Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for October 18, 2013

Clinics aimed at getting Yukon back to Scotties, Brier

Bill Tschirhart coached the last rink that represented the Yukon at the Brier, and he’s determined to help get the territory back to the national championships again.

By Marcel Vander Wier on October 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Bill Tschirhart coached the last rink that represented the Yukon at the Brier, and he’s determined to help get the territory back to the national championships again.

It’s been five years since Chad Cowan’s team attended the Tim Hortons Brier in Winnipeg, and no Yukon team has made it back to the men’s or women’s national playdowns since.

The Yukon Curling Association wants that to change, and brought Tschirhart up for his first of three competitive curling clinics last weekend. The first began Friday night at the Whitehorse Curling Club, and continued through Saturday and Sunday.

Tschirhart, a professional curling coach from British Columbia, said his goal is to empower curling players to be more competitive.

Topics he will cover in his three-clinic program include nutrition, strategy, tactics, skill development and a yearly training plan.

Responses to his teachings vary from team to team, he explained.

Team Koltun, the territory’s longtime junior women’s rink, took part in the clinic on the eve of their first road trip of the season, and used the time to review much of what they already know.

Tschirhart said Koltun’s rink is fast-becoming a dangerous team on the verge of usurping longtime N.W.T. skip Kerry Galusha for northern representation at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened this year,” he said. “But in two to three years, they will have arrived.”

Team Koltun worked on strategy tendencies, stone delivery release, and brushing techniques.

“A lot of the stuff was review for us, but Bill’s very knowledgeable and we love working with him,” skip Sarah Koltun said from Kamloops yesterday, where her rink was preparing to play in the Kamloops Crown of Curling event this weekend.

“There were definitely a few things that we picked up on that we hope to use this weekend.”

The bonspiel will mark the first event of the season for the junior rink, which sees Jenna Duncan slide onto the squad in place of her sister Chelsea. Last year, Team Koltun finished third in the World Curling Tour event.

The team will be on the road for the next three weeks, with other destinations including Lloydminster and Ottawa.

“We’re still trying to feel things out,” said Koltun, 20. “We have had the chance to play a couple of games together, but there’s still a bit of a learning curve. Obviously, every team wants to be successful, but at the end of the day our ultimate goal this season is not to win specifically one of these bonspiels … we want to accomplish smaller goals to help us reach our bigger goals towards the end of the season.”

Yukon Curling Association board member Laura Eby attended the clinic with her team of relatively new curlers.

“My team learned a lot, and the more competitive elite players learned as well,” she said.

New skills Eby’s rink picked up included stabilizing the sliding foot during delivery to increase shot accuracy, new more-effective brushing techniques that see the broom positioned on the turn side of the stone, and the measurement of shot speed by setting up a timed “speed trap” between the back line and hog line.

“My team learned a ton this weekend so I expect they’re going to improve tons and tons this year,” Eby said. “It was just amazing, especially at the beginning of the season.”

The clinic catered to all ages, Eby added.

“There was a couple of older curlers who have been curling for 50 years and Bill helped them with their deliveries … It was 100 per cent improvement.”

Nineteen curlers attended last weekend’s clinic in Whitehorse, and more are expected for the second clinic Nov. 1 to 3.

Training times have been altered slightly, with the clinic beginning Friday night at the Canada Games Centre followed by a full day at the curling club Saturday, followed by Sunday hours from 8 a.m. 2 p.m.

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