Qualification Process Set for 2021 U18 Nationals
A week ago, it was announced that the 2021 Canadian U18 Curling Championships would be making their way to The McIntyre Arena in Timmins, ON barring any public health concerns or restrictions as organizers look forward to the February 7th – 13th event.
Not only did the news bring excitement for hosts in Northern Ontario, but thanks to the generosity of donors to the Curling Canada Foundation it was learned that many of the teams that had qualified for the 2020 Canadian U18 Championships, which were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, may have the opportunity to compete at the 2021 championships.
For the 2021 event only, the 14 Member Associations, a host team representing the Northern Ontario Curling Association, and 12 additional teams based on combined rankings of the Member Associations from the 2018 and 2019 Under-18 championships will comprise the field.
The qualifying Member Associations can send their 2020 champions if they choose; with age and residency rules for the selected 2020 championship teams being waived for the 2021 event only. To be eligible, three of the four members from the 2020 championship must return, and if a replacement player is required, the spare would have to be eligible under the 2021 age and residency guidelines.
While the 2021 champions are guaranteed one of the three berths available to the Northern Ontario Curling Association, a special meeting of the Board of Directors was required to accept the recommendation of the Competitions Committee that, having passed, grants the pair of additional berths to the 2020 Provincial Champions and Runners-Up. It is important to note that both teams had already qualified and were preparing to compete at the 2020 Canadian Championship in Sudbury before it was cancelled.
In the event that one of the eligible teams from the 2020 Provincial Championships choose to decline their invitation, or improves their standing as a result of competing in the NOCA 2021 Provincial Championships, their berth will be awarded to highest ranked non-qualifying team in the 2021 Provincial Championship.
The Northern Ontario Curling Association has furthermore clarified that any team that, due to the rescheduling of an event caused by COVID-19, is unwilling or unable to participate in a championship that they have previously qualified for would not be penalized or sanctioned in any manner.