2018 Junior Nationals format changes announced

May 22, 2017, 2:35 p.m. (ET)

Junior Nationals Berth Qualifier System Announced

Last year the USCA junior playdown system was modified to allow teams to self-form without deference to their home region. At that time, the field was reduced to eight men’s and eight women’s teams, and a qualifier system consisting of east and west regional playdowns was established. The purpose of these changes was to allow the strongest possible teams to form and qualify to play in Junior Nationals.  Upon its conclusion, the intent was to evaluate and consider improvements to the system. While the level of competition at this year’s Junior Nationals was high and the competition to qualify in the West Region was keen, good Midwest teams chose not to travel to the East to play in the East regional. These teams certainly would have been competitive at Nationals.

The challenge presented by this is to determine if there is a way to continue to foster a high level of competition at Junior Nationals while mitigating the expense of travel for teams that may not have the financial resources that other teams have.  The solution we have come up with is a system of berth bonspiels to qualify teams to the Junior Nationals.  Here’s how this berth system would look:

  • An early qualifier in the Midwest in October with two spots available.
  • An East qualifier around Thanksgiving with two spots available.
  • A West qualifier around Thanksgiving with two spots available.
  • A Last Chance qualifier in late December or early January for the remaining two spots and any carry-over spots from earlier qualifiers.

Preliminary Schedule

Junior Berth Qualifier 1     Blaine, MN           October 20-21                    Entry Deadline Sept.29

Junior Berth Qualifier 2     Wayland, MA       November 17-19                Entry Deadline Oct.29

Junior Berth Qualifier 3     Grand Forks, ND  December 8-10                  Entry Deadline Nov. 26

Junior Berth Qualifier 4     TBD                      January 5-7                        Entry Deadline Dec. 17

Note:  Awaiting confirmation from Broomstones

Preliminary Guidelines

  • All participants must register and pay the $92.50 per player individually through the USCA event registration system prior to playing in their first qualifier. Clubs hosting qualifier bonspiels will also charge an entry fee to help offset their expenses. USCA Junior National registration is anticipated to be open by mid-September, with dates to be confirmed later this summer.
  • Coaches must be registered with the USCA at least 10 business days prior to the deadline for the first event in which they will coach.  THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THE 10 DAYS PRIOR. Teams are ineligible without a registered coach who has met ALL USCA coaching requirements, including a completed background screen and SafeSport training.
  • Teams must register their team and coach with the host of the qualifiers of their choice.  As noted above, club bonspiel fees will apply, and will not be refunded unless the event is cancelled.  The USCA qualifier entry fee is also non-refundable. Host clubs will crosscheck player eligibility with the USCA office.
  • Teams may enter as many events as they wish.  Teams (and individual players) will be ineligible to play in any successive qualifying event if they have secured a Junior National Championship berth in a previous berth qualifier.
  • Teams do not need to have the same team members for each event during the qualifying process. They may reconfigure with different players for each event but once a team is qualified to the Junior National Championships, the team is set and there is no option to add or remove players (only alternates if one had not been selected for the qualification event).
  • Each Junior Berth Qualifier will have two berths to Junior Nationals available. One berth to Junior Nationals is available for every three teams registered for an event per gender up to a maximum of two berths.  For example, six teams or more of a gender are required for two berths. If three to five teams of the same gender are registered, only one berth will be awarded.  If less than three teams of the same gender are registered, no berths with be awarded and the event will be cancelled, in which case the qualifier (bonspiel) entry fee will be refunded.  Any unfulfilled berths from the first three qualifiers will go to the fourth qualifier to be held in January 2018. Eight berths per gender will be awarded through the berth qualifiers. HPP teams will receive two berths per gender, for a total of 10 women’s and 10 men’s teams competing at the 2018 USA Curling Junior Nationals.
  • USCA drawmaster is responsible for creating the qualifier draws.
  • Games will be eight ends.
  • Qualifiers will have a pre-event practice.
  • There will be pre-game practice--one stone up, one stone back per player--followed by a last-shot draw.
  • One timeout per game, called only by team, WCF rules.
  • No game timers.
  • Host club will furnish a USCA-approved official who will be in charge of the event and all official standings (along with one club/event organizer)
  • Host club to furnish ice maker who will ensure competitive quality ice.
  • Host club to report results to USCA office.

The 2018 Junior National Championship will be held at the Detroit Curling Club Jan. 27-Feb. 3, 2018.  The men’s and women’s Junior National champions will represent the United States at the World Junior Championships in Aberdeen, Scotland, from March 3-11, 2018.