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Curling championships taking centre stage in Fredericton, N.B., friday

U SPORTS Staff

Three Canadian curling championships get underway Friday in Fredericton, N.B

The U SPORTS / Curling Canada Curling Championships (March 15-19), Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA)-Curling Canada Championships (March 15-19) and Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Championship (March 19-24) will be hosted on the two ice surfaces at Willie O’Ree Place.

It will be the 12th edition of the U SPORTS / Curling Canada Championships and first time they’ve been staged in New Brunswick.

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The host school, University of New Brunswick, is represented in both men’s and women’s competitions. Jack Smeltzer, skip of the UNB Reds team, returns to the competition after winning bronze in 2018 and coming off an appearance at the 2019 New Holland Canadian Juniors earlier this year in Prince Albert, Sask.

But defending 2018 champion Karsten Sturmay from the University of Alberta Golden Bears (Edmonton) returns to the field and has his sights set on becoming the first male skip to win back-to-back university championships. The 22-year-old skip is fresh off a silver-medal performance at the 2019 FISU Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, where he led Canada to the final.

Notable names rounding out the men’s lineup are skips Sam Steep (Brock Badgers, St. Catharines, Ont.) and Greg Blyde (Memorial University, St. John’s N.L.) – both competed at the 2019 New Holland Canadian Juniors – and Dalhousie Tigers skip Matthew Manuel, who represented Nova Scotia four times at the national junior level, backed by vice-skip Owen Purcell and second Jeffrey Meagher who represented the province earlier this year.

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On the women’s side, University of Alberta Pandas skip Selena Sturmay (Karsten’s sister) gets the chance to continue her dream season. The 20-year-old skip from Edmonton won the 2019 national junior championship, clinched a silver medal at the world juniors and most recently made the quarter-finals as Canada’s second at the 2019 Universiade. Sturmay, who won last year’s event as second for skip Kristen Streifel, and lead Paige Papley (as alternate in 2018), can become back-to-back university champions with a victory in Fredericton.

But the competition will be stiff. 2018 world and Canadian junior gold-medallist Kaitlyn Jones leads the Dalhousie Tigers into battle as she seeks her first university championship title. 2016 world and Canadian junior champion Mary Fay is also in the mix with her team from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. Kira Brunton (Laurentian Voyaguers, Sudbury, Ont.), Sara England (Regina Cougars) and Justine Comeau (University of New Brunswick Reds, host school) are all in the field and coming off experience at the 2019 national junior championship too.

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Since 2008, the University of Alberta Golden Bears have won three men’s university championships with the Memorial University Sea-Hawks and Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (Waterloo, Ont.), each winning two. In the women’s, Wilfrid Laurier has won four women’s crowns, while the University of Alberta Pandas are three-time winners.

Both the U SPORTS / Curling Canada and CCAA Championships feature eight men’s and eight women’s teams in a round robin leading to the playoffs.

CBC will livestream various games from all championships during the preliminary rounds as well as several finals.

You can watch at cbcsports.ca or via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android.

Draw results and event information for all three championships are available at www.curling.ca.