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Fort McMurray to host 2013 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors

The Canadian Curling Association (CCA) today announced that the City of Fort McMurray will stage the 2013 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships.

The M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors will be played January 31-February 10, 2013 in the Suncor Community Leisure Centre at MacDonald Island Park. The championships will be hosted by the MacDonald Island Park and Oilsands Curling Club. It will also mark the eighth year of title sponsorship by M&M Meat Shops, Canada’s leading retail chain of specialty frozen foods.

M&M Meat Shops

“The Canadian Curling Association is pleased to announce, for the first time, that we are bringing a national championship to the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray. Fort McMurray and their passionate curling enthusiasts worked hard to demonstrate that their community was ready to host the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors and we look forward to showcasing Canada’s best junior curlers there in 2013,” explained Greg Stremlaw, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Curling Association.

Currently, 13 men’s and 13 women’s teams, representing the 10 provinces plus separate entries for Northern Ontario, Northwest Territories and Yukon, participate in a round robin, leading to playoffs.

However, for the 2013 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors, the CCA’s 14 Member Associations will have the opportunity for the first time to qualify for the national championships.

Ten men’s and 10 women’s teams, representing the provinces/territories with the best cumulative won-lost records from the 2010, 2011 and 2012 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors, will qualify for the main event, which begins on Saturday, February 2. However, host Alberta automatically receives berths into both the men’s and women’s championships.

The remaining three men’s and three women’s teams will then be joined by a junior men’s and junior women’s team from Nunavut in a one-day double knockout on Thursday, January 31. This will determine which two teams from each gender will qualify for the championships, which will now become a 12-team draw, instead of the previous 13. The first place teams will continue to receive byes to their respective finals, while the second and third place teams meet in semi-finals.

TSN, the official broadcaster of the CCA’s Season of Champions, will provide live coverage across Canada of the women’s and men’s finals.

“Fort McMurray has a strong history of community support for national sporting events, and we are thrilled to continue the tradition by hosting the 2013 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships,” said Jodie Mercier, Vice Chair, Facilities for the host committee.

“MacDonald Island Park is a world-class venue, and we look forward to inviting the national curling and sporting communities to Fort McMurray. We are delighted to showcase the spirit of our community to the rest of the country while laying the groundwork for the future success of our curlers in Alberta and the Wood Buffalo Region.”

The Canadian junior men’s curling championship began in 1950 in Quebec City. Alberta has since won a leading 15 Canadian junior men’s titles, the last by Charley Thomas in 2007, and five junior women’s crowns, the last by Heather Nedohin (Godberson) in 1996. Saskatchewan leads with 11 women’s titles since the inaugural event in 1971 in Vancouver. The men’s and women’s championships were contested separately until being combined, beginning in 1987 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

Alberta has previously hosted seven Canadian junior men’s and six Canadian junior women’s championships, the latest in Calgary in 2011.

The winners of the 2013 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors will then represent Canada at the 2013 World Juniors, February 28-March 10 in Sochi, Russia. Canada has won a leading 16 world junior men’s titles since 1975 and eight women’s crowns (tied with Scotland) since 1988. The last Canadian teams to win world junior titles were skipped by Saskatchewan’s Marliese Kasner (Miller) in 2003 in Flims, Switzerland and by Alberta’s Charley Thomas in 2007 in Eveleth, Minnesota.

Meanwhile, the 2012 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors are scheduled for February 4-12 in Napanee, Ontario, with the winners representing Canada at the World Juniors in Östersund, Sweden, March 3-11.