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CHAMPIONSHIPS New U18 Championship provides more opportunities By Dave Jensen, National Junior Coach

offer up a new level of opportunities, especially for junior curlers. Since there are some misconceptions regarding these changes, let’s take some time to re- view them. Te new U-18 National Championships has created the most buzz, so let’s


start there. In the old model of junior curling, all competitive curlers, no matter the age, were expected to compete for the same prize. Tis meant 12-year-olds were expected to compete with 21-year-olds. Some bided their time until they got older and better, while others gave up and gravitated to other sports. I can’t think of any other sport whose model has one division for all ages. Tis year, the new U-18 Championships seek to remedy that inequity, allowing for younger teams to compete with curlers their own age and providing the opportunity for some level of success at a younger age. Already, we are seeing new bonspiels targeting this age group. Let’s look at the rules. Te event is open to anyone who is less than 18 years old any time during the 30th

day of June of the year immediately preceding the

year the competition is to take place. Tere will be separate boys’ and girls’ divisions. Each state or region will be responsible for selecting its representa- tive, either through a playdown or a selection process. Regions are asked to not schedule their competitions at a time that would interfere with Junior Challenge Rounds in late December, as some juniors may want to compete in both juniors and the U-18 championships. Tere is one important detail to know about the region you play in. All members of the team must be league-playing members of a club in the same region. Why? Because at the junior level, the ability to jump regions to form the best teams possible has had a detrimental effect on team

Head to Columbia County! By Mark Kretzmann, USSMCA Senior Bonspiel Committee

which date back to the 1800s, when curling was an exclusively outdoor sport. Te clubs are all within a short driving distance of one another and offer a total of 13 sheets. Te five clubs will jointly host the 41st

W U.S. Senior Men’s National Bonspiel

Feb. 16-19. Te bonspiel is sponsored by the U.S. Senior Men’s Curling Asso- ciation (USSMCA) and is open to curlers age 55 and up. Te first 64 teams to submit complete registrations will be guaranteed a place in the bonspiel. Te event is actually composed of three separate championships: the 16 old-

est teams, with every member being at least 68 years old, will compete for the Masters Championship; the next 16 oldest teams, with every member being at least 63 years old, will compete for the Super Senior Championship; and the remaining 32 teams will be in the Senior Championship. Any team can request to play in the Senior Championship regardless of age. Te bonspiel provides a great opportunity to meet senior curlers from around

the country, see old friends, and play in some of these smaller clubs that have such a rich curling tradition. If the bonspiel information is not posted at your club, go to or reach out to Mark Kretzmann at or (608) 234-2105. Q

USA Curling (( 25

isconsin’s Columbia County boasts a curling tradition that is hard to match. Te county is home to five curling clubs – Ar- lington, Lodi, Pardeeville, Portage, and Poynette – four of

ho doesn’t love autumn? It ushers in many changes and oppor- tunities – a new school year, fall sports, and a new curling sea- son. I have to say, this year’s changes are exciting in that they

formation. Te hope is that at the U-18 level, curlers will stay with their teams, grow together, and enter the junior level as an intact team that has experienced some level of success. Tere is a spot at the U18 National Championships for a team from every

USCA member region. Te 11 state and regional champs (the GNCC region will receive two berths to make the field 12 teams for each gender) will play in the first ever U-18 National Championships to be held in Milwaukee, Wis., on March 8-12. By the way, the national champions will represent the USA at the U-18 Players Championships on April 14-16 in Ontario. Tere are also some major changes to the junior championship procedure.

Instead of state and regional playdowns, there are now two qualifying events, one held for teams from the GLCA, GNCC, Illinois, and Wisconsin regions and the other for teams from the Alaska, Colorado/At-Large, MACA, Minnesota, MOPAC, Dakota Territory, and Washington regions. Teams need not have a majority of members from any single region. Tey are free to curl with whom- ever they wish. Teams with a majority of members from the East will register for the East Qualifier, and teams with a majority from the West will play in the West Qualifier. USA Curling reserves the right to relocate teams in order to bal- ance the qualifiers. Four men’s and four women’s teams will advance from each qualifier to play in an eight-team national championship. It is believed that these changes will prompt the formation and development

of the strongest possible teams for advancement to national championships. Past success at the junior world level has proved to be a critical success factor for adult teams competing from every nation. It is believed that these changes will help to expand our pipeline of athletes in order for the U.S. to be competitive at the world level as adults. It is the goal of the Junior High Performance Program to build this pipeline and to see it produce on a consistent basis. Q

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