Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for February 3, 2014

Koltun turning heads at Scotties Tournament of Hearts ( Comment )

It hasn’t taken long for Sarah Koltun to sweep up the interest of an entire nation.

By Marcel Vander Wier on February 3, 2014 at 3:51 pm

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MAKING AN IMPRESSION – Team Yukon/Northwest Territories skip Sarah Koltun looks down the ice after delivering her rock against team Prince Edward Island during third draw curling action at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Montreal, Sunday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

It hasn’t taken long for Sarah Koltun to sweep up the interest of an entire nation.

In her first two days of competition at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Montreal, Que., the 20-year-old skip has drawn rave reviews from the likes of seasoned curling commentators Vic Rauter, Linda Moore and Russ Howard.

In the opening draw Saturday, it took just a handful of ends before the third-youngest skip in tournament history drew TSN’s television cameras away from the feature game of Quebec and New Brunswick and onto her as she gave Alberta’s Val Sweeting a run for her money.

At one point, Rauter likened Koltun’s confidence to that of a 115-year-old as she calmly drew her hammer shot to the button for a single when facing five Alberta stones.

Though Koltun’s rink would eventually lose that game 7-5, the Yukoners had put Canadian curling fans on notice – the youngest rink in Scotties history is not going to be easy pickings while facing the best rinks in the country.

In her second game Sunday morning, Koltun took Prince Edward Island skip Kim Dolan by storm, beating her 10-3, putting an exclamation mark on her win by scoring five points in the eighth end.

Dolan just so happens to be appearing in her 13th Canadian women’s curling championship as a player and a coach – the most among active skips.

As the Yukon’s first win at the Scotties since 1996 appeared imminent, the crowd on hand saluted the young team with loud cheers and cowbell.

By Sunday night, Koltun had put the Yukon square in the spotlight, as TSN chose to feature her game versus Newfoundland and Labrador in Draw 4.

TSN’s opening montage said it all: everyone is falling in love with this team from Whitehorse.

As Koltun and her long-time third Chelsea Duncan calmly and fearlessly matched Newfoundland and Labrador sisters Heather and Laura Strong shot-for-shot, TSN commentators took some time to praise the Whitehorse Curling Club, describing the venue and its ice as some of the best in the country.

And they didn’t stop there, going on to discuss a variety of attractions the Yukon capital has to offer, including the northern lights, beautiful mountains, and summer wilderness activities such as canoeing.

While Koltun showed off the ice in her veins by landing two beautiful draws for a deuce and a 3-3 tie in the fifth end, her front end of Andrea Sinclair and Patty Wallingham bailed her out later with some furious sweeping in the 10th end, dragging Koltun’s final attempt over the hog line for a guard.

Heather Strong – appearing in her 11th Scotties – would end the territory’s magical run, sifting her last rock through the guards to tap a Yukon stone out of the rings, preventing Koltun from tying the game and pushing it to extra ends.

It was a fitting finish, given that Strong had bested both Koltun and Duncan in the pre-tournament skills competition known as Ford Hot Shots Saturday morning.

Strong was the top individual curler in the competition, winning a two-year lease on a 2014 Ford Fusion. Both Koltun and Duncan placed in the top eight.

Team Koltun (1-2) is facing Team Canada (3-0) today.

While Koltun did strike first with a steal of one in the second end,  Canada’s skip Rachel Homan made her pay in the third, scoring a triple to go up 3-1.

At press time, the Yukon was trailing the defending Scotties champions 5-2 after six ends. Koltun will square off with Quebec (0-4) later today.

NOTES: The Canadian Curling Association made an amendment to their record books Saturday. Yellowknife skip Maureen Miller was declared the youngest skip to ever appear in the Scotties. Miller was just 19 during the 1984 tournament.

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