The 2023 Canada Winter Games are still a year out but there are two teams that we know will be making the trip to Charlottetown next year.
The boys and girls curling trials happened in Yellowknife and there were some similarities attached to both. Both were best-of-five series with the first team to win three games being declared the winner. Both ended on March 3. Both featured teams from Inuvik: the girls event was an all-Inuvik battle between skips Reese Wainman and Pearl Gillis while Mason MacNeil of Inuvik took on Yellowknife’s Jullian Bowling.
The difference came in the final outcomes as Wainman managed to defeat Gillis in four games while MacNeil dropped three straight to Bowling.
Wainman, who competed in the NWT U20 Championships last month, said her rink had put in a lot of work between then and now.
“We’ve been working really hard for the past few weeks for this,” she said. “The past few years, even.”
Wainman said her team was executing their shots a lot better this time, something which didn’t always happen last month.
“The other team was playing really well (but) we were just executing a lot of our shots compared to the last time,” she said.
The loss in game one didn’t faze the girls at all, she added.
“It was just the first game and we knew we had four more to go, so we still had a really good chance” she said. “We knew every game, we would be improving on what we did wrong the last game.”
This will be the only chance Wainman and her rink of Alex Testart-Campbell, Brooke Smith and Whitney Kasook will have to play at the Canada Winter Games as they will all be too old to qualify for 2027.
Wainman said she’s really looking forward to it.
“This is bigger than anything we’ve ever played in,” she said.
MacNeil said it wasn’t the way he was expecting it to go, especially coming off playing in the NWT Men’s Curling Championship and getting some extra games.
“I thought we’d come down with a good chance after we played the men’s teams,” he said.
One big thing which affected MacNeil’s line-up was the omission of second John Voudrach, who came down with Covid-19. He didn’t make the trip in for trials but there was the hope that he would be healthy enough to play in the NWT U18 Championships, which happened immediately after the trials.
The U18 event featured MacNeil and Bowling going at it for a second time with the winner of that moving on to the Canadian U18 Curling Championships in Oakville, Ont., in May. Wainman and Gillis were also entered on the girls side with Yellowknife’s Cassie Rogers rounding out the field.