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Final preparations underway for Juniors

By Meghan Balogh (The Napanee Guide)……Preparations are well underway for one of the year’s biggest curling events, which to delight of local curling fans will take place in Napanee next month.The 2012 Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships will take place at the Strathcona Paper Centre and the Napanee & District Curling Club, and will bring 26 teams of Canada’s most talented young curling stars from every Canadian province and territory to town Feb. 4-12.

Stephen Paul, chairperson of the Napanee Host Committee, says that planning and organization are going well, and picking up pace as the competition date draws closer.

“It’s been a lot of work for the hosting committee, dealing with the logistics of putting curling ice in the SPC, and transporting 26 teams to different venues,” says Paul, who is also the manager for economic development in Lennox & Addington County.

Team Saskatchewan at the Juniors

Team Saskatchewan at the Juniors

“We have close to 200 volunteers, they’re getting their jobs in place and activities schedules sorted out. Our volunteers are also involved in being officials on the ice, so we’ve done training sessions with them over the last two months. It’s been a big task but we’re successful so far.”

Paul says that Napanee is the smallest town to ever host this event, which were held in Calgary last year.

“This is not something that happens for us every year and we’re very excited about it. These players are 21 years and under and many we will see down the road playing in the Olympics and in Canadian championships. They’ve gone through a grueling qualification process with local competitions and then the provincial level, and now the winners come to Napanee. It’s a good chance to see the next stars of curling.”

Over the next week staff and volunteers will be busy assembling additional bleachers for spectators, building stands for curling officials and sports broadcasters, and transforming the SPC’s hockey ice to five sheets of curling ice.

“We have an ice technician from Montreal working with us, and he will have a team of people, including our volunteer core from Napanee who will work on getting the ice to curling ice,” says Paul. “This will involve painting, flooding, pebbling, all the things you need to do.”

The Napanee & District Curling Club will also be running three sheets of ice for competition, with the fourth holding bleachers so spectators can be up close to the games.

Not only is the event an exciting time for sports enthusiasts in Napanee, it’s also good news economically, says Paul. The Napanee Host Committee is expecting more than 5,000 visitors to the area

“It’s really creating an awareness of who we are. An event like this is a significant marketing tool, and the economic development is very exciting. In many cases it’s hard to have your community highlighted, but when an event like this comes to town with live television coverage and people traveling into the area, that’s marketing support you don’t get every day. The dollars that come into the community and even beyond Napanee regionally will be significant in terms of hotel stays, meals, transportation, entertainment.”

Paul says that Napanee has proven that they have the people who can put on successful events, and that the town has done a number of things right in their handling of past major sporting events as well as this upcoming event.

“We have a great group of volunteers and individuals part of our host committees who have become pros at doing sports events, and that creates confidence in sporting organizations. We’ve got great supporters who come and watch games and get behind the teams and support the events that happen here. And, we’ve got the business community supporting us with sponsorships. These are three key aspects that we’ve done really well, and the Canadian Curling Association sees that.”

Tickets for the 2012 Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships are now on sale and are available at the Strathcona Paper Centre or by calling 613-354-4423.

A week-long pass is $100, or a weekend pass $50. For more information about the event, visit