The competitors have been decided for the 2017 BC Junior Curling Championships, and two of the ten qualifying teams will have Cloverdale players.
Defending BC champions, Team Tardi, and one of the youngest teams to play in the event, Team Sato, qualified for the championships, which will take place from Dec. 27 to Jan. 1 at the Royal City Curling Club in New Westminster.
Qualifying competitions for the event took place across the province in Prince George, Courtenay, Creston and Osoyoos over the Nov. 25 weekend.
The 2017 BC Junior Curling Championships feature the top male and female curlers under 21 years of age in the province. Eight teams of men and eight of women play in a round-robin, with the best four teams of each advancing to a playoff. The finals will be live-streamed on Jan. 1 by viaSport Media.
The winning teams will go on to represent BC at the national championships, which will be played from Jan. 21-29 at the Archie Browning Sports Centre in Esquimalt.
The Reporter caught up with Cloverdale’s claims-to-fame, Teams Tardi and Sato, to ask them about the upcoming competition.
Meet Team Tardi
Team Tardi features skip Tyler Tardi, third Sterling Middleton, second Jordan Tardi, lead Nicholas Meister and coaches Paul Tardi and Bill Tschirhart. Last year, the team took home bronze at the national championships. In the past, the team has competed at the BC Winter Games and Canada Winter Games.
Tyler, 18, and Jordan, 20, have been curling for eight years. On average, they spend anywhere from 11 to 15 hours a week on the ice.
Tyler said that he enjoys the thrill of the competition itself, but also the fact that, in curling, the competition are his friends.
Jordan said that there’s an added pressure this year because the team is defending their title. When asked how the team would respond to that pressure, he said, “We’ve worked hard this year to elevate our game.”
“We have to focus on one shot at a time, one game at a time, and play to the best of our ability,” he added.
Tyler said he wasn’t feeling the same pressure.
“I feel we have done a lot to prepare for this year’s provincials,” he said.
“It’s a long event and a long week of competition,” Tyler added. “We have to focus.”
Jordan added that this year’s qualifying teams have all “gotten stronger.”
“We have to focus on our game and make sure our shots count,” he said.
Coach Paul Tardi, who was named a Coach of the Year by viaSport last year, said, “As defending provincial champions, we have to have a high level of consistency in our play. Every team we play will be bringing their best game against us.”
His advice for Team Tardi is simple: “Stay in the moment and just play one shot at a time.”
Meet Team Sato
Team Sato draws from the Royal City, Coquitlam and Cloverdale Curling Clubs, featuring Hayato Sato, Dawson Ballard, Troy Chong and Joshua Miki.
The team, coached by Bryan Miki and Len Chong, is made up of players between 15 and 16 years old and is among the youngest to compete at the event.
Skip Hayato Sato, 16, has been curling for six years. “I started after watching my brother curl,” he said. “I thought it looked unique and interesting so I decided to give it a try.”
He said he enjoyed the fact that curling wasn’t just about competition—it has a social aspect to it as well. “There aren’t many sports where you can finish a game and have a friendly conversation with your opponents,” he said. “I think in that sense curling is truly a one-of-a-kind sport.”
Third Dawson Ballard, 16, attends Relevent High school and curls out of the Cloverdale Curling Rink. He’s been curling since watching Kevin Martin take home the gold in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Ballard enjoys the strategic element to the game. “It’s very exciting to be the youngest competitive team in the Junior Provincials,” said Ballard. “We will fight our best to get as far as we can and all the while take away as much experience as possible.”
Ballard’s “anxious to start” the competition, and said he planned to put in extra time on the ice in the weeks to come in preparation.
From left: Skip Hayato Sato, Third Dawson Ballard, Second Troy Chong, Lead Joshua Miki.
Second Troy Chong, 15, started curling just before his seventh birthday after he saw his brother win a gold medal at the 2014 BC Winter Games.
As for being one of the youngest on the ice at the upcoming competition, Chong said he looked forward to the “terrific” experience. “I believe as a team we will be able to learn a lot and gain invaluable experience,” he said, adding that the competition against more-experienced curlers would be challenging.
“The caliber of play has definitely been raised from playdowns,” said Chong.
Lead Joshua Miki, 15, belongs to Royal City Curling Club. He’s been curling for four years, and got into the sport by watching his dad play. “I like the social (aspect) of the game,” he said. “I get to meet a lot of great people and have a fun time on and off the ice.”
Miki said he was excited to compete against an older group of competitors, and that the challenge for him and his team would be the “great competition.”
“We just have to stay focused and play like we always do,” said Miki.
Assistant coach Len Chong started coaching after his son expressed an interest in curling competitively at Cloverdale Curling Club. “At first I was just a parent helping out, but then I noticed a shortage of coaches and decided to take a few coaching courses,” said Chong.
Seven years later, and he’s coaching the youngest competitors to enter the 2017 BC Junior Championships. His advice for his team? “Stay in the moment, don’t worry about the outcome, and just enjoy the competition,” he said.