Junior Stars get full Brier experience at TD Place
BY JOE PAVIA
Cloe Bourguignon (left) and Finn Lean, both 15, got the nod as Junior Stars at the Tim Hortons Brier. (Jean Levac, Postmedia Network)
Remember their names. One day they may be the faces of curling.
Two young curlers were made honorary members of Team Northwest Territories at Tuesday’s afternoon draw. They took part in the Junior Stars program that sees selected youth curlers march out onto the ice with “their team” prior to every draw, then get introduced to the crowd by the arena master of ceremonies. They also watch their teammates’ pre-game practice.
The 12- to 16-year-old stars get a commemorative team jacket, tickets for their parents, an event pin, an official team photo and a tour of TSN’s production facilities as well as meeting the on-air commentators.
Andrea Weedmark co-ordinated the program here in Ottawa. She was amazed by the response. So many applied — 64 — that they had to conduct a What Curling Means To Me contest. Out of these multi-media presentations, 24 were chosen.
Some entries made the judges cry.
Alicia Bedford, 16, penned one of the most touching essays. Her father, her idol, mentor and coach passed away from cancer in 2015 but throughout his five–year battle he always made time for his kids and their curling. “So what does curling mean to me? It means that no matter what happens, I know my dad is still watching me from behind the glass and smiling, regardless of if I can see him or not.”
Some entries made the judges laugh.
Finn Lean, 15, wrote “The very first time I stepped onto the ice was this year and it was a moment that was surreal for me. I stepped into the hack and I was ready to make my perfect slide, just like I had seen curlers like Rachel Homan and Glenn Howard perform on some of their big shots. However, I fell down.”
Of the TSN tour Lean said, “There was so much stuff going on like video and audio and what to choose. It was very cool.” He was thrilled with being on the ice with the curlers. “It was fun. It wasn’t what I thought it would be.”
Watching the last Olympics drew him to curling.
Fifteen-year-old Cloe Bourguignon said, “For me curling is a privilege. It is a privilege in different ways. First of all I have my family willing to do everything to get me curling.
“Secondly curling is a privilege because curling can cost a lot of money but my parents are happy to pay for a tournament, bonspiel or camp. Third of all it is a privilege because my curling team is like my second family.”
Bourguignon loved being on the ice.
“It was overwhelming. It was very awesome.,” she said.
Bourguignon added she put a lot of work into her entry.
“I had to brain storm what I was going to do. It took a while,” she said.
The program began in 2000 as a way to interest youth in curling. It takes place at five Season of Champions events.
Postmedia asked Team Canada third John Morris about the Junior Stars program. “I remember I was a flag-bearer (at the 1993 Ottawa Brier) and got to meet the players. I was a bit of a rink rat. Doing that was one of the things that made me want to curl. To hang out with the players for a game is pretty cool. Nothing but good can come of it.”
And the kids must have played well. Their team upset Ontario on Tuesday.
Highlight of the day
Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard’s shot making ability.
The bad was made good
A Brier volunteer faced a jam-packed parking lot on opening day but persevered and squeezed into a spot. Not sure whether the space was legal he asked a parking attendant if the spot was kosher. He was told it was. Later he found he had been ticketed. But the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group quickly forgave him after he presented his case.
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