In order to be the best, you have to beat the best.
That is what team Turkey is trying to accomplish at the world women’s curling championship in Prince George.
While the sport dates back centuries in places like Scotland the lineage of the sport can only be traced back a decade in the transcontinental country.
Turkey was first introduced to the game during the 2011 Winter Universiade.
From there, the momentum slowly snowballed, hosting three more major international competitions – the 2012 World Mixed Doubles Championship, the 2012 European Mixed Doubles Championship, and the European Curling Championship – Group C Competitions.
Heading into the world championship, Turkey is ranked 18th in the women’s division by the World Curling Federation – just below Norway and above Hong Kong and Hungary.
The nation’s first dedicated curling facility opened in 2010 and is called the Milli Piyango Arena, where it has five sheets of ice and can hold roughly 1,000 spectators.
The Turkish club is skipped by 25-year-old Dilsat Yildiz, who is currently a teacher.
Yildiz along with third Oznar Polat are mixed doubles specialists competing internationally numerous times from 2015-19.
Both players have also been to several European World Championships (Yildaz 9 appearances, Polat with 10).
In addition, Polat skipped her own team at the 2011 Winter Universiade in her hometown of Erzurum, going winless in nine contests.
Despite being 0-8, at the women’s worlds, Turkey has found a way to stay in virtually every game.
In its tournament opener, they fell 9-6 to Sweden – a team skipped by 2018 Winter Olympic gold medalist Anna Hasselborg. That same evening, Yildiz and company came within an eyelash of defeating Japan, dropping a 7-6 heartbreaker.
Canada’s Kerri Einarson and her Manitoba-based rink caught a glimpse of Turkey’s potential, finding themselves only up 5-3 at the fifth-end break. The host nation scored three in the sixth to put away the feisty underdogs.
An 8-3 loss to two-time defending world champion Silvana Tirinzoni and Switzerland has been their most lopsided loss to date – mind you Tirinizoni and company have been a step ahead of the competition at times – racing out to an 8-0 record.
Undeterred and looking to get better, Turkey kept a sparse CN Centre on the edge of its seat Tuesday morning, erasing a 6-1 deficit after the fifth-end break only to storm back and fall 11-10 in an extra end to Madeleine Dupont and 5-3 Denmark.
Against Norway, the Turks found themselves down 6-5 after six ends. The Norwegians then pulled away scoring a deuce with the hammer followed by consecutive steals of one in ends eight and nine.
On Wednesday, Yildiz and company found themselves in a 5-5 tie after six ends against the United States. The roof caved in during ends seven and eight with the Americans scoring seven straight points to end the game.
In the evening draw against Italy, Yildiz, down by four in the ninth, executed a triple in the ninth and stole in the tenth to tie the game at 7-7.
It took the last rock by Italian skip Stefania Constantini to make a hit for two to escape with the 9-7 extra-end victory.
Prior to arriving in BC’s northern capital, Yildiz and her rink took another huge step in their development competing at the 2021 Olympic Women’s Qualifying event hosted in the Netherlands in December.
Turkey went 3-5 during the round-robin but beat some pretty significant teams such as Eve Muirhead (Great Britain), Satsuki Fujisawa (Japan), and Eun-Jung Kim (South Korea) – all were ranked in the top three of the tournament.
Muirhead, who declined the invite to Prince George, claimed the Olympic Gold during last month’s winter games in Beijing, defeating Fujisawa.
Other teams at the Olympic qualification tournament who are also here in PG include Kim (South Korea), Daniela Jentsch (Germany), Alzbeta Budysova (Czech Republic), and Stefania Constantini (Italy).
The other three members of Turkey include 19-year-old Berfin Sengul (second), Ayse Gozutok (lead), and alternate Mirhiban Polat.
Turkey has two more games today (Thursday), a 9 a.m. clash against (4-4) Germany and a 7 p.m. contest against the Czech Republic (2-6).
Regardless, of what their final record is at the end of the round-robin – Turkey can give its fellow countrymen one thing the next time they suit up for an international event – optimism.