Team Galusha is on some kind of roll.
Two finals appearances on the World Curling Tour circuit, one of them a win, decent points, decent prize money. You couldn’t ask for a better start to a season, especially one where they went to Ontario absolutely cold. No ice at the Yellowknife Curling Centre to prepare on, no practice, no games — at least until they arrived in Oakville, Ont. There, the ladies walked out and threw down the gauntlet.
Galusha said it herself the week before: if you had asked her whether she would have been happy losing in a final with very little practice, she would’ve said yes. Why not? When you head out onto the ice for the first time, the first thing you’re doing is getting everything worked out. They call it muscle memory. I’m sure Galusha and the ladies were hoping to do well and they did.
And then they built on that success this past weekend in Kitchener-Waterloo. It was a true team effort. Galusha didn’t play every game to avoid aggravating her injured back, and that meant the rest of the team had to step up, like Jo-Ann Rizzo, who threw skip stones. And when all else goes to rot, you turn to the go-to as Shona Barbour flew in to help coach and step into the championship game to play.
Oh, and there was a sixth player in the mix as Leigh Armstrong from Milton, Ont., came in at various points, including the final in Kitchener-Waterloo. She was a big part of the team’s success.
And so now it’s off to Ottawa for perhaps one of the biggest bonspiels Galusha has ever played in. It’s the Canadian Curling Pre-Trial Direct Entry event or, as Galusha called it, the pre-pre-trials for the actual Canadian Olympic trials in January 2022. Galusha and company will be going up against some of the best teams not already qualified, and it all begins on Wednesday. The biggest thing going for the ladies heading into Ottawa is they’re on a roll. They have momentum with back-to-back finals appearances and that breeds confidence. It does wonders for a team when you can go to an event and know that you’ll be in the hunt.
In talking with Barbour on Sunday evening after the win, I got the sense that there’s this quiet confidence about the ladies. Every day is scheduled, she said, and it’s all part of a plan. Whatever that plan is must be working quite well so far because it’s yielded early success.
I was having a brief chat with a well-known someone in the local curling community — and no, it’s not who you think it is — and this person mentioned that it was still early in the season so some teams may still be working out the kinks. I replied that now is the perfect time to get hot. If the iron is hot, you strike the damned thing (isn’t that right, Jeannie Mathison?) There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of teams that may still be trying to remember which muscles do what and that’s what Galusha and company need to keep doing.
Do the ladies go into Ottawa as one of the favourites to move on to the next stage of qualifying for the Olympic trials? I think so. They’re firing on all cylinders. They’ve been winning. They’re on a roll, and that makes for a dangerous team. The curling community found out several years ago that Galusha is not to be taken lightly anymore. Even though she didn’t play a lot last weekend because of injury, she said she will be ready.
I believe her and everyone else better, too.