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Junior Program Updates

May 28, 2020, 1:21 p.m. (ET)

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USA Curling recognizes the impact that a condensed schedule will have on training, preparation and academics. It is important for the organization to determine the best course of action in effort to create a successful playing environment and generate a pathway for sustained competitive excellence. The changes being presented will expand the competitive junior season and allow for increased flexibility in funding. 

Objectives:

  1. Have the best representation at the World Junior-B Championships

  2. Have the best representation at the World Junior Championships

  3. Platform for long term development and success 

The US junior men’s and women’s teams have both been relegated to play in the World Junior-B Curling Championships. The relegation necessitates that the United States sends a representing men’s and women’s team to the 2021 World Junior-B Championships in Finland, currently scheduled from  Jan. 03 - Jan. 11, 2021.  If the schedule were to be played out under the current structure, the Championship schedule would be as follows:

  • 2021 World Junior-B Championships in Finland: 01/03/2021-01/11/2021

  • 2021 US Junior National Championships: 01/17/2021-01/23/2021

  • 2021 US Women’s and Men’s National Championships: 01/30/2021-02/06/2021

  • 2021 World Junior Championships in China: 02/20/2021-02/27/2021

After much deliberation by program staff, USA Curling’s CEO and the Athlete’s Advisory Committee, below is what has been agreed upon to be in the best interest of our junior athletes.

Implementing a 2021 USA Curling World-B Team Trials for the 2020-21 Season Only 

USA Curling strives to have the qualifications for international events be decided on the ice. To uphold this mission, a 2021 USA Curling World Junior-B Team Trials will be held in November of 2020. This trial will determine the junior men’s and women’s teams to represent our country at the World Junior-B Championships in January of 2021. 

This event will be contested by two high-performance teams and four competitive teams of each gender. The four teams will qualify via a 2021 USA Curling World Junior-B Qualification event in October. 

The format of the World Junior-B Team Trials event will be a six-team round-robin. The two teams with the best records will qualify for the championship game. In the event a team goes undefeated in the round-robin, a two-loss provision game will take place. 

The winning team will advance to represent the United States at the 2021 World Junior-B Championships. When the representing teams earn a berth for our country to compete in the 2021 World Junior Championships, that team will move on to represent the United States at the 2021 World Junior Curling Championships set to be hosted by China in February. 

Moving U-21 Junior Nationals to March

Due to both teams being relegated, the condensed schedule will make it difficult for the teams to be fully prepared to excel at the highest level. Effective this 2020-21 season and moving forward, the U-21 Junior National Championships will be moved to March. 

USA Curling believes that moving the national championship to March will expand the junior calendar. This allows all junior teams to compete in their junior qualification events, as well as the men’s or women’s national qualifiers. In addition, the teams competing in the World Junior-B Championships will have time to acclimate and fully prepare for the World Junior Curling Championships. 

The USA Junior National qualification process will continue to be through the junior national berth qualification (NBQ) system. There will be three qualifying events in total: one in December, January and February. 

Moving forward after the 2021 season, the team that wins the National Championship will become the Junior National Team and continue to the World Junior-B Championships and/or (per qualification) the World Junior Curling Championships. 

The Junior National Team will qualify for a berth to the following year’s USA Junior National Championship, but in order to do so, the team will need to have three of four or three of five players eligible for the Junior National Championship season. 

The USA Junior National Champion will have the benefit of being part of the USA National Team, training with the men’s and women’s teams for the season. The goal is to provide the junior team and their coach with adequate training to reach the podium at the Junior World Curling Championships. 

In addition to having the Junior National Team train with USA Curling’s staff and resources, they will also be a primary funded junior team for the season, thus allowing USA Curling to redirect funding to focus on supporting developing teams. The goal is to direct strength, mental and on-ice training by increasing the access of necessary resources to all motivated junior curling athletes and coaches.

2020-21 U-21 Season Strategy

Unfortunately, these changes will have the most impact on athletes who are on the cusp of aging out of juniors and do not qualify for the World Junior-B Championships. The athletes who are 21 years of age on June 30th of the year immediately preceding the year that the world championship is to take place, will not be eligible to compete in the national championship in March. These athletes will still have the opportunity to compete at the 2021 USA Curling World Junior-B Team Trials, which would qualify them for the 2021 Junior World Championships. 

With these changes, it is possible that a player will age out and potentially have a junior season ending this November, which will require strategizing on how to navigate moving forward. Here are some ideas to consider: 

  • Playing through the men’s or women’s NBQ, in addition to the junior NBQ, with a fifth player who is eligible to fill a spot for the Junior National Championships 

  • The player commits to both a junior team and a men’s or women’s team for the NBQ

  • A team is formed with multiple players aging out and transition from the 2021 USA Curling World Junior-B Team Trials into the men’s or women’s NBQ

U-18 National Championship move to January

Going into effect the 2020-21 season, the USA U-18 National Championship will move from March to mid-January. This championship is a regional-based championship that is aimed at determining the top teams that are 18 years of age and under from within the USCA regions. Teams move through the qualification process via the traditional state and regional championships. Teams should also consider playing through the U-21 NBQ process to increase competitive play and opportunity. The U-18 National Champions do not advance to world play but will have the opportunity to play in a junior slam event. 

 

USA Curling has implemented these changes with the long-term vision of creating an efficient pathway that starts the moment a young athlete steps on the ice and continues until they reach the podium at the Olympics. On June 8th, Jessica Schultz will be hosting a virtual town hall meeting to address any questions or concerns regarding these changes. The meeting details can be found below:

 

Mon, Jun 8, 2020 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM (CDT)

*Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone. *
https://www.gotomeet.me/USA-Curling/junior-program-updates

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United States: +1 (646) 749-3112 <tel:+16467493112,,633030037#>

*Access Code:* 633-030-037

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