The curlers have arrived, and the young future superstars of the sport were testing the ice at Langley’s George Preston Recreation Centre Friday in preparation for the 2020 New Holland Canadian Juniors.
“Saskatchewan was the latest, they didn’t get in until 3 a.m. [Friday],” said Al Cameron, director of communications for the annual tournament, which sees the best young curlers from across the country face off.
On Friday both men’s and women’s teams warmed up on the ice, an important step to get used to the ice, the stones, and the conditions in the rec centre. Both the existing curling rinks and the main ice rink will be used during the competition, which will last nine days starting Saturday, Jan. 18.
The teams have typically played 40 to 50 games each, including tournaments and playdowns, to qualify for their spots, said Cameron.
“It’s world class, these are our future Olympians,” he said.
There are 14 teams in each of the men’s and women’s sides, including teams from each province, the territories, and both Ontario and Northern Ontario teams.
Langley and nearby communities rounded up more than 200 volunteers to fill the needed positions before the tournament began.
The teams will play in two seven-team pools, with a round robin leading up the championship pool starting next Wednesday, and the playoffs on Saturday Jan. 25 and Sunday Jan. 26.
Non-playoff teams will participate in a mixed doubles competition. The winners of the 2020 New Holland Canadian Juniors will represent Canada at the 2020 World Junior Championships.
“Whether you are a hard-core curling fan or a newcomer wanting to get in on the excitement, we encourage all community members to attend this amazing event to watch Canada’s top young curlers battle to become Canadian Champions,” said Councillor Margaret Kunst, acting mayor for the Township.
“This is another sporting event in a long list of major national and international sporting events the Township has hosted over the years, and we have become an exceptional sports town,” Kunst added.