P.A. to host 2019 junior curling championships

Former Olympic curlers Russ Howard (left) and Cheryl Bernard talk about the 2019 junior men's and women's curling championship coming to Prince Albert. Evan Radford/Daily Herald

Prince Albert will host the 2019 Canadian junior men’s and women’s curling championships.

Curling Canada board of governors member Scott Comfort made the announcement Friday afternoon from the city’s Golf and Curling Club.

“We have a fairly extensive process now for picking the events. There is actually a selection committee, and there’s certain criteria that clubs have to meet and host committees have to meet,” he explained.

The P.A. committee put in a nice bid, he said.

“They have great volunteers, they have a proven track record of hosting a lot of provincial events and we know they’re ready to make the next step to the big national event here.”

The event, sponsored by New Holland, will run from Jan. 19-27, with games played at the curling club and at the Art Hauser Centre.

Fourteen teams for each gender group will represent their respective regions, which include Canada’s ten provinces, three territories and northern Ontario.

The men’s and the women’s field will each be split into seven-team pools. Each pool will go through round-robin play, leading to a championship pool on Wednesday of that week. Teams advance form the championship pool to weekend playoffs.

The round-robin games will be played at the curling club and the Art Hauser Centre; the playoff games will be played at the Art Hauser Centre.

“We always go to places where they have a proven record,” Comfort said.

As for what the event does for curling in Saskatchewan, he said it helps the sport’s legacy in the province.

“Not only the funding that it brings in, but you see the young curlers who will get to see these top athletes playing here.

“You get to see how much fun they’re having; you get to see them interacting with other provinces. It’s a great way to grow the sport and the interest, especially among the juniors.”

Prince Albert hosted the event once before, in 1987, which was the first year the men’s and women’s championships were combined into one event.

Host committee chair Bryan Rindal talks about how the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club made its pitch to Curling Canada to host the 2019 Canadian junior curling championships. Evan Radford/Daily Herald

Bryan Rindal, chair of the P.A. Host Committee, touted the economic benefits of the tournament.

“The whole idea of heads in beds, the economic spinoff and that.

“Fifty years ago when this club was built, nobody would have imagined the infrastructure costs, the lighting costs, the power – it costs a lot just to keep the lights on.

“So we need these events just to fill up the coffers, to keep providing the services and the competition, and the ice surface itself that we do here.”

In January 2016, the club hosted the provincial Scotties tournament of heats women’s competition; that year it brought in about $80,000, according to Rindal.

“That number should be at least double what comes back to us (in the 2019 tournament). I’d be upset if we don’t get to that $150,000 to $160,000 range.”

In his speech following Comfort’s announcement, Rindal talked about Friday’s news being 17 years in the making.

“Back in 2000 there was a committee put together. Specifically we were going to go out and look for big events. We started with men’s provincials as kind of our first one and we built from there.”

Beyond the round-robin play, the club will also host mixed doubles games: Teams that fail to qualify for the championship pool will be intermixed with each other for mix doubles games to be played at the curling club, a point that Rindal highlighted.

The winning teams from the 2019 tournament will go on to play at the world junior championships in Liverpool, N.S. from Feb. 17 to 24.

Tyler Tardi of British Columbia won the 2017 tournament on the men’s side, while Kristen Streifel of Alberta won it for the women.

The last Saskatchewan teams to win the tournament were Trish Paulsen (women’s) and Braeden Moskowy (men’s), both in 2011.