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While Sudbury is traditionally known for its mining industry and rich nickel deposits, sixteen mens and sixteen women’s curling teams representing colleges and universities from across Canada will descend upon the cherub city of Northern Ontario’s heartland seeking one colour only: gold.

The 2023 CCAA/Curling Canada College Championships and 2023 U SPORTS/Curling Canada Curling Championships begin Wednesday at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex in Sudbury, Ont., as both events will run in tandem.

Though the stakes at a national championship are already high, there’s extra incentive to play your best at this year’s iteration of the championships. Both men’s and women’s winners of the CCAA and U SPORTS titles will receive a berth at the 2023 PointsBet Invitational Sept. 26-Oct. 1 at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex in Oakville, Ont., chasing a prize purse in excess of $350,000 in a sudden-death single-knockout format.

The dual event is a long time coming for the city of Sudbury, which was originally set to host the CCAA and U SPORTS championships in 2022 but saw those events cancelled due to restrictions and health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 edition of both events had also been cancelled.

On the U SPORTS side, the Alberta Pandas boast a potent roster of players who recently represented Canada at the 2023 Winter Universiade, skipped by Abby Marks, including Serena Gray-Withers who moves from alternate to skip, vice-skip Catherine Clifford and second Brianna Cullen. Canada would finish with a 4-5 record, just outside of the playoff picture.

Clifford and Cullen were also selected to represent Canada at the 2021 World Junior Curling Championships, but the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some familiar faces will be present on the U SPORTS men’s side as well. Select members of the Dalhousie Tigers, having represented Canada at the 2023 Winter Universiade, skipped by Owen Purcell and earning a bronze-medal finish, are back in pursuit of a national title. Adam McEachren moves from second to skip while former alternate Caelan McPherson slots to lead and David McCurdy will trade corner guards for peels as he moves from lead to second stones.

McEachren was also a member of the 2021-22 Canadian Junior Men’s national team, earning bronze for Canada at the 2022 World Junior Championships in Jonkoping, Sweden.

Playing vice-skip for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks skipped by Sam Mooibroek is Kibo Mulima, who recently earned a bronze medal for Team Ontario at the 2023 Canada Winter Games in mixed doubles curling with Tori Zemmelink.

In women’s CCAA play, SAIT Trojans skip Bayly Scoffin brings extensive national championship experience to the field having represented the Yukon at the 2023 Canada Winter Games, the 2022 and 2020 New Holland Canadian U21 Curling Championship and the 2018 Canadian U18 Curling Championship.

On the men’s side, Mohawk College’s Jacob Jones will be familiar with his second-stone duties as he was a member of the 2023 Canadian Junior Men’s national team throwing second for skip Landan Rooney. Team Canada went on to a 3-6 record and missed the playoffs.

Teams from both scholastic disciplines will play a round robin beginning on Wednesday at 5 p.m. (all times Eastern) with the semifinals set for Sunday at 9:30 a.m. The top four teams of each pool will qualify for the playoffs.

The gold-medal finals will be held Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

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