Two members of the Tragically Hip helped kick off the 2017 Travelers Curling Club Championship in Kingston while sharing something in common with each of the 112 participants – they’re all club-level curlers.
Gord Sinclair and Paul Langlois opened the ninth annual event, hosted this year at the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club, by throwing the ceremonial opening rock. Sinclair and Langlois curl once a week in Kingston in a club league.
“We love the sport. It’s sociable. The winters when we’ve been on tour we really miss our one night a week curling,” Sinclair said.
When asked if they have aspirations to someday compete at the Travelers Curling Club Championship, Langlois admitted they’ve thought about it but there’s still work to be done.
“We’d first have to work our way out of the bottom flights here in our league,” Langlois said with Sinclair adding, “Maybe 2020 is our target?”
This event is an opportunity for club curlers, like Langlois and Sinclair and almost any club curler across the country, to make it to a national championship.
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.
All 14 of Curling Canada’s Member Associations (10 provinces, three territories and Northern Ontario) are represented at the Travelers Championship in both genders. The teams play a round-robin draw leading to the playoffs Friday and Saturday, Nov. 24 and 25.
The 2017 field includes three previous championship teams yet for the 2013 women’s champions, this year’s experience still has a few question marks around it.
Manitoba skip Stacey Fordyce says she still get some nerves, “I think having experience in the big games is definitely an advantage for our team, but we also know we are going to have to be curling our best to get there again. It’s a whole new field of teams that we really don’t know what to expect.”
Fordyce and third Christy Erickson, second Stacey Irwin, lead Pam Gouldie out of the Brandon Curling Club got off to a commanding start in Kingston, winning their opener against Newfoundland and Labrador 12-2.
Manitoba women have won a record-tying three Travelers titles (2011, 2013 and 2016).
“Any time we get a chance to wear the buffalo on our back is a true honour and one that we don’t take lightly. We feel very fortunate to have this opportunity and hope to do Manitoba proud,” skip Stacey Fordyce said before putting on her Manitoba jacket before the opening draw in Kingston.
“This event gives club curlers a chance to experience a national championship who otherwise wouldn’t. It’s important for the curlers that want to compete to have something to work towards, while still working regular jobs and balancing families at the same time,” added the Brandon native.
Elsewhere in the opening draw of women’s play, host Ontario triumphed over Quebec 6-4, Saskatchewan got past Nunavut 14-3, Nova Scotia downed Yukon 10-2, British Columbia defeated Northern Ontario 11-5 and Northwest Territories dropped their opener to Prince Edward Island 8-6. [PEI women, skipped by Julie Mutch out of the Crapaud Community Curling Club, have one game today, at 5 pm vs. BC.]
In men’s action it was a nail-biting finish for 2015 champion Andrew Symonds and his rink out of the RE-MAX Centre in St. John’s in their opening game. The Newfoundland and Labrador team, trailing by one with last rock in the last end, needed to make a slash double on their last rock after Alberta’s John Mrygold made a perfect delicate hit and roll. Symonds’ stone jammed, giving Alberta the opening draw win.
Other winners in the men’s first draw were New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Yukon and Nova Scotia. [PEI men, skipped by Leo Stewart out of the Silver Fox, lost their first game to Ontario, by an 11-3 score. Today’s PEI men’s game against Manitoba, at 1:30 pm, is scheduled to be Livestreamed. Visit https://www.youtube.com/c/curlingcanada/live to view. PEI men also play Nova Scotia, at 8:30 pm]
Selected games from the 2017 Travelers Curling Club Championship are live-streamed at www.curling.ca/2017travelers/
Back again at the Travelers Curling Club Championship is the annual fundraising challenge to benefit youth curling across Canada through the Curling Canada Foundation.
The team that raises the most money will earn a cash grant of $5,000 for improvements to its home club, while the second highest fundraising club will receive $3,000; additionally, there will be two random draws for $1,000 prizes for club improvements. You can find more information here: www.curling.ca/2017travelers/fundraising/