ESQUIMALT, B.C. – Just under a year year after playing for Canada’s mixed curling team that won gold at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics in Norway, Sterling Middleton and Tyler Tardi will be representing Canada once again next month when they head to the 2017 VoIP Defender World Junior Championships.
The Fort St. John native and his skip, along with second Jordan Tardi, lead Nick Meister and coach Paul Tardi won the men’s gold medal yesterday at the 2017 Canadian Junior Curling Championships, beating Team Ontario skipped by Matthew Hall 9-7 in a thoroughly entertaining final.
“I’m getting chills right now,” marvelled Tardi, whose team represented the Langley and Royal City Curling Clubs. “There’s literally no words you can possibly say. It’s a dream I’ve always had, and it’s always seemed so distant. Now that it’s here, it’s just an unreal feeling. It’s pretty spectacular.”
It was an exciting game, as Team Ontario recovered from a 4-1 deficit at the fifth-end break by scoring two in the sixth end and adding a steal of two in the seventh to take the lead.
But Tyler Tardi, an 18-year-old student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, shut the comeback down emphatically, making a precision double-takeout with his final delivery of the eighth end to score four and take a three-point lead.
“I thought it was there for three, for sure,” said Tardi. “ I wasn’t sure if it would tick our own rock out. I was pretty happy with the result. We definitely needed a momentum swing since they’re really good when they get the momentum. So we really needed to take it back from them.”
Hall would come back with a deuce in the ninth, but Tardi made an open nose hit for the victory to prompt a loud celebration from the B.C. home crowd.
It was B.C.’s fifth men’s gold medal at the Canadian Juniors, and first since Brad Kuhn prevailed in 2000 at Moncton, N.B.
Tardi and Middleton joined Nova Scotians Mary Fay and Karlee Burgess on Team Canada at the Youth Winter Olympics, and Middleton said that experience could help in the preparations for the World Juniors.
“I guess it gives us a slight advantage because we know what to expect, we know how we’ll be feeling (wearing the Maple Leaf), and we kind of know how to prepare,” said Middleton. “So if we can do a lot of the same stuff that we did in Norway, then I think we’ll do pretty good.”
For Paul Tardi, the chance to coach a Canadian champion was special — but doing it with his family made it even better.
“With both of my sons, it can’t be any more exciting than that,” he said. “Tyler’s had a lot of opportunities (with Junior Olympics), but to have my older son part of it to go to Junior Worlds, it’s just amazing.”
Nicholas Rabl, who played lead for Team Alberta this past week, will accompany the team to South Korea as the alternate.
The 2017 World Junior Championships will take place in Gangneung, South Korea February 16th – 26th.