After eight years of Team Koltun domination, Yukon has new junior girls curling champions.
Whitehorse’s Team Horte won a best-of-three contest to take the title at the Yukon Junior Curling Championships on Saturday at the Whitehorse Curling Club.
With the title, the Horte team earns their first trip to the Canadian Junior Curling Championships next month in Corner Brook, N.L.
“It was really exciting and we’re all really excited to go to nationals this year,” said skip Bailey Horte.
“We’re really hopeful and excited. It’ll be a new experience for our team that we’ve been looking forward to for quite a few years. Hopefully it all goes well.”
Team Koltun, skipped by Whitehorse’s Sarah Koltun, aged out of junior last year after winning the Yukon junior title eight consecutive times going back to 2006, defeating Team Horte in the final the last two years.
Team Horte claimed this year’s title with two wins over Team Meger, winning 9-3 and 13-4 on Saturday.
It was a real family affair. Including coaches, there were Hortes, Scoffins and Megers on both teams.
Joining skip Horte is third Kelsey Meger, second Kelly Mahoney, lead Sian Molloy and coach Wade Scoffin.
On the Meger rink is skip Alyssa Meger, third Bayly Scoffin, second Peyton L’Henaff, lead Karen Smallwood and coach Rhonda Horte.
“We definitely had a lot of fun out there,” said Bailey, 18.
Bailey, Mahoney, and both Megers played together at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games, placing fourth. Bailey, Mahoney, Kelsey and Molloy played together at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games, winning silver.
“A lot of it has to do with the age,” said Bailey. “At the recent Arctics, the reason why Sian didn’t play with us was she was too old, so that’s why we picked up Alyssa and it worked out pretty good.
We played well.”
“It was pretty weird because last year I went to Arctics with my sister and I just played against her for nationals,” said Alyssa. “So it was a little bit weird.”
Team Meger missed out on the spot at the junior nationals, but the rink will still get to represent Yukon on the national stage. The Meger team will curl for the territory at the Canada Winter Games this February in Prince George.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Alyssa, 14. “I’m looking forward to experiencing it and just having a good time doing it.”
Yukon’s junior boys championship was decided without a single throw of a stone.
Whitehorse’s Team Wallingham won by default as the only boys team entered. It’s anticlimactic, but a trip to the nationals is a trip to the nationals.
“It would be good to get some games under our belt, but that’s all right,” said skip Joe Wallingham. “Our goal is to get to nationals and I guess we did it.”
On board with Wallingham are third Brayden Klassen, second Trygg Jensen and lead Spencer Wallace.
Corner Brook will be Wallingham and Wallace’s third nationals and the second for Jensen and Klassen.
“We’re feeling good, we’re starting to curl well as a team, starting to get more comfortable with each other’s game,” said Wallingham. “We’re just getting excited to go to nationals.”
Team Wallingham placed ninth at the 2014 Canadian Junior Curling Championships last January.
The team, who at the time included Jensen, Klassen and younger brother Will Klassen, then won gold in junior men’s curling at the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Wallingham has aged out of eligibility for the Games in Prince George, B.C., but a team of Jensen, both Klassens and Bailey Muir-Cressman are set to represent Yukon at the quadrennial Games.