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Fairbanks Curling Club sends team to Junior Curling National Championships

Team Evans from the Fairbanks Curling Club poses outside before going to the junior national...
Team Evans from the Fairbanks Curling Club poses outside before going to the junior national championship.(KTVF)
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 8:08 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - For the first time in nine-years, the Fairbanks Curling Club will be sending a boys team to the Junior Curling National Championships, with only one full season after COVID-10 closed the doors! On April 22, 2022 five boys from the Fairbanks Curling Club will be headed down to the Stevens Point Curling Club in Plover, WI, to compete in the Junior Curling National Championships which ends on April 30, 2022.

This is the first time any of the boys has been to the National Championships and the first big competition any of them has been to since the pandemic as “Covid kind of killed curling for a year” as stated by Dylan Skaggs, the youngest member of the team. As to how the team was impacted by the loss of a season, Skaggs continued by saying “we never got to keep our skills. we lost them and had to regain them once we got back [to curling].” Another impact the pandemic has had for the boys was the cancellation of the Arctic Winter Games, which most of the boys on team were able to play in at the time. Thankfully, “it has been a little bit like riding a bike,” according to Skaggs with the biggest challenges being the use of masks as they disrupt communication among other issues.

Despite the delays caused by the pandemic and the time lost in their skill development, the boys are still excited to go. Seemingly matched with the excitement however, is also a level concern as this will also be the first time in a while that the boys will be competing against kids their own age. Unaware of what the competition may bring, “it’s definitely a little nerve wracking,” said Jimmy Evans, the team skipp. As the team skipp, Evans is essentially the team captain and his biggest concern is whether or not the team will be able to “keep our mental and physical awareness up.” This is a worry because it will be the longest competition that the team has faced yet.

Not knowing that if they would even have a chance to compete outside of Alaska, the boys have still put in a lot of time and effort, “practic[ing] 5 days a week that usually last 12 to 15 hours a week,” as told by Elias Vargas, who is the team alternate. In addition to the many hours of practice put in each week, the team has had the benefit of playing people that are far more advanced than they are. As part of their in club competition, they have had the opportunity to play Vicky Persinger and other highly skilled curlers in the club because they lack competitors their own age. While Vargas said that it can hard on the team’s confidence, they sometimes find a win and have to play their best in almost every match. With having such talented mentors and competitors, “it does say something about what [they] play like,” commented Bobby Borland, who plays second on the team.

This year they are being coached by Jon Johnson and have been working on everything from form to communication. One of the bigger challenges that team has faced has included communication because when there is a “bunch of other teams on the ice, [it] is definitely going to hamper that little bit,” as explained by Tyler Skaggs, who plays third and is the vice skipp. This season has been the first time however that all five boys have trained as a team, only coming together after Covid meaning that they have about a year behind them.

Tyler, much like Jimmy, Bobby, and Elias, has a few more years of curling behind him compared to his younger brother Dylan. However, all five boys have multiple years of curling under their belt having been part of the club since before they started high school. Four of the boys go to Hutchison High School, meanwhile Evans attends Lathrop but they still get lots of team building and they “work really hard on trying to form [their] bonds both off the ice and on the ice,” as Vargas stated. Vargas said that they basically grew up at the club and because of all the time they spend together, his teammates have practically become his brothers. But the bonds they have formed have been so strong that even if one of them is having an off day emotionally, it can throw off the game for all of them. Due to this, the team spends a lot of time just talking and supporting each other when it comes to gameplay and their personal lives.

The boys last competition before the Junior Curling National Championships was the Mad About Plaid International Bonspiel which was held at the Fairbanks Curling Club just weeks ago.

To follow the boys games at the Junior Curling National Championships. You can follow the game scores at https://www.curlingzone.com.

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