Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

OUT OF THE HACK – Laura Eby, centre, shoots a rock, while teammates Laura Williamson, right, and Tamar Vandenberghe prepare to sweep during curling playdowns in January. Team Yukon will begin play in the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Friday night in Calgary.

Yukon Scotties team ready to rock

Lead Laura Williamson, Second Tamar Vandenberghe, Third Lorna Spenner, Fourth Laura Eby and alternate Darlene Gammel, the team representing the Yukon at the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, are ready to go when action begins Friday.

By John Tonin on February 16, 2021

Lead Laura Williamson, Second Tamar Vandenberghe, Third Lorna Spenner, Fourth Laura Eby and alternate Darlene Gammel, the team representing the Yukon at the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, are ready to go when action begins Friday.

The Scotties will be played Feb. 19-28.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament will be played in a bubble. This has added a new wrinkle of preparation before the team departs for Calgary on Wednesday.

"It's pretty intense," said Eby. "We need a negative test before we leave. We have been in quarantine until we leave. We will be tested upon arrival in Calgary then on Friday before our games are played.

"Then we will have two health checks a day, getting our temperature taken, before one more test on the Tuesday."

Since the team won the playdowns to represent the Yukon at Canada's premier curling tournament, Eby said, they haven't been able to practise as much as they would have liked.

"We haven't used the ice as much as we hoped," said Eby. "Curling Canada asked that we didn't play other teams to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

"But, we have been on the ice a bit and we have had team meetings, and seen a sports psychologist, and have been strategizing. We are still one of the luckier regions because many clubs across Canada aren't open."

Before their first game at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Eby said, they will get two important training sessions.

"It will give us a chance to play on arena ice for the first time," said Eby, who, along with her teammates, will be experiencing their first Scotties.

Their first draw is against Wild Card 3, of the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club in Winnipeg. Wild Card 3 is skipped by Beth Peterson.

"For sure, there will be some nervousness and excitement for the first game," said Eby. "But, we will get the nerves under control."

By Eby's admission, the Yukon, in Pool A, drew some tough competition. Included in the pool are the 2020 Scotties winners, playing under the Canada banner, and skipped by Kerri Einarson.

Last year's runner-up Ontario, skipped by Rachel Homan, is also in the Yukon's pool.

"It will be a huge challenge but the experience will be incredible," said Eby. "It is a dream come true for us to play teams we have watched on TV.

"We just need to make sure we stick to our strategy – that will be huge for us."

Without giving away all the team's plans, Eby did share some of the team's strategy.

"We want to keep it clean," she said. "We do not want a lot of opponent rocks in the house. We want to keep the score low.

"We don't want any eight enders. With 10 ends to play, we want to keep the score low and stay in the game. That's the plan. I think we will give them some good games."

Because the Scotties are being played in a bubble and it is the Yukon team's first time at the tournament, Eby said that could make it easier.

"We are all in the same boat," said Eby. "We knew what was coming and what to expect. There will be lots of downtime to focus on curling because there aren't going to be events.

"There will also be no anxiety from the fans. We want to gain good experience. We are looking forward to it. It'll be good for our first time."

After the team's first draw against Wild Card 3, they will play Nova Scotia, skipped by Jill Brothers, before meeting Homan and Team Ontario.

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