Feeling the pressure, N.W.T. skip Kerry Galusha wants this Scotties to be different
Northern skip is making her 14th Scotties appearance
SYNDEY, N.S. — At 41 years old, Northwest Territories skip Kerry Galusha is making one thing very clear as she gets set for the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts — she's not sure how many more she has left in her career.
"I feel more pressure this year. I'm not getting any younger," she said. "I'll have to stop curling eventually — maybe in the next year or two."
This is the 14th appearance for Galusha as a skip at the women's national championship. But she's been to 16 of them — Kerry doesn't count the two from 1998 and 2002 when she was an alternate for teams.
"I don't think those should be included," laughed Galusha. "I want to change the Wikipedia."
In a lot of ways, that response tells you everything you need to know about the Yellowknife skip. She's humble. Doesn't take anything too seriously. And loves curling. It's that simple.
But this year there's a different look in the eyes of Galusha. Moments after the opening ceremony introducing the 16 teams Saturday afternoon in Sydney, N.S., Galusha stepped off the ice, chatted with her team and raced back to the hotel in advance of their opening game.
The preparation and attention to detail has never been this elevated. Galusha has been talking to a sports psychologist for the first time and training harder than any other time in her career.
The team has also brought back Ontario skip John Epping to coach them at this year's Scotties.
"I've never worked this hard," Galusha admitted. "This year it feels different. Our team did so well this season. We traveled more. We went to more World Curling Tour events."
There have been so many times Galusha has travelled to the Scotties and was just happy to be there — fans and supporters have never really had great expectations for her teams and she knows it.
Besides, being from the north brings all sorts of challenges, says Galusha.
"I know a lot of people look at me and always say it's so much easier to make here because I'm from the north," Galusha says.
But this year Galusha wants to prove she belongs and can compete for a national championship. She believes she has put together a team that can make it to the championship round.
"We're not usually a team that watches point. We're watching points. We're ranked 10th coming into this and that's really high for a team from the North," Galusha said.
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She's also getting notes from fans across Canada who also believes in Galusha's team.
"People are sending us good luck messages and they feel different this year. They're all saying this is your year. This is it. We don't normally get that. We normally get a good luck and play well. This is different."
Her best record at a Scotties came two years ago in St. Catharines, Ont., when Galusha's Northwest Territories team finished with a 5-6 record, just missing the playoffs. The format has changed these past two years, leaving Galusha's team in Pool B with seven games to be played in the preliminary round.
The top four teams advance to the championship round. "We've looked at who we're playing and know we can make the championship round," she said.
Koe curling family
Kerry is the sister of Canadian curlers Jamie and Kevin Koe. She's actually Jamie's twin sister.
The Koes are a very well-known curling family across the country. Kevin has won the Brier three times, is a world champion twice and earned the right to represent Canada at the Olympics last year.
Jamie is making his 13th Brier appearance next month as a skip for the Northwest Territories. Kevin will also be there skipping Alberta.
What this family from the north has done in curling is nothing short of extraordinary.
"I'm so proud of our whole family as a whole. Northern pride," Galusha said. "It's so cool that the three of us are in a national championship. It's happened in the past but this year seems different."
But before any of that it's Kerry's time to shine and she's ready to seize the moment.
"It doesn't matter where we're from or who we're playing it's still a curling game and you can only control what you can control," she said. "I work hard. I still work as hard as everyone else. I'm not lazy. I put the work in."