Yes, it's true.
For the first time in 400 years, Swedish ace Peja Lindholm (photo) has a brand-new curling team.
Okay, enough exaggeration. But a team of four individuals that has been together for more than 20 years...? That is truly a lifetime in this fickle world of curling.
Longtime friends Tomas Nordin (third), Magnus Swartling (second) and lead Peter Narup have reportedly lost the drive and determination that helped fuel the three-time world champions squad, and they will not compete next year.
Lindholm, whose team finished a disappointing eighth in Turin – they lost the bronze-medal game to finish fourth in 2002 – is still gunning for Olympic glory in 2010. He's lined up James Dryburgh, Anders Eriksson and Viktor Kjall for the run. Dryburgh?! Yes, that's the two-time world junior champ out of Scotland who ended up marrying former Swedish junior whiz Margaretha Lindahl. The Scot has been in country for six years now, speaks very good Swedish and even handles occasional curling commentatary – in Swedish – for the Eurosport TV channel.
Lindholm, who finished runner-up at the previous two European Championships, first announced his curling presence by winning the 1986 World Juniors in Markham, Ontario. Nordin was ill all week and didn't play, which saw Swartling move to third and alternate Uwe Ljungdahl take over second position. The Swedes defeated Canada's Mike Wood in the final, and Lindholm's charisma – and sharp future – was apparent to one and all.
In Canada, Olympic gold medallists Brad Gushue and Mark Nichols continue their Newfoundland school/youth tour and Gushue has spoken more about his own team changes, which feature new Alberta import Chris Schille (see recent posts).
Gushue told The Western Star that Schille is 23 years of age and they were hoping to get somebody closer to their age as they move towards defending their title at Vancouver 2010.
While not too many people out this way have heard much about Chris, he is a good up and coming player. Out west he is well known and well respected. I got to know Chris a little bit when I spent time with him recently. He's an easy going guy, we're (team members without Russ Howard) all of a similar age, have the same goals and Chris will bring enthusiasm to the team.
Gushue also said that Schille will want to go out and prove himself, adding that Mike Adam will remain with the team as alternate and they are excited he is staying on.
I think we've found a formula that works for us in picking up Chris, and Mike is good in the role of fifth, and it will work for all of us.
• The fiery death of Winnipeg's Thistle club is blamed on arson. Disappointment is the order of the day as club members don't think they can rebuild. The Freep's Paul Wiecek goes through the memories here (subscription only) but reports the club was struggling financially, and the surviving assets could be given to the Manitoba Curling Association, which is listed as the club's designated charity. Meanwhile, curling builder Arnold Asham, who will receive a community award this fall, has offered his Asham Arena – just six blocks away from the Thistle's graveyard – as a new home for the Thistle's 400 members...
• On to some (potentially) good facility news: the city council in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan have received a MultiPlex update, while early plans for a similar complex in Caledon, Ontario include a “possible” six-sheet curling rink. Also, British Columbia's Port Moody CC is celebrating a $25,000 contribution to their facility...
• And you thought we were done with U.S. open houses? Not on your life. Olympic bronze heroes Team Pete Fenson will appear at the Evergreen CC in Vancouver (that’s Washington, not B.C.) this Saturday for a clinic/meet-and-greet; cost is only $10...
• Speaking of 2010, this Globe story provides an update on Vancouver planning, and also reminds us that curling's pitch for a new Olympic discipline – singles play – is very much alive and in the mix for medal consideration...