An array of Olympic medallists, world champions and national champions will gather at the Community First Curling Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for the 2021 Everest Canadian Senior Curling Championships, beginning Monday.
The championships, for curlers 50 and over, will feature arguably the deepest and most accomplished fields in the history of the events.
On the women’s side, Team Saskatchewan (skip Sherry Anderson, vice-skip Patty Hersikorn, second Brenda Goertzen, lead Anita Silvernagle) from Saskatoon will take a run at a record-breaking fourth consecutive Canadian senior women’s title. That lineup shares the record of three in a row with another Saskatchewan team skipped by Ev Krahn that won in 1984, ’85 and ’86.
Team Anderson also won World Seniors championship gold medals in 2018 and 2019 (the 2020 Canadian and world seniors championships were cancelled due to the pandemic).
But there will be no shortage of star quality seeking to dethrone the Team Anderson juggernaut when play gets underway Monday at 8:30 a.m. (all times Eastern).
Team Alberta (Calgary) features 2010 Olympic silver-medallists Cheryl Bernard at skip and Carolyn Darbyshire at vice-skip, along with second Laine Peters, who won two Scotties Tournament of Hearts at the lead position (2012 with Heather Nedohin, 2016 with Chelsea Carey) and a world championship bronze medal in 2012. Peters also will be coaching the U.S. women’s team at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Team B.C. (New Westminster), meanwhile, is skipped by Mary-Anne Arsenault, who won five Scotties titles and two world championships playing second for Colleen Jones. B.C. vice-skip Penny Shantz, meanwhile, won Olympic gold in 1988 as a member of Linda Moore’s Canadian team in Calgary, where curling was a demonstration sport.
Quebec (Chicoutimi/St-Lambert/Victoria) is skipped by Isabelle Néron, who partnered with Robert Desjardins to win the 2013 Canadian mixed doubles championship.
And the Ontario team from Vaughan is skipped by four-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts bronze-medallist Sherry Middaugh.
On the men’s side, meanwhile, three-quarters of the Saskatchewan team from Saskatoon that won the 2019 Everest Canadian seniors title is back, with Darrell McKee moving to skip, Mark Lane joining in at vice-skip and the familiar front end of Kory Kohuch and Rory Golanowski seeking back-to-back gold medals.
But there are other past Canadian senior men’s champs also to be reckoned with in the Soo.
Ontario’s Bryan Cochrane team from Russell has three members (Cochrane, vice-skip Ian MacAulay and lead Ken Sullivan who won the 2016 and 2018 national championships, as well as gold (2019) and silver (2017) at the World Senior championships, and was runner-up to Saskatchewan in 2019.
Team Alberta from Lac La Biche features all four players (skip Wade White, vice-skip Barry Chwedoruk, second Dan Holowaychuk and lead George White) who won the 2017 Canadian and 2018 World senior championships.
And Team Manitoba from La Salle has the same four players (skip Randy Neufeld; vice-skip Dean Moxham second Peter Nicholls and lead Dale Michie) who claimed gold at the 2015 Canadian and 2016 World Senior Championships.
Terry Odishaw’s New Brunswick team from Moncton has an array of gold medals from various events. Vice-skip Mike Kennedy won the 2013 Canadian senior men’s and 2014 World senior men’s titles playing the same position for Wayne Tallon. Terry Odishaw (2007) and his brother/lead Grant (1994) are former Canadian mixed championship skips. And second Charlie Sullivan won gold at the 1987 Canadian and 1988 World junior men’s championships playing third for his cousin Jim Sullivan.
Team Quebec (Etchemin/Kenogami/Lacolle) brings its own championship pedigree to the Soo. Skip François Roberge and second Maxime Elmaleh captured the 2006 Tim Hortons Brier title playing with Jean-Michel Ménard and went on to take silver at that year’s World Championship.
Fourteen men’s and 14 women’s teams (representing the 10 provinces plus Northern Ontario, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon) will compete, and have been seeded into two pools per gender, based on 2019 results, and will first play a round robin within their pool through Wednesday.
The top four in each pool then advance to the Championship Pool for games against teams from the other pool, while the remaining teams go to the Seeding Pool. At the conclusion of the Championship Pool on Friday, Dec. 10, the semifinals will be held Saturday, Dec. 11, at 10:30 a.m., pairing 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3. The winners then advance to their respective gold-medal final while the losers will play for bronze. The medal games are set for 3:30 p.m.
Northern Ontario has won one Canadian senior men’s curling title, courtesy of skip Al Hackner in 2006. The women have won two events — in 1991 led by Eila Brown and in 1995 by Sheila Ross.
The Canadian Senior Men’s Championship began in 1965 at Port Arthur, Ont. Since then, Manitoba has won a leading 12 titles, Ontario is next with 11 while Alberta has 10.
The Canadian Senior Women’s Championship began in 1973 at Ottawa. Ontario has won a leading 10 crowns, followed by Saskatchewan with nine and British Columbia with eight.
The championships were conducted separately until being combined in 1985 at Yorkton, Sask.
This year’s winners will represent Canada in the 2022 World Seniors, at a site and date to be announced by the World Curling Federation.
This is the sixth year of title sponsorship by Everest, the first nationwide funeral planning and concierge service.
Games from the 2021 Everest Canadian Senior Championships will be live-streamed on TSN.ca as well as on Curling Canada’s YouTube channel. Check curling.ca/broadcast for the up-to-date broadcast schedule.