What promises to be an extremely busy week of curling in Leduc, Alta., kicks off on Monday with the opening draws of the 2019 Canadian Curling Club Championships at the Leduc Curling Club.
The 2019 Canadian Curling Club Championships will feature the country’s top men’s and women’s club curling teams, with all 14 of Curling Canada’s Member Associations (10 provinces, three territories and Northern Ontario) represented in both genders.
It will run concurrently with the 2019 Home Hardware Canada Cup, which begins on Wednesday in the Sobeys Arena, which, like the Leduc Curling Club, is under one roof in the Leduc Recreation Centre.
But unlike the players participating in the Home Hardware Canada Cup, competitors in the Canadian Curling Club Championships will not bring Olympic aspirations with them to Leduc.
Each team is allowed only one player who has played in a provincial/territorial Juniors’, Men’s (Brier), Women’s (Scotties) or Seniors’ championship in the current or previous four curling seasons, or participated in a full-field Grand Slam event in the current or previous four curling seasons.
As well, no player on the teams can have played in a Canadian Juniors, Men’s, Women’s or Seniors national championship in the current or previous four seasons.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t players who can play at a very high level; quite the contrary.
Quebec’s teams, for instance, feature two Canadian champion players. Jasmin Gibeau’s men’s team from Thurso has Dan deWaard at vice-skip; deWaard played second for the Quebec team skipped by Jean-Sébastien Roy that won gold with an unbeaten record at this season’s Canadian Mixed Curling Championship, which wrapped up two weeks ago in Saguenay, Que.
On the women’s side, Isabelle Néron is skipping the Quebec team from Chicoutimi; she won the inaugural edition of the Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship in 2013 with partner Robert Desjardins at the same Leduc Curling Club where she’ll be competing next week.
The women’s side also features a pair of past winners at this event — Tracy Andries of Winnipeg has her full Manitoba lineup (vice-skip Crystal Kennedy, second Diane Christensen, lead April Klassen) back that won in 2016 at Kelowna, B.C., while Alberta’s Nanette Dupont (Lethbridge) prevailed with a different lineup in 2010 at Charlottetown.
There’s another past Canadian champion in the field, albeit in a different sport — Alberta men’s skip Dale Goehring of Calgary won the 1997 Canadian Men’s Amateur Golf Championship.
The teams will play a round-robin draw leading to the playoffs Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29 and 30.
The annual fundraising challenge to benefit youth curling across Canada through the Curling Canada Foundation will once again be a part of the 2019 Canadian Curling Club Championships.
A year ago in Miramichi, N.B., teams from British Columbia (Vic Shimizu’s men’s team from Richmond) and Alberta (Calgary’s Morgan Muise) claimed gold medals.
The Canadian Curling Club Championships began in 2009 in Toronto. Since then, Alberta has won the men’s title three times, while B.C., Ontario and Saskatchewan have claimed two titles and Newfoundland/Labrador has one.
On the women’s side, Manitoba leads the way with four championships, followed by Ontario with three, Alberta with two, and Prince Edward Island with a single victory.
The 14 men’s and 14 women’s teams will be split into two seven-team round-robin pools. After a single round-robin, the top three teams in each pool will make the modified double-knockout playoffs, which begin Friday, Nov. 29, at 9 a.m. (all times Mountain).
The championship semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 30, at 9 a.m., and the semifinal winners will play for gold, and the losers will play for bronze, Saturday, Nov. 30, at 2 p.m.