The 2020 New Holland Canadian Juniors Curling Championships will get underway this Saturday – meaning the country’s best under-21 curlers will be headed to Langley to compete.
The tournament runs from Jan. 18 to 26, which qualifies the winners to represent Canada at the World Juniors Championship in Krasnoyarsk, Russia next month.
The round-robin games will have 14 men’s and 14 women’s teams competing for titles, bringing more than 100 curlers to Langley from all across the country.
That doesn’t even include coaches, family members, spectators, and broadcasters all coming down to the rink as well; the teams will be staying at the Sandman Hotel.
All of the action takes place at George Preston Recreation Centre at 20699 42 Ave, home of the Langley Curling Centre where many of the local curling bonspiels and league games take place.
Nigel Easton, chair of local committee hosting the games, said Langley has never held a national curling tournament before.
“The last big one really was the 2007 men’s provincials; so, we ended up with the juniors through a bidding process,” Easton recounted. “We put our name in last October (2018) but didn’t get selected. Then we heard back from them in February asking if we could do it and we said ‘we’re in,’.”
The idea to host stemmed from Cloverdale’s Tyler Tardi’s overwhelming success in the junior league.
“He’s a two-time world champion who curls out of this club,” Easton said. “This was going to be his last year as a junior and we thought it would be fitting to have the games here, but it was his decision to move up and play in the Brier instead.”
Despite Tardi’s absence, Easton said this will be a great chance to see the country’s up and coming curlers and for out-of-town players to come visit the area.
He said 250 volunteers from the Langley Curling Club, as well as others from all over the Fraser Valley including Cloverdale, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and White Rock are lending a hand.
The hockey arena, where the Langley Rivermen call home, has been turned into a five-sheet curling rink, while three sheets in the existing curling club will also be used to house more games.
Support from sponsors and multiple levels of government helped cover a budget of roughly $150,000.
“That all goes into construction, transportation for the teams, advertising, uniforms, even the ceremony which requires a pipe band,” the chair explained.
A “future stars” program will also be running throughout the tournament for youth under 16. They can put their name in for a chance at working with some of the teams on curling basics, while also receiving a backpack and broom.
The arena layout, beyond the evident curling hacks and houses, has undergone a complete makeover; a media booth at one end will house all of the people giving the games coverage; TSN will broadcast the semi-finals and championships on Jan. 25 and 26.
A brand new restaurant, the Horse and Rider, will additionally be opening just in time for Saturday to feed the players and fans; it will remain open and operate as a year-round pub inside the complex.
Carpeting and a staging area sits on the opposite end, while all the running boards will be wrapped up in black drapes.
Easton said the capacity of the arena is 1,000 and hopes to get between 400 to 800 spectators.
“I hope people enjoy our hospitality,” he added, also hoping that the snow cooperates as the tournament begins.
People can purchase their tickets for the games at www.curling.ca/2020juniors or in person at George Preston.
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