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Best U18 curlers in Canada are in Timmins this week

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The U18 Canadian Championship curling event has been a long time coming to Timmins.

Postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is now officially underway and runs until Saturday (Feb. 11) at the McIntyre Community Centre.

Organizers said it is a dream come true.

"It’s just amazing, I can’t describe it any other way," said Steve Meunier, the president of the McIntyre Curling Club.

"We have nine sheets going at one time, so it’s both sides. It’s impressive because everything’s under one roof."

Every province and the Northwest Territories are represented. There are a total of 42 teams competing. More than 170 athletes along with 42 coaches and many family members have descended on northern Ontario.

Organizers told CTV News this is the biggest curling event Timmins, Ont. has hosted. It's bringing more than $4 million to the local economy and is showcasing the future stars of Canadian curling.

“These are the best U18 curling athletes the country has to offer bar none," said Andrew Denny, a writer and editor for Curling Canada.

"They’ve earned their right to represent their province or their territory and they're here and it’s the best youth curling that you’re going to find.”

Whichever team wins this championship will be crowned the best of its age group in the country.

"In the near future you will see these young men and women playing in the Tournament of Hearts; the Brier,” said Meunier.

“This experience gives them what it would feel like if they were playing in those particular tournaments cause the ice is set up exactly in the same fashion."

A competitor from Edmonton, Alta said she's been playing since she was seven or eight years old.

"I hope to go to the Olympics you know become a professional, go all the way," said Allie Eiskiw.

Tourism Timmins is taking advantage of the opportunity to connect with people from all over the country and has a booth set up for the week.

Lacey Rigg with the City of Timmins is operating a tourism both at the McIntyre Community Centre during the U18 curling championships. (Lydia Chubak/CTV News Northern Ontario)"If I have an opportunity to talk to people who are interested in whether it’s snowshoeing or dogsledding, skiing, tubing, you know, I’ll do that so I’m going to continue pushing Timmins, to our great outdoors, and more and I hope people will come back in the summer," said Lacey Rigg, coordinator of meetings, conventions and sports tourism with the City of Timmins.

Organizers said they hope after showcasing their ability to host a sporting event of this size that they can bring in more and larger scale competitions in the future.

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