This week, Kerry Galusha and her rink are hard at it looking to win themselves a spot at the Tim Hortons Canadian Trials and a possible trip to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.
Meanwhile, her twin brother is preparing to head south to compete at the first big national championship of the new season, and it’s one he’s nearly won twice.
Koe and his rink of Margot Flemming, Cole Parsons and Megan Koehler will be making the trip to Canmore, Alta., for the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship, which begins on Nov. 7. Galusha normally plays third for the team but she pulled out due to a combination of that nagging lower back injury and a busy schedule.
Koe is pleased to have Flemming aboard.
“Margot’s going to be in good game shape. She’s played lots of games already with Kerry,” he said.
The mixed nationals have been kind to Koe in recent years. He skipped the team to a silver medal at the 2015 event and scored a bronze two years ago, the last time it was held. Last year’s event was cancelled due to Covid-19.
The format is the same as almost every other Canadian championship nowadays: all 14 teams will be split into two pools for the round-robin. The top four teams in each pool will move on to the championship round to play the four teams from the opposite pool that they didn’t play to that point. Following that, the top four teams overall will enter the playoffs to determine who gets what for final placings.
Koe and company will have a tough draw right out of the gate as they will take on Quebec, the defending champions, on opening day. Skipping Quebec will be Jean-Michel Menard, who led the province to the 2006 Tim Hortons Brier crown. Marie-France Larouche is Quebec’s third, a two-time medallist at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
“There’s going to be some strong teams there and they’re one of the strongest,” Koe said of the Quebec entry. “It’s good to get them right off the bat and get them early before they have a chance to really get into gear.”
With the Yellowknife Curling Centre now open for practice, Koe and his team have been taking advantage of whatever ice time they can get, though it’s been on a solo basis due to Covid-19 restrictions.
But games will be starting this week and that means Koe will be able to get his team some proper game play.
“We have a couple of weeks to get into good game shape,” he said. “We feel like we’re ready to go but it’s never a bad thing to get in some extra time before you head out. A lot of the southern teams have already played in their provincial championship so they’ve been throwing and they’re in shape.”
Something else the competitors have to do is abide by the pandemic protocols in Canmore, which will include proof of vaccination and wearing masks, where necessary.
“You hope all is good down there but we’ll take the precautions wherever we go and we’re all used to that,” said Koe.
A gold for Koe at this year’s event would complete the medal collection — having already won silver and bronze at the mixed championship — and he said he likes his team’s chances.
“We’re hoping to be there at the end,” he said. “The goal is to get that top-four spot and get into the championship round to give us a shot at making that final four and be in there for a chance at a medal.”