Cloverdale’s Dawson Ballard and his curling teammates are off to Alberta next week to compete at the Canada Winter Games.
The national competition invites athletes from across the country to compete in winter season sports every four years. This time around, it takes place in Red Deer, Alta., from Feb. 15 to March 3.
In curling, each province is represented by a male and female team of U18 athletes. Ballard’s team, Team Sato, qualified for the honour last March, along with Team Richards, who will represent B.C. in the women’s event.
Dawson began curling at the Cloverdale Curling Club when he was 10 years old. He’s now based out of the Royal City Curling Club in New Westminster, along with teammates Hayato Sato, Joshua Miki and Troy Chong.
This will be the team’s one and only chance to compete at the games, as they will be past the age limit by the time the next Canada Winter Games is held.
For Dawson, it’s exciting because it’s his first time going into a multi-sport event.
Team Sato has seen its share of competition on a large scale. The team earned silver at the 2018 BC Junior Provincial Championships, and as the current B.C. U18 champions, they travelled to St Andrews, N.B., last April to compete at nationals.
But the Canada Winter Games lets them be “part of the bigger picture,” he said.
“Getting to the podium would be nice,” he said, “but I’m looking forward to cheering the other athletes as well.”
Dawson said the team’s coach, Bryan Miki, has faith in them. “He’s always believed in us, and that we have the tools to win.”
When asked what Miki’s advice would be going into the Games, Dawson said he’d probably say, “Stick with what we know and play our best.”
With ten games to get to the finals, Team B.C. could play a “few more games that we’re used to,” he said.
Dawson and his teammates will first see action in a preliminary game on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. against Team Quebec, and the curling finals will take place on March 2.
Soon after they return from the Canada Winter Games, Team Sato will defend their U18 title at the B.C. provincial championships scheduled for March 12–17 in Victoria.
“We’ll have to pace ourselves,” said Dawson. “But we’ve done events like this before, so we know we have the ability to do well.”