Despite battling injuries, position changes, and a lack of ice, NWT curler Kerry Galusha and her team remain in high spirits ahead of a tournament that could send them to pre-trials for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Galusha announced in mid-August the team would be competing in a “pre-pre-trial” event in Ottawa organized by Curling Canada, serving as a logistical workaround during Covid-19. The seasoned curler told Cabin Radio she believed it was the first time a northern team has had such an opportunity.
Now, Galusha and her teammates – third Jo-Ann Rizzo, second Margot Flemming, and lead Sarah Koltun – are in Ontario, participating in a couple of practice competitions to prepare for the Ottawa tournament running from September 22 to 26.
They made it all the way to the finals in the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard before shaking after the sixth end, ultimately losing 7-3 to Ontarian Holly Duncan. This weekend, they’ll hit the ice in Kitchener-Waterloo for another warm-up bonspiel before heading to the capital.
However, the team got some bad news: Galusha is suffering from a herniated disc in her lower lumbar spine, resulting in pain in her left leg, hip, and glute.
“I’ve been dealing with injuries since the Scotties last year,” she explained. “This I think is a newer injury from about four weeks ago. I’ve been dealing with it all summer.
“It’s been definitely a grind for me, but I am still trying to contribute to the team and trying to be the best I can with what info we have.”
The four have had to adjust which positions they throw to accommodate Galusha’s injury while she heals.
Galusha herself will now be throwing lead rock – in other words, throwing first – while Koltun throws third and Rizzo throws last.
The team was still adjusting to the changes when they played in Oakville this past weekend.
‘We did what we had to do’
“It was a bit of an adjustment, but things seem really easy with us,” Galusha said. “We all get along great and have really good team chemistry … and we ended up winning the right games at the right time to make that final.
“It ended up being a really good weekend. We won some money, we got some points – we were happy.”
Rizzo, who has played with Galusha for three years, said the team was “fully prepared” for the position change.
“We talked about it a lot, so we were ready to go,” she said. “The team’s really supportive and everything went well. Everyone was fully on board with all the changes that needed to be done.”
With the tournament in Ottawa a week way, the team will most likely keep their adjusted positions heading into the competition.
“We have one tournament under our belts, and we’ve been doing a lot of things right,” Rizzo said, “so now we can just continue to work on perfecting those things.
“I think what we’re doing is going to really get us prepared for Ottawa. We’ll be more ready than ever, considering it’s the beginning of the year and not many people have ice anywhere. We’re happy that we’re going have all this ice time, playing and practising.”
Team Galusha even made some makeshift ice at Yellowknife’s hockey rink to get a few slides in before heading to Ontario, complete with a wooden hack.
“Curling is really tough because you use muscles that you can’t train on dry land,” Galusha explained, “so it was good to get all the start-of-year slides out. We did what we had to do.
“We just knew we needed to kind-of think out the box and prepare in different ways and, especially with my injury, we just really had no idea.
“Everything was up in the air until we got on the ice. So, we’re really glad that we did that.”