It took the combined efforts of three curling clubs, the conversion of a hockey arena by CurlON’s ice team, 16 sheets of ice and dozens of volunteers as the inaugural Ontario Challenge Series – comprised of the Men’s/Women’s Ontario Challenge and the Men’s/Women’s Club Cup – wrapped on Sunday evening in Simcoe County along the shores of Georgian Bay.
48 teams converged on the Stayner Granite Curling Club, the Curling Club of Collingwood, the Meaford Curling Club and the Beaver Valley Community Centre to compete for four different championships (two men’s, two women’s) and $13 000 in prizes collectively; all as a part of the newly minted Ontario Challenge Series.
The focus of the event is on camaraderie, fun, and a welcoming yet competitive environment for club level curlers in Ontario. Players were also treated to a hospitality party on Friday evening and a luncheon on Saturday.
The Ontario Challenge Series operates two divisions aimed at club level curlers with a “basis points” system to qualify participants accordingly and ensure a level of parity in all events. For example, Club Challenge Cup participant teams may not have more than ten (10) basis points while Challenge Championship may not have more than twenty (20) points per team. Each player accumulates basis points by having participated in provincial events in the past five (5) years. Provincials that lead to a National Championship (Tankard/Brier, Scotties, Mixed, Senior) are valued at 10 points, whereas former provincial championships hosted by CurlON (Colts, Trophy, Intermediates) are valued at 5 points.
While the event’s rules explicitly exclude the elite curling population in Ontario, the caliber of play was extremely impressive with the following teams being crowned provincial champions in their divisions:
Women’s Challenge Champions: Cornwall Curling Centre’s Team Harvey: Jennifer Harvey, Stephanie Barbeau, Lise Lalonde, Kelly McLeod.
Men’s Challenge Champions: Royal Canadian Curling Club’s Team Francis: Bill Francis, Brian Chick, Jeff Dawson, Steve Grant.
Women’s Club Challenge Cup: York Curling Club’s Team Shields: Laurie Shields, Lisa Rolfe, Samantha Fuller, Nadine Simpson.
Men’s Club Challenge Cup: Napanee Curling Club’s Team Dickson: Robert Dickson, Terry Scharf, Kevin Maclean, Scott Dickson.
Congratulations to all participants.