Scoffin skips Team Canada en route to Youth Olympics
By Jonathan Russell on November 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm
Whitehorse curler Thomas Scoffin and his rink are en route to the Youth Olympics Games.
But there is still a long way to go before competing in Innsbruk, Austria, in January.
Following a slow start, Scoffin and company nabbed four-consecutive wins to capture the Consolation Event at the John Shea Insurance OVCA Junior Superspiel held in Ottawa last weekend.
Team Canada started its campaign on Friday with a 6-4 loss to Nova Scotia foursome skipped by Stuart Thompson, followed by a 7-5 loss to Huntley’s Brett Lyon-Hatcher from Ontario and a 4-2 loss to Team Ramsay based out of P.E.I.
But the Canadian juniors were able to turn a disappointing opening day into four-straight wins for a 4-3 winning record.
This was the first competitive bonspiel for Team Canada after Scoffin and teammates Emily Gray of P.E.I., Corryn Brown of B.C. and Derek Oryniak of Manitoba were named as the Canadian Youth Olympic curling squad during the World Curling Championships in Regina, Sask., last April.
“We were working really hard getting to know each other, working on the team chemistry,” Scoffin told the Star.
“We clicked right away. Right away we had a lot of good things going for us. We caught some bad breaks early and didn’t get the results we wanted early, but then after the first day we caught fire and won the rest of our games.”
Scoffin will rejoin his Yukon junior men’s team to play in Fairbanks this upcoming weekend before meeting up with Team Canada to compete in Brandon, Man., the following weekend.
The national juniors won’t meet up again until they leave for Austria in January.
“It’s always fun to play together,” Scoffin said. “They’re a great group of people to work with, and I’m definitely excited for Austria right now. We’re playing really well.”
While separated, the Team Canada members will continue competing with their local clubs and training off-ice, he added.
Following the selection announcement in April, the team was invited to participate in the Canadian Curling Association’s (CCA) under-30 developmental program held at the Saville Centre in Edmonton. The program is designed to get the curlers working with professionals to strengthen their abilities.
Over the summer, the team was given individual off-season training plans, which included working with sports psychologists and personal trainers and on- and off-ice training schedules.
In August, the team attended a one-week training camp in Halifax, N.S., working on-ice as well as participating in off-ice activities for team strengthening.
The team returned to the ice at the end of September for a two-day training camp in Richmond, B.C.
Past president and current technical director of the Yukon Curling Association (YCA), Wade Scoffin, said those within the CCA have been following the squad’s progress closely.
“The Canadian Curling Association is really pleased with the team; they are really promoting and marketing this young group of individuals to emphasize that there’s more depth and diversity to the sport than just the top 20 teams that you’ll see on a regular basis within the curling community,” said Wade, who is also Thomas’ father.
“And as well, to be able to emphasize that this is a sport that can be a good opportunity for athletes of any age, and opportunities can certainly be there when you make a commitment.”
That applies to young curlers in the territory as well, Wade pointed out.
A junior development camp held at the Whitehorse Curling Club over Thanksgiving weekend drew 18 curlers between the ages of 15-20.
Wade said that fails to count the curlers who are Outside attending university and who had other commitments during the long weekend.
“That is a very, very healthy sign for our sport,” Wade said. “We have 20-25 15-20-year-olds participating in our sport right now and are interested in competition and progressing in that area.”
Wade attributes those growing numbers, in part, to the territory’s investment in the 2007 Canada Winter Games held in Whitehorse.
“The core of the 15-20-year-olds were brought into being involved in the sport leading towards the Whitehorse Games,” Wade said. “That’s a really neat thing to be able to recognize as a sport community. You hope that those sorts of things will happen and that it’s going to make an impact on active living and positive lifestyles for youth, and I think that we can certainly say that within the curling community we have some nice examples of that.”
At age 12, Thomas curled in those Games. That same year, he made history by being the youngest player to skip a team at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships.
Representing the Yukon at the Canadian junior national event each year since, Scoffin also won two silver medals (2006, 2008) and one gold medal (2010) at the Arctic Winter Games.
Now at age 17, Scoffin continues to impact the sport at home and will hope to leave his mark on the international stage.
“It’s hard to say where Thomas’ path, for example, would have led if that didn’t occur,” Wade said of the 2007 Canada Games. “That was one of the things that was nice timing; but also great opportunities that were provided to him, and now he’s representing Canada at a major international competition.”