CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Peter Gallant knows the Garlic Girls were the belles of the ball at the recent Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The Charlottetown native also knows as coach of the South Korean women’s team his group could flat out play - and the foursome proved it by winning a silver medal, losing just once in the round robin and beating Canada and Sweden along the way.
“I knew they were better than fledgling when I started coaching them (three years ago). They had the technical skills, but were lacking in a few areas such as strategy and game planning,” said Gallant in a recent interview from Regina, Sask. “By the second season I knew we could beat the other teams.”
Gallant joined the Garlic Girls (alternate Kim Cho-hi, lead Kim Yeong-mi, second Kim Seon-yeong, third Kim Kyeong-ae and skip Kim Eun-jung) with the blessing of South Korean curling officials in the hopes of Olympic medal glory. The team was so named because all are from South Korea’s garlic producing region and now its curling hotbed.
A language barrier was a problem early in his tenure, but through translators and time problems were ironed out.
But above all, the signing worked as Gallant, a long-time fixture on the provincial and national curling scene, and coach Kim Min-jung guided their group through the event, beating Japan (South Korea’s lone round robin loss) in the semis before eventually losing 8-3 to Sweden in the goal medal game.
“I was really satisfied because I knew how important it was to them, and how hard they worked. The girls became like daughters to me,” said Gallant, who joked as a coach he doesn’t get a medal.
Other familial rewards awaited later as he watched his sons Chris, a second stone with Team P.E.I., and Brett, a second with Team Canada skipped by Brad Gushue, compete at the recent Brier - where Brett and company won their second straight national men’s title.
“It was a fun week seeing them both out there. I wished they’d played each other. It was pretty cool to see them out there competing and especially (Sunday) with Brett,” Gallant said.
His contract with the South Koreans ended after the Games so Gallant is a free agent. First, though, is a trip to the men’s world championship March 31-April 8 to watch Brett and Team Canada defend its title.
Then, Gallant’s shingle goes out again.
“I’ll look for opportunities. Something will come along,” he said. “We’ll see what comes my way.”
How They Fared
The South Korean women’s curling results at the recent Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Gold Medal Game
Sweden 8 South Korea 3
South Korea 8 Japan 7
South Korea 8 Canada 6
Japan 7 South Korea 5
South Korea 7 Switzerland 5
South Korea 7 Great Britain 4
South Korea 12 China 5
South Korea 7 Sweden 6
South Korea 9 United States 6
South Korea 11 Olympic Athletes from Russia 2
South Korea 9 Denmark 3