Team Nunavut, with Souris PEI’s Kaitlin MacDonald, plays Team PEI in their Scotties opener (Nunatsiaq News)

One week before the beginning of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canada’s top women’s curling championship, Team Nunavut was driving through Nova Scotia, from Halifax to Port Hawkesbury in Cape Breton.

The team, led by skip Brigitte MacPhail, had its first practice as a full unit on Jan. 20, as it’s made up of players who currently live in different parts of Canada.

From left: Brigitte MacPhail, Sadie Pinksen, Kaitlin MacDonald and Alison Taylor are currently training in Nova Scotia as they gear up to represent Nunavut in the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. (Photo courtesy of Alison Taylor)

Alison Taylor, the team’s lead, lives in Iqaluit, and is the only player who currently lives in Nunavut.

Third Sadie Pinksen and MacPhail live in Halifax; MacPhail works as a chiropractor and Pinksen, a Nunavut resident, studies at Dalhousie University. Kaitlin MacDonald, the team’s second, lives in Souris, P.E.I., and studies at the University of Prince Edward Island. She is also a resident of Nunavut.

Taylor only just met her teammates this week. She says that she’s excited to compete, but also that she and her teammates have chatted with a sport psychologist to find ways to manage the nerves that come when you head into a major national competition.

“The key is not comparing ourselves to others on the ice, it’s playing to the best of our ability, make goals for ourselves,” Taylor said.

Curlers in Iqaluit have faced several setbacks over the past few months, as the curling club has been closed due to the water crisis and the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

Taylor says that not having access to a rink and being far from her Maritime teammates has been a challenge, but she has managed to overcome much of it with at-home workouts and video coaching sessions.

Despite some of the challenges Team Nunavut has faced leading up to the tournament, team veteran Pinksen says she’s looking forward to getting out on the ice and putting on a good performance.

“We’re going in knowing that we did everything we can to prepare,” Pinksen said. “We want to make our communities proud, make each other proud and really show up.”

Nunavut’s first game is on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. ET versus Prince Edward Island.

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