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Curling

University, College curling championships sweep into Fredericton

Thirty-two of Canada’s top university and college curling teams have all gathered in Fredericton, all looking to become the 2019 national champions.

Alberta looks to repeat last year’s double championship performance

Curling action from the 2019 Canadian University and College curling championships from Fredericton, New Brunswick. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

FREDERICTON, N.B. — Thirty-two of Canada's top university and college curling teams have all gathered in Fredericton, all looking to become the 2019 national champions.

There are eight men's and women's team on the university side and eight men's and women's teams on the college side. They've just started round-robin play across two ice surfaces at Willie O'Ree Place.

This is the 12th edition of the university curling championships with Curling Canada involvement. 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 each winning two.

On the women's side, Wilfrid Laurier has won four women's titles, while the University of Alberta Pandas are three-time winners.

This marks the second time Curling Canada is playing a role in the colleges and institutes championships. Last year the Douglas Royals (New Westminster, B.C.) and Fanshawe Falcons (London, Ont.) won the men's and women's gold medals, respectively.

CBC will livestream various games from all championships during the preliminary rounds as well as several finals — fans can watch at cbcsports.ca or via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android.

Alberta brother-sister duo

The brother-sister duo of Karsten and Selena Sturmay are trying to win back-to-back titles for the University of Alberta.

Last year at the championship, Karsten was able to lead his team to victory in his hometown of Leduc, Alta. Just one sheet over, his sister Selena was playing second on the Alberta team which also won the 2018 title.

University of Alberta's men's and women's teams celebrate winning national titles at the 2018 U Sports curling championships in Leduc, Alta. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

Now the two are back at the university championships — Selena is skipping the team this year.

"I think playing second last year taught me a lot," Selena said. "I had a great team and they taught me some tricks."

Selena has had a busy last few months having won the Alberta junior provincials to clinch a spot at the national championship. She went undefeated to claim the national junior title — then won silver at worlds in Nova Scotia in February.

Now both are just returning from Russia where they competed for Canada at the 2019 Universiade by virtue of winning last year's championship. Karsten's team placed second.

"It was the experience of a lifetime," Karsten said. "It was a super special opportunity to put the maple leaf on my back. That's what every curler dreams of."

Karsten has the chance to make some history at this tournament — should he win he'd become the first male skip to win back-to-back university championships.

"I think this event is a great stepping stone," he said. "We often say there's a gap between the junior level and the men's and women's level. I think this university and college curling is doing a great job to bridge that."

Notable names on the men's side are skips Sam Steep (Brock Badgers) and Greg Blyde (Memorial University) — both competed at the 2019 Canadian Juniors. There's also Dalhousie Tigers skip Matthew Manuel, who represented Nova Scotia four times at the national junior level, backed by third Owen Purcell and second Jeffrey Meagher who represented the province earlier this year.

On the women's side, Selena Sturmay's Alberta team will be in tough with 2018 world and Canadian junior gold-medallist Kaitlyn Jones leading the Dalhousie Tigers, looking for her first university championship title.

2016 world and Canadian junior champion Mary Fay is also going to be a tough test with her team from Queen's University. Kira Brunton (Laurentian Voyaguers), Sara England (Regina Cougars) and Justine Comeau (University of New Brunswick Reds) are also in the field after participating in the 2019 national junior championship.

How it works

There are eight teams of each gender competing in both the university and collegiate events. They will play a seven-game round-robin event with the top four teams moving on to the playoffs.

All four semifinal games will be played Monday night in Leduc with both championships, as well as the bronze-medal games, played on Tuesday.

Last year, it was an Alberta golden sweep with both teams winning the men's and women's university championships. Douglas College was last year's men's Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association curling champions while Fanshawe College won the women's title.

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