FAIRBANKS—Both of their rinks (teams) suffered losses during Thursday’s opening competition of the Yukon Title Curling Classic.
Defeat, though, didn’t dampen the spirits of the Marty Schultz rink of Anchorage and the Kaitlin Fowler rink of Fairbanks for the four-day event at the Fairbanks Curling Club.
The tournament features 14 rinks from Fairbanks, Anchorage and Whitehorse, Yukon, and a purse of $11,400, with $3,600 going to the winning rink in Sunday’s finals.
“It’s just fun, and it’s good to see everybody up here,” said Schutz, the skip of his rink, after a 6-1 loss to the Greg Persinger rink of Fairbanks.
Fairbanks is about 360 miles from Anchorage and about 600 miles from Whitehorse. However, there’s a close-knit curling community in this part of the world.
About five of the Fairbanks rinks entered in the Yukon Title Classic competed three weeks ago at the Early Bird Cash Spiel in Anchorage.
“With the state (curling community) being as small as it is, it’s just good to have these kind of opportunities,” Schultz, in his fifth Yukon Title entry, said. “We kind of depend on each other to keep the sport growing.”
Schultz, whose rink members are Matt Pring (third), Ben Phipps (second) and Jo Norton (lead), also noticed the sport in Fairbanks is more generational compared to Anchorage.
“I think Anchorage’s population is much more transient than Fairbanks’ population,” said the 53-year-old construction superintendent. “The Fairbanks club community has several grandpas that curl, dads that curl, nephews that curl. I think we have one, maybe two, father-son combinations in our club.”
Curling runs in Schultz’s family. His daughter, Jessica, competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
Curling also is in Kaitlin Fowler’s blood. Her great-grandparents, Joe and Dolores Jackovich, were founding members of the Fairbanks Curling Club. Fowler and her rink’s second, Miranda Jackovich, are cousins.
The Fowler rink, which includes third Cora Farrell and lead Arial Traxler, are junior curlers experiencing their first Yukon Title Classic, but they possess many years of experience.
Fowler, 19, has curled for 13 years.
“For me, it’s so addictive because it takes so long to getting everything right. There’s just something about that ... it’s like a puzzle,” Fowler said after her rink lost 5-4 to the Ethan Birkholz rink of Fairbanks.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7581.