First a two-year lease on a Ford gas buggy, then a first-round upset victory over Alberta at the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts.
Was Saturday the biggest curling day ever for skip Kerry Galusha and her Yellowknife team?
“To beat a team like that and win a car (in the Ford Hot Shots skills competition)? Yes, that was the biggest day,” said Galusha, a veteran skip from a notoriously competition-bare precinct.
Battling Alberta’s Heather Nedohin team tooth and nail from the outset, Galusha tossed caution the winds but trailed 5-3 after just four ends.
Then she tied it in the fifth and stole ahead by one in the sixth.
After an exchange of singles, Alberta trailed by one playing the 10th and Nedohin faced a tough raise takeout for the win but the offending Territories brick jammed, leaving Galusha in possession of the hammer in overtime.
“I didn’t think I was going to have a shot at the end but Heather missed her guard and we threw a nice control hit and we made it,” said Galusha of her in-turn angle raise takeout.
With brother Kevin Koe, the Alberta men’s champ, in the stands with his family, Galusha and company appeared to be pumped.
“Yes, I talked to him before the game and saw his girls and his wife,” said the Polar skip. “It was good to have him here because he wasn’t going to come until Monday so it was a nice surprise.” (Continued Below…)
Draw 1 Photos
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Galusha professes to be a “different curler” at this Scotties rendition.
“We had our practice yesterday and we talked about the ice,” she said. “A lot of times we come here and struggle on arena ice. We never play on it. We played on club ice that’s really heavy and doesn’t curl a lot. We talked about loving the ice. Now I feel the most comfortable I’ve ever been at a Scotties.”
The team faced P.E.I.’s veteran Kim Dolan in a second-round match later today.
“We had three goals today,” Galusha said. “Two down, one to go.”
Elsewhere on the opening log, defending champion Amber Holland of Kronau, Sask., stole three in the eighth end on the strength of a costly miss from Newfoundland skip Heather Strong which accounted for a 7-4 win.
Ontario’s rookie Tracy Horgan of Sudbury stole a 7-6 extra-end decision from Dolan while two-time champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna was provided with all the opposition she could handle before swinging an extra-end hammer for a 7-6 victory over Marie-France Larouche of Quebec.
“We had to work and dig,” said Scott. “Every time we got ahead they’d counter right back. They were never out of it and we were never in the clear.
“It went right down to that tricky last rock in the extra end. My last rock just curled up at the end to roll in for shot. Halfway down I wasn’t sure. If I nosed it we didn’t have shot rock.” (Continued Below…)
Draw 1 Media Scrum
Scott knows only too well the importance of a winning start, as does Holland.
“It’s huge,” said Scott. “We’ve been in tournaments where you start off strong and that just sets up your whole week. When you start off a little shaky it takes a while to find your footing.
“We have two draws off now and we definitely didn’t want to dwell on a first loss for that long.”
“Heather just personally missed her shot in eight. We put a little pressure on her and it was unfortunate for her. But we wanted to make sure going into the last few ends that we were relatively close but in control.
“Earlier in the year we had lots of games like that. We just didn’t follow up in the next games after that. The key for us here is consistency so we’ll take something from that and look forward to the next game (Sunday afternoon against New Brunswick).
“It’s always great to come out and win your first game — the energy level stays up and that’s good because our schedule is going to get tougher over the new few days.”
And a Saskatchewan green team wearing red and white?
“It feels different,” Holland agreed. “Especially when you look up at the screen.”
Rookie Horgan, playing with her sister Jennifer Seabrook at third, trailed by two playing the 10th end but managed the tying pair and stole the winner in an 11th argument against the Islanders.
“We’re trying to stay calm and do our best and just learn as much as we can this week,” said Horgan.
“I think we’re lucky the competition is tough in Ontario and that really prepares us. We don’t have a whole lot of experience on arena ice but it’s really good, we really loved it and I think we’re getting the hang of it.”
Is there that deer-in-the-headlights fear a possibility?
“At moments it can be tough staying confident in such an experienced field,” said Horgan, “but the crowd’s amazing, there will be some distractions we’re not used to but we’re going to enjoy all of this.”