The NWT has locked down its teams for the upcoming national curling championships following playdown competitions this past weekend.
This year’s field was more sparse than usual. Three teams competed in the women’s territorial championship, while only two men’s teams took part.
Kerry Galusha will once again represent the NWT at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, defeating Cassie Rogers 10-6 in the ninth end.
“We did it! We are off to the Scotties bubble in Calgary in a couple of weeks!” a post on the team’s Facebook page read.
“We are thankful we had a chance to play some games this past weekend and can’t wait to compete against the top teams in Canada!”
Galusha has competed in 17 Scotties to date, playing 15 of those tournaments as skip.
Meanwhile, skip Greg Skauge is set to lead Team NWT at the Tim Hortons Brier.
He defeated sole rival Glen Hudy 8-2 by the seventh end after the teams traded wins in their two previous games.
This is the first time in 12 years that the NWT won’t be represented at the Brier by long-time territorial champion Jamie Koe.
Koe withdrew his team from the NWT playdowns in January, citing uncertainty around Covid-19 and the threat of potential sanctioning if the team pulled out at a later date.
“It kind-of hurts to bow out, because I love representing the NWT and I’ve done it so much,” he told Cabin Radio at the time.
“I think we’re just hoping that vaccines roll out in the south and here, and things somewhat return to normal so that we can start travelling again to compete.”
This marks Skauge’s first championship win as skip at the territorial level, though he has competed for more than a decade.
“We’re just glowing to get this opportunity to go on and play the premier teams of the world, not just Canada,” he said.
“The spirit and the tradition of the Brier … is that you put any team together and you play hoping to get the opportunity to go and compete there.
“To finally get the opportunity is pretty cool.”
Calgary’s ‘curling bubble’
Both the Brier and Scotties are set to take place in Calgary at the Canada Olympic Park, in what Curling Canada has dubbed a “curling bubble,” which will include frequent symptom and temperature checks and harsh penalties for those who break the bubble.
Skauge said the team will have to present a Covid-19 test two days before leaving the territory and will have to get a second test upon arrival in Calgary.
Players are not allowed to go anywhere but their hotel rooms and the arena, and will be shuttled between the locations each day.
“It’s definitely going to be a different situation than the normal Brier atmosphere, where you have fans and the social engagements, and the patch where the fans and the players get a chance to see each other,” Skauge said.
“But from all the things that Curling Canada has put in place, we’re feeling confident that it is going to be a safe event.”
The Scotties will take place February 20-28, with the Brier from March 6-14 and Canadian mixed doubles from March 18-25.
The men’s world championship is scheduled for April 3-11, where the team that wins the Brier just two weeks prior will represent Canada.
Curling Canada announced the final schedule for the Scotties on Tuesday, with Galusha in Pool A alongside current Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson from Manitoba, former Olympian Rachel Homan of Ontario, and world mixed doubles bronze medallist Laura Walker of Alberta.
Galusha’s first game is set for February 19 at 6:30pm MT against Krysta Burns of Northern Ontario.