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Expanded junior championships, revamped Curling Assistance Program confirmed at 2018 Curling Canada AGM

Curling Canada will give more young curlers the opportunity to compete for national championships when it expands the fields for the New Holland Canadian Junior Under-21 and Canadian Under-18 curling championships, beginning in the 2020-21 season.

Board Governors, Curling Canada staff, Member Association Presidents and Executive-Directors, and delegates gather for a group picture at the 2018 Curling Canada Annual General Meeting in Ottawa. (Photo, Curling Canada/Neil Valois

That was one of the outcomes of the 2018 National Curling Congress, which concluded with Saturday’s Curling Canada Annual General Meeting in Ottawa.

Curling Canada governors Resby Coutts, far left, and Scott Comfort, far right, present the Member Associations Cup, presented by TSN, to CurlON President Doug Kreviazuk, left, and Director Elaine Brimicombe. (Photo, Curling Canada/Neil Valois)

Curling Canada governors Resby Coutts, far left, and Scott Comfort, far right, present the Governors’ Cup to Nova Scotia Curling Association President Cathy Dalziel. (Photo, Curling Canada/Neil Valois)

In addition to expanding the fields for both events — currently one team from each of Canada’s 14 Member Associations competes in those championships — dates for the New Holland Canadian Juniors will be moved to later in the season. Currently, the event is staged in January, and beginning in 2021, the event will take place in March.

Curling Canada governor Resby Coutts, far left, and Curling Canada Foundation Manager Brodie Bazinet, far right, present the Curling Canada Foundation Cup to Nova Scotia Curling Association President Cathy Dalziel. (Photo, Curling Canada/Neil Valois)

That means that the Canadian champions at the 2021 New Holland Canadian Under-21 Juniors won’t compete at the World Junior Championships until the following season (2021-22). As a result, the 2021 New Holland Canadian Juniors will change its age eligibility rules so that players are eligible to compete the following season at the Under-21 World Juniors. Players at the 2021 New Holland Canadian Juniors will need to be 20 years of age or under as of June 30, 2021.

Curling Canada governor Peter Inch, left, welcomes Patricia Ray to the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame. (Photo, Curling Canada/Neil Valois)

Details on how the 2021 World Junior Canadian teams will be determined, and the size of, and format for, the expanded fields for the 2021 New Holland Canadian Under-21 Juniors and the Canadian Under-18 Championships, will be announced at a later date.

Curling Canada Chief Executive Officer Katherine Henderson, right, with family members of the late David Beesley; son Dan Beesley and wife Mary Opper. David Beesley was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame on Friday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Neil Valois)

“This has been under discussion for some time as part of our Long-Term Athlete Development plans,” said Helen Radford, Curling Canada’s Manager, Youth Curling and NextGen. “The idea is to give more youth curlers the chance to compete at the national level, in addition to extending their seasons. Under the current system, many Under-21 curlers have nothing to play for after their provincial championships are concluded in late December. As well, we will send our teams to the world championships far more prepared for that level of competition.

“As much as these Canadian championship events are high-performance events, they’re also developmental events as we work towards building our Tim Hortons Brier, Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Olympic champions 10 years from now.”

Curling Canada also unveiled a revamped Curling Assistance Program that will see Canadian curling centres offered low-interest loans by Curling Canada to help them remain sustainable over the long-term and provide capital for such items as roofing, chillers, compressors, lighting, warm-area renovations and curling stones.

Former Curling Canada governor Hugh Avery, right, welcomes Peter Inch to the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame. (Photo, Curling Canada/Neil Valois)

“We’ve known for a long time that Canada’s curling centres need our support to remain healthy and viable, and we’re extremely happy to be in a position to offer this assistance,” said Katherine Henderson, Chief Executive Officer of Curling Canada.

Application procedures will be announced in the next few weeks.

Curling Canada also welcomed the Canadian Deaf Sports Association as an affiliate organization. The CDSA takes the place of the formerly affiliated Canadian Deaf Curling Association, which dissolved a year ago and was incorporated into the Canadian Deaf Sports Association.

Meanwhile, a new, albeit familiar, board Chair and four members of the Curling Canada Board of Governors are in place for the 2018-19 season.

Maureen Miller of Yellowknife was elected to her second term as Chair of the Board of Governors; in her first stint as a board member, she Chaired the board during the 2002-03 season.

Elected to the 10-member Board were 2006 Olympic bronze-medallist Amy Nixon of Calgary, Donna Krotz of London, Ont., Paul Addison of Saanichton, B.C., and Sam Antila of Thompson, Man.

They replace outgoing board governors Catherine Hughes, Peter Inch, Lena West and Scott Comfort.

Also, three annual awards were presented, and three new Canadian Curling Hall of Fame members were inducted, at the 2018 Curling Canada Celebration Dinner.

The Nova Scotia Curling Association was a double winner, taking home both the Governors’ Cup (highest average improvement at Curling Canada championships from 2016-17 to 2017-18) and the new Curling Canada Foundation Cup (best average performances at the four Canadian youth curling championships: the New Holland Canadian Junior Under-21 Championships and Canadian Under-18 Championships).

Meanwhile, CurlON claimed the Member Associations Cup, presented by TSN, for the second straight year for posting the best average results at Canadian championships in 2017-18.

As announced in September, Patricia Ray, Peter Inch and the late David Beesley were formally inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.