Friday, December 22, 2006

The Curling News: Jan 2007 issue

White Christmas? Green Christmas?

How about pink?

The January 2007 issue of The Curling News is off to the mailhouse, and with it comes the official start of our 50th Anniversary Year. Founded in Calgary in 1957, TCN – previously known as CCN, or Canadian Curling News – has been here, there and everywhere in the sport, giving you all the news, rumours and professional sports journalism that can be found amid sticks and stones.

As regular subscribers know, the 50th Anniversary season has already started, with every issue thus far also including a retrospective section dedicated to our archives. Don’t miss this very special publishing season: subscribe today, or give the gift of TCN to a loved one.

In this issue:

• December’s Masters Grand Slam and European Championships provided a great finish to the traditional "first-half" of the season, and there’s more to come in 07

• A stunning action photograph from a rookie curling shooter, and more photo awards

• Inside Basel: Rodger Schmidt asks What Happened?

• Mixed Doubles? Its coming to a signup sheet near you

• This month’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations: the previous Masters (in 1963); a very young Kerry Burtnyk provides a Labatt Curling Tip; Larry Wood on the World Challenge and more

TSN Broadband... whither CurlTV?

• Is Team Gushue becoming Team Turmoil?

They Said It, our popular collection of interesting and outrageous commentary

The Curling News TV Guide: where to get your TV curling fix in Janaury

Teri Lake on why you should be seeking next year’s sponsors right now

Jill Officer with an inside peek at the movers and shakers on the Women’s Tour

... and more!

The Curling News Blog is now on vacation through January 5 (or so), so here’s a pile of clickables to tide you through the turkey. Have a great 2007 celebration, everyone!

• Canuck Elliot Hicks lives and breathes curling way out in San Diego ...

Bender loves his calendar (who wouldn’t?) ...

• Notes from Ottawa’s CCup East: of note is Team Kleibrink’s full end replay, and a witty reference to a classic British TV comedy; plus a look at surprise Kamloops qualifier Karen Porritt, and still more Cup East media ...

• 2006 will be a year remembered for tragedy. Just a couple of months after the loss of Ontario curler/journalist Derek Whitehill, Manitoba’s Kyle Flett was also tragically killed last weekend (story here and also here).

And there’s still more. Brandon has honoured a sport – and curling – pioneer who is suffering from rare Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; and just before the January press deadline, word came of the death of Don Turner, the tireless curling booster and proprieter (along with his wife Elva) of Turner’s Curling Museum in tiny Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Read the January issue for more ...

• Ford Worlds tix are going great, and now the nations have been decided (if not the athletes themselves) for the big shootout at Edmonton’s Rexall Place ...

• DID YOU KNOW: that Russ Howard is feeling a bit blue about his gold-edged Olympic experience? There’s a teaser here, and surely more to come, when his book Hurry Hard comes out in March ...

• And here’s Russ’ brother Glenn, in a snapshot at his other life at The Beer Store ...

• Here’s a TV report from Bismark, North Dakota, site of the 2002 Ford Worlds ...

• DID YOU KNOW II: that Ontario’s Waterloo region is becoming a hotbed for big curling events? Yesterday it was announced that the local K-W Granite and Westmount clubs will co-host the 2008 Ontario men’s championship – the TSC Stores Tankard – at the Waterloo Rec Complex. In the last three years this region has been busy, hosting the national Tournament of Hearts (2003), the $100,000 M&M Skins (2004), the Canadian Mixed (November), and the Masters of Curling Grand Slam... which is coming back again next season, by the way ...

• Some Bear Mountain qualifiers were decided last weekend:

• Edmonton reporter Cam Tait is miffed when curlers don’t put up the score on their sheet of ice quickly enough. Gadzooks... is he aware of the tens of thousands of angry fans who snap when those scores aren’t posted online within seconds?

• In an echo of June’s Canadian curling TV deal between the CCA and TSN, which shut out CBC, the Canadian Football League has now done a similar deal, taking effect in 2008, exclusively with TSN ...

• DID YOU KNOW III: who made it all the way to the final of the Canada Cup West in Edmonton? Yeah, Kevin Martin won it, but who did he beat? Gushue? Burtnyk? Stoughton? Middaugh?

Nope. John Base.

Fresh off his surprise semi-final appearance at the Masters, Base once again did things the hard way. He down to his last life in the C-side and had to win six consecutive games to reach the final. Included was a steal of four points in the seventh end of an 11-5 win over rival Wayne Middaugh in the quarters, and an 8-7 decision over Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton in the semi.

“We’re a little tired, playing 11 games since we got here – but we’re happy with ending up in the final,” Base told the Edmonton Journal. “We’re a new team and just in our fourth event of the year.”

Remember what we said after the Masters, folks?

• And finally, don't forget the 2006 Rutabaga Curling Championships going on this weekend in Ithaca, New York (Wikipedia's entry here, and 2005 event photos here and here). Seriously.

Well, okay, not too seriously.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Model Curling

Well, this is certainly different.

Looks like The Look magazine, Canada's Fashion and Beauty Quarterly, has featured curling in their recent fall issue, with a photo spread titled Bonspiel Knits. The shoot was held at the Guelph Curling Club in Ontario during late summer's Trillium Curling Camp, with chief camper and CCA National Team Leader (and occasional TCN writer) Jim Waite lending a hand.

Some new calendar talent, perhaps?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Swiss men end 20-year Euro curling drought

BASEL, Switzerland – It was going to take a special performance to upend defending world champion Scotland in the final of the 2006 Le Gruyère European Curling Championship (WCF photo by Urs Räber).

To the joy of a boisterous home crowd at St. Jakob Arena, Switzerland's new – and now disbanded – all-star team did just that, beating Scotland's David Murdoch 7-6 to win the championship (WCF photo by Urs Raeber).

Skip Andreas Schwaller and new temporary teammate Ralph Stöckli rode their experimental lineup right through the eight-day event, ably supported by front-enders Thomas Lips and Damien Grichting, in winning their country's first European title in 20 years.

Now Stöckli returns to his regular team, and will challenge Schwaller for the Swiss championship in January, for the right to compete in the Ford World Curling Championship in March.

"Yes, he goes back to his team and we will actually play each other in the first game next month," said Schwaller. "It's funny how it goes. We will be opponents as always, except for this one event, this one time, and that makes it special."

Murdoch's men fell behind 3-1 and 5-2 before roaring back with a three-ender in the seventh frame. With the Swiss clinging to a nervous 6-5 lead in the 10th, the Scots maneuvered well to lurk for the deuce, but an uncharacteristic miss on Murdoch's first stone forced him to take the tying single with his last rock.

Switzerland held the hammer in the extra-end, played it cool, and after a critical double-takeout on his first rock, Schwaller made a cool draw to the four-foot for the win.

After the top three placements - Per Carlsen's Swedish foursome claimed the bronze - an additional five teams claimed berths in the Worlds for their nations: Germany, Norway, Finland, France and Denmark, which held off a stubborn Czech Republic, the B-pool champions, in a challenge series.

Italy took the B-pool silver, and Russia the bronze.

It was a day of firsts in Basel as Russia's women, led by 20-year-old Ludmila Privivkova, won their first-ever major championship in a 9-4 victory over Italy in the women's final.

The Swiss men, well known for Olympic medals and decent showings at world events, last won the European Championship in 1986, when Felix Luchsinger defeated Sweden's Göran Roxin in Copenhagen.

At next year's Le Gruyère European Curling Championship in Fussen, Germany, B-pool qualifiers Italy and the Czech Republic graduate to the A-division, while Ireland and Wales both drop to the B-pool.


1. Switzerland, 9-2, Gold
2. Scotland, 8-4, Silver
3. Sweden, 7-5, Bronze
4. Germany, 6-4
5. Norway, 6-5
6. Finland, 5-5
7. France, 5-6
8. Denmark, 3-7
9. Ireland, 3-7
10. Wales, 1-8

A new era in world curling

BASEL, Switzerland – Russia defeated Italy 9-4 to win the women’s 2006 Le Gruyère European Curling Championship, the first major curling title for the country that made its international curling debut in 1994 (WCF photo by Urs Räber).

Skip Ludmila Privivkova, the defending world junior champion, added the prestigious European title to her growing trophy case by scoring three points in the third end and stealing the sixth and seventh ends. Italy’s Diana Gaspari scored three in the second end but could only muster a single point the rest of the way.

Privivkova and teammates Olga Jarkova, Nkeirouka Ezekh, Ekaterina Galkina and Margarita Fomina went undefeated in the round-robin with a 9-0 record before losing to the Italians in the first “Page” playoff game 7-5. The Russians then defeated Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott 7-5 in the semi-final before today’s final.

“It’s so very great, so amazing,” said the 20-year-old Privivkova, who is a student in Moscow. “I’m so very happy for the team.”

“We hope to win more medals but it will be difficult. All the teams at the events are strong.”

Privivkova will lead her team into the 2007 Winter Universiade in Pinerolo, Italy the same venue where her team finished fifth at last February’s Olympic Winter Games. Then, the squad will travel to Aomori, Japan in March for the World Women’s Curling Championships.

Privivkova believes the European Championship gold medal will increase curling interest in Russia.

“It is more popular back home after the Olympics and now it will be even bigger. It was shown on TV and it is very popular.”

For Italy’s Gaspari, the 2007 Euro titleshoot was sweet redemption following a disaapointing performance at the Olympics.

“In Pinerolo we thought we had a stronger team. Here we had two new players and we didn’t know how the team would come together. To win six games and then a playoff to be in the final is great.”

Gaspari’s run to the final captured the attention of major newspapers and TV networks in Italy. On Sunday she will travel to Milan for a TV interview with Sky Sports.

“This medal will help Italian curling for sure,” Gaspari said. “After Pinerolo, Italy needs something to continue the curling wave. Hopefully this is it.”

Italy also qualified with Russia for the World Championships in Aomori, along with the remaining top six finishers in Basel: Switzerland, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and the Czech Republic, which beat back a challenge from the women’s B-pool champion, Austria.

Finland earned the B-pool silver and England captured bronze.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Swiss joy, Russian flourish into Euro curling finals

BASEL, Switzerland – It was a truly and methodically grand display of high-performance curling for Andi Schwaller's newfangled Swiss team against Scotland's powerhouse David Murdoch squad in this morning's semi-final of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships (WCF photo by Urs Raeber).

Switzerland are through to Saturday's final and the St. Jakob Arena will be throbbing for Eurosport's live TV coverage to some 100 million households. Hopp Suisse!

Now for the women's semi. Moments ago, Swiss second Valeria Spälty made a wicked come-around in the extra-end against Russia and somehow the Swiss managed to cling desperately to that steal stone through the next six rocks. On the final Russian stone of the game, skip Ludmila Privivkova was facing that stone – now double-guarded on the centre line – with only a Swiss guard tight to the rings, but a full three feet off to the side.

Bedlam ensues. Privivkova made the runback double on the side rock, removing both Swiss stones, to count her two biters for the 7-5 win.

Oh yeah... did we mention she had to spill the counter and the shooter amid two Russian stones in the rings?

Earlier, the Italian women had beaten the Swiss in the Page 3/4 game, so it's Russia and Italy, ranked first and second in the round-robin, in tomorrow's ECC 2006 finale.

Are you kidding me?


• Great run by Ott, who, as we've mentioned, was all over the place at this event. Alternate Manuela Kormann came in after their 0-3 start and seven wins and a last-gasp loss later, the Swiss had one helluva tournament. And through it all, as the WCF writes, Ott careened and lurched through her victories, surrendering late steals before prevailing, and even suffering a spectacular fall during a winning shot attempt on Wednesday.

• Austria's impossibly telegenic sister duo of Claudia and Karina Toth – both of them calendar girls, by the way – have won the Euro women's B-pool, and will compete in next year's Euro A-division along with Finland. They now compete in a best two-of-three challenge series against the Czech Republic to go to Aomori for the Worlds in March. Who is out of the Worlds and down to next year's B-pool? The Dutch and, wait for it... Dordi Nordby's Norway. Oops.

• In men's B-pool action, the Czechs have won the gold and will play in the "major league" along with Italy next year. They are battling Denmark in the challenge series for a spot at the Ford Worlds in Edmonton in March. Gonzo from Edmonton and down to B are Ireland and Wales, both of whom might have deserved better.

• A surprise howdy (Hallo dort) to TCN in the arena from Mike Reid, a fine Toronto shooter now living in Suisse, who is married to a delightful curler, speaks great Swiss-German and is making ice in Biel. Mike's mom is former CCA President/Sherry Middaugh coach/COC curling rep and still a fine shooter herself, Pat "A." Reid. Small world (kleine Welt).


• There's still time, we think, to check out CBC Calgary's recent feature on the curling calendar, it's posted at the Absolutely Canadian webpage located here (look for Sunday Edition), but you'd better hurry hard, we think they'll change the content by Saturday at noon ...

Kelley Law and her (pre-Olympic) ex-teammate Marla Mallett are into February’s B.C. Scotties provincial, and speaking of Law, she’s in action this weekend in Ottawa at the humungeous Canada Cup East, while most of the best Canadian men’s teams are in Edmonton at Cup West ...

• And, Ontario curling fans can watch tape-delayed Cup East action across the province via Rogers Cable on Monday, where all three of that day's quarters, semis and final will be broadcast. There’s also a curling theme to the Big Bad Sports Show, which kicks things off at 2:00pm ET ...

• More relieved Sackville, N.S. curlers speak out about their club’s near-closure:

• Seen this Gushue spotlight in a recent issue of the Toronto Star? Interesting ...

• Oh, the pain...

• More stat geek musings from outside the sport, concerning the recent Black Book of Curling story...

• Finally, this is just beautiful. Click here, then go find the name Ian MacPherson ... and consider condemning someone you know to eternal damnation ...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships!

BASEL, Switzerland – There's another world championship event starting up, and soon: the 2008 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships.

It's no lie. The 46 WCF member associations voted yea to the concept whilst meeting here in Switzerland, and it's Game On. Mixed Doubles (photo at left). We're serious.

And a world championship event means a national championship program must be built from the ground-up, right now, although details on when and where these playdowns will start are unknown. That's because the world venue and exact format won't be confirmed until the WCF Annual Meetings in Aomori, Japan, in March.

In fact member assocations, including the CCA, are jetting home from Europe right about now and probably wondering:

a) how to rush about to get this thing rolling, and;
b) where the heck to find a budget for it.

Read the news here at the WCF website or on Eurosport, and start thinking about partnering up with a buddy – or buddette – this coming fall.

As well:

• Newsflash in Nova Scotia: a variety of campaigns and pressures have forced politicos to back off from their plan to shut down the newish Lakeshore Curling Club facility in Sackville at the end of this season. Stories here and here, and a summary editorial here. Way to go, folks, the squeaky wheel strikes again ...

Wayne Middaugh does the latest Q & A on The Curling Show, but Dean didn't get the scoop on who he'll be playing with at the Perth Masters in Scotland next month (it won't be his regular squad)... hrrmmm ...

• Canada is shipping the Jo-Ann Rizzo (Ontario) and T.J. Perepolkin (B.C.) squads to Japan next month ...

• Tiebreaker madness at the ECC 2006 can be found here, with the latest story here, and last night's result story posted here and here ...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Russians are coming

BASEL, Switzerland – OK, they're not coming, they're already here. And we kinda knew that.

But even with a 5th place finish in Turin, and the recent world junior title win by the skipper – the telegenic and only-20-years-old Ludmila Privivkova – we're not sure that many would have predicted the Russian gals to be 8-0 at the ECC 2006.

BTW, this site rocks – the official stats site of the event.

Italy is looking great, too. Nice to see.

But we've just got to say that Switzerland's Mirjam Ott is all over the place! 0-3 to start, then suddenly 5-3... but still not playing that great, IOHO. Her squad dropped three consecutive steals a fortnight ago and had to play an extra before winning; and this morning was just bedlam.

Situation: the Dutch are lying three but Suisse are up three, and with the hammer. Just make one go away, right? Guess what: Ott actually falls on her last rock of the game, sprawls all over the ice, and gasses the hit. The shocked Netherlands foursome are suddenly into an extra end.

Yes, Ott won it in the extra frame, and nice recovery given what happened. But, wow. Maybe lending her team brushes to David Murdoch's woe-begotten Scots on the opening weekend was bad karma...?

More on the men later...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Masters/Euros score in Waterloo/Basel

A recap of the first Grand Slam of the season, The Home Hardware Masters of Curling, before we spend a lot of time in Europe ...

ICE – Muy bueno. Scotland's Tom Brewster called it "the best he's ever played on". That's good praise, coming from a Slam veteran who benn known to make a keen sheet of ice himself.

TEAMS – Great lineup, and a lot of snickering was abruptly shushed when Oakville's John Base made it all the way to the semi-finals – after an 0-2 start – before blowing out his leg in a blowout loss to eventual champion Glenn Howard. Come on, people, this is curling and you're supposed to know the basic rule – anyone beating anyone on any given day blah blah – plus the team's basic personnel bios, so there's no surprise at the Baseman's performance. Smarten up.

TV – The return of CBC Country Canada (!!) and then the main CBC network debuting its Slam coverage was something that old goats (like us) once doubted we would ever see. But it was a great show, and it scored 360,000 viewers for the Sunday final (average) with a peak of 450,000. And speaking of the show...

FORMAT – The eight-end debate is back in a big way, and the reactions are mixed; see this thread on CurlingZone for a variety of interesting thoughts. And this has spawned two other big discussions (here and here) on first-end hammer value, and the caveat that a change to eight ends may require adopting the draw-the-button-for-hammer rule. Could be the way of the future, folks, and the near-future at that...

EXTRAS – Inducting Eddie The Wrench and both sets of 1983 and 1990 teammates into the Asham WCT Ambassador Award club (see the autograph card above) was a brilliant idea, and a great evening was had by all. The Ambassdor Award banners hanging from the arena rafters, which will travel to each and every Slam moving forward, is another great touch. Volunteers: top-notch, and a special congrats for pulling it all together in three months. Venue: somewhere between good and perfect, the display booths (well, hello there TCN) along the upper "running track" were a great touch. Prize money and Olympic qualifying points: lots were up for grabs, and Team G Howard are loving both of them. As Slam chief Paul Boutilier told the K-W Record: "You would have to win the Ontario title three-and-half times to get the same points." Indeed.


• This big Globe & Flail story by Bob Weeks on CurlingZone's fantabulous Black Book of Curling has piqued the interest of some Sabremetrics disciples; could be the beginning of a fascinating mathematical relationship ...

• In Basel, the Le Gruyère European Championships are in full roar, and in no particular order:
- Mighty Uusis is still winning late after losing early;
- Andrea Schöpp is actually smiling;
- and Scotland’s David Murdoch was having a really, really, REALLY bad day – also explained here – but his 5-0 record must be cheering him up by now.

And if anyone’s wondering, we weren’t at the arena (er, whoops) to see Murdoch’s big shot against the French on Tuesday, which means we can’t quite help you decipher this Times writers’ delightfully inexplicable description of it. However, TCN's own Mike Haggerty did a wee better job, and we give him props for great use of the word "outrageous" ...

Also, a few pieces of luggage are still apparently outstanding; a member of the women’s team is running short (and dry) of contact lenses, which could pose quite the problem. And the coaching staff are, en masse, S.O.L. regarding their bags, and are probably washing their sole set of clothing in the bathtub at night. Welcome to your new job, Delboy ...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Harris returns to Toronto

BASEL, Switzerland – Wir sind hier in der Schweiz und bereiten vor, um zu schreiben, but first, an announcement: The Curling News has the exclusive news that Mike Harris will abruptly return to Toronto, as of mid-January.

Just seven months after relocating his family to Banff, Alberta for the job of head golf professional at the Fairmont Banff Springs Resort, the CBC curling commentator has resigned his new post to take the head pro job at the Donalda Club in Toronto.

Donalda was Harris' first club, where he worked as an assistant pro from approximately 1989 through 1995.

"They were surprised," said Harris, regarding his employers in Banff.

Harris went on to describe the Donalda gig as "irresistible" and assured TCN that he enjoyed his time in Alberta, but he also allowed that his wife and three children will be pleased with the return home.

It goes without saying that Harris hopes this move will be his last one for a while. His new Calgary team will have one final fling next weekend at the Canada Cup West in Edmonton, but there will be "no playdowns", either in Alberta or Ontario.


• European sports behemoth Eurosport is right into this weekend's Le Gruyere European Curling Championships (ending Dec. 16), and have launched a new all-curling page. They were also quick to hop onto the story concerning the host Swiss men's team and its lineup controversy, which can also be read here ...

• Meanwhile, the World Curling Federation has released a new World Curling Rankings system, which sees Canada first among men and Sweden atop the women’s rankings. Read the full story here and the rankings themselves are listed here ...

Who dis? Funny. We like her ...

• Just a few days after reading about doom and gloom in Ingerlund curling, here comes this jolly website, and good on them ...

Here's a story on Halifax's Team Jill Mouzar, which of course stars TCN’s own Teri Lake at second stone ...

• Check back often over the next 10 days, as we blog live and on site from the ECC in Basel ...

Monday, December 04, 2006

December 2007 issue: The Curling News

The December 2007 issue of The Curling News is in the mail – are you getting yours? – and it's jam-packed with all the latest and greatest from our sport, namely:

• The rundown from Chillywhack: what was great, not so great, and the future of the Continental Cup

• Calling all curling contributors: Matt Hames has been browsing curling on Wikipedia, and he's issued a call to arms... er, keyboards...

Book madness: there are nine – that's right, NINE – curling books out there; TCN provides the lowdown on each and every one

• Euro 2006: European curling's biggest show is ready to start in Basel, Switzerland, and Rodger Schmidt has the preview

• 50th Anniversary Celebration: our season-long birthday party continues, with incredible archived content republished from 1958, and 1967, and more

PCC 2006: Who did what at the Pacific Curling Championships in Tokyo

The Curling News TV Guide: where to get your curling TV fix this month

Larry Wood, but of course

The Curling Newsdesk: NBC's Korbel weekend; a look at China's disappointed men's team the Canadian Mixed; and more

Mary-Anne Arsenault dishes the inside scoop on her new team – versus the previous skip

• Calendar Offer: a 2007 women's curling calendar update, plus a special holiday offer!

You've heard the chant: don't delay, subscribe today ...

In addition:

• OK, so we didn't blog very much from the Masters. Quite busy. Quite busy having fun, actually. So here's a nifty roundup of stuff for you, from the CP story to the host broadcaster's story to the TorStar story; and it's always nice to see Brian McAndrew on the scene, may we say. Finally, the event – and the Grand Slam series as a whole – got a plug from the Globe's Bob Weeks on Saturday ...

• Anyone know of any other curling scribe who spends a weekend covering junior city zones? Other than Bender, that is ...

DID YOU KNOW: This is a Canada Games curling year? Didn’t think so. Here’s a look at the NS playdown and here’s the website for the Games themselves, out in Whitehorse in February ...

• The club closure in Nova Scotia isn't happening without a fight. Over 1,500 signatures have been collected thus far to peitition against the city-mandated closure of the Lakeshore Curling Club, and you can sign it online here ...

DID YOU KNOW II: That Calgary club ice is apparently (still) lousy? Heather Rankin thinks so. She gets the quote(s) of the day award(s) for her utterances in today’s Calgary Herald, after winning a spot in the Alta Southerns on the weekend. Apparently, Rankin used to call a colourful aggressive draw game, but due to Cowtown ice conditions, she’s given up:

If you want to get out of Southern Alberta, you have to hit. I've played nine years (here) and I've got there (provincials) once (a second-place finish in 2001), so obviously my style of game is not working. So I have to change it. And we're gonna hit right through to the provincials.

It's bad for the fans and all of that, but it's all about winning. I apologize, but that's what you're going to see: bang, bang, bang. I may be stubborn, but I'm not stupid.

You go, girl. And maybe, just maybe, some ice techs will start listening, eh?

Friday, December 01, 2006

IOC denies Mixed Doubles bid

WATERLOO – Here in this part of Ontario, curling fans are in rapture. Just weeks after both the Asham World Curling Tour (Brantford) and Canadian Mixed (Kitchener) blazed through town, the Tour is back with the first of the marquee Grand Slam of Curling events, the Home Hardware Masters of Curling.

But first, big news.

As some have expected, the International Olympic Committee has said no to curling's bid for another discipline at the Olympic Games: Mixed Doubles. The interesting sight from last week's Continental Cup (CCA/Michael Burns photo) will not make its debut at Vancouver in 2010, but it could show up at Wherever (South Korea, perhaps?) in 2014.

Here's the scoop, courtesy of The Curling News:

KUWAIT CITY – The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee, the body responsible for deciding on events and disciplines – the composition of sports within the Olympic Programme – released the results of the IOC Programme Commission report on November 28.

Mixed Doubles curling, a new discipline submitted for inclusion into the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, was rejected, as were five other sports (Bobsleigh and Skeleton Team Competition, Luge Team Competition, Alpine Skiing Nation Team Event, Biathalon Mixed Relay and Women’s Ski Jumping.

The IOC comment regarding Women’s Ski Jumping and Curling Mixed Doubles was that “their development is still in the early stage thus lacking the international spread of participation and technical standard required for an event to be included in the programme.”

The only sport accepted into medal-status competition for 2010 was Ski Cross, a sport similar to snowboard-cross, which made its debut at the 2006 Olympics in Turin and was an instant hit with spectators.

More on this in the days to come.

CurlTV is also here in Waterloo, and CBC is in for the semis on Saturday (the Country Canada digital channel) and the main net on Sunday. The Wrench, Eddie Werenich, is in town Saturday with both sets of his 1983 and 1990 Brier and world champion teammates, to receive the Asham WCT Ambassador Award... and, in fact, Saturday has been declared “Wrench Day”. So haul out those old carboard & tinfoil wrenches and head on down.

After all, you can buy this hotel and game ticket package.

Want more? Sunday's finale will live band on the ice, along with a disc jockey, and the ever-present mascot, “Slammer”.

And they're not done yet. Don't forget, all games at all four Slams this year are eight ends in length.

“Curling has to take the next step to attracting not just the core fan but the sports fan,” WCPA honcho Paul Boutilier told The Record. “It becomes for the sports fan two hours and 15 minutes, not three hours, of entertainment even if they don't understand the game. It's a whole different model from what we're used to.”

The shorter games allow the Slams to fit into a 2-1/2-hour window that would seem to accommodate the NBA, Formula One and the NHL. Eight-end games are common in clubs and have been talked about for a long time – and were almost adopted globally in 1999. The Slams are the first big event to move to the shorter games.

“I would think everyone on the Tour will be going to this in the next year or two,” Boutilier said. “There isn't any need for 10 ends with the ice conditions we have now. The game is on right from the start.”

On ice, the forgotten man, Don Walnut Walchuk beat Stoughton and Ferbey yesterday... not bad. And look who’s playing with him, allegedly this week only.

Stay tuned to the blog through the weekend, as we post the latest and greatest.

Oh... and we almost forgot. Stop on by and visit! That's right, The Curling News has a gargantuan display booth set up on the concourse, or "running track", located beside Asham Ontario and the 2007 Tom Hortons Brier. We're offering a special subscription deal (on-site only) and we're also selling the 2007 women's curling calendar, which saves customers $8.95 in shipping costs. This weekend only!


• Williams Lake CC in B.C. is getting well-deserved kudos for their off-ice performance in hosting the 2006 B.C. Scott, won by B.C.’s Scott, as in Kelly, of course ...

• Meanwhile, Parksville CC is growing, bucking the current provincial club trend ...

• It’s true there are real fears of curling’s demise in England, but can Manchesterians really claim to be hosts to curling’s “spiritual home”? Due to an event in 1877, it seems they can ...

• The folks at Alberta Curling are happy with with the way the Alberta Tour is progressing... just one question: is Ontario listening?

• The feedback on the imminent closure of the fairly-new curling facility in Lower Sackville, NS is not at all good ...

OUCH: Hamilton Spectatorcolumnist Steve Buist isn't a fan of the Continental Cup; just check this zinger out:

Memo to the CCA: pull the plug on the Continental Cup and don't even give it a second thought.

It will be missed about as much as Battle of the Network Stars or Beat the Champ.

Canada joining forces with the U.S. to take on Europe in curling makes about as much sense as England joining up with Malta to take on the West Indies in cricket.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A sound thrashing

VANCOUVER – As teams and officials struggle to escape snowed-in Chilliwack, TCN is warm and snug at a hotel minutes from the airport, and bound shortly for the Centre of the Universe.

It was the European curling universe which delivered a sound thrashing to Team North America at the Continental Cup, clearly viewable on CBC the final two days and, of course, on CurlTV every day, every draw since last Thursday.

For a quick study of the themes of the event, scroll down to the previous post and check out a barrage of exchanges between TCN and TCS (The Curling Show), which you can find under "COMMENTS".

You'd be wise to also check out the upcoming December issue of TCN, which will feature a report and op-ed from ace columnist Larry Wood. Why not subscribe today? You can only read it in the hard copy of The Curling News.

Line of the day: from WCF past president Roy Sinclair of Scotland, as quoted by Paul Wiecek in today's Winnipeg Free Press:

A guy slides down a hill on his back, and they call that luge. But if he slides down on his belly, well, that's skeleton.
If those are two separate sports, then don't tell me mixed doubles curling isn't a sport.

The IOC will be voting on whether to include Mixed Doubles, which played to strong reviews in Chilliwack, at the end of the month.

Stay tuned ...

Sunday, November 26, 2006


CHILLIWACK, B.C. – North American lead Natalie Nicholson (photo) couldn't have yelled it any better.

Not too long ago – Thursday night, to be exact – North America has a nifty lead over Europe at the Con Cup, and the Euros looked listless.

Now, Europe holds a near-insurmountable lead, 180 to 100, over the NAs. No more jet lag.

What's worse for the hosts is that only 201 points are needed to win the Cup and the $75,000 top prize.

Tomorrow it's two 60-point skins games, Kleibrink vs. Norberg and then Gushue vs. Murdoch. CBC's coverage should be quite interesting.

Spotted AK267 in the crowd tonight, hovering over the NA bench waving a huge double-sided U.S./Canadian flag. Way to go AK.

NA benchwarmers had their jackets on backwards, desperately working the rally outfits to help J.M. Menard beat Pal Trulsen (not) and Kelly Scott hold off the extremely strong Mirjam Ott (didn't work). Double-d'oh.

Over in Tokyo – way over – they're down to the Pac finals, click here for updates.

More tomorrow.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Big CBC weekend in store

CHILLIWACK, B.C. – The see-saw battle continues as Scotland's David Murdoch (CCA photo by Michael Burns) and Team Europe roared back from a poor opening day (and a 39-15 deficit behind Team North America) to almost tie things up Friday morning.

It was the European women who got the job done in the AM, sweeping their opponents in all three games to close the gap to 39-33.

In Singles competition, an interesting array of front-end players and thirds took part, not just skips. The North American women bounced back with some solid "Hot Shots" play and took the running total to 45-39. The men then took to the ice and it was all Europe and then some, as they shut the Northerners out 12-nil. Grand points total heading into tonight's men's team draw is North America 53 to Europe's 51, and look at the tantalizing games underway soon:

Gushue vs. Murdoch
Menard vs. Trulsen
Fenson vs. Uusipaavalniemi

CBC-TV kicks into gear with their first-ever Continental Cup coverage Saturday at 1:30pm ET, with the climactic men's skins finals set for Sunday at 12:30pm ET. CurlTV will still be handling non-televised sheets, so keep your computer handy along with the TV remote control.

What else is going on?

• Still more curling on TV this weekend, on NBC in fact. The Korbel Elite Curling Challenge was filmed in Whistler, B.C. last weekend and takes to the air Sunday between 2:00pm and 4:00pm ET. It's a battle-of-the-sexes between Teams Fenson and McCormick with special guest Olympic athletes – non-curlers – also taking part. Check out this cool USA Today story for a preview ...

• Here’s a U.S. development story out of Minot in the Dakotas; a peek at curling in nearby Fargo – yaah? – and finally a look at Vermont’s burgeoning curling club – the Green Mountain gang – in action ...

• Scottish curling coach Derek "Delboy" Brown has been tagged to replace Mike Hay in steering the national teams under the Scottish Institute of Sport ...

• Super-sub Jon Mead has served notice: he’ll spare for someone at Victoria’s Bear Mountain Classic in April, so long as curling doesn’t interfere with his tee times...

• Three Edmonton curlers – Kevin Martin, his second man Marc Kennedy, and Mark Johnson lead Adam Enright have followed the lead of Ontario’s Team Wayne Middaugh, and bought into the M&M Meats Shops franchise world ...

Gay curling leagues have always been strong in Metro Toronto, as this Extra! story attests ...

• Big curling boardroom news: noted Canuck TV production guy Scott Moore is now on board with CurlTV, and Grand Slam founder Kevin Albrecht, ex of IMG, is now in charge at Insight Sports ...

Pacific playoffs

This news overnight from the World Curling Federation, and disappointment for TCN's Kiwi spies ...

"The round-robins and necessary tiebreakers have now been completed for both the women and men at the 16th Pacific Curling Championships being played in the Dydo Arena, Tokyo, Japan.

The men required one tiebreaker game to determine the four teams that are entered into the semi-finals. Korea (4-1), Australia (4-1) and China (3-2) were directly qualified, while Japan (2-3) defeated New Zealand (2-3) in a Friday night tiebreaker by a score of 8-4 for the last semi-final place. Chinese Taipei missed future action after finishing 0-5.

The Korean men were awarded first place based on their defeat of Australia in the round-robin, and they now take on Japan in the semi-finals, while Australia plays China. These best-of-three semis are played at the same time as the women's games on Saturday, 25 November. The two winners will qualify for the Ford Men's Worlds which will be played in Edmonton, Alberta, in late March 2007.

The five women's teams completed their round-robin on Thursday night. The Draw-Shot-Challenge results had to be used to determine the rankings for Korea, China and Japan which were all tied for first place with 3-1 records. Korea claimed first place (345.40 cm), China was ranked second (377.54 cm) and Japan was third (420.42 cm). New Zealand was ranked fourth based on their 1-3 round-robin record, and Chinese Taipei was eliminated after finishing 0-4.

The women's semi-finals, which are a best-of-three series, will have Korea playing New Zealand, and China taking on Japan on Saturday, 25 November. The two winners advance to the final, which is a single game on Sunday, 26 November. The winner of that final, or second place if Japan wins, qualifies for the Women's World Curling Championship being hosted in Aomori, Japan. The Japanese are automatically qualified as this year's hosting Association of the Women's World Championship."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Norberg, Kiwi curlers in a battle


Europe, widely assumed to have the edge in overall team lineup, are on the defensive here at the Continental Cup.

And it's the big women's shooter, Sweden's Anette Norberg, that is struggling the most. Norberg herself missed gimme last-rock shots for wins in both the morning's Mixed Doubles competition and this afternoon's team battle versus Debbie McCormick of the USA. Takeouts, no less.

The latter shot was a gift double, left for Norberg after McCormick missed her last shot... for three and the win, after being outplayed by the Americans all game. Yikes.

Tonight it's the men.

Over to Tokyo, Japan, and the Pacific Championships (photo). On the women's side the hosts are through to the playoffs, along with China, Korea and New Zealand. In men's play, we'll let men's New Zealand third Hans Frauenlob take up the story... here's his insider's report.

Hi there TCN,

As usual it's an interesting event here in Tokyo. On the men's side, it's incredibly even; with two rounds to play in the round robin, China, Australia, Korea and New Zealand (yeah, that's us) are all on 2-1 win/loss records. Japan is 1-2 and Chinese Taipei is 0-3.

Four teams advance to the Saturday semis, and at this point its still anyone's tournament. Fourth round today, final round tomorrow morning, tiebreaks if necessary tomorrow afternoon and evening.

As an NZ-specific thing, if you want to see the shot of the tournament so far – and if you're a CurlTV subscriber – have a look at our game against Japan last night. Go to the sixth end and look at Dan (Mustapic, our skip) and his first shot. A double angle-raise-pickout that is as good as any you'll ever see – totally pumped us up and turned the game around.

In the women's, you know the playoff teams... what's interesting is that Australia withdrew from the tournament just prior to it starting.

Interesting aspects of the tournament:

• Curl TV is covering it, showing all Japanese games;

Dave Merklinger is the icemaker, and his ice is quick and boasts about 4-1/2 feet of curl;

• about 80 media from all media types attended the tournament opening press conference!!

• the Japanese women's team are genuine celebrities here. Fans wait outside the arena for opportunities to take photos or get autographs. There is no doubt that the Olympics has made an impact on the profile of the sport in Japan.

Say hi to all our mates from Europe for us at the ConCup! Cheers!

Last call for Russ and Brad

CHILLIWACK, B.C. – The Continental Cup has roared to life, and you can check it out live at CurlTV, and via online scoring here.

And it marks the first time the 2006 Olympic golden duo of Brad Gushue (rear in CCA/Michael Burns photo) and Russ Howard (foreground) have been on the ice together since the last puck of Pinerolo in February.

And this week's event marks the last time, as well.

As readers of The Curling News well know, Gushue has replaced Russ with youthful Alberta import Chris Schille on the road to 2010, while Howard will seek his Brier fortune out of his hometown of Moncton, along with son Steven Howard. Thus, this fourth edition of the Continental Cup is the last hurrah of the men's Olympic champions, in terms of the once-controversial lineup change that brought Howard on board in October, 2005.

The squad faces Norway's Pal Trulsen, the 2002 gold medallist, tonight, for ultimate Olympic bragging rights.

Right now, Gushue and Kleibrink third Amy Nixon are tied 3-3 with Europe's Eva Lund (third for Anette Norberg) and Trulsen. Mark Nichols and Bronwen Saunders are brushing for the North American duo, while Trulsen second Flemming Davanger and Cathrine Lindahl (Norberg's sister) are sweeping for Europe.

Meanwhile, a blow to the NA squad as Nichols has taken himself out of the lineup for singles curling. He's got a bad wheel, largely undiagnosed, which causes pain on takeouts, particularly on speeding bullets like the ones he threw in the Olympic final.

"Obviously I would have loved to play singles, but it's in the best interests of the whole team and my leg," Nichols told TCN scribe Larry Wood. "I want to be ready to play the games, the teams and the skins."

Nichols has an MRI scheduled for early December.

Check back often as The Curling News brings you regular blogposts from the Continental Cup, plus the occasional insider's report from Tokyo and the Pacific Championships, which are a resounding success in curling's newest hotbed of Japan.

The Curling News – now 50 years old – celebrating with special archived content going back to 1957 (and all years in between) in EVERY issue, all season long!

Subscribe TODAY!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Curling Detour: Afghanistan

Yes, we're in Chilliwack B.C., but a quick jaunt across an ocean – and a rather notorious Gulf – to share greetings from ace curling scribe Bill "Gravy" Graveland (photo), of the Canadian Press.

Yes, he is in the Middle East – probably embedded with Canadian Forces – but we're really not sure. We do know this is a brief tour of duty for him, before he returns to the familiarity of curling ice.

Bill reports...

Dear The Curling News:

Sorry I didn't get in touch with you sooner but it's been crazy this past week... or is it two now?

First of all, there is no curling rink here. I know that will come as a shock to you but, on a positive note, there is a Tim Hortons... and a hockey rink... but alas no ice, and certainly no rocks. It might have something to do with the fact we're in a desert here in Kandahar, but word is the engineers are going to try and come up with ice for the hockey rink once winter fully hits... and after that curling ice is just a stone's throw away (intentionally bad pun). I am still expecting Shorty Jenkins to show up at any time!

The strangest thing about being here in Afghanistan so far is it hasn't stopped raining. It rains four times a day – big storms – with thunder and lightning. Tents are washing away and there have been floods all over the country with dozens of people killed.

For the first time in my life my luggage was lost on the way over here, and it finally showed up a week later. It's amazing how nasty a week in the same clothes can be!

Re. photo: the helmet and flak jacket are very uncomfortable, and excuse the whiskers. My fixer (interpreter and driver) insists that I have to grow a beard and wear local clothing when
I go into town. I'm sure it will make me look a lot like a local – LOL!

Take care and I will send you another photo if the beard comes in any better... and in my new Afghani clothing.


Ana on the air

A quick photo to show you as The Curling News travels from rainy Vancouver to rainy Chilliwack, and Thursday's start of the Continental Cup.

This is Ana Arce, chief architect, photographer and cover model of the new 2007 women's curling calendar called Fire On Ice. She was on Toronto's FAN 590 morning radio show recently, and you can listen to the interview – and purchase a fundraising calendar – at this page.

More from British Columbia coming soon, so visit often ...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Once more with the rock

Yep, Team Anette Norberg have rocked out... yet again. This time on Eurosport’s Watts Pop TV show, where athletes show other talents that they have (or not).

In this YouTube video, taped in early October, the curling girls sing along to Joan Jett’s I Love Rock And Roll, followed by outtakes, along with a few bars of the AC/DC classic Girls Got Rhythm. Yes, they sure do.

“Watts Pop knew about the Hammerfall video and they wanted to do something similar with us,” lead Anna Svard (photo) told The Curling News. “The difference was that we had to sing ‘for real’. Very scary! At first we didn’t want to do it, but said okay after persuasion.”

Team Norberg is still atop The Curling News Top 15 despite losing on the weekend to Scotland’s Rhona Martin in the final of the Stockholm Cup. The gals are soon on their way to Canada’s west coast, where they’ll spend a few days in Vancouver before heading to Chilliwack for the Continental Cup, which has two air dates next weekend (Nov. 25 & 26) on CBC.

The squad’s growing legion of North American fans have suffered a blow with the dismantling of their blogsite, which was previously hosted by sponsor Johnson & Johnson. All that’s left is a link to the Hammerfall video. There is, of course, the team’s website, but there are no plans to post info in English.


• So, you’re the manager of the Hub City Curling Club in Saskatoon, and you open your electrical bill one day and see... a charge for $47,000 dollars. Whoops. Will TCN’s new Asham Club Corner feature be following up on this story? You bet we will ...

• They didn’t make the final, but the arch-rival Kevin Martin and Randy Ferbey teams had a little fun on the weekend, with curling fans in Lloydminster the beneficiaries. Quote of the day from the Ferb, directed at all front-enders everywhere: “The lesson you've got to take from this is even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.”

• Kudos to Lloydminster for dressing up their 20th anniversary Wayside Classic in fine style: namely with a huge $75,000 prize purse. It attracted more top-calibre squads, including champion Glenn Howard, who had super-sub Jon Mead on board in place of Richard Hart ...

• The Laurier University Alumni are the latest official partners of the Home Hardware Masters of Curling, the first Grand Slam set for late November in Waterloo, Ontario. The grads qualify for discounted tickets and it should be a noisy event, particularly when alumnus John Morris is on the ice with Team Kevin Martin ...

• DID YOU KNOW: that Canadian Curling Association CEO Dave Parkes has apparently served notice of his retirement date? It’s at the end of 2007 ...

• Quebec skip Eve Belisle – the darling of last spring’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts in London – is skipping her province at the Canadian Mixed in Kitchener, and she’s alone in first place at 5-0 ...

• The Pacific Curling Championships are Nov. 21-26 in Tokyo, and the host nation’s matches will be available online through webstreaming. Who is the provider, you ask? Say hello to CurlTV Japan ...

• DID YOU KNOW II: that Toronto almost lost another curling club recently; the posh Granite Club, a near-victim of burst piping ...

Al Cameron is declaring that Calgary will host the 2009 Brier (subscription only), even if the CCA won’t be confirming this for just under a year or so. The last Calgary Brier, in 2002, earned a record profit of $1.3 million on 245,000+ spectators, the third-highest total ever ...

• DID YOU KNOW III: that Canadian senior squads – like the superstar Anne Dunn foursome – continue to battle scheduling snafus that see national champions unable to defend their crown if they go to the worlds?

• Who’s up on Dean Gemmell’s The Curling Show? Why, it’s the gal with the pipes, calendar pinup and Olympian Christine Keshen ...

• And speaking of, the calendar, over 500 of the new 2007 curling calendars have been sold since last week’s launch. Featuring a whopping 17 athlete/models, bonus pages and some colour images, it’s the perfect holiday gift – and a fundraiser, too. Calendar queen Ana Arce flew into Canada from Spain last week, and you can hear her appearance on the FAN590 radio morning show here ...

• DID YOU KNOW IV: that a Quebec pequiste is using Canada’s national men’s championship – errantly – as a public relations tool for the separatist cause? TCN’s own Adam Daifallah is thoroughly unimpressed ...

• Two-time world champion skip Marilyn Bodogh’s bid to become mayor of St. Catherines earned bronze last night. The brash Bodogh won 4,412 votes to finish third behind runaway winner Brian McMullan, who scored 15,067 votes ...

• BLOGBITERS: in no particular order, we have ...

That Kid in Seattle;

Jose – who has no clue – in Portugal;

Pilot in Saskatchewan (that’s one dangerous curling team logo, my friend);

Hugrun in Iceland (Sigurvvegarar!);

... and these truthful Yanks, who have voted curling to be an honest-to-goodness sport, by a 5-2 margin. How about that.

• Finally, tiny Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is the hometown of USA Curling. It’s also the home of the world’s biggest trivia festival, of which a new film has been made, which features a famous local curler as one of the trivia answers. Looks like fun ...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The 2007 Curling Athlete Calendar

They're back.

And that's quite a back (above), that of Ana Arce, the creative director/photographer and also model – one of 17 – in the new 2007 Curling Calendar, formally titled Fire On Ice: 2007 Team Sponsorship Calendar.

Read Al Cameron's preview story here (also appearing in today's National Post) and, of course, you can read more and also order it here.

Also note the sharp new look for The Curling News homepage, debuting today. Not bad, eh?

Finally, note the November 2006 issue of TCN is out, with a wild-goggled Randy Ferbey on the cover. What's up with that? You'll have to subscribe to find out.

Oh yes, the season has really started now.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Home Hardware joins Grand Slam

An announcement is expected today that Home Hardware has taken title sponsorship of the first Grand Slam of Curling event of the Insight Sports era, The Masters in Waterloo, Nov. 28-Dec. 3 (CurlTV and finals on CBC).

The Home Hardware Masters of Curling also has a new website, located here, and Al Barber's local organizing committee has a great traveller's deal up for grabs, located here, with two options available for a combo game ticket/hotel package.

Prior to this big move, the hardware chain had been slowly warming to curling. They had taken minor sponsorships in the old M&M Meat Shops Skins (remember that?) and are selling Rusty Drew's famous Extender throwing stick. Also, a group of no less than 10 franchise stores in the Kitchener-Waterloo and outlying area (which also includes Galt and Elmira) recently banded together in time to sponsor the 40th anniversary of the big interclub competition, the Home Hardware (formerly Clarica) Bonspiel, which runs Nov. 20-25.

Welcome aboard, HH.


Brad Gushue's Thursday started at 1:45 am eastern time, when he crawled out of bed to catch a 3:50 am flight from St. John's to Toronto. When he landed, he was scheduled to do three media interviews before hitting the ice at Brantford's Tim Hortons Classic tour event. Next week he starts a book tour for Golden Gushue, of which you can follow along and read blogposts from either the CurlingZone main page, or here. Busy, busy.

But if you want to see his squad in person this weekend, act fast... tickets are sold out for Saturday and Sunday, meaning today is your only chance to see them. Or Glenn Howard. Or Guy Hemmings. Or Jean-Michel Menard. Or... you get the picture.

• Meanwhile, Gushue's Olympic teammate Russ Howard is in P.E.I. for the popular Rodd Curling Classic. Howard will appear at the Charlottetown Curling Club today from 5:30 to 6:30 pm to meet fans and sign autographs, as well as to show off his golden hardware.

PS: Did you know Russ spared for Team Ferbey rock-tosser David Nedohin at last weekend's Meyers Norris Penny tour stop in Portage, where the Ferbs lost the semis to Russ' brother Glenn, the eventual champion? Well... now you do.

Doug and Joan Middleton had quite a Wednesday. The Regina couple showed up at the Tartan for their weekly curling match, only to find out – from friends who had watched the TV news – that they had won a brand-new, fully furnished house, the top prize in the Hospitals of Regina Foundation's Lifestyles Lottery.
Oh... they also picked up a new Audi A3 2.OT car and $7,500 cash, to go along with the 2,400-square-foot, professionally decorated Wascana View showhome. The total prize is estimated to be worth more than $523,000.
"We just could not focus on what we were doing (on the ice)," said Doug. "It was the first game I can ever remember that I didn't mind losing."

• According to the Conman, Alberta's St. Albert Curling Club is rededicating the Friendly Giant Lounge tomorrow night in honour of the late, great Hec Gervais. Former teammates and family will be there ...

• Hamilton's mayor recently chucked a puck to launch the sale of mini-pack ticket packages for the 2007 Tim Hortons Brier. You can read Adam Daifallah's story about a possible new mayor of nearby St. Catherines in the November issue of The Curling News, now off to the mailhouse and headed your way. If you don't subscribe, you'd best get on that, eh?

• Finally... guess who's back? And taking shots at the CCA?

Er... that would be the Canadian Consumers' Association, not these guys. Whatever. Welcome back, Statman!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday curling roundup

The Curling News is now on deadline for the first (November) issue of the season, so there's little time to Blog today. Have you subscribed yet? Don't blow it, dudes and dudesses. The special 50th anniversary publishing season is one for the ages. Trust us.

• PHOTO: That's Guy Hemmings in Vermont, USA, on Wednesday afternoon, spreading the good curling word ...

• IN MEMORIUM: A celebration of life yesterday at Ontario's Peterborough Curling Club for Derek Whitehill, who was only 19 when he died in a single-vehicle crash on Monday morning. Whitehill was an avid player and also the junior curling columnist for the Ontario Curling Report, a position founded by TCN publisher gk way back in 1986 ...

• ACROSS THE POND: The Mother Club has a new president ...

• BUILDING IN B.C.: Williams Lake is fast-tracking construction of a brand new arena – which includes a dedicated curling pad – similar to that of Chiliwack, host to next month's Continental Cup of Curling. The local paper approves, and now nearby Quesnel is jealous as all heck ...

• FROM EDMONTON: Kevin Martin had some interesting musings this week. He's parking it while his three young turks are in Portage, MB this weekend along with super-sub (and former Jeff Stoughton third) Jon Mead. Johnny Mo will skip ...

• SHE IS THE LAW: According to Lyndon Little of today's Vancouver Sun, 2002 bronze skip Kelley Law is glad to be back and has her eyes on Vancouver 2010:

A chance at the Olympics is certainly a big part of it. To be part of an Olympics here in Vancouver would be exciting. I had some time off focusing my energies on family and work, but I'm ready to get back at it. The Olympics were the carrot that put it all together.

Georgina (third Wheatcroft) and I kept in touch all last season. I don't think I would have come back had she not been available. I missed the curling. I love the competition. I could never just curl for fun. But for me to come back it had to be with the right people.

The new Team Law is three-for-three in cashing Tour cheques thus far, with one event victory.

I think our strength as a group is our game planning and our work ethic. When I left, we were number one. I still feel that way, but I know it won't be easy. There's a lot of work ahead.

• THESE KIDS TODAY: Here’s an archived story on U.S. college interest in curling immediately after the Turin Olympics ...

• BUBBA: White-hot Kerry Burtnyk had more to say in the Winnipeg Sun this week ...

• THE DOCTOR IS IN: Famous curling headbands are discussed with Kerry Burtnyk lead rocker Cory ‘The Doctor’ Naharnie on The Curling Show ...

• SAY WHAT? Vartan Kupelian of the Detroit News has a nifty curling crack (look below the retro photo of Tiger pitcher Dan Petry). Do these U.S. sportswriters really know their small-town Canadiana, or are they just Googling?

Ottawa Sun scrivner Joe Pavia wins this month’s award for best intro: At times, Jean-Michel Menard feels like moose meat. Check it out here ...

• FINALLY: This is where we could point out the depth and detail of The Curling News and this here The Curling News Blog, but we'll get right to this point. All due respect to this webmaster, and his intentions are good, but since CurlingZone and InTheHack are already hubbing all the news that is already auto-and-user-retreiveable, what’s the point?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Clear the track, Burtnyk's back

Kerry Burtnyk is five-for-five. That's right... since roaring out of retirement, the 1995 world champ (photo from victory number one in Gander) and his new youth squad have won all five tournaments they have entered, and they've completely overshadowed the much-ballyhooed and almost equally succesful other barnstormers led by Edmonton's Kevin Martin (who also won again on the weekend, incidentally). Burtnyk spoke with the Kamloops Daily News after beating Kelowna's Bob Ursel in the final of Monday's Strauss Crown of Curling:

I probably wouldn't have believed (the perfect record) because I don't think I've ever done that before. It's really amazing.
I knew when I recruited them that these were really good young curlers and we had a chance to be a good team. But they've played exceptionally well. Even when things are looking bad some times... they never give up. We've won some games when it wasn't looking so good.

On the women's side, Victoria's Pat Sanders won her second Crown title 10 years after her first, beating China’s Bingyu Wang in the final. That’s right... just a year after Japan’s Ayumi Onodero became the first Asian team to win World Curling Tour title, the impressive Chinese national team almost equalled the feat. Said Sanders, who had been crushed 10-1 by Wang in the A-qualifiers:

I saw throughout the whole weekend that they were playing really well and just trouncing their opponents. It was worriesome as to how to play them. We decided that we would play more open and not let them build up the rocks that they had been doing, and then try and make our opportunities as we went along.

• Speaking of Martin, he spoke to the Edmonton Journal prior to last weekend's win in Bonnyville:

I can see the energy on the ice. And people who have been watching me say we have more energy And that's a good thing.
I think we're a little surprised to see where we are. Now if we can make it 23-2 (they are now at 28-2) in the next 25, that would be fantastic. Winning is easy. We'll see how good this team is when we're on a six-game losing streak.

• OK, so Colleen Jones didn't meet up with her ex-teammates out in Moncton (new skip Mary-Anne Arsenault lost out on the quarterfinals) but Jones' new skip (and old buddy) Kay Zinck won the event, making CJ one-for-one as a women's third. As CJ told the Chronicle-Herald:

I’m a little sore today. But I kind of enjoyed the sweeping part of it because it’s a full exercise. It felt good to be involved in that part of the game. I quite like the early read on third.
What I loved the most was the interaction you have with the other teammates. Skipping is a lonely position. Frankly, I think I was tired of the pressure of being skip and having to make last shots all of the time.

Incidentally, any controversy that may (or may not) have happened between Jones and her former teammates was replaced by the unanimous show of support for
Kim Kelly, who lost her mother Audrey late last week. The Moncton organizing committee and the Zinck and Aresenault teams graciously re-jigged their draw times to allow both squads to attend Saturday's funeral in Amherst. PEI's Nancy Cameron replaced Kelly in Moncton.

• In other spiel action, Saskatchewan's Sherry Anderson is back in a big way: her squad won the second women’s Grand Slam in Winnipeg, beating defending champ Jennifer Jones in the final:

• 2002 golden gal
Rhona Martin will make a guest appearance on the UK’s Catherine Tate Show:

• Maple Ridge curling club, just like The Curling News
, is celebrating its “golden” anniversary this season, and they've even got a promotional video posted on YouTube ...

Like what you're reading? You ain't seen nothing yet. Subscribe TODAY to The Curling News, now celebrating its remarkable 50th Anniversary publishing season! You won't want to miss this extra-special season of wall-to-wall curling coverage, featuring archived stories from the last 50 years reproduced in every issue!

• Kinda forgotten in the hoopla about Burtnyk, Martin and Colleen Jones-At-Third is
Team Randy Ferbey. They're doing well, but were bounced from Flint without qualifying, a rarity these days. Pat Simmons beat them in an A-final while another Sask squad, skipped by Bruce Korte, eliminated them in the C-qualifier – in just four ends – by a 9-1 count. It was the third straight Tour win for Korte in head-to-head matchups with the Ferbey4 ...

• Italy made it to the Euro Mixed final, on home ice, before bowing 7-4 to Scotland ...

• Golden boy
Brad Gushue is on this week's episode of The Curling Show ...

• Oh, the mysteries of curling rocks. Inserts? Ailserts? To sharpen, or not to sharpen? Penticton thinks they have the answer ...

• More from the Strauss Crown of Curling: USA coach and former Sportsnet talkie
Ed Lukowich played lead for Pete Fenson yesterday when regular third Shawn Rojeski had to return to work. Jason Larway – who spared for Doug Pottinger all weekend – moved up to third. The revamped Team Fenson was trounced 10-0 by Ursel in the semis, after winning their quarterfinal 7-5 over Grande Prairie’s Kurt Balderston ...

• In a previous post, we quoted CCA development guy Danny Lamoureux on how curling clubs must change, once and for all, the way they operate. Some of our dear readers were even inspired to comment further.

Now scribe Al Cameron has an in-depth interview with Lamoureux in today's Calgary Herald (subscription only) and this is now a clear sign of a nationally-driven campaign to drag clubs, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century. Here's some gems from the interview, which is a must-read for any club brass, vilunteers or dynamos:

"Clubs have to change the way they're thinking, said Lamoureux, the former manager of the Ottawa Curling Club. "We're so stuck, and I was too, with the way we always did things that we never tried to do anything differently. It was the same thing over and over again, and the world was changing around us, and curling clubs weren't doing anything to take advantage of that. It's time to catch up."

Some clubs have already accepted that message. The Calgary Curling Club, for instance, draws high praise from Lamoureux for creating an instructional curling league, in which new or novice curlers can access instruction for a full season, as opposed to the traditional way of doing things.

"We've always given newcomers one day of instruction, take their cheque and wish 'em good luck," said Lamoureux, who's urging other clubs to adopt the popular Calgary model. "Then we hope like hell that they keep coming back. Most of them never do; we'd lose 50 per cent the first year and the second year we'd keep 10 or 20 per cent of the hardcore people."

Then, there's the perception from non-curlers that a curling club is a members-only deal. One way around that, suggests Lamoureux, is an easy fix: simply replace the word "club" and replace it with the less-intimidating moniker "centre."

"A couple clubs were saying that people were afraid to come in, because it was a 'club,' and they thought they had to be connected or rich to get in," said Lamoureux. "Curling is hardly an elite sport; I mean, golf is way more elite. So we have to get rid of that. Everybody's welcome, it's easy to learn, it's affordable and it's lots of fun. And it's not just about the two hours on the ice; it's about the hour or 90 minutes afterwards that's the best part of curling."

Once you get them in the door, says Lamoureux, curlers should be treated better, whether it means upgrading food and lounge service or – Lamoureux's pet peeve – ice conditions.

"A lot of ice has been crappy," he said. "The attitude was, 'Well, it's the same for both teams.' Well, like hell it is. Bad ice is no good for anybody. Good ice has to be a requirement. People watch it on TV, they see it swinging, they see it's fast. More women and children are curling and, with the no-lift delivery, if it's not quick, there's no point. If I can't get the rock to the other end, I'm outta here."

"No other sport has the free promotion that we do," said Lamoureux. "There are so many people out there who love the sport, and we're perfectly positioned to get 'em all in to play. We just have to change the mindset."