Nigel Easton, the former manager of the Langley Curling Centre, helped the club bid to host the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships. It was confirmed Thursday that those efforts paid off. Langley will be the host next January. (Roxanne Hooper/Black Press)

VIDEO: 2020 New Holland Canadian Juniors will playout in the Lower Mainland

Three-time national champ Tyler Tardi on hand for annoucement – excited to possibly compete at home.

One of Canada’s most accomplished young curlers may have the opportunity to close out his junior career on home ice, Curling Canada announced today.

Three-time Canadian junior men’s champion, Tyler Tardi, – who lives in Cloverdale and curls out of Langley Curling Centre – could be vying to keep his title on a rink very familiar to he and his team.

Turns out the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships are being played Jan. 18 to 26 in Langley – and specifically at the George Preston Recreation Centre in Brookswood.

“We just found out the Canadian junior nationals are going to be held in our home club – the Langley Curling Centre – and we’re pretty ecstatic,” Tardi shared with Black Press.

“You know, we’ve been in this club forever – really the past nine or 10 years – and to have the chance to compete in the nations here, or possibly have a chance to do that, is just an incredible feeling,” added the skip.

“We’re still feeling the excitement of winning this year’s New Holland Canadian junior championship, and knowing that I may have the opportunity to compete next year on home ice is beyond a thrill,” said Tardi, who along with his vice-skip Sterling Middleton became the first curlers ever to win three Canadian junior championships by winning gold at the 2019 national juniors in Prince Albert, Sask. just a few weeks ago.

READ RELATED STORY: Young Lower Mainland curlers bring home third national gold

“The Langley Curling Centre is a superb facility, and I know it will be in first-class condition next year so that the competitors can show off their skills,” Tardi added after Curling Canada board member Paul Addison shared the news Thursday afternoon in the rink’s lounge.

Fellow teammate Matthew Hall was also on hand for the announcement. He joined Team Tardi this year, after years of curling in Ontario, and joined Tardi in expressing gratitude for all the local club has done to “get us where we are today,” he said.

“It is great just getting to see such a huge championship – that we’ve been a part of for so long – come to this community. They’re really going to see the benefits of hosting this kind of an event,” Hall added.

Having just won the nationals, this team is preparing to leave next Thursday for Liverpool, N.S. to compete in the world junior curling championships. Again, Team Tardi (a.k.a. Team Canada) won that global title last year, and will be trying to continue their junior reign.

As for Thursday’s curling bombshell, it will be the first time the Canadian junior championships have been contested in Langley, but the city has host curling events in the past — none bigger than the 2012 World Financial Group Continental Cup when Team World prevailed over Team North America at the Langley Events Centre.

And the man behind the bid to host the juniors is none other than retired centre manager Nigel Easton, who helped host the Continental Cup.

“We were thrilled to get word from Curling Canada that our bid for the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Championships was successful,” said Nigel Easton, chair of the Langley host committee. He was approached last May to put in a bid, and was overjoyed by today’s announcement.

“We want to give players, their families and visiting fans an experience they won’t soon forget when they come to Langley next year. We have a first-class facility, and it will be a perfect stage for these young athletes,” said Easton, who – as it turns out – was Tardi’s first curling coach more than a decade ago – and was at this year’s nationals when Tardi and his team earned the third consecutive gold medal.

Noting that 2020 will be Tardi’s last year in juniors, Easton said he wants to see Tyler and the team come back and compete and win – this time on home ice – for the fourth time. “That would be just wonderful.”

In the meantime, he said the job now is to start preparing for the championships – which will bring 14 men’s and 14 women’s teams to this community to play.

Play will be divided up inside the George Preston Recreation Centre, which opened back in 1973 and is currently under renovations. Langley Township Councillor Bob Long, who was also on hand for the announcement, assured those in attendance that the work would be done in time for the junior championships.

Four of the six sheets of ice in the curling rink will be used for the championships – the other two sheets will be taken over for spectator seating.

Plus the B.C. Hockey League’s Langley Rivermen has agreed to give up its space in the adjacent Lodge for the duration of the curling championships, Easton said. That makes room for another five sheets, bringing it to a total of nine sheets that are expected to be going steady for the duration of the event.

In addition to creating a high-calibre competition for the players, Easton hopes “the spectator crowd really gets a thrill out of it, too.”

And, to pull it all off, one of the biggest jobs that lie ahead for Easton and his committee will be pulling together some 200 volunteers to help run the event.

Those interested in volunteering are being asked to contact the Langley Curling Centre at 604-530-8218.

“Right now, I am looking for some people who will take on some managerial responsibilities for the event,” Easton concluded.

This will be the seventh time British Columbia has hosted the combined Canadian juniors.

Victoria is a two-time host, in 2017 and 2004; other previous host sites were North Vancouver in 1988, Vernon in 1992, Kelowna in 1999 and Salmon Arm in 2009. Prior to 1987, the Canadian Junior Women’s Championship was played in Fort St. John in 1984, in Chilliwack in 1978, and in Vancouver in 1971. Previous B.C.-hosted editions of the Canadian Junior Men’s Championship were in 1971 in Kamloops, 1961 in Prince George, and 1951 in Nelson.

Township Mayor Jack Froese wasn’t in attendance for the announcement, but welcomed the “prestigious” championship and said the community is full of enthusiastic sports fan who are “thrilled to experience curling at this level.”

“We look forward to seeing the top junior curlers in the country put on their best display of skill, teamwork, and dedication as they vie to be named the best in Canada.”

TSN will be providing live coverage of the women’s and men’s semifinals and finals, also helping spotlight Langley on the world stage of curling.

 

Paul Addison, a board member with Curling Canada, was at Langley Curling Centre Thursday afternoon to announced that this local club will host the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships. (Roxanne Hooper/Black Press)

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