have made for a busy couple of weeks. Hilderman, who curled with third Doug Gee, second Doug Hamilton and lead Dale Enzenauer on the weekend, is already slated to represent Yukon at the 2015 Canadian Masters Curling Championships, being held at the Whitehorse Curling Club March 29 to April 5.

It will, however, be a busy time for Zealand. He will play third for Hilderman at the masters championship (for curlers over 60) in Whitehorse immediately after playing third for Wallingham at the senior championships (over 50) in Edmonton.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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