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."

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