CONTACT: Jon Lundin, Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games Head of Communications & Media ([email protected]) Tel: 518-637-6885

By: Meri-Jo Borzilleri

Saranac Lake Civic Center to Host Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games Curling Tournaments

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Canadian curlers became the first athletes to qualify for the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games when the women’s team from the University of Alberta and the men’s team from Dalhousie University won qualifying tournaments in Ottawa in September.

The Canadian curlers are the first of some 1,500 collegiate athletes, age 17-25, from 50-plus nations and 600 universities expected to compete in the 12 winter sports and 86 medal events that make up the Jan. 12-22, Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games. In addition to Lake Placid, events will be held throughout New York’s Adirondack region including Saranac Lake, Wilmington, North Creek, Canton and Potsdam.

Canada’s women open play against South Korea on Jan. 13, and the men will play Switzerland the same day at the Saranac Lake Civic Center, located 15 minutes outside Lake Placid. The center is currently undergoing a $7 million expansion and upgrade, which will support the competitive requirements for the Games.

The University of Alberta’s Abby Marks (Red Deer, Alberta), along with teammate Paige Papley (Edmonton, Alberta), have represented Canada in international competition before. Catherine Clifford (Cauvin, Alberta), Brianna Cullen (Dauphin, Manitoba) and Serena Gray-Withers (Winnipeg, Manitoba) have not.

“Honestly, I was just super excited, especially for my teammates who have never had the chance to wear the maple leaf and represent Canada in international championships,” said Marks, skip for the Edmonton-based University of Alberta team, which went 6-0 in qualifying. “I was just extra excited for them.”

The women will be coached by Amanda St. Laurent. Besides Canada, the 10-team field consists of Australia, China, Great Britain, Japan, Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S.

For the men, Dalhousie University team members are Owen Purcell, Jeffrey Meagher and Caelan McPherson, all from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Adam McEachren and David McCurdy from Truro, Nova Scotia. Anthony Purcell is the coach. Canada will be joined in the 10-team field by Brazil, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S.

“As a team we are really looking forward to the atmosphere of sharing the experience with so many other athletes who also specialize in their sport from all over the world,” said Anthony Purcell. “The whole atmosphere of the event in Lake Placid will be amazing.”

In the men’s qualifying final, Halifax-based Dalhousie University defeated Wilfrid Laurier, 8-5. Wilfrid Laurier had beaten DU to qualify for the 2021 FISU Games in Lucerne, Switzerland that was cancelled due to the worldwide pandemic. DU is the first Atlantic University Sport conference school to ever qualify for curling in the FISU Games.

“A lot of us were really happy because for most of us, it’s our first time getting to represent Canada,” Owen Purcell said. “But for the most part, it’s just a lot of relief. Just knowing that the long road that was ahead of us when we started the event is finally over and to leave with the gold medal is quite amazing.”

This is the second time Alberta’s Marks and Papley qualified for the FISU Games; they earned a berth for the cancelled 2021 Games, then had to wait while those games were first postponed for months, then cancelled last December. They found out less than a week before getting on the plane to Switzerland that the Lucerne Games were cancelled. “Pretty devastating,” Marks said. “It was a pretty tough week.”

Almost as bad was all the FISU 2021 Team Canada gear she never got to wear. Hat, jacket, backpack, curling uniforms, brooms adorned with the maple leaf – all sat in her closet the past year as a reminder of what could have been. “To have the chance to get to compete in the University Games again, it’s just a dream come true,” Marks said.

Papley saw playing time as an alternate in the 2019 FISU Games in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, where Team Canada wound up fifth after falling from a three-way tie for first and losing out on a finals berth by “just a couple of centimeters,” Papley recalled. The Canadian women will try to return to the podium after Canada won silver in 2015 in Spain and gold in 2017 in Kazakhstan.

Sweden, Switzerland and South Korea are expected to be their toughest competition in the 10-team FISU Games tournament. Because of curling’s growth internationally, “I don’t think we’re going to have any easy games when we’re there,” Marks said.

Owen Purcell said Switzerland, Japan and Sweden are among the top teams for the men. Canada won silver in 2019 in Russia.

“It’s just exciting more than anything because this will be unlike anything that I’ve ever played in,” said Purcell, who helped Canada win bronze in May’s World Junior Championship in Sweden. It is his first-time representing Canada in a multi-sport event, and his first trip to Lake Placid. “It looks like a very nice place and I’m really looking forward to going there and seeing around.”

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