Two Thunder Bay curling teams will be looking to get on the ice as soon as possible to start preparing for a national championship.

The Tracey Laroque rink from the Fort William Curling Club and the Ben Mikkelsen foursome from the Port Arthur Curling Club will be representing Northern Ontario at the Canadian club championships in Leduc, Alta., November 25-30.

The two teams have less than two months to get ready with the ice at the Port Arthur and Fort William clubs open for play on Sept. 30.

Mikkelsen and his PACC squad of third Greg Doran, second Chris Briand and lead Devin Doran will have the advantage of eight competitive games in the TBayTel Major League of Curling before heading to Leduc.

Last year, Team Mikkelsen benefited from playing in the major league to win the Northern Ontario title as did the Gary Weiss squad the year before.

The Weiss rink of Deron Surkan, Aaron Rogalski and Mark Beazley are one of 16 teams signed up to play in the local competitive league again this year with their site set on qualifying for a return trip to the club nationals.

Larocque and her team of third Corie Adamson, second Rebecca Carr and lead Emily Juurakko will have to rely on squad games in Fort William Business Women’s League to get in game shape. They will also look to lineup exhibition matches to get in some competitive games before they travel to Alberta.

The event in Leduc will be the 11th annual national club championships which Thunder Bay hosted in 2013 when it was the Dominion championships.

This event offers an elite national championship experience to Canada’s top recreational, club-level curlers who don’t have the time or resources to compete to represent their home province or territory on the national stage at the Brier or Scotties level.

To add more profile to the championships, Curling Canada will run the competition in conjunction with the 2019 Home Hardware Canada Cup at the 1,500 seat main arena that is part of the Leduc Recreation Complex. The Home Hardware Canada Cup will run Nov. 27-Dec. 1, and will feature the top seven men’s and top seven women’s teams in the country. They will be competing for cash and the first points to toward qualifying for the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials and a potential berth to represent Canada in Beijing in 2022.

Brad Jacobs won the Canada Cup men’s event with Mark Kennedy last year in Estevan. Jacobs is expected to be back to defend his title in Leduc with Kennedy now a full time member of the Northern Ontario squad having replaced Ryan Fry. Kevin Koe, Brad Gushue are other top names on the men’s side to be given invites while Rachel Homan and Jennifer Jones are expected to highlight the women’s field at the Canada Cup.

For more information on the Canadian Curling Club Championships fans can visit the Curling Canada website at www.curling.ca/2019clubchampionships.

Sport Development

Larry Rathje continues to be a driving force behind sport development for curling locally. Rathje is involved as an organizer for a number of development programs including a number of courses coming up at the Port Arthur Curling Club at the end of the month.

• Club coach course - Sept. 28-29 at Port Arthur Curling Club

• Competitive coach course - Sept. 28-29 at Port Arthur Curling Club

• Make Ethical Decisions Course Sept. 27 evening at Port Arthur Curling Club

Registration for these courses is online on the Ontario Curling Council website.

Safe Sport Movement

Curling is now a part of recent legislation for the Safe Sport "Movement" to ensure participants of any age, skill or ability can participate in sport in a manner which is free from harassment, discrimination, or abuse and protects the health and wellness of the athlete. As a result some Safe Sport activities are being integrated at our local curling clubs.

As part of National Coaches Week during evenings of Sept. 23-27, there will be Train-The-Trainer sessions to get everyone up to speed on the requirements. Those interested can contact Larry Rathje at 475-4499 or email larryrathje57@gmail.com to indicate which evening works best for you.

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AROUND THE CLUBS: Registration continues for the upcoming season at all three local curling clubs. Curlers of all ages can find leagues to play in from beginner to somewhat competitive, stick and wheelchair curling.

The Fort William club has two registration nights coming up this week , Sept. 15-16 from 5-8 p.m., both days. All new and returning curlers are invited to come and sign up for open, mixed, doubles and two-person stick leagues running this winter. All new and returning curlers are welcome. Registration forms are available at the club and on their website.

The FWCC Semi-Annual Membership meeting will be held on Sept. 26 starting at 7:30 p.m. All curling members are asked to attend for an update on planned activities for the coming season.

If you have curling news or results from bonspiels to report, you can contact John Cameron by email: johncameron14@gmail.com or text 631-3032.

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