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New season ahead for former Ackerman rink teammates

Canada Winter Games banner unveiled during Curl Moose Jaw Champions Dinner
The Curl Moose Jaw Championship Dinner was a bit of a bittersweet moment for the Skylar Ackerman junior curling foursome

The event marked the last time members of the original incarnation of the Ackerman rink – skip Skylar, third Madison Johnson, second Chantel Hoag and lead Samantha McLaren – would be at the Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre in an official capacity, as the event marked the unveiling of their Canada Winter Games provincial championship banner.

Skylar, Chantel and coach Patrick Ackerman were on hand for the presentation, with sadness to part and excitement for the future a theme for both players.

“There have been a lot of changes, I’m taking kinesiology in university and we have a new team, we’re curling out of the Nutana Club in Saskatoon,” Ackerman explained. “It’ll be a busy schedule this season, but it’s well worth it for all the fun we have in school and on the ice, we’re excited for the season.”

In fact, Ackerman and her new team of third Emily Haupstein, second Taylor Stremick and lead Abbey Johnson couldn’t have asked for a better start – the foursome took first place in the Under 21 Big Sky Slam tournament during the Sept. 12 weekend, going 7-1 through the weekend before defeating long-time rival Ashley Thevenot in the championship final.

“We’d practiced together once, but we’ve known each other for a long time and we’re all friends off the ice, so it’s really nice to have that first win together,” Ackerman said. “It gives us a lot of confidence, because when you’re a new team you never know how you’re going to do, so to win the first time we played was really good.”

Ackerman was back on the ice this past weekend during the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, their first World Curling Tour event. They posted a 1-4 record – including a 7-1 loss to Moose Jaw’s own Amber Holland in their opening game – and plan to hit a few more stops on the WCT this season leading up to junior provincials and ideally beyond.

Hoag, meanwhile, has had an interesting summer of her own. In addition to forming a new team herself, the 16-year-old Gravelbourg product has been selected as an alternate for the Youth Olympics in Switzerland.

While she won’t get a chance to make the trip overseas unless injury or illness occurs prior to the Games, she will be a part of the team in all the activities leading up including high-level training sessions.

“It’s called the Next Generation Camp, and people that have gone to nationals and worlds and all that jazz meet at one place and train,” explained Hoag, who will be travelling to Edmonton in November for the first such event. “So I still get all the bells and whistles of being on the team… it’s a really great opportunity and I’m excited to have a chance to be a part of it all.”

The selection process saw Hoag apply for a position on the team – the Olympics are a mixed format, with two girls and two boys on each rink – and write an essay, after which coaches and scouts kept an eye on her performance throughout the past year.

“There are a lot of guys and girls who apply to be a Youth Olympian, so just to get that call is awesome,” she said.

The Youth Olympics run from Jan. 10 to 22 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Championship Dinner also honoured the club and provincial championship winners from the past year, including Ackerman and Saskatchewan Legion provincial champions Barry Silk, Chris Hibbin, Kevin deDelley and Kevin Edwards.

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