FAIRBANKS—Fairbanks is roughly 2,150 miles from Washington, 2,616 miles from North Dakota, 4,453 miles from Massachusetts. Fairbanks also is hosting the 2011 USA Curling Junior National Championships with teams visiting from those three states, as well as New York, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Parents griped about the long trip to Alaska, and some aren’t making the trip at all. But, the Fairbanks Curling Club is teaming up with the United States Olympic Committee and USA Curling to bring a live webcast of the weeklong competition.
“This is the first time we’ve had a live stream from a Junior Nationals,” Leland Rich, a Fairbanks Curling Club member since 1970 and one of the people heading the broadcast, said Sunday following the event’s opening ceremonies.
Rich said it made sense to attempt the live feed since so many of the curlers’ supporters couldn’t make the trip.
“My dad says he likes it a lot,” Sophie Brorson, a member of the Wisconsin I girls team, said. “He’s happy to have something since he’s not here.”
At www.2011juniornationals.com, there is a link for the live webcam. The screen is split into fourths, showing both ends of four of the five sheets.
“They’re small and split, and there’s no commentary, but we’re happy to have it. It’s better than nothing,” added Becca Hamilton, Brorson’s teammate.
The response has been positive so far, Rich said, and he’s eager to see what kind of numbers he and his crew will record as the championships continue through Saturday.
“We should have stats about who’s tuning in as the week goes on,” he said.
Similar webcasts have been done at adult curling competitions, generally with a commentator, but with a donated high-speed connection from GCI, Fairbanks is spitting out the first juniors coverage, which Rich said is a good opportunity to get word out about the sport.
“We’re always looking to get more coverage,” he said, “and now people who want to watch, but can’t come to Fairbanks, can still keep up.”
“I mean, it’s a good thing,” Hamilton said. “We’re in Alaska, and everyone who wants to be here isn’t.”
The live streaming will continue through Saturday’s finals.
“We know people are watching because when it goes down or something, we get e-mails and phone calls,” Rich said. “We’re definitely going to keep it going right through the end.”
Contact staff writer Renee Thony at 459-7583.