The best young curlers in the world are coming to Liverpool next month as Queens Place Emera Centre hosts the World Junior Curling Championships from Feb. 17 to 24.
David Dagley, Mayor of the Region of Queens Municipality, says, “We are excited to welcome the world to Liverpool in February. Queens County has a reputation of hosting great events, having strong volunteer support, and bringing the crowds in support of all events, whether it is sport, cultural, or entertainment.”
Organizers estimate the championships will bring 140 of the world’s top young curlers along with their coaches, families and fans to the community. As the venue for the week-long event, Queens Place will be transformed to contain five sheets of curling ice. At least 10 countries will compete with world-class curlers aged 21 and under, with 10 men’s and 10 women’s teams.
The top six countries in each gender from the 2018 World Juniors in Aberdeen, Scotland will compete in the 2019 Worlds while three more countries in each gender will qualify out of the 2019 World Junior-B Curling Championships being held in Lohja, Finland later in January. Canada’s entries will be decided at the 2019 New Holland Canadian Junior Championships also at the end of this month.
The 2018 World Junior Curling Championships were held from March 3 to 10 at Curl Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland and Canadian teams took both titles. The men’s crown was claimed by a team out of British Columbia skipped by Tyler Tardi from Cloverdale, while the East Coast team skipped by Kaitlyn Jones from Halifax earned top spot on the women’s side.
As the teams converge in Liverpool, it will mark the first time the World Juniors have been contested in Canada since 2009 at Vancouver, which served as the test event for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
When it was announced in August 2017 that the championships would be coming to Liverpool, Peter Inch, Chair of Curling Canada’s Board of Governors, said, “We’re extremely excited to see the World Junior Curling Championships returning to Canada. We’re also grateful to the World Curling Federation for this opportunity, and its faith in the Liverpool Host Committee. We’ve seen this group do a wonderful job in the past and I’m confident that Liverpool will be ready to welcome the world in 2019.”
Mayor Dagley explains he believes this is not only a tremendous opportunity for the community but in fact, the entire province.
“On behalf of council and the residents of the Region of Queens Municipality, we are pleased that the World Junior Curling Championships will be held at Queens Place Emera Centre in Liverpool during February 2019,” he continues. “This is only possible due to the dedication of local volunteers on the Liverpool Championship Host Society and funding supporters, including the Region of Queens.”
He says the World Junior Curling Championships will not only help put Queens on the world map, but will market Nova Scotia as well. “Accommodation providers, restaurants, and stores in Queens and adjacent counties will share the benefits of increased visitation occurring outside of the busy summer tourism season.”
He points out that a large number of local volunteers enable such events to be hosted in Queens, with more than 150 being required for this event. “Citizens are our true ambassadors and we expect visitors will embrace our local hospitality.”
Liverpool is no stranger to hosting high-calibre junior curling. The 2014 Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Championships were played at Queens Place Emera Centre, and featured victories by eventual two-time world champion Kelsey Rocque of Alberta in the women’s competition, along with Manitoba’s Braden Calvert on the men’s side.
Greg Thorbourne, Chair of the host committee, also calls this event a tremendous opportunity for the Region of Queens.
“It’s a great accomplishment to bring the World Junior Curling Championships 2019 back to Canada and to Liverpool, Nova Scotia,” he says. “When the project was first considered we decided that based on the success of the Canadian Juniors in 2014 it was time again to host a major curling event and do it like no one has done it before.”
Once the bid was approved, Thorbourne says all levels of government stepped up to support the event, led by the Region of Queens Municipality, the Province of Nova Scotia and Federal Government.
“The event budget is in excess of $500,000,” he points out. “It has been challenging to raise the necessary funding commitment made to our government partners. We will, however, meet the goals set out and have a great World Junior Curling Championship.”
In fact, he said, in response to the funding needs, many local businesses and individuals have stepped up to show their support and enthusiasm. “We could not be any prouder that a local company — Mersey Seafoods [J&W Murphy Foundation] — has led the effort and are the presenting sponsor of this event.”
While in 2014 two venues — the Liverpool Curling Club and Queens Place — were used to host the action in the Canadian Juniors, Thorbourne explains only one venue is required for this event, that being the Emera Centre.
“We are extremely fortunate to have such a world class venue and a strong volunteer base across southern Nova Scotia,” he adds. “That combination will allow our guests to have an amazing experience. It will be great to see curling in general be at the forefront of the local news.”
The championship will generate strong economic activity locally and have affects across the province, Thorbourne points out.
“Local businesses have an opportunity to benefit from the event by dressing up their store fronts, doing themed activity, perhaps having special sales. The exchange of goods and services we feel will be strong. Beyond the economic impacts of hosting this event it will build community morale, showcase our capabilities, encourage people to take up the sport and have a lasting social impact on the community.”
Tickets are available at ticketpro.ca and on site at the Queens Place box office. The event will be streamed via WCF HD TV on the Internet. More information can be found at www.worldcurling.org/wjcc2019.
Thorbourne says, “This is a great opportunity for the community so let’s all work towards hosting the best World Junior Curling event ever.”