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Battle of youth vs experience in Cranbrook

January 23, 2020

The 2020 BC Championships in Cranbrook next week could become a showdown of youth versus experience.

That’s because teams with some of the youngest players at this level of competition have performed exceptionally well this year on the World Curling Tour circuit.

The 2020 Scotties BC Women’s Curling Championship, presented by Best Western, and the 2020 BC Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Nufloors – Penticton, will go ahead at Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2. A full event pass is $90 – with individual draw tickets available from $10. 

Both Team Tardi (Langley/Victoria) and Team Brown (Kamloops) were the province’s Canadian Team Ranking System top performers in 2019-20, which means they earned more points than any other BC team in competition throughout the season. The majority of the players from those teams are also under the age of 25.

However, they will be up against some of the most seasoned competitors in the sport – competitors that are used to winning a BC final. Defending champion Jim Cotter will be looking for his ninth trip to the Brier and will be returning with his Kelowna/Vernon team of Steve Laycock and Rick Sawatsky, adding Andrew Nerpin to replace Tyrel Griffith. On the women’s side, Team Wark (Abbotsford/Victoria) will be returning with their lineup of skip Sarah Wark, third Kristen Pilote, second Carley Sandwith and lead Jen Rusnell. Wark is a BC champion at the junior level (2005), in Mixed competition in 2009 and 2014 and in the women’s game last season.

Team Brown, featuring skip Corryn Brown, third Erin Pincott, second Dezaray Hawes and lead Ashley Klymchuk, have put on some stellar performances this year, notably winning the China Open in December.  They also have a Canadian gold medal at the junior level under their belt, but have yet to break through at the Scotties, winning a silver medal last year.

Sarah Wark said she liked seeing the younger teams on the roster and enjoyed playing against them. “It is super exciting to see so many younger ladies coming up through juniors and sticking with it, it’s definitely made BC’s field stronger.”

She added: “It definitely helps push the older generation to go with the way of the times in terms of fitness and new techniques and mentalities. I think we can learn equal amounts from them as they can from us really.”

Jim Cotter echoed the sentiment: “It’s great to see many very good young teams on the men’s and ladies’ side in BC. I’ve been saying this for years and only hope they continue with long careers. If so, I’m sure BC will develop into a real powerhouse in Canada.”

Corryn Brown said her team was keen to keep the momentum that they have had this season going. “It’s been a really great season. We have had a lot of success, so we just want to keep that going. We are really looking forward to going to provincials and we know Cranbrook will put on a good event.”

Team Tardi, with skip Tyler Tardi, third Sterling Middleton, second Jordan Tardi and lead Alex Horvath, are no strangers to pressure, having been to more than one junior world championship. (Tyler and Sterling were at three world championships, winning gold at two of them, Jordan went twice and won gold before aging out and Alex joined the team last year for their gold medal win in 2019).

Tyler Tardi said: “I think we’re all just super excited. In the past men’s provincials has been one event in back-to-back events so we’re excited to be playing in that event alone without any other distractions. It should be a fun week and we are hoping for the best!”

Playing alongside Team Tardi and Team Cotter in the men’s competition will be BC Curling Tour winners Team Wenzek (Royal City) and Team Geall (Abbotsford/Royal City). The other teams in the mix include Team Dangerfield (Victoria), Team Montgomery (Victoria), Team Jackson (Victoria), Team Medford (Cranbrook), Team Wood (Penticton/Kelowna), Team Salviulo (Castlegar), Team Richard (Kelowna), Team Longworth (Vernon), Team Olsen (Kamloops), Team Joanisse (Golden Ears/Royal City), Team Dennis (Royal City/Salmon Arm) and Team Thompson (Vancouver).

In women’s play Team Daniels from Delta Thistle is another team featuring youth players (Skip Sarah Daniels and lead Sarah Loken are under 21). Meanwhile Team Gushulak from Royal City, Kelowna and Vancouver curling clubs features players with many BC Scotties appearances under their collective belts.

The four other women’s teams to have qualified for the 2020 Scotties BC Women’s Curling Championship, presented by Best Western, were Team Thompson (Kelowna) and Team Richards (Kelowna/Victoria) . Team Pewarchuk from Victoria and Team Slattery from Vernon/Kelowna qualified at the first open playdown in Abbotsford in December.

Ticket and event information for both the men’s and women’s championships is available at https://www.curlbc.ca/cranbrook-2020/.

For scores during the round robin (women) and triple knockout rounds (men) of the championships visit https://playdowns.curlbc.ca. The semi-finals and finals of the women’s and men’s events will be broadcast on CHEK and streamed at cbc.ca/sports/. The broadcast schedule is posted at https://www.curlbc.ca/live-streaming-broadcast-schedule/.