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U15 Rockfest develops skills for youth curlers

Social development of the youths was focus of event.

YORKTON – The Curling Canada U15 Rockfest was held March 7-9 at the Gallagher Centre.

The event had 96 youth curlers representing Sask. and Man. With 56 competitors from Sask. and 40 from Man.

"They're participating in a skill developing event which is really critical in our long term curler development framework," told Dustin Mikush, Manager of Youth Program Development with Curling Canada, in an interview with Yorkton This Week.

"At this event they are taking part in some clinics, singles and triples curling," said Mikush, adding, "it's not necessarily a championship where it's all games and playoffs. The singles and triples is two new formats that we're doing."

"It's completely new for us this year. It's the first time we've done a Rockfest event so we're really excited that they're getting underway this year," said Mikush.

Mikush said that Rockfest was more of a skill development event than a competitive tournament.

"They don't come as teams they're actually coming here as individuals. So they maybe are on teams with some of their friends that they do play together with regularly but they're actually coming as individuals," said Mikush, "it's really an individual skill event."

Mikush said the social development of the youths was a big part of the event, noting that the people they meet now could become future team mates.

"The social opportunity is great for the kids because they're meeting kids from all across the province and potentially future team mates," said Mikush, adding, "one thing in curling is you're never going to play with your same three or four team mates for the rest of your career so it's a really good opportunity for them to meet other kids from across the province while developing their skills." 

"Something in youth curling that we're really focusing on ... is just more training as kids do love to compete and have fun doing that but it's also equally important at this stage that they're practicing the right skills and they're developing all aspects — technical, strategy, physical — and the most important one at this stage is the social opportunity for them," said Mikush.

As a bonus, all of the youths and parents who participated in the event were given tickets to Montana's Brier which was held in Regina March 1-10. Over 200 tickets were given out to participats and their families, so when the tournament ended Saturday afternoon competitors could head to Regina to watch the professionals in action.

"Kind of a unique opportunity that we've paired one of our season champion's events with our U15 event and then they can kind of see what they can achieve in the future," said Mikush.