After a hiatus at the last Arctic Winter Games in Greenland, curling will be back in the upcoming 2018 Games and young Yukon curlers will be sweeping for a spot on the team at the trials Saturday and Sunday.
But, trial co-ordinator Jon Solberg with the Yukon Curling Association said, of the two divisions it is likely only the junior male side will need a competition as currently only one junior female team has expressed their interest.
In the Games there are only two divisions, male and female born in 1999 or later, and they aren’t separated by age group as in most of the other competitions.
“What happens is we encourage the young curlers that are involved and other kids that haven’t curled before to form teams themselves,” Solberg said. “There’s probably two teams on junior men’s side and looks like we probably only have one team on junior women’s side, so we won’t even have a trial.
What we’ll do is we’ll end up having some sort of developmental camp this weekend for them and for the boys the two teams will play off for the one spot.”
The trial on the men’s side will be formatted as a best-of-three championship, Solberg said, with two games on Saturday at the Whitehorse Curling Club and the final deciding game on Sunday if required.
Solberg said this turnout for the trials isn’t surprising and quite common in the past for the sport, especially taking into account the number of competitions at the Games and athletes needing to choose between curling and perhaps a larger team sport.
“I would say that it’s pretty standard that they would only have one or two teams that compete at that level now with Arctic Winter Games,” said Solberg, who skipped his team to the 2017 Yukon Curling Championships and represented the territory at the Brier.
“From the curling perspective the fact that these kids have become quite good in their discipline in curling, that means that they want to continue on with their passion with the sport and participate at the Arctic Winter Games level,” he said.
At the 2014 Games, the junior male team won the gold medal after finishing second place in the round robin to the team from Alberta North. On the junior women’s side, the Yukon team finished in fourth spot.
After the representing teams are decided, Solberg said the curling association will help facilitate a coach with an organizer of the team to ensure they have a competition-certified coach who is required for the Games.
Solberg said they have put the word out about the trials to the communities outside of Whitehorse, but he believes all of the players planning to attend the trials are from the Whitehorse area.
At the same time as the trials, curlers will be competing in Atlin, B.C. at the Yukon Mixed Doubles Championships fighting for a spot at the 208 Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Leduc, Alta. from March 28-April 1.
Only a week after that, the Yukon Curling Association will host the junior championships Dec. 14-17 with the winners qualifying for a spot at the national championships in Shawinigan, Que.