Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for January 17, 2014

Curling siblings aiming high at junior nationals

It hasn’t been six years since the Wallingham siblings first got their introduction to the sport of curling.

By Marcel Vander Wier on January 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

LOOKING TO SURPRISE – Yukon junior men’s skip Joe Wallingham is hoping to lead his rink into the championship round at the 2014 Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Liverpool, N.S. Above, Wallingham eyes up a stone while teammates Trygg Jensen, left, and Spencer Wallace, right, sweep during the territorial playdowns last month (top). EYES ON THE PRIZE – Patty Wallingham, right, and teammate Andrea Sinclair sweep a stone for Team Koltun during competition locally last month.

It hasn’t been six years since the Wallingham siblings first got their introduction to the sport of curling.

But starting tomorrow, Patty and Joe Wallingham will make their second straight junior nationals representing the Yukon. And both siblings have heightened expectations for their respective rinks.

For 20-year-old Patty, the 2014 nationals will mark her last opportunity to leave a mark at the tournament. She and teammates Sarah Koltun and Andrea Sinclair will all age out following this tournament. Eighteen-year-old Jenna Duncan will be the one with continued eligibility.

Skip Sarah Koltun is making her eighth straight appearance at the junior nationals – a tournament record. Koltun is also the first skip in Canadian history to lead a team into both the junior nationals and Scotties Tournament of Hearts in the same year.

Their recent Scotties qualification has the rink brimming with confidence heading into Liverpool, N.S.

“I believe it can get even better from here,” Patty told the Star this week. “I feel like we do have a very strong chance in getting to the finals. We have been working so hard and these last few weeks have been such a confidence booster, that I think we will enter (nationals) on a high.”

Last year, Team Koltun finished fourth in the country, missing the playoffs by the slimmest of margins after losing a tiebreaker 6-5 to Ontario on the final shot of the game.

Meanwhile, Joe has aspirations of skipping his team into the championship round consisting of the top eight teams, after the Yukon junior men just missed out on the achievement last year.

“Our main goal is to make the championship pool,” the 17-year-old skip said. “That’s our first goal, and if we get there, then we’ll refocus from there.”

Joe and his young rink of Spencer Wallace, Brayden Klassen and Trygg Jensen enter the tournament as the ninth seed. Their final practice Tuesday night was cut short when the power went out at the Whitehorse Curling Club.

The only two children of Walter and Wendy Wallingham were first introduced to the sport almost by accident.

Despite their father’s long history with curling – his Mayo rink represented the Yukon at junior nationals in 1978 – Patty got her first introduction to the game in Dawson City, where Walter was stationed as a police officer in 2007.

The Yukon’s junior rinks, led at the time by Thomas Scoffin and Koltun, were leading learn-to-curl camps in the communities in an attempt to promote the sport.

Patty clicked with the team from the get-go, and when the Wallinghams moved to Whitehorse in 2008, she began practising with Team Koltun as an alternate player.

Patty, who was previously into volleyball and swimming, soon fell in love with curling, and the rest is history.

“It was so funny,” Patty said when recalling the story. “I hadn’t thrown a rock beforehand. That was pretty much my first time curling.”

In Grade 8, Joe decided to follow in his father and older sister’s footsteps, joining a learn-to-curl league at the Whitehorse club.

The years have flown by, and Joe said it was somewhat surreal to be leading the territory into a national event.

“It’s pretty cool,” he admitted. “It’s such a fun event. It’s so cool to play against the rest of the country. That’s what you want to work for all year.”

The Wallinghams are excited to attend the nationals together again. This time, both Walter and his mother, Maggie Wallingham, will be in the stands watching.

Mom Wendy will support her daughter at the Scotties in Montreal in early February.

“It’s so much fun,” said Patty, who currently serves as Koltun’s second. “It’s definitely brought us closer because we’re spending so much time with something we both have in common. I really enjoy it.

“It’s awesome having (Joe) there. To go twice in consecutive years ... This will be something to remember.”


By MARCEL VANDER WIER
Star Sports Editor

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