You might say Kelowna’s Tyrell Griffith is a different curler today than he was as a multiple-time junior champion, or even since his first appearance at the Canadian men’s curling championships at the 2012 Brier.
Now 28, Griffith is part of the front-end on what is one of the top curling rinks in Canada and the world, playing alongside two of the top players in the country in skip John Morris and fourth Jim Cotter.
Griffith, who throws second stones for the Morris rink and teams with fellow Kelowna curler Rick Sawatsky to form a solid front end, is set to attend his second Brier after their Vernon/Kelowna rink claimed the B.C. Championship last weekend at the Vancouver Curling Club.
“We’ve come so far in the last couple years, especially myself,” said Griffith, back home in Kelowna this week. “2012 was my first year and when I went I was just like a kid. I was so excited. I have a little more experience now.”
And so does his rink. Not only has it changed since that first trip to the Brier and is now skipped by John Morris with Cotter throwing fourth stones, the foursome had to deal with the adversity of coming close but falling just short of winning the Olympic trials and representing Canada at the Sochi games.
That was in December when the Morris rink lost to Brad Jacobs in the finals. After that they took over a month off before regrouping to focus on the B.C. Championships, the Brier and a possible trip to the World Championships.
“We worked our tails off for the last year and our focus was the Olympics,” said Griffith. “It hurt so bad to not go, especially getting that close. But we just needed to re-focus. we have such a great team that we all supported each other. We gave ourselves some time away and that allowed us to play really good curling last week.”
This year’s Brier will be held in Kamloops. It’s the first time the event has come back to B.C. since 1996 when it was again held in Kamloops. Griffith was just 11-years-old at the time and had just taken up the sport of curling.
Now he and his teammates will be playing in front of family and friends in what is as close to a hometown Brier as you can get for the Okanagan foursome.
“It’s going to be really exciting for all of us to be able to play in front of our family and friends,” he said. “It’s been such a great year. We’ve played in so many big events already and now we are off to the Brier. The great thing about the Brier is the tradition of the sport. It’s the national championship. It’s the pinnacle of the sport.”
The Tim Hortons Brier takes place March 1-9 in the Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops.