Armed with brooms and sliders, 14 young curling teams from Hay River, Yellowknife and Fort Smith duked it out on the ice during the 14th annual NWT School Curling Championships in Hay River last weekend.
While the competition was fierce between the four age and skill level categories, the curling championships also upheld a tradition of comraderie between the communities, Gary Hoffman, organizer of the championships, told The Journal.
“Sometimes when they can’t make up a full team, we’ll combine teams,” he said. “In the past we’ve had a team made up of kids from four communities. It’s one of those things where any kids who want to come, bring them; don’t leave them at home.”
The championships divide teams into four categories of age and skill level: A is for more experienced and competitive junior curlers, B is for less experienced junior curlers, C is 13 years of age and under, and D is for those nine years of age and under, also called “Little Rockers.”
Seven teams from Hay River participated in the championships, while Yellowknife sent three teams and Fort Smith sent four.
“It’s nice to see how they improve over the weekend,” Hoffman said.
Fewer communities travel to championships
The school curling championships are hosted each year by the Hay River Curling Club as a sanctioned event by the NWT Curling Association.
Hoffman has been organizing the championships every year since they began and said each year seems to be seeing less participation from NWT communities. Several years ago the competition would have included teams from Inuvik, Fort McPherson and Fort Simpson.
“Travel costs are getting higher and higher,” he acknowledged, which is why Hay River – a central location for schools that are driving – hosts the event.
In order to keep costs down, the Hay River Curling Club has not increased the $50 team registration fee for the last 10 years. Students and coaches have the option of sleeping in the curling club and the club hosts a banquet for all teams Saturday night.
“The main thing is they go out and have fun,” Hoffman said. “The coaches, the parents and the chaperones, they all have fun.”