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The road to nationals
Inuvik team to compete in junior curling championships for first time in 36 years

Miranda Scotland
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, January 10, 2013

INUVIK
For the first time in 36 years a curling team from Inuvik will be competing in the M&M Meat Shops Junior Curling Championships, which hosts athletes from across the country.

NNSL photo/graphic

Inuvik's junior curling team will be heading to the 2013 M&M Meat Shops Junior Curling Championships in Alberta next month. Pictured are skip Carina McKay-Saturnino, left, third Karly King Simpson, second Hilary Charlie, lead Rayna Vittrekwa and coach Nick Saturnino. Vanessa Lennie, not pictured, is also on the team. - photo courtesy of Nick Saturnino

Inuvik's junior girls took the spot in the nationals after a much younger Yellowknife team conceded. The two teams were supposed to compete against each other this past weekend to determine who would go.

Fifteen-year-old Karly King Simpson said it was her team's goal to make it into the nationals and she is excited they succeeded. Nonetheless, King Simpson said she is nervous about competing against older athletes, some of whom are as old as 20.

"Those are the same age as the people you see on TV playing in the Scotties," she said.

The competition kicks off Feb. 2 in Fort McMurray and finishes up Feb. 10.

The girls King Simpson, Hilary Charlie, Carina McKay-Saturnino, Rayna Vittrekwa and Vanessa Lennie say they have a few areas they want to improve on before heading to the championship. Some of them planned to work on draw weight and hitting the broom, and they all said they need to focus on rotation and communicating more with each other.

"We don't have a lot of communication right now," said McKay-Saturnino. "I think we just need more experience."

It's also important that the team prepare mentally for the championship, said team coach Nick Saturnino. The longest the girls have gone away from home to compete is six days, when they entered the under-18 championships. For this competition, the girls will be away for 12 days.

"Those (under-18) championships are meant to prepare the girls for the nationals but there is still going to be a lot of preparation," Saturnino said. "I just recently went through the mixed nationals for 12 days and it was draining at the end of it, just thinking 'When is this going to end?'"

Saturnino has been coaching curling for six years. During that time he has watched the five athletes grow together. They have improved significantly over the years, he said, but will have their work cut out for them in this competition.

"They're going to be playing pretty experienced teams," he said. "I do think they will keep some of the games close and hopefully pull out a victory or two if not more."

Sonny Greenland, who skipped for the Inuvik boys team in the 1977 championships, said he was really proud of the girls for making it into the nationals. It was such a thrill when he and his team went, back in the day, he said.

"I wish them the best. They can do it, I've seen them curl," he said, adding a little advice: "Don't get down on anybody. Keep strong and supportive. Keep focused on your game."

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