Eryn Czirfusz, a 16-year-old curler from Houston, who used to play out of the Smithers Curling Club, is now a provincial U21 champion.
Team Hafeli, out of the Kamloops Curling Club, for whom Czifusz splits second duties, went undefeated in the championship held at the Comox Valley Curling Club last weekend.
“It’s quite an amazing experience being able to compete against a lot of my friends who are on the other teams and lots of fun during the games,” she said. “And it’s quite an amazing learning experience as well being able to 1. learn from the other teams, as well as, it’s just surreal to think, as I’m only 16, that I’m going to be competing in the Under 20 Nationals with some of Canada’s best curlers.”
The New Holland U21 Curling Championships will be held March 25 to April 15 in Stratford, ON.
The team, which consists of skip Holly Hafeli, third Jorja Kopytko, Czirfusz and Hannah O’Neil alternating at second, and lead Natalie Hafeli, also won the right to compete in Chilliwack March 16 to 19, to represent B.C. at the 2023 Canada Winter Games in PEI.
Czirfusz said her introduction to the world of curling was kind of a funny story
“It was a miscommunication between me and my mom,” she said. “She signed me up for this curling camp in Kelowna called Rockside… since I was signed up, I decided, ‘yeah, OK, I’ll go’ and I ended up loving the coaches I met at the camp. I met some pretty amazing people that I’m still friends with now and those are the kind of people who really got me into the sport.”
Once in, she added, it was the strategy and techniques that really drew her into the sport.
After that introduction, she curled in Houston in an after-school program and rapidly progressed ending up playing adult mixed.
In 2018, she curled with a team from Kitimat, that ended up representing the northwest at BC Winter Games.
When the Houston club didn’t open for the 2019 season, she curled with Ann Griffith’s Ladies League team in Smithers. For the 2020 season, she continued to curl out of the Smithers club with Ann and also curled mixed doubles.
“Eryn was welcomed with open arms by the Smithers Curling Club,” said her mom Maureen Czirfusz. “They are a fantastic group of people and very supportive.”
In 2020, Eryn also partnered with Mattias Cheung from Prince George and trained as a competitive mixed doubles team. They continued to train out of PG in 2021 hoping the season would open.
Czirfusz moved to Kamloops in August 2022 to train with Team Hafeli. She is in Grade 11 and attends Kamloops Senior Secondary School.
She said it was difficult leaving home in order to pursue a higher level of competition, but she has no regrets.
“It was definitely a hard decision to make,” she said. “I’m only 16, so not a lot of people my age move out of the house, and especially so far away, but it’s definitely probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my curling career. I’ve been able to go so much further living in Kamloops than I ever would be living in Houston.”
Czirfusz has come a long way in a short time, but not nearly as far as she intends to go.
“One of my biggest goals in curling would be to win a national championship and go on to a world championship,” she said. “Being able to wear the maple leaf on my back with my last name on that Canadian jersey, it would definitely be just like a dream come true.”