The 2023 Provincial Junior Curling Championships are underway in Portage la Prairie.

The first full day was action-packed and saw local squad Team Olafson compete very hard in their first two matches. The boys went 1-1, losing their first game 8-7 but turning things around in the second as they won 7-6. Nolan Ross is the team's third, and he says it took them a few ends before they got rolling.

"It was a little bit of a rocky start but I feel like we caught up," Ross explains. "It didn't work out for us in the end (in the first match), and sometimes that happens. You just have to shake it off and go into the next game with a good mindset."

AshamRM of Portage Deputy Reeve and Councillor Garth Asham with Portage Mayor Sharilyn Knox and Team Olafson

Ross and his teammates are the only team from Portage competing in the men's or women's tournament. The Portage Collegiate student says it's a unique opportunity to play a provincial-level event on their home ice.

"It's surreal. You would never think you'd have a provincial event in your own club. It's a much closer drive than going to Altona," Ross continues. "We know how the ice works. We know it's very weight sensitive at some points. Other teams may come into this not knowing that, and I think that gives us an upper hand."

While they are definitely hoping to walk out as provincial champions, all four members of Team Olafson are just 16 years old competing in a U21 tournament.

"We really enjoy (playing older competition) because we get a lot of experience from it. We bring this experience into the U18 level, which we find we really thrive in. So, this is just for the experience, and it's working out so far."

When asked what becoming a provincial champion would mean to him, Ross had this to say.

"It's been my dream since I started curling, so it'd be really surreal."

The action kicked off at 11 a.m. today but Team Olafson won't be back on the ice until 8:00 when they take on Team Freeman.