Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for January 9, 2014

Koltun rink receives warm welcome at airport

Tears flowed freely as the Yukon’s first Scotties-bound curling rink in 13 years strolled into the Whitehorse airport yesterday afternoon.

By Marcel Vander Wier on January 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

HOME FOR A REST – Team Koltun’s Lindsay Moldowan, Patty Wallingham and Sarah Koltun (left to right) hold up their Scotties patches at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport yesterday. A crowd of supporters rang cowbells and held up posters of support for the North’s newest representatives at the Scotties, scheduled for Feb. 1 to 9.

Tears flowed freely as the Yukon’s first Scotties-bound curling rink in 13 years strolled into the Whitehorse airport yesterday afternoon.

A boisterous group of cowbell-clanging, poster-waving supporters were on hand to greet Team Koltun upon their return from their playdowns victory Monday in Yellowknife.

The emotion of the moment was not lost on the young curling rink as they received warm embraces and bouquets of flowers from their supporters.

While third Chelsea Duncan returned to university in Edmonton, the rest of the team including skip Sarah Koltun, second Patty Wallingham and lead Andrea Sinclair will be in Whitehorse for just one week before they head to the other side of the country for the junior national playdowns.

The group struggled to put their feelings into words after defeating Team Galusha 6-4 in the NWT/YT Scotties playdowns.

“It’s so huge to think about right now,” Wallingham told reporters at the airport last night. “It’s definitely still a shock to us. This was an awesome thing to come home to. Thank you so much for everything.”

The outpouring of support from the territory since the Scotties win has been overwhelming, Wallingham said.

“We actually had to turn our phones off for a moment just to let the initial moment sink in, and then deal with everything else afterwards,” she said.

Just 20 years old, Koltun will become the second-youngest skip in history to ever compete at the Scotties.

According to Canadian Curling Association records, New Brunswick’s Andrea Kelly (now Crawford) remains the youngest ever.

Kelly was also only 20 when she competed in the 2006 Scotties, where she finished with a 5-6 record. Her birthday of July 31, 1985 has Koltun (July 6) beat by about three weeks.

Sinclair joined the team this summer from Ottawa as the club decided to go all in and push for both a Canadian junior title and a berth in the national women’s championship.

“Those were our two goals going into this season and to see it pay off is huge,” Koltun said. “We knew we had a tough road ahead of us.”

“It’s a real validation too,” said Sinclair. “Everything we gave up wasn’t just for nothing. We made the right choice and we did the right thing.”

Meanwhile, the skip said the team has not yet set a goal for themselves at the Scotties.

“We haven’t thought that far ahead,” Koltun said. “We’re still letting it sink in. Juniors is up first ... so one step at a time.”

Koltun said she will be leaning on her junior experiences to help her at her first Scotties.

“It kind of brings me back to when I was 13 and going to my first junior nationals, and I was kind of in the same boat,” she explained. “All of the other teams there were much older than me, and some of them had been curling longer than I had been alive.

“It was kind of weird, but at the same time, we just went out and decided to do our best.”

Koltun’s junior rinkmate Jenna Duncan was following along on her computer in Whitehorse when her teammates won the northern Scotties playdowns Monday.

“I was at home stressing out,” the 18-year-old told the Star at the airport. “It was really exciting. I’m really proud of them. They have it in them ... they’re amazing – all of them.”

Duncan won’t have to worry about clicking the ‘refresh’ button on her internet browser during the Scotties. She will be cheering her teammates on from the stands at the Arena Maurice Richard in Montreal.

“I’m living my dream through them,” Duncan admitted. “And I think they can do well. If they put their mind to it and play like they can, they’ll at least keep the games close.”

Coach Lindsay Moldowan, who will serve as an alternate at the Scotties, said her rink will use the junior nationals in Liverpool, N.S. as preparation for the Canadian women’s championships.

“We leave in a week and the juniors themselves are the best competition for their age group as it is,” Moldowan said.

“Now that they’ve graduated up to the Scotties, it’s perfect that they get to go to the juniors to help us prepare.”

The junior tournament is scheduled to take place Jan. 18 to 26.

Moldowan’s father Gord Moffat will attend both tournaments in a coaching capacity.

Walter Wallingham, the father of Koltun second Patty Wallingham, was one of the proud parents at the airport yesterday to welcome the team home.

“We’re very, very proud,” he said. “They worked really hard at it. I’ve never seen a team practice so hard at it. They put in a lot of hours.”

The rink also worked hard to raise money to travel to out-of-town bonspiels – shovelling driveways, packing grocery bags, selling chocolates.

“They did everything it took just so they could go curl,” Walter said. “That’s what it took – just a lot of hard work ... and they pulled it together when they needed to. That’s what being a good team’s all about.

“Hopefully they can keep it going.  I know if they put their minds to it, they can win some games down there,” he added. “They are a very tough team. When they’re on, I don’t think too many teams up here can beat them and I hope they can prove it to everybody else when they’re down there.”

CommentsAdd a comment

Louisa Gee

Jan 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Congratulations again, ladies!!  This team should be an inspiration to other people young, old and in between.  They worked very hard on their own fundraising all year and weren’t asking for handouts to assist them in their travels, etc :  Proud of all of you!

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