London Community News
By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
If you can come out on top in the London Junior Cash Spiel you leave with more than just a fat $1,600 cheque, but you take away a bright future as well.
The Forest City curling event took place Friday to Sunday (Oct. 26 to 29) with almost 200 young players flooding the Highland Country Club and St. Thomas Curling Club for the 15th edition of tournament.
Over the years curling royalty has managed to pull off high feats at the Junior Cash Spiel for both the men and women. The list of provincial junior champs and Canadian Championship competitors who have taken home the crown in the local tournament is long and the directory of Olympians could soon be on the rise.
In 2007, Rachel Homan stood on top of the pile at the London Junior Cash Spiel, now the 23-year-old will be competing at the Olympic Trials.
“We like to say it’s one of the premier events on the Ontario Junior Curling Tour,” Laura McDonald, convener of the London Junior Cash Spiel. “We like to prepare the athletes for their zones and regionals, which then gets to them to the provincials in January.”
Probably the biggest name to come out of the annual Forest City tourney didn’t even win it at all. In 1998, John Morris earned a second-place finish in the event. Nowadays, Morris’ achievement at the inaugural Junior Cash Spiel is lost behind his gold medals from the Olympics, World Curling Championships and Tim Hortons Brier.
“They start from where you start and go up, it’s pretty cool,” said London resident Cassie Savage, who won the second event final at this year’s tourney with her Westmount curling club.
The champions go outside the borders of Ontario, or even Canada. Over the years teams from the U.S., Switzerland, Norway and Scotland have made their way to London to compete in a country that arguably breeds the best players in the world.
In the 15 years the event has been held, foreign countries have claimed one title in the men’s division and three in the women’s, and all captured by the Swiss.
Two years ago, the Swedish team that won the World Junior Championships came to the Forest City to compete and they couldn’t come out on top here.
“We come here because we can learn a lot. In Europe we play more defensive and we want to play more offensive,” said Bridgette Brunner, coach of the Switzerland curling team that fell in the quarter-final of the fourth event. “The curling is very good here.”
This year, the St. Thomas Curling Club, led by Aaron Squires, were claimed champs in the Junior Men’s division and the Kitchener-Waterloo Granites, led by Caitlin Sinclair, gained supremacy in the Junior Women’s group.
Both teams walked away with $1,600 for taking the top spot, but who knows what future lies ahead of them in the sport.
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