BY BILL PHILLIPS
Forget the brier. We’ve got the 2020 World Women’s Curling Championships.
Former Prince George resident and now Curling Canada’s director of high performance, made the announcement this morning at the Kin Centre.
“I’m proud to be here,” he said. “I’m incredibly proud to be from here and I am sincerely that Prince George is about to host the 2020 World Women’s Curling Championships.”
The 2020 World Women’s Curling Championship will be played at the CN Centre in Prince George, from March 14-22; it’ll be the first time the city has hosted a World Curling Federation event. The announcement was made jointly by Curling Canada and the World Curling Federation.
Peckham said the fact Prince George is hosting another world championship, the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships, played a big part in the decision.
“That means that the World Curling Federation, under the leadership of Kate Caithness, will have a presence here,” he said. “The World Curling Federation is doing great things internationally. It is growing the sport.”
The event will be the beginning of the Olympic qualification process, so the stakes will be very, very high and the competition will be outstanding.
“Women’s curling, at the world level, is about the best horse race on the planet,” Peckham said. “You will have, arguably, a dozen or 13 teams in town, all with medal potential, who will all be in the hunt until the last rock is thrown. The intensity of the competition will be exceptional.”
Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall is, understandably, thrilled with the announcement and praised the bid committee that worked on the proposal to host the championships.
“Once again we’re going to be on the world stage,” said Hall. “Once again, it gives us the opportunity to show the nation, the province, and world what we can do in Prince George.”
It will be the fourth world women’s curling championship contested in British Columbia, and the first since the 2008 event at Vernon, won by Jennifer Jones, who also prevailed in the 2018 World Women’s Championship in North Bay. Coincidentally, Jennifer Jones will be the keynote speaker at the Timberwolves Legacy Breakfast in March.
The 1998 world women’s championship was played in Kamloops, where Sweden’s Elisabet Gustafson captured gold, while Canada’s Marilyn Bodogh won the 1986 world women’s title in Kelowna.
Glen Mikkelsen, who is the vice-chair of the host committee, said this is, in no way, a consolation for not being successful in bidding for the Brier.
“We’re proud to be given this privilege of hosting the best women’s curling teams in the world next year,” said Glen Mikkelsen, vice-chair of the Prince George Host Committee. “The CN Centre is a world-class facility that will give these athletes a perfect setting for them to showcase their immense talent, and we’ll do everything we can as a host committee to ensure their trip to Prince George is memorable, on and off the ice.”
While it will be the first world championship in Prince George, it’s hardly the first major championship to be decided in The Spruce City. Most recently, the 2009 Road to the Roar Pre-Trials — deciding the final entries into the 2009 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials — were staged at the CN Centre. Nine years earlier, the arena played host to the 2000 Scott Tournament of Hearts, where home-province favourite Kelley Law came out on top, and went on to win gold at the 2000 World Women’s Championship in Glasgow, Scotland.
Prince George also hosted the 1987 Canadian Seniors, the 1979 Canadian Mixed and the 1961 Canadian Junior Men’s championships.
Canada has won a leading 17 women’s world titles since 1979; Sweden is next at eight. The 2019 LGT World Women’s Curling Championship, presented by Pioneer Hi-Bred, is scheduled for March 16-24 in Silkeborg, Denmark.