Juniors chase titles in Langley!

Karlee Burgess will be playing to win her unprecedented third Canadian Junior Women’s Curling Championship, beginning Saturday in Langley, B.C. (Photo, Curling Canada)

2020 New Holland Canadian Juniors get underway Saturday in Langley, B.C.

Canada’s best Under-21 curlers are headed to Beautiful B.C. this week to take part in the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships.

The 2020 New Holland Canadian Juniors will begin Saturday and run through to Jan. 26 at the George Preston Recreation Centre in Langley, B.C.

And there will be no shortage of intriguing storylines as Canada’s future stars battle for the right to represent Canada at the 2020 World Junior Curling Championships, Feb. 15-22 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

On the women’s side, Karlee Burgess has a chance to make history as the first female player ever to win three times at the New Holland Canadian Juniors, but she’ll be doing it for a new province this year.

Burgess, who won Canadian and World Junior gold playing second for Nova Scotia (in 2016 with Mary Fay, and two years later playing for Kaitlyn Jones), moved to Manitoba in the off-season and will be playing vice-skip for Manitoba’s Mackenzie Zacharias (Altona) in her final year of junior eligibility. Burgess was a bronze-medallist at the 2019 New Holland Canadian Juniors with Nova Scotia. Also moving to Manitoba was Lauren Lenentine, who played vice-skip for Nova Scotia last year, and was the alternate for Team Jones at the 2018 World Juniors.

Alberta, meanwhile, will go for back-to-back gold medals with two members of Selena Sturmay’s Edmonton team that prevailed last year in Prince Albert, Sask., remaining.

Abby Marks has moved from vice-skip to skip, while second Paige Papley moves up from lead.

Also in the field is 2017 Canadian Under-18 champ Kira Brunton and her Northern Ontario team from Sudbury.

On the men’s side, meanwhile, there will be a new champion for the first time since 2016 as three-time defending champion Tyler Tardi of B.C. has moved up to the men’s ranks. 

That will open the door for the likes of Northern Ontario’s Jacob Horgan, a two-time silver-medallist playing for his older brother Tanner. Jacob, who skipped Northern Ontario to the 2017 Canadian Under-18 championship, is skipping at the Under-21 nationals for the first time, and will be making his seventh appearance at the event with his Sudbury-based team.

Jacques Gauthier will skip the Manitoba #2 team in Langley. (Photo, Curling Canada)

Also in the mix on the men’s side will be Tardi’s cousin Jacques Gauthier, who’s skipping Manitoba #2. Gauthier, whose team is based in Winnipeg, played vice-skip for JT Ryan’s Manitoba team that lost the 2019 gold-medal game to Tardi’s B.C. team in Prince Albert, Sask., and was also the alternate for Tardi’s Canadian team that won gold at the 2018 World Juniors in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan’s Rylan Kleiter (Saskatoon) will be aiming to improve on the bronze medal his team won last year in Prince Albert, while Nova Scotia’s Graeme Weagle (Chester) looks to add to the gold medal he won at the 2018 Canadian Under-18 Championships.

With the Yukon and Nunavut unable to field men’s teams for the 2020 New Holland Canadian Juniors, B.C. and Manitoba will have two teams in the field to fill out the 14-team draw — B.C. gets the second team as the host team, while Manitoba was the highest-placed team behind B.C. at the 2019 New Holland Canadian Juniors to earn the second berth.

Gauthier’s team goes in as Manitoba #2 after losing the provincial final to Brett Walter; both the Walter and Gauthier teams hail from the Assiniboine Club in Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, B.C. will be represented by champion Hayato Sato and his team from New Westminster, and runner-up Johnson Tao and his team from Richmond.

Selected round-robin games from the New Holland Canadian Junior Championships will be streamed live at Curling Canada’s YouTube page, which you can access by CLICKING HERE.

Fourteen men’s and 14 women’s teams will compete for Canadian titles, separated into two seven-team pools per gender for an initial round robin, followed by a Championship Round (top four in each pool) leading to the playoffs. The top team advances to its respective final on Sunday, Jan. 26, while the second- and third-place teams meet in a semifinal on Saturday, Jan. 25, to determine the other finalist.

TSN/RDS2 will carry complete live coverage of the semifinals (women at 11 a.m. [all times PT], men at 4 p.m.) on Jan. 25 and finals (women at 9 a.m., men at 2 p.m.).

The winning teams will then represent Canada at the World Juniors in Russia.

Canada has won a leading 20 world junior men’s titles since 1975 and a leading 12 women’s crowns since 1988.

Additionally, with the dates of the 2021 New Holland Canadian Juniors being shifted into March to allow junior-age players to compete longer into the season, players competing in Langley may be representing Canada at the 2021 World Juniors in February 2021 (location TBA by the World Curling Federation.

Here are the criteria for determining the 2021 Team Canada representatives:

  • 2020 Canadian Juniors runner-up teams (if three of four are age eligible) will represent Canada at the World Junior Championships in 2021. If the runner-up team needs to replace one player because of age eligibility, consultation will take place with Curling Canada before a new team member is selected.
  • If a runner-up team is not age eligible to represent Canada at the World Junior Championships in 2021, then Curling Canada will select individual age-eligible athletes from the 2020 playoffs and/or Championship Pool to determine Team Canada for the World Junior Championships in 2021. Individual selected athletes may also be part of the 2020 winning Canadian team.
  • Curling Canada will announce the athletes selected to represent Canada at the 2021 World Junior Championships towards the end of February.

The 2020 New Holland Canadian Juniors also is notable for the number of past recipients of the Curling Canada Foundation For The Love of Curling Scholarships — 10 over the past four years:

2019 — Lauren Lenentine (Manitoba), Paige Papley (Alberta), Desmond Young (Alberta), Emily Zacharias (Manitoba)
2018 — Lindsay Dubue (Northern Ontario), Ryan Jacques (Alberta), Ryan McNeil Lamswood (Newfoundland/Labrador)
2017 — Kira Brunton (Northern Ontario), Mackenzie Zacharias (Manitoba)
2016 — Karlee Burgess (Manitoba)

B.C. teams have won a combined 10 Canadian junior championships — the most recent being Tardi’s team representing the Langley Curling Centre winning in 2017 at Victoria, 2018 at Shawinigan, Que., and last year at Prince Albert. Other previous winners were Corryn Brown in 2013 at Fort McMurray, Alta., Brad Kuhn in 2000 at Moncton, N.B., Dean Joanisse in 1989 at Winnipeg, Mike Wood in 1988 at North Vancouver, Julie Sutton in 1987 at Prince Albert, Jodie Sutton in 1986 at Rouyn-Noranda, Que., Sandra Plut in 1982 at Winnipeg and Jerry Laughlin in 1961 at Prince George.

Teams that don’t qualify for the Championship Pool will compete in a Seeding Pool to determine rankings for the 2021 New Holland Canadian Juniors, March 15-23 in Fort McMurray, Alta. Curlers on all non-playoff teams will participate in a mixed doubles competition on the final weekend. 

The Canadian Junior Menʼs Championship has been contested annually since its inception in 1950 at Quebec City. The first Canadian Junior Womenʼs Championship was played in 1971 at Vancouver. 

For event information, visit www.curling.ca/2020juniors.

Curling Canada