Young guns ready to battle the best at Scotties
Sarah Koltun is no stranger to setting records.
MAKING HISTORY – Yukon’s Team Koltun is the youngest team in Canadian history to qualify for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, according to records kept by the Canadian Curling Association. Pictured from left are: lead Andrea Sinclair, second Patty Wallingham, third Chelsea Duncan, skip Sarah Koltun and fifth Lindsay Moldowan. Photo courtesy TEAM KOLTUN
Sarah Koltun is no stranger to setting records.
At the age of 13 in 2007, she became the youngest skip ever at a Canadian junior curling championship.
Last week, she competed in her record eighth national juniors in Liverpool, N.S.
Earlier this month, Koltun’s rink became the first in our country’s history to qualify for both the national juniors and Scotties Tournament of Hearts in the same year.
Tomorrow, the 20-year-old skip will lead the youngest team in Scotties history into action as the annual Canadian women’s curling championship gets underway in Montreal.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Koltun said of her latest honour. “I use that word a lot I guess.
That’s really cool. It’s kind of the result of all of the work we’ve put into our junior careers ... To see us get to the Scotties this early in our career is pretty special.”
The team arrived in Montreal Monday and has spent the week enjoying some R-and-R after finishing 10th in their final crack at the national junior tournament.
“We’ve been doing a lot of resting. For the most part, we’ve been seeing some sights,” said junior coach Lindsay Moldowan.
The 33-year-old will serve as an alternate player at the Scotties.
“We had to force ourselves to deal with the emotions of it in Liverpool,” she said regarding her team’s final junior appearance.
“Once we left Liverpool, we knew there was a different job that had to be done. Dwelling on that competition while we’re going into this competition is going to only hurt us.”
Koltun said the team is raring to get underway and looking to surprise.
“There’s a lot of excitement right now, and definitely a bit of nerves because we haven’t played in a tournament that’s this big before,” she told the Star. “I think we will definitely be an underdog team, but we might also be underestimated
because of how young we are.
“We really want to go out and make everyone proud.”
The Yukon will begin play tomorrow at 11 a.m. PT vs. Alberta. Television coverage will be provided courtesy of TSN.
Koltun’s rink will face both P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador Sunday before squaring off with Team Canada, led by Rachel Homan, on Monday. Koltun has sparred with Homan before in junior play.
Coach Gord Moffatt has coached at the Scotties before, guiding Donna Scott’s rink to a 1-10 record in 1996.
“It’s totally different,” Moffatt said of the Scotties hype. “It’s a centre-stage bonspiel.
It’s a whole different playing field.
We’re playing against Super Bowl contenders.”
How the team deals with those distractions will be key, the coach said.
“They’ve got all the tools from our sports psychologist,” he said. “It’s just more pressure and far bigger pressure. It’s going to be tough, but they’re strong enough to deal with that.
“I’m not going to predict how many they will win, but they will be competitive. They’ll turn some heads for sure.”
The Yukon rink is the first in 13 years to qualify for the Scotties. The roster is made up of three 20-year-olds – Koltun, Andrea Sinclair and Patty Wallingham – and Chelsea Duncan, 21.
Born Nov. 9, 1993, Wallingham will become the youngest curler to compete at the Scotties since 19-year-old Colleen Jones played second for Nova Scotia in 1979.
“It’s going to be pretty unreal,” Wallingham said of the upcoming tournament. “It’s going to be a little bit different. We’ve played on arena ice before, but there’s going to be cameras and everything. I don’t know what that’s going to be like.”
Sandra Mikkelsen, 48, was the last skip to represent the Yukon at the Scotties under her maiden name – Hatton.
She recalled the magnitude of the tournament in Prince George, where her rink went 0-11.
“When you go to the Scotties, you’re playing in an arena with thousands of people watching you,” she said. “Just walking in there and having that all before you ... it’s just like you’re royalty for a whole 10 days. You kind of ride on that.”
While Hatton’s rink didn’t win a game, they were competitive, taking multiple games to extra ends.
Her advice for the latest Yukon rink to make it was simple: soak up the moment.
“Play shot for shot and enjoy the whole thing,” she said. “Get out there and enjoy everything. Take it all in.
“They don’t have to prove anything. They’ve already accomplished a lot.”
For Team Koltun’s Scotties schedule, visit http://www.curling.ca/2014scotties-en/draw-schedule.