Going into the Home Hardware Pre-Trials in Liverpool, N.S., Kerry Galusha figured it would be a tough battle to get one of the two spots up for grabs in the main event later this month in Saskatoon.
She was right.
Galusha and her rink of Sarah Koltun, Jo-Ann Rizzo and Margot Flemming did not get a chance to play for either of those golden tickets as they failed to get past the pool stage at the last-chance tournament. Their record of one win and five losses was too much; only the top four in each pool moved on to the championship round.
Galusha said it just didn’t happen for them last week.
“It was up and down,” she said. “We had a consistent first four weeks to our season and we just dipped in Nova Scotia. We missed some shots we should have made and were making beforehand.”
The ladies started out against B.C.’s Corryn Brown and if you thought they had won after checking the scores, you’d be right. The scoreboard online had Galusha winning 10-9 in an extra end but someone must’ve realized the mistake and changed it back to the proper scoreline, a 9-6 win for Brown not in an extra end.
“We weren’t sharp in that game,” said Galusha. “We got behind the 8-ball early.”
They rebounded in their next contest to beat Saskatchewan’s Penny Barker, 7-5, before dropping a 6-3 decision to Ontario’s Krista McCarville. A 10-8 loss to Beth Peterson of Manitoba put the ladies right up against the wall but they still had an outside chance of squeaking into the championship round if they could win their final two games. It wasn’t to be as a 9-6 loss to Jacqueline Harrison of Ontario and a 7-6 defeat to Jestyn Murphy of Ontario sealed their fate.
“We weren’t blown out of the water in any of our games, unlike some teams,” said Galusha. “We could’ve easily been 6-0 but we just didn’t make the shots we needed to at the right time.”
Going into the pre-trials, the ladies were on a roll, having lost just once in their 12 previous contests and it seemed they had peaked at the right time.
But Galusha said for every peak, there comes a dip and it happened at the worst possible time.
“We knew it would come, we just hoped it wouldn’t be in Nova Scotia,” she said. “Every team peaks, then dips, but we know what we have to work on. We have a couple of months now to practice and start to peak again in time for the women’s playdowns but that’s sports. It’s ups and downs.”
Those playdowns Galusha speaks of are the NWT Women’s Curling Championship, which will happen in Inuvik in January. Galusha goes in as the defending champion with the winner getting the ticket to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., this coming February.
In the meantime, Flemming and Megan Koehler, the team’s fifth, are on their way to Canmore, Alta., to join Jamie Koe for the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship, which begins on Saturday, while Rizzo will be playing in some seniors events in Ontario, where she lives as she’s the team’s out-of-territory player.
With a couple of months to relax and recuperate somewhat, Galusha reflected on skipping the first team from the North to enter the Olympic qualification process.
She said it was special to be the only Northern team in the hunt and to have all the support that came with it.
“It was a neat experience because it’s never been done by a team from the North before,” she said. “Four years is far away and who knows if we’ll get to do this again. We knew it would be hard but we had plenty of support and we’ve always appreciated that. Everyone up here had our backs and followed the journey with us. We read all the messages and see all the likes on our Facebook page and it felt so good knowing so many people were cheering us on.”