Tournament takes place at CARI Complex from Thursday to Sunday
By Blair Weeks
Special to The Guardian
There is no doubt that in the three years since the Curl Atlantic Championship (C.A.C.) began the event has achieved a place of significance in the minds of the region’s top male and female curlers.
The combination of the quality of the field, only the top-12 teams in the Atlantic provinces are invited, and an opportunity to play on first-class ice conditions in an arena setting at the CARI Complex, guarantees the event is profoundly important to the competitors.
Teams will play from Sept. 12 to 15 and compete for a top prize of $3,000. But the curlers will also be playing for the experience and not just for the prize money. In part the C.A.C. is about preparing for the big moments ahead.
Sean Ledgerwood, lead on Eddie Mackenzie’s P.E.I. Tankard-winning championship team in last year’s Tim Horton’s Brier, puts it into perspective.
“The C.A.C. is an important tournament for any rink trying to compete at the Brier, as the arena ice experience is crucial to Brier success. Having a tournament with this calibre of field so close to home makes this a must for teams such as ours.”
Mackenzie’s team is also trying to defend their C.A.C. title won last year in Sackville, N.B.
Andrea Crawford, former Canadian junior champion and perennial New Brunswick Scotties representative has a similar view.
“Given that this is the biggest event in the Atlantic region, it ranks fairly high. The event is important to Atlantic area curling because competitive/successful teams need the opportunity to play against the best, and on the best conditions – this has given us both.”
Two-time world curling champion Kim Kelley, who has played in all of the biggest curling events in the world, sees the event as “extremely important.”
The longtime third for Colleen Jones’ championship teams from Nova Scotia understands the particular challenges which curlers from the region face.
“Often Maritime teams do not get to play on arena ice so it is essential to have this opportunity if one hopes to compete at a Scotties and feel at all comfortable,” she said.
“There are many events, but a lot of the arena-held events are invitation only so many teams may not qualify. Then there is the money it takes to get to them. The Maritimes needs more of these events.”
Canadian women’s finalist Kathy O’Rourke of Charlottetown echoes Kelley’s comments. “Any time you can play on arena ice in your hometown it is a big deal. In the East we very seldom get this opportunity so it is one that we are embracing.”
Tickets for the Curl Atlantic Championship can be purchased at http://curlatlanticchampionship.ca/buyonline/.