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  • Liz Gobeski

Alberta North's Secret to Gold? A good nap

It was a thrilling afternoon and evening of curling at the MTA for the female and male bronze, silver, and gold medal games! First, the female and male teams for Alaska and Northwest Territories faced each other to determine which team would advance to play #1 seed Alberta North for the gold ulu medal.

The male teams traded leads throughout the first half, with Northwest Territories leading Alaska by one with a score of 4-3 at the break. Momentum shifted in Alaska’s favor in the second half. There, a series of skillful “takeouts” (removing the opposing team’s rock with your own) by both teams left Northwest Territories with exceedingly difficult final shots in the sixth and seventh ends, ultimately giving way to an Alaska win of 7-3.

The female team matchup between Alaska and Northwest Territories was a nailbiter all the way to the final rock of the final end. With that final rock, Northwest Territories faced an Alaska rock in the scoring position. They had a decision to make: Try for a “takeout” or a “draw”? With poise and precision, Northwest Territories skip Reese Wainman went for the “draw,” which her teammates skillfully swept into the scoring position for a final score of NWT 5 – AK 4, earning them a spot in the female team gold ulu matchup against Alberta North.

With evening came the gold ulu games. For the male team, it was Alberta North v. Alaska.

This was the second Arctic Winter Games in a row where Alaska and Alberta North faced each other for the gold ulu. Heading into the game, Alaska male team coach Jon Johnson reflected on the history between Alaska and Alberta North, and especially the camaraderie that they’ve formed.

“Our games have been exceptionally close this year,” said Johnson. “They’re best of friends with the boys on the other team. They just have done a lot of bonding this week, so they’re excited to play each other, they’re all really happy to be doing it together and that’s what they wanted to see happen. So now they’re going to go out there and play with these kids that they’ve really made friends but it’s gonna be competitive. It’ll be fun.”

And competitive and fun it was! The first end was chock full of high skill draws, freezes and utilizing guards (all real curling terms, we promise!). Both teams made incredible shots and ended the half with an anyone’s-game score of Alberta North 3, Alaska 1.

Alberta North pulled away in the second half, combining smart strategy with precision hits to win the game, and the gold ulu, with a final score of 8-1. Alberta North’s secret to success? Coach Les Sonnenberg gives the nap his team took before the game a lot of credit for their mental focus and execution today!

The female gold ulu game featured Northwest Territories and Alberta North – again, the same two teams who faced off in the last Arctic Winter games! This year it was the Alberta North ladies’ turn to take home the gold. Northwest Territories started the game strong, but when Alberta North scored five points in the fourth end, it simply proved too much to overcome. After six ends, Northwest Territories conceded with handshakes and hugs.

While the Alberta North male team was napping pre-game, it sounds like the Alberta North female team was rocking. Teammates Lola Rasi and Hayden Young said that the team prepared by listening to music like Eminem and Queen to take their minds off the stress. Whatever the method, everything the Alberta North curlers touched turned to gold at this Arctic Winter Games.

Congratulations to all!

Male results

Gold: Alberta North

Silver: Alaska

Bronze: Northwest Territories

Female results

Gold: Alberta North

Silver: Northwest Territories

Bronze: Alaska


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