The Comox Valley quartet of Keelie Duncan, Chanelle Meeres, Bryn Woloshyn and Gracelyn Richards could be the youngest curling team competing at the Canada Winter Games, Feb. 15 to March 3 in Red Deer, Alta. Meeres and Woloshyn are 15, Richards is 14 and Duncan is 13. Some of their opponents will be 17 and 18.
But age difference is something to which the girls are accustomed. Last year, they won the gold medal at the U18 BC Winter Games.
“We are consistently one of the youngest teams in most of the competitions we enter,” coach Sarah Hassall said. “I think, regardless of our young age, we know how and when to bring that higher level of intense focus that is needed during those competitive games.
“We are really excited to represent our province,” Hassall added. “We have been working very hard this season, and put in significant time with on- and off-ice development.”
Richards is the team’s skip, Meeres plays third, Duncan is second and Woloshyn is lead. Recently, they won a ladies bonspiel in Chilliwack, bettering 23 teams. They also fared well this season on the Curl BC U21 Junior Tour.
The girls won the Island playdowns last weekend in Kerry Park, qualifying for U18 provincials in March.
Support from Curl BC, sponsors and the Comox Valley Curling Club has enabled the team to see the level of commitment and effort required to be competitive at a national level.
“We have been working with a mental performance consultant since May of last year to mentally prepare the team for the elevated pressure and distraction we expect to see at the Canada Winter Games,” Hassall said.
The event will be the team’s first experience at a national, multi-sport competition.
“We are looking forward to cheering on all our Team BC athletes,” Hassall said.
Freestyle skier Dillan Glennie and Nordic skier Tallon Noble, both from the Comox Valley, will also be competing in Red Deer. Strathcona Nordic Ski Club head coach Andrea Stapff of Campbell River has been named an ‘apprentice coach’ for cross-country skiing.
About 3,600 athletes, coaches and managers are expected to attend the Canada Winter Games, which includes 21 sports. The Games are held every two years, alternating between winter and summer.