Youth Olympians Scoffin and Oryniak head to Napanee for Canadian Juniors

by Adam Prudhomme (Napanee Beaver)….Yukon’s Thomas Scoffin and Manitoba’s Derek Oryniak, both curlers taking part in next week’s Canadian¬†Juniors, can be forgiven if they haven’t been totally focused on Saturday’s opening draw. That’s because the pair has spent most of January playing on Canada’s mixed curling team at the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, where they captured bronze. Scoffin was the team’s skip while Oryniak played second. B.C.’s Corryn Brown was vice and Emily Gray of P.E.I. was lead, though neither of the girls will take part in the Juniors. The games took place Jan. 13-22 and featured over 1,000 athletes aged 15-18. “Unbelievable experience,” Scoffin said of the games. “To be part of an Olympics games is maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was a huge honour to be playing for Canada.” Competing nationally since the age of 12, Scoffin’s accomplishments include three Arctic Winter Game medals (one gold, two silvers), two Canada Winter Game appearances and is coming up on his sixth Juniors appearance, tying a Canadian record. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of it all is the fact that he isn’t even 18 yet. “It’s a huge honour to be able to be a part of anything like this,” said Scoffin. “Especially at an age like this.” Oryniak isn’t quite as experienced as his Olympic teammate, but is well on his way. Though he’s played for Manitoba at the Canada Games, this will mark his first trip to the Juniors and now feels a lot more seasoned after playing nationally. “Just playing on a big stage like that, I definitely won’t be as nervous now going into the Juniors,” said Oryniak, who is also 17. “Hopefully I can use what I learned now at the Youth Olympics and help my team at the Juniors.” Due to the discovery of an unexploded WWII bomb near the games site, the medal ceremonies were delayed a bit. When everything was cleared up, the curling medals were one of the first handed out and became Canada’s first ever medals won at the youth winter games. Prior to the games Scoffin and Oryniak had been training for them for much of 2011. Now that it’s come and gone the two can focus on the Juniors, particularly for Feb. 10 when the Yukon takes on Manitoba. “I’m really looking forward to that,” said Scoffin. “I played his team once before at the Canada Games, they’re a great team….it’s going to be a ton of fun and be a great game.” Oryniak, who plays second on Kyle Doering’s team, also has that day circled. “I think it’ll be a lot of fun,” said Oryniak. “We play one of the last games so maybe it’ll be an important game. Hopefully it’ll be a good game and we both play well.” As for whether or not he will be curling for Canada’s team at any future Olympic events, Oryniak isn’t looking that far ahead. “I’m going to keep curling competitive and hopefully my team does well and maybe we’ll have a chance to represent Canada again this year,” said Oryniak. “That’s a long way away but it’s definitely not out of the question.” The team that wins the Juniors will go on to represent Canada at the World Juniors next month in Sweden. Scoffin feels the same way, focusing on this year but also hoping to one day suit up for Canada again. Rounding out Scoffin’s Yukon team is Mitch Young at third, David Aho at second and Will Mahoney at lead. Despite five previous appearances, he’s yet to medal at the Juniors. Doering’s Manitoba team also includes Colton Lott at third and Lucas Van Den Bosch at lead. The Canadian Juniors run from Feb. 4-12 at the Strathcona Paper Centre and the Napanee and District Curling Club.