A team from Victoria is making its debut and representing B.C. at the Canadian Men’s National Curling Championship in London, Ontario.
The young team includes Jacques Gauthier, Sterling Middleton, Alex Horvath, and Jason Ginter, three of which live in Victoria, while Ginter is an adoptee from Edmonton, Alta.
This season is the first all four players are on the same team, but their chemistry has been in the works for a number of years.
“I played with all of these guys in some form, at some point. This was the first time we’ve all joined up together,” said the teams third, Sterling Middleton.
He said he and Horvath won a World Junior Champsion together, while he and Ginter have been playing together for the last two seasons, and even competed in the Olympic pre-trials last year. “Jacques also played with him during the World Juniors as an alternate,” he added.
The three from Victoria have all been crowned World Junior National Champions before, but this will be the first time all of them are headed to the Men’s National Championship.
“I think we’ve prepared as well as we could, get out there in that first game and take it all in, I’m sure we’ll be buzzing for 7 o’clock,” said Middleton.
Curling Canada has created an 18-team field, with two pools of nine. The playoff format will see six teams, three in each pool will get to advance.
Team Gauthier will play once every day except for Saturday, with two games on both Monday and Wednesday.
However, they may have already met their strongest competition, running into Brad Gushue and his team from the St. Johns Curling Club, earlier Friday.
“Playing the reigning champs first is kind of a good game to get out of the way early,” said team lead Alex Horvath. “Both teams are going to be learning the ice so, maybe a good time to catch them, and we know it’s going to be busy and the atmosphere is going to be crazy.”
But it isn’t all new ground for the team. At their backs — their biggest supporters.
“Friends and family from each of us are here in attendance,” said the team’s second, Jason Ginter.
“We’re going to have a pretty big cheering section with a bunch of jerseys, so we might catch ourselves looking up in the crowd occasionally when you have a bit of an off-moment in the game and you can see everyone supporting you.”
Meanwhile, back on the Island those who have played in the championships themselves say the team will do just fine.
“They have a great coach, Bryan Miki who won the worlds with Greg McAulay in 2000, so they’ll keep the guys to stay in the moment,” said Mike Wood who previously played as the third for the 2007 B.C. Champion team. “I think they’ll do well, they have a great demeanor about them, they just make a lot of shots and play consistent.”
The Tim Hortons Brier seeding goes for eight days with playoffs beginning Saturday, March 11.