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Curlers hold their own
Rankin boys put in an incredible performance at curling national

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Rankin Inlet junior boy's curling team represented Nunavut well at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian junior curling championship in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, this past month.

NNSL photo/graphic

Coach Kevin Bussey and Rankin Inlet curlers Jamie Airut, left, Connor Faulkner, Arthur Siksik and Kane Komaksiutiksak represented Nunavut well at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian junior curling championship at Liverpool, Nova Scotia, this past month. - photo courtesy Angela Dale

The team was comprised of Jamie Airut (skip), Connor Faulkner (third), Arthur Siksik (second) and Kane Komaksiutiksak (lead).

Coach Kevin Bussey said although Nunavut didn't win a game at the event, the team was much improved from its original performance on the national stage in 2013.

He said the lack of game experience may have cost them a win or two when they made a few bad shot calls.

"The boys played their first game against the eventual champion, Manitoba, and actually stole two in the first end," said Bussey.

"They stayed tied with them until the fifth end.

"We also out curled the NWT 61 per cent to 56 per cent and scored a five-ender against them, although we eventually lost.

"Our curlers hit the high 70's (per cent) in several games and 83 per cent in another, which is about 20 per cent higher than our first year."

Faulkner received a new broom for being named the male sportsman at third position, while Komaksiutiksak hit pay dirt by getting four new broom heads included in a jersey swap with an Ontario curler.

Bussey said the Rankin boys also got to do a little skiing and had their photos taken with Canadian curling icons Russ Howard and Colleen Jones.

He said he received numerous compliments on their behaviour while in Liverpool.

"They were very mannerly and respectful, and everybody loved them.

"They put Nunavut on the map there and I'm quite proud of them."

Rankin Curling Club president Angela Dale also made the trip to the juniors.

Dale said it was a great week, and it was nice to watch the Rankin boys really improve as the games progressed.

She said, hopefully, learning to work together as a team so well in Liverpool will make them a medal contender at the upcoming Arctic Winter Games (AWG).

"After the main tournament, each of the boys were paired with a female player for an unofficial mixed-doubles tournament," said Dale.

"Kane was partnered with New Brunswick skip Jessica Daigle and they actually did quite well.

"If you lose once you're out, and they went four games before they lost.

"Kane made a perfect draw to the button in a tiebreaker against Quebec, which was really amazing because he's only curled seriously for a few months."

Komaksiutiksak, 16, said he had a great time at the national junior championship.

He said getting to play on such good curling ice against the different provinces and territories was the highlight of the event for him.

"It was different playing there and hard to adjust at first," said Komaksiutiksak.

"There's such a big difference in how the rocks slide and curl on good ice.

"I didn't really start to adjust well until our second or third game."

Komaksiutiksak said playing in Liverpool really helped the Rankin boys improve their game.

He said he can't wait to see how they do representing Nunavut at the AWG.

"The juniors helped us with our strategy, and we also learned to read the ice a lot better.

"The ice was always the same, never different, and we're used to that now.

"I curled a few times this past year, but I only began curling seriously about three months ago.

"I've been enjoying it, so I think I'm going to stick with it for awhile and see what happens."

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