It’s all in the family at Canadian junior curling championships

Blood is not only thicker than water — it runs pretty well on the frozen, pebbled variety.

The field at the 2017 Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships proves that, as sons and daughters of former national, world and Olympic champions and medallists will be in competition at the Esquimalt Curling Club and Archie Browning Sports Centre beginning Jan. 21.

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Manitoba leads the way with skip Laura Burtnyk — daughter of Kerry Burtnyk, the two-time Brier (1981, 1995) and world champion (1995) — who brings her team to Victoria. The foursome also includes third Hailey Ryan, daughter of Jeff Ryan, who played third on Kerry Burtnyk’s triumphant 1995 rink.

“It means the world to me,” Laura told reporters after recently claiming her provincial junior title with dad on hand watching. “Especially with what he’s done in the sport … it’s awesome.

“Now I’ve tied him for junior titles, so it feels pretty awesome. I’ve got a few things to climb in women’s, but I’ve tied him in juniors, so there you go,” she told the Winnipeg Sun.

Her dad, Kerry, won his one and only junior title in 1978.

Curling fans will also recall Hailey Ryan’s uncle, Pat Ryan, of the famous Ryan’s Express of Alberta who claimed three Brier titles (1988, 1989, 1994) and two world crowns (1989, 1994).

It doesn’t stop there for the Ryan clan as Manitoba junior men’s representative, J.T. Ryan, is Hailey’s brother and son of Jeff.

J.T. Ryan knocked off two-time Canadian junior champ Braden Calvert to don the Manitoba colours in Victoria. Ryan’s third, Jacques Gauthier, is the son of Cathy Gauthier, a 1992 and 1995 Scotties winner and currently curling commentator with TSN.

Laura Burtnyk’s lead, Rebecca Cormier, also has Island roots as parents Shayne and Dana (nee Little) were solid athletes in their days in Nanaimo. Shayne was an excellent fastball catcher and Dana played basketball at Malaspina College and also curled.

Of course, there’s also Saskatchewan third Sara England — of Kaitlyn Jones’ victorious junior team — who is the daughter of three-time Scotties and world champion (1993, 1994, 1997) and 1998 Olympic gold medallist Sandra Schmirler, who died in March 2000 from cancer at age 36.

“I think the fact that everybody still thinks so highly of Sandra ... they want that connection to her,” Shannon England said of his daughter, Sara, back at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George two years ago. “With Sara coming up and curling now there’s that connection back to Sandra.”

Ontario junior men’s rep, Matthew Hall, has Joey and David Hart at second and lead, respectively. They are the sons of Richard Hart, the 1998 Olympic silver medallist (with Mike Harris) and 2007 Brier and world champion on Glenn Howard’s rink.

Quebec skip Vincent Roberge and his second, Etienne Elmaleh, are sons of 2006 Brier winners and world silver medallists François Roberge and Maxime Elmaleh.

Several more curlers in Esquimalt have parents who competed in Scotties or Briers, including skip Kristen Streifel of Alberta, daughter of Tracy Streifel, and Chris Gallant, the P.E.I. third, who is the son of Peter and Kathie Gallant.

Other junior men’s teams competing here include: Tyler Tardi of B.C. (Langley); Colton Goller of Alberta; Liam Marin (N.B.); Tanner Horgan (N. Ont.); Greg Blyde (Nfld. and Labrador); Sawer Kaeser (N.W.T.); Matthew Manuel (N.S.); Arthur Siksik (Nunavut); Tyler Smith (P.E.I.); and Rylan Kleiter (Sask.).

Among the women are Corryn Brown (Kamloops), the B.C. skip (with Nanaimo’s Marika Van Osch at third); Samantha Crook (N.B.); Brooke Godsland (Nfld. and Labrador); Krysta Burns (N. Ont.); Zoey Walsh (N.W.T.); Kristin Clarke (N.S.); Sadie Pinksem (Nunavut); Hailey Armstrong (Ont); Lauren Lenentine (P.E.I.); Camille Boisvert (Que.); and Alyssa Meger (Yukon).

Tickets for the event, which runs through to Jan. 29, can be found online through the curling.ca website.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

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