Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for December 17, 2013

Baldwin draws first blood on road to Scotties

It was a good start, but the real battle still looms for the Yukon on the road to the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

By Marcel Vander Wier on December 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm


Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

SCOTTIES HOPEFUL – Skip Nicole Baldwin releases a shot Saturday during the Yukon Scotties playdowns. Team Baldwin beat Team Koltun two games to one (top). YELLOWKNIFE BOUND – Andrea Sinclair, left, and Patty Wallingham sweep a Chelsea Duncan stone for Team Koltun Saturday afternoon at the Whitehorse Curling Club.

It was a good start, but the real battle still looms for the Yukon on the road to the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Team Baldwin emerged victorious at the Yukon Women’s Curling Championship following a hard-fought three-game series with Team Koltun over the weekend at the Whitehorse Curling Club.

After dropping the first game 6-4 to Team Koltun Saturday morning, Nicole Baldwin’s rink stormed back that afternoon to score a 9-3 victory. Team Baldwin would go on to win the tiebreaker Sunday, by a score of 6-3.

With their two games to one series win, Baldwin’s rink earned the Yukon’s No. 1 seed for the upcoming Yukon/N.W.T. Scotties playdowns in Yellowknife.

“It was a confidence booster,” Baldwin told the Star. “They were all great games. It was nice to have three intense, competitive games.”

The 33-year-old skip along with third Ladene Shaw, second Helen Strong and lead Rhonda Horte recently made it to the semifinals at the Dominion Club Championships in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Horte was part of the last Yukon team to represent the North at the Scotties – in 2000 with skip Sandra Hatton.

Regardless of the loss, Sarah Koltun’s team will also head to Yellowknife Jan. 3 to 6 with a shot to represent the North at the Canadian women’s curling championship.

“We definitely weren’t playing to the best of our abilities,” admitted Koltun, 20. “We know we’re going to have to step it up, because the playdowns are only going to get harder from here on out.”

Koltun’s women’s rink also includes third Chelsea Duncan, second Patty Wallingham and lead Andrea Sinclair. The longtime junior rink is competing in the Scotties playdowns for the first time.

Koltun praised Baldwin for a championship well-played.

“They played well and sometimes there’s not much you can do about that,” she said. “We just weren’t on our game and it’s tough when you’re playing against a team that’s playing that well.”

Koltun coach Lindsay Moldowan said her team learned a tough lesson this weekend.

“I think going into it we knew that Nicole’s team would be really tough competition,” Moldowan said. “Now we have a better indication of the work we need to do in order to prepare for Yellowknife.”

Moldowan said her team needs to find consistency with their shot-making, an area of their game that can only come with practice.

With the No. 1 seed, Team Baldwin will be the last to face Team Galusha, who won Northwest Territories top seed in the N.W.T. Scotties playdowns earlier this month.

Kerry Galusha, nee Koe, has represented the North at nine of the last 13 Scotties championships.

Melba Mitchell of Inuvik won the second seed in the N.W.T.’s playdowns of three teams.

While home-ice advantage will undoubtedly be an advantage for Galusha’s Yellowknife rink, Baldwin believes the two Yukon rinks will get comfortable quickly.

“It’s nice to know your ice for sure, but I think we can adapt,” she said. “It’s more of the rocks actually. They know their rocks like we know ours.”

The women’s championship behind them, Team Koltun will now focus on the junior women’s championships this weekend in Whitehorse.

Team Koltun’s junior roster will battle their long-time foe led by 17-year-old Bailey Horte for a chance to compete in their eighth straight national junior curling championship.

“We know that we’re going to have to fight for that one too,” Koltun said.

“It’s a bit of a different dynamic, being our junior team instead of our women’s team and we’re just training a bunch this week to make sure we’re completely prepared going into those playdowns.”

Bailey Horte’s younger rink has been a runner-up to Koltun’s dominant junior rink in recent playdowns.

But the daughter of Team Baldwin’s lead Rhonda Horte hopes she can make a name for herself this weekend by pulling off a major upset.

“We’ve been playing well this season,” Bailey said at the curling club Saturday. “If we play well, we definitely have a chance to beat them. I’m really excited about it.”

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