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Humans of UAlberta: Johnson Tao

Johnson Tao led the Golden Bears curling team to victory in the Canada West Championship in January.

Johnson Tao and his family had no idea what curling was until they immigrated to British Columbia from China. During this time, Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“We immigrated there just in time for the 2010 Olympics and just happened to get tickets to watch curling,” Tao said. 

Only seven at the time, watching the Olympics sparked Tao’s interest in curling.

Now, Tao is a member of the Golden Bears curling team at the University of Alberta. He is in his fourth-year, studying marketing under the Faculty of Business.

Tao is the skip — or captain — of the Golden Bears curling team. As a varsity athlete, curling has “required a lot of time management, dedication, [and] organization,” Tao said. “It’s not easy balancing both school and sport at the same time.”

“As a skip of the team … [you] have to build a lot of leadership, team communication, [and] cooperation skills that are really important to succeed,” Tao said.

“[It was] really cool to be able to build on such a great legacy that past Bears have started up,” says Tao 

The Golden Bears have had a successful season so far. Both the Golden Bears and the Pandas curling teams won gold at the Canada West curling championship in Edmonton in January. This marks the fifth-straight Canada West title for the Golden Bears.

The Golden Bears defeated the Calgary Dinos to win the Championship, with a final score of 9-5. Tao was also voted as an all-star in the competition, which he said was the “icing on the cake.” 

“It’s really cool to be recognized by other players at the competition for my performance so [I] felt really honoured.” 

In addition, Tao played for the Canadian team at a World Curling championship last year. Canada won the 2023 World Junior B Championships in Finland last December. The team defeated the United States in the final, with a score of 7-4. This qualifies Canada to return to the World Junior Championships that are being played during the week of February 17-24, 2024. 

“It’s really cool to be able to represent Canada on the world stage. [We did] that already in December but to do it again in February is really exciting,” Tao said. 

There are “big shoes to fill” representing the Golden Bears, according to Tao 

The Golden Bears will go to Fredericton, New Brunswick in March to represent the U of A at the U Sports Championship.

“We finished just outside the playoffs last year so we’re definitely looking forward to going back there and … go for a second-chance to win the title this year,” Tao said. 

Tao and his team are hoping to finish the year strong at the World Junior Championships and the U Sports Championship.

“Many Bears alumni from the curling program have gone on to do amazing things at the professional level, winning national championships. That’s really what my team and I are aiming to do.” 

Peris Jones

Peris Jones is the 2024-25 News Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Deputy News Editor. She is in her third year, studying media studies and English. In her free time, she loves going to the gym, shopping, and watching movies with her friends.

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