Make that two Peace Region players on Team Tardi. Jason Ginter of Dawson Creek has joined skip Tyler Tardi and Sterling Middleton of Fort St. John’s up and coming men’s curling team, and so far things couldn’t be going better. Though Ginter technically joined last season, the team only played in two tournaments together. Still, they won the first in Kelowna, and knocked out former Brier champion Brad Jacobs in Penticton.
So far in 2021, it’s been much the same. At the first of two tournaments in Oakville this fall, they lost in the semi-final to familiar foe Jacobs, and missed the playoffs in the second.
Last weekend, at the ATB Okotoks Classic, the team started off strong, winning its first two games and beating Alberta-phenom Brandon Bottcher 6-5. They would struggle near the end of the tournament, however, and lost to Bottcher 6-4 when they faced him again in the B Final.
“The chemistry was instantaneous last year when I joined, and it’s carried forward this season,” Ginter said. “These guys are beyond their years mentally, their experience in juniors and the world championships has really advanced their development so that they can really compete now on the world and men’s circuit. It’s nice to be playing together.”
Middleton is happy to have Ginter as a teammate, and with how the team is playing so far.
“(Ginter) has been a great teammate. I’ve known him for quite a while growing up in the Peace Region, and it’s really cool to have it come full circle. It’s great to be on the same team with him, and he is a great sweeper, and brings a lot of experience to the team,” Middleton said.
The team’s main focus this year is on the Olympic Pre-Trials in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, October 26 to 31, and being at the top of the game when that event comes around. The top two teams in that tournament will move on to the Canadian Olympic Trials in Saskatoon, against the likes of Jacobs, Bottcher, Kevin Koe, and others.
“That’s our main focus, we’re pretty comfortable on the ice right now. It’s a process of trial and error as we get back into the swing of things to try and see what things work and what doesn’t so we can be at the top of our game when the pre-trials come,” Middleton said.
“We don’t want to peak in September. There are some things we’re trying to work through, we’re using these weeks as a kind of trial-process, so we can be our very best at Liverpool,” said Ginter.
“It feels great right now. This is the first time for all four of us in the Olympic pre-trials, new territory all around, but we’re not satisfied with that and have bigger goals in mind.”
Curling Night in America
Team Tardi recently found themselves with the unique opportunity to be competing in Anaheim for NBC’s pre-televised Curling Night in America event. They got the invite at the last minute, but leapt at the opportunity to be a part of NBC’s effort to grow the sport down South.
The defending Olympic gold medallist John Shuster and his team were among those competing at the event. Middleton couldn’t say how he and his teammates did, but said they will be featured on NBCSN on October 10.
“USA Curling was a great host for the event. They did a great job making sure everything was ready, it was a great experience, and we would go back if invited,” Middleton said.
Watching taped-sports is not the norm, but when nobody knows the result, like watching an episode of Jeopardy!, it’s exciting all the same. Tune in on October 10 to see how the team did.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org