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Youth Curling continues to grow across Canada

When the 2023 Canada Winter Games get underway in Prince Edward Island, Mixed Doubles curling will be one of the new events on the schedule, and that’s good news for young Canadian curlers.

Team Canada celebrates its 2016 Youth Olympics gold medal in Lillehammer, Norway: on top of the podium, left to right, lead Sterling Middleton, second Karlee Burgess, third Tyler Tardi and skip Mary Fay. This team was put together after all four athletes competed at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C. (WCF/Richard Gray photo)

“With Mixed Doubles now an Olympic discipline, the Canada Winter Games will provide us with a great training opportunity to continue to develop our sport with our younger athletes across Canada,” says Helen Radford, Curling Canada’s Manager, Program Development – Youth Curling.

Radford says that athletes at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., will participate in a test event for Mixed Doubles in preparation for its addition to the roster, which still includes the Boys and Girls team events.

Youth curling in Canada is thriving. In 2016, Nova Scotia’s Mary Fay won gold at the World Junior Curling Championships in Taarnby, Denmark, and she also won gold at the 2016 Youth Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, as skip of a mixed team which included her Canadian championship teammate Karlee Burgess as well as 2016 B.C. Junior champion Tyler Tardi and his 2015 Canada Winter Games teammate, Sterling Middleton.

Mixed Doubles will be introduced as a test sport at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta. Seen here, Canada’s Tyler Tardi and Honoka Sasaki of Japan, finished fourth in Mixed Doubles at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games (WCF/Richard Gray photo)

The 2017 Canadian Junior Curling Championships get underway Saturday in Victoria, B.C., an event that has been a launching pad for many of Canada’s top high-performance athletes: last year’s Manitoba and Canadian Junior champion Matt Dunstone took his team to the World Junior Championships, but also made it to the final of the Men’s Provincial Championship in the same season.

And now, youth curlers in Canada have even more opportunity to build their competitive skills, thanks to the addition of the national Under-18 Boys and Girls Curling Championships, which will take place April 18-22 in Moncton, N.B.

“The U18 National Championship is in its final stages of preparation and Jacques Robichaud, his committee and the City of Moncton are ready to host an amazing event,” says Radford. “This new championship is building off the successful Optimist U18 Championship and we are looking forward to watching the best U18 boys and girls teams in Canada participate in Curling Canada’s inaugural event.”

Across Canada this season, coaches, youth coordinators, administrators and associations have been working hard to develop youth programming that aligns with Curling Canada’s Long Term Athlete Development framework. The future looks bright for all levels of youth curling.

“Our focus this season has been on building programs for both the recreational and competitive streams, concentrating on U12, U15 and U18,” says Radford. “There has been tremendous collaboration across Canada of sharing best practices and working together. We are looking forward to piloting some new youth programs next season.”

Participants in the 2016 Optimist U18 Curling Championship gather on the ice at Jasper Place in Edmonton, Alta. Curling Canada’s inaugural Under-18 Boys and Girls Curling Championship will take place April 18-22 in Moncton, N.B. (Detour Photography)