If Kerry Galusha is skipping Northwest Territories at the Canadian women’s curling championship for the last time, it’s an uncomfortable swan song.
Her 13th year calling the shots for a territories team ranks third in all-time appearances by a skip behind Nova Scotia’s Colleen Jones (18) and Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones (15).
The small pool of competitive curlers in the north, the complicated travel and the prohibitive cost of it to play World Curling Tour events puts northern representatives at a disadvantage in national championships.
Galusha felt she had a lineup to overcome those hurdles this season.
Injury forced the 42-year-old Yellowknife skip to alter that lineup, however.
She’s throwing second stones at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., because of a troublesome gluteal muscle.
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Galusha won a bronze medal in November’s Canadian mixed curling championship playing third for brother Jamie.
While throwing a fourth-end peel “something just pulled in my butt,” she said Monday.
“I was in so much pain. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish the game. I did and we won the bronze medal.
“Ever since then, it’s been a very long road back. It was one of my better seasons and for that to happen, it’s super disappointing.”
Jo-Ann Rizzo, Galusha’s import from Ontario, is throwing fourth stones in Moose Jaw.
Sarah Koltun is Galusha’s vice. Shona Barbour has played lead for Galusha in a dozen Tournament of Hearts.
Galusha earned a pair of wins Monday to get to 2-2 in Pool B.
Tough road ahead
NWT downed territorial rival Yukon 9-5 after drubbing Newfoundland and Labrador 14-2.
Back-to-back games was not kind to Galusha’s sore left haunch, however.
“I thought I was going to have to sit out and then I think the Advil kicked in in the fifth end and it felt better,” she said.
NWT faces the Jennifer Jones wild-card team and Ontario’s Rachel Homan on Tuesday.
Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson remained undefeated at 4-0 atop Pool A.
Einarson edged Chelsea Carey 6-5 in an extra end in the afternoon draw to drop the defending champions to 2-2.
Northern Ontario was 3-1 and Alberta 3-0 in the pool. Nunavut, New Brunswick and Quebec were winless.
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Nova Scotia led Pool B at 3-1, but Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Jones and B.C. were hot on Mary-Anne Arsenault’s heels at 2-1.
Newfoundland was 1-3 and Yukon 0-4.
While Galusha has never made the Hearts playoffs, her underdog teams have pulled off memorable upsets.
Galusha beat defending Canadian champion Jones in the round robin in 2009.
“I feel like we represent the North really well every year,” Galusha said. “Even tomorrow, when we play Homan and Jones, they know we’re a decent team even though we’re Team NWT.”
Galusha isn’t sure who she’ll pass the curling torch to given the few teams that enter territorial playdowns.
“In a couple years we might see a team be really good here, but right now there really isn’t anybody behind us coming through,” she said.
“I don’t know who is behind us to come here, to be honest.”
Galusha is doing her part by coaching her daughter Sydney.
“She just got here this morning, so maybe she was my lucky charm,” her mother said.
“My 10-year-old daughter is a very good curler. She’s going to be way better than me.”
If that is the case, expect to see Galusha at future Hearts.
“I’ll probably be back at the Scotties coaching,” Galusha said.