Territorial curlers achieve breakthrough on national scene

Yukon curlers will be throwing granite at more national level competitions in the years to come thanks to new policies adopted by the Canadian Curling Association (CCA) last week.

Yukon curlers will be throwing granite at more national level competitions in the years to come thanks to new policies adopted by the Canadian Curling Association (CCA) last week.

Starting in the 2012 season, all three of Canada’s territories will be allocated spots for representative teams at some national competitions, eliminating the yearly playdowns between northern teams vying for the territories’ one spot.

“There’s been lots of hard work over many years,” said Yukon Curling Association president Wade Scoffin. “This has been talked about for 10 or 20 years, at the very least, related to some of the inconsistencies on how each of the member associations in the CCA have had chances to compete at national championships.

“Part of it is persistence, but part of it is gathering up stronger and stronger evidence. And one of the things I believe that helped to sway the case, was to show how significant an outlay the members in the North were having to put out to have the opportunity to participate, to try to get to these area championships.

“When you have four people traveling over to Yellowknife, or vice versa over to Whitehorse from NWT, it’s about $5,000. Two teams usually travel, so it’s $10,000.

“And there’s no promise or guarantee – winner takes all. Second-, third- and fourth-place finishers get, ‘Better luck next time.’”

Yukon, NWT and Nunavut, will each be given a spot for representative teams for senior men’s, senior women’s and mixed national championships.

It is only the men’s teams aiming for the Brier and women’s teams aiming for the Scotties that will, for now, be continuing to battle their northern neighbours for inclusion into those prestigious bonspiels.

“The Scotties and the Brier, for the next little while – a few years probably – will continue to play off against NWT for the one position at those championships,” said Scoffin.

As they often are with music and fashion, young curlers have been way above the curve in this aspect, with territorial representative teams getting automatic acceptance into national competitions.

“There’s been a separate spot for the Yukon and for NWT for the last 10 or 15 years,” said Scoffin.

Opportunities for less-advanced curlers in the territories, and beyond, have also arisen recently.

Thanks to an effort by its title sponsor to accommodate more teams in the selection process, teams from the territories will have more opportunity to reach the Dominion Curling Club Championships. With increased funding, curling clubs from throughout the Yukon, for example, will be included in the selection process of determining which teams, men’s and women’s, will represent the territory at the national club bonspiel.

“(Dominion of Canada Insurance Company) has sponsored each of the (CCA’s) 14-member associations to have a playoff process to select that one team,” said Scoffin. “So that has given life and enthusiasm for a lot of our community club to have another opportunity for people not really aiming for the Brier or to become an Olympic-calibre athlete, but just playing in a league.”

In other curling news, the Yukon Curling Association will once again be conducting a Junior Development Camp weekend from October 8 through 11 at the Whitehorse Curling Club. The camp is geared towards curlers in the 9 to 15 age group range that hope to advance existing skills.

In the days that follow, the camp’s instructor, Al Kersey, a CCA Award of Achievement recipient, will travel to Watson Lake to provide curlers with coaching.

“That’s sort of the overall plan for that particular club and community, to try to revitalize and encourage – especially the youth, high school and elementary-aged kids,” said Scoffin. “That’s been a priority. They haven’t had a junior team for about five, maybe six years.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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