By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch

Ontario’s finest women curlers are headed to Thunder Bay next January.

Nestled between the Olympic trials and the Vancouver Games themselves, the Ontario Scottie Tournament of Hearts will make its first appearance in the city since 2002, when curlers take to the ice at the Port Arthur Curling Club on Jan. 3.

Alan Gemmings, president of the Northern Ontario Curling Association, on Friday said he’s excited fans will get an up-close view of the team that will represent the province at the nationals in Sault Ste. Marie.

“We only get one rep from all of Ontario, and that will be decided at the Port Arthur Curling Club here in January. (Thunder Bay’s) Krista McCarville is the defending champion,” Gemmell said.

McCarville, who is expecting the birth of her first child and plans to play in the Men’s Major League of Curling to ready herself for the Olympic pre-trials in Prince George, B.C. in November, has actually won three of the past four Ontario titles.

Gemmell

said he’s confident the city will put on a good show once again for the 10-team event that will bring six teams from southern Ontario, the remainder coming from the northern part of the province.The event is a great way to draw attention to the city, Gemmell said.

“It should bring a number of fans in, because it’s our biggest women’s event in the province every year,” he said.

It’s not the only event of note being staged in Thunder Bay over the next few months.

Starting Dec. 21, the Northern Ontario junior boys and girls provincials are going to be held at the Fort William Curling Club, featuring regional teams vying for a berth in the national championships in Sorel-Tracy, Que at the end of January.

The men’s provincials, scheduled for Sudbruy starting Feb. 9, will be a 12-team affair made up of six regional winners, superspiel champions from the east and west zones and four teams from a pair of qualifying events, one east and one west.

Gemmings said he hopes the increased attention on curling encourages more people to take up the sport.

The organization on Friday also announced a series of initiatives being launched this fall designed to do just that. NOCA officials unveiled a new slogan, “Don’t hibernate this winter, get out and curl!” and a pair of events that should make the sport more accessible.

Let’s Go Curling is a weekend of learning for curlers, an event sponsored in part by the provincial Ministry of Health Promotion. The first event, slated for the Kakabeka Falls Curling Club from Oct. 3 to 4, will feature youth and adult clinics and offer coaching certification.

Similar efforts will be held in Sioux Lookout and Thessalon.

The organization is also helping to kick of the inaugural Curling Week in Ontario, sponsored by Bearskin Airlines that will see various promotions held at curling clubs throughout the province.

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