A resident clears snow in St. John’s on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. The state of emergency ordered by the City of St. John’s continues, leaving most businesses closed and vehicles off the roads in the aftermath of the major winter storm that hit the Newfoundland and Labrador capital. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

While Newfoundland thaws, that province’s junior curling teams take to Langley ice

Coach Dennis Bruce said his team left for Langley hours before the storm hit

For nearly one week, Newfoundland has been under a state of emergency – aided by nearly 500 soldiers brought into help deal with 76 centimetres of snow that has turned the province into a complete deep freeze.

Businesses that sell necessities, such as grocery stores, have only just opened back up to the pubic, while the St. John’s airport has officially been given the clearance to start operations after days of cancelled flights.

For eight Newfoundlanders, their time spent on the ice has been a little more enjoyable than their friends and relatives back home.

Men and women’s U-21 curling teams made their way to Langley last week to participate in the Canadian juniors at George Preston Recreation Centre.

Dennis Bruce, coach of the Newfoundland men’s team, said teams left for Langley just in the nick of time.

“We flew out last Thursday morning and the snow started Thursday night and into Friday morning,” Bruce recounted, though he noted that some of the player’s parents weren’t as lucky.

“One of the team member’s father’s was supposed to be here a week ago and he had to get across the whole island just so he could use the airport at Goose Bay,” he said.

The more temperate conditions in Langley have provided some entertainment for the East Coast team; Bruce said the skip was taking pictures of a resident planting trees and sending it to their friends back home to make them jealous.

READ MORE: State of emergency in St. John’s N.L. reaches Day 5 after massive blizzard

The Newfoundland and Labrador men’s team, made up of Ryan McNeil Lamswood, Daniel Bruce, Joel Krats, and Nathan King, have won five out of seven games – losing only to Saskatchewan and Manitoba in their most recent draw and placing them in fourth overall.

The women’s team, consisting of Claire Hartlen, Sarah Chaytor, Katie Follett, and Mackenzie Mitchell have won four, lost two, and conceded a game against Ontario, putting them in seventh place.

Bruce added that there is a silver lining to all the snow; his team usually misses out on several weeks of school when they head to the juniors tournament.

Not so this year; classes have been cancelled for most schools across Newfoundland.

“It’s been a tremendous experience,” Bruce said. “Each time we come to the tournament, which has been three times now – it’s an experience of a lifetime.”

The New Holland Canadian Juniors runs until Sunday, Jan. 26. People can purchase tickets and follow the teams at www.curling.ca/2020juniors.

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Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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