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Vernon rink adds World Junior champ to Brier lineup

Langley/Cloverdale curler Tyler Tardi to serve as ‘fifth’ on Team Laycock at Calgary-hosted event
Tyler Tardi will serve as a fifth on Team Laycock at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier. (Lindsay Chung photo)

Cloverdale curler Tyler Tardi is getting ready for one of Canada’s most prestigious events – the Tim Hortons Brier.

Tardi – who is one of the country’s most decorated young curlers, having skipped teams to three national junior titles and two world junior championships – will head to the Brier, which is Canada’s men’s championship, as a ‘fifth/alternate’ with Team Laycock.

The team is skipped by Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock, who throws third, as well as lead Rick Sawatsky and fourth Jim Cotter, both from Vernon, and Kelowna’s Andrew Nerpin at second.

The 2021 Tim Hortons Brier is scheduled for March 5-14 in Calgary. It follows the women’s national championship – the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts – and precedes the Canadian Mixed Doubles Championships, both of which will also be held in Calgary.

All three events will be held in a ‘bubble’ due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. B.C. will have one team in each event.

Cotter and Sawatsky have competed at 10 Brier championships, while Laycock and Nerpin are “no strangers to the event either,” according to a Curl BC news release issued this week.

Cotter said the team is looking forward to having Tardi there.

“We’re super excited to have Tyler. With his experience and ability to step in and play any position, and at half my age, or more than half, he’s got the energy,” Cotter said.

Typically, alternates will step in only in the case of injury or illness.

Tardi, whose Langley/Victoria team won silver at last year’s B.C. championship, losing to Cotter and company in Cranbrook, said he was excited at the prospect of gaining some experience.

“The main thing I’m trying to get out of this is to learn and soak in as much as possible to hopefully help increase my chances of success in the future,” he said.

Team Laycock was awarded B.C.’s spot at nationals based on their provincial wins last year. The most recent Curl BC provincial championships were cancelled due to the pandemic and related health orders restricting both sport and travel.

“Although B.C. was unable to run a provincial championship this year, we are extremely excited that we will be so well represented at the national bubble by all three teams,” Curl BC High-Performance Director Melissa Soligo said.

Meanwhile, Team Laycock’s preparations for the Tim Hortons Brier are markedly different. Laycock is unable to travel to B.C. to train. Cotter said they were hoping to be able to get together after travel restrictions are lifted and before they travel to the bubble.

He admits there have been challenges this season – but he is also looking on the bright side.

“The positive side is we have never had so much time to prepare for the Brier. Normally it’s the provincials, if you happen to win, it’s crazy for four or five days and then there are only two weeks before the Brier starts,” he said. “We can take care of the details now which will allow us to practice and get ready.”

Team Brown of Kamloops, made up of skip Corryn Brown, third Erin Pincott, second Dezaray Hawes and lead Samantha Fisher will represent B.C. at the Scotties.

Three of the team were part of the foursome that travelled to the Scotties in Moose Jaw last season, but their 2020 lead, Ashley Klymchuk, took this season off in order to spend time with her twins, born in the fall.

Fisher, who was a member of the Brown rink for their national junior title in 2013, was the obvious choice to replace her.

The third team to travel to the bubble will be the Victoria-based BC Mixed Doubles team of Steph Jackson-Baier and Corey Chester. Although they are last year’s BC champions, they were not able to go to nationals because they were cancelled due to COVID-19.

As she is also attending the Scotties with Team Brown as fifth player, it will be “double bubble” duty for Jackson-Baier. She said: “I’m very proud to have the opportunity to represent B.C. in two events on the national stage this year.”

READ MORE: Vernon curlers returning to Brier

READ MORE: Lumby Curling Club needs $17K to continue season amid COVID-19

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