Canada’s teams will be looking for a third straight double-podium finish when the 2017 VoIP Defender World Junior Curling Championships get underway Wednesday (Eastern time) in Gangneung, South Korea.
Kristen Streifel’s Edmonton-based team (vice-skip Chantele Broderson, second Kate Goodhelpsen, lead Brenna Bilassy, alternate Karlee Burgess, coach Amanda Dawn St. Laurent) and Tyler Tardi’s B.C. team from Langley/New Westminster (vice-skip Sterling Middleton, second Jordan Tardi, lead Nick Meister, alternate Nicholas Rabl, coach Paul Tardi) will be wearing the Maple Leaf at the Gangneung Curling Centre.
The women’s team will be chasing a fourth consecutive world junior women’s championship for Canada after victories last year by Nova Scotia’s Mary Fay (with Burgess in the lineup), and in 2015 and 2014 by Alberta’s Kelsey Rocque. St. Laurent coached both of those Rocque teams, while Streifel was the alternate on the 2015 Rocque team.
The men’s team, meanwhile, will be following in the footsteps of a pair of Manitoba medal performances: Braden Calvert’s gold in 2015 and a bronze for Matt Dunstone last year.
The 2017 VoIP Defender World Juniors is the official test event for the 2018 Winter Olympic curling competition, which will be staged in the same building in Gangneung.
While Streifel and Burgess have past experience at the World Juniors, the Canadian men’s team consists entirely of first-timers at the event.
But that doesn’t mean the team lacks for international experience. Tyler Tardi and Middleton combined with Fay and Burgess to win gold in the mixed competition at the 2016 Youth Winter Olympics in Norway.
The Canadian teams will be in a 10-team (of each gender) round-robin draw that leads to the four-team Page playoffs, beginning Friday, Feb. 24.
The Canadian women will face some battle-hardened teams in Gangneung, led by the host South Korean squad skipped by Min Ji Kim, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 World Juniors in Denmark.
Also in the field is Sweden’s Isabella Wranå, who is coming off a silver-medal performance at the 2017 Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she lost to Rocque in the gold-medal final.
Wranå, whose older brother Rasmus throws second rocks for Niklas Edin’s Swedish powerhouse lineup, also finished fourth at both the 2014 and 2015 World Juniors.
There is less experience on the men’s side with no medallists returning from last year. Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell came closest, just missing the playoffs last year with a 5-4 record in Denmark.
Other countries in the men’s field are China, Italy, Scotland, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States. On the women’s side, Hungary, Japan, Russia, Scotland, Switzerland, Turkey and the U.S. round out the field.
Here’s a look at Canada’s round-robin schedule, along with information on Canadian games that will be streamed live (all times ET):
Wednesday, Feb. 15
7 p.m. — Canada women vs. Hungary
Thursday, Feb. 16
Midnight — Canada men vs. Sweden
5 a.m. — Canada women vs. Sweden
7 p.m. — Canada men vs. South Korea
Friday, Feb. 17
Midnight — Canada women vs. Switzerland
5 a.m. — Canada men vs. China
Saturday, Feb. 18
5 a.m. — Canada women vs. Turkey
7 p.m. — Canada men vs. Italy
Sunday, Feb. 19
Midnight — Canada women vs. South Korea (live-streamed)
5 a.m. — Canada men vs. U.S.A. (live-streamed)
Monday, Feb. 20
Midnight — Canada men vs. Norway (live-streamed)
5 a.m. — Canada women vs. Russia
Tuesday, Feb. 21
Midnight — Canada women vs. Japan
5 a.m. — Canada men vs. Switzerland
7 p.m. — Canada women vs. Scotland
Wednesday, Feb. 22
Midnight — Canada men vs. Turkey
Thursday, Feb 23
Midnight — Canada women vs. U.S.
5 a.m. — Canada men vs. Scotland
7 p.m. — Tiebreakers, if necessary
Friday, Feb. 24
Midnight — Women’s Page playoff games (live-streamed)
5 a.m. — Men’s Page playoff games (live-streamed)
7 p.m. — Men’s and women’s semifinals
Saturday, Feb. 25
1 a.m. — Junior women bronze and gold-medal games (live-streamed)
Sunday, Feb. 26
Midnight — Junior men bronze and gold-medal games (live-streamed)