Another rock has slid perfectly into place for Sterling Middleton.
This time that rock is metaphorical– representing another goal of his.
The 16-year-old up and coming curling star from Fort St. John added to his list of impressive accomplishments Tuesday, as he was named to Canada’s curling team for the Youth Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway from Feb. 12-22, 2016.
Middleton will be joined by his Canada Winter Games Team BC skip Tyler Tardi, along with two female curlers from Nova Scotia, Mary Fay and Karlee Burgess.
Even after winning bronze at the Canada Winter Games with Team BC, Middleton had his sights set higher and his goal since last summer was always the Youth Olympics.
“We went to the Rockslide Curling Camp last summer and Corryn Brown was there and came in and talked to us one afternoon,” he explained.
“She too went to the 2011 Canada [Winter] Games and the 2012 Youth Olympics. So just hearing her story and how she explained it and her experiences, it made me really want to push for that and I wanted to go through that myself.”
The process to make the Youth Olympic team isn’t an easy one, as the curlers selected have to be born between Jan. 1, 1998, and Dec. 31, 2001 and also submit a written application. Above that, Middleton and the rest of his newly minted Youth Olympic teammates were evaluated at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George last February.
“The quality of applications we received through this process was simply amazing, and it bodes well for the future of our sport in Canada,” Curling Canada Chief Executive Officer Greg Stremlaw said in a Curling Canada press release. “I know Tyler, Sterling, Mary and Karlee will wear the Maple Leaf proudly in Lillehammer, and we’re confident that they’ll be wonderful representatives, both on and off the ice.”
While the selection process was tough, even more agonizing might have been Monday after Middleton got the call that he had made the Youth Olympic team.
“They called me [Monday] afternoon and I got the news,” he said.
"I wasn’t allowed to say anything to anybody until [Tuesday] morning when they released it on the Curling Canada website and Facebook. It was tough to hold in, but I did it and I’m glad it’s been announced now and everyone can see our team and what we are trying to do.”
Going back to last March, the Fort St. John native knew after qualifying for the Canada Winter Games he would have a good shot at the Youth Olympics.
“When we qualified for the Canada Winter Games I knew that we were a strong team,” he said.
“Individually we are very strong players. Right then I thought it was a possibility that I could make it happen and I’m really happy that it did just because I’m one of the only competitive junior curlers anywhere in northern B.C..”
Although Middleton didn’t get a chance to meet the girls he will compete with in Norway at the Canada Winter Games, he believes the chemistry he developed with Tardi over the last year will play a huge part in any success they have in Lillehammer.
“I think it’s huge,” he said of the chemistry with his teammate. “Ever since we met we’ve gotten along, we have very similar personalities and I think it will overall help the team dynamic of this team. Just because Tyler and I can push each other, we’ve played with each other and the two girls, Mary and Karlee were on the same team also. So it’s not like we are four strangers that are going to play with each other, we at least have a teammate that we have played with before.”
The Fort St. John native said it’s a bit too early to establish a goal for the event itself, but he recognizes the step as a huge opportunity for himself to represent curling in Northern B.C..
“It hasn’t really sank in yet because curling season is over and we are kind of starting to wind down,” he said.
“But it is a really big honour, just because we don’t have access to the same facilities or anything like that the bigger cities get to have. So for me to make it out of a bit smaller city is a really big accomplishment.”