Curlers lead record gold run at Canada Winter Games

A Royal City Curling Club foursome was part of a record haul of 30 gold medals for Team B.C. at the Canada Winter Games that wrapped up Sunday in Red Deer, AB.

The New West-based Hayato Sato rink rolled to a 7-2 win over Ontario in the curling competition’s gold medal game Saturday at the Pidherney Centre.

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It is the first time the B.C. men’s team ever collected curling gold at the Canada Winter Games.

“It was an incredible feeling,” Sato said of the victory that capped a 9-1 run through round-robin play. “They shook hands and my knees were just trembling there.”

The team is comprised of skip Sato, lead Troy Chong, from Burnaby, third Joshua Miki and second Dawson Ballard.

In the seventh end, Team B.C. scored a five-ender which was enough to have the game wrapped, with handshakes all around.  The squad played well throughout the week, going 9-1 and advancing to the final on the basis of a close 6-5 decision over Manitoba.

It avenged their lone loss of the competition, a 6-3 setback in the third game of the round robin.

Both Sato (Coquitlam) and Chong (Burnaby) had the highest shooting percentages in the tournament compared to skips and leads from the other provinces.

In addition to the team's success, Chong, a Grade 12 student from Burnaby North Secondary, was presented with the Team B.C. Athlete Excellence Award. One male and one female athlete were awarded a $2,500 bursary based on  leadership and community involvement, athletic achievement and academic excellence.

“It’s such an honour to receive this award, considering there are so many athletes in B.C. who are amazing.  Although there are many athletes from different sports, we are all here for one common goal, which is to represent B.C. and to hopefully bring back some hardware for our home province,” said Chong.

The golds kept coming for Burnaby athletes, as Andy Lin picked up first place in both the para Nordic cross country, in 5-kilometre and sprint competitions.

The ice dance teams of Keira Kam, from Burnaby, and Mathew Carter topped the novice dance competition. The duo posted the second-best score in the patterns routine and top score in the free program to finish with 95.51 points, edging Ontario’s Sydney Embro/Eric Millar team’s 94.19.

It was a similar result for pre-novice ice dancers Hailey Yu and Brendan Giang. The Burnaby pair scored the second-best mark in pattern, at 26.15 points, and knkocked it out of the park with a 53.34 score in free to win with 79.49 points. Alberta’s duo of Grace Pele and Joel Portz finshed close behind at 78.50.

Picking up a silver in prenovice men’s division was Brendan Wong. The 12-year-old Burnaby skater tallied 96.40 points, behind Ontario’s John Kim at 103.16.

In judo, Klavdia Danlikov finished second in the female 48-kilogram division, falling 1-0 to Alberta’s Ema Tosanovic. She was also part of the team silver win, as was fellow Burnaby Judo Club member Maximus Joe. In his individual men's 50-kilogram division, Joe finished seventh.

Also posting top-10 results were figure skaters Emily Millard, fourth in novice female, and Shuma Mugii, fifth in novice men’s. Patrina Hui ended up fourth in single female table tennis and Maja Bonham, fifth in female trampoline, Declan McLean placed ninth in men's trampoline, and alpine skier Taylor Nellis finished 10th in super G.

The ringette team, which included New Westminster's Kristen Hunter and Brooke Valancius, who racked up six assists during the tournament, were part of their fourth-place finish.

Team BC won a total of 87 medals through the two weeks of competition that brings together some of the best young athletes from across Canada, just shy of the 88 it won on two previous occasions, in 2015 and 2011.

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