Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Big game tonight

A letter on behalf of all current and future Mixed Doubles players...

Dear Marcel/Scott, Jill/Dawn, Bronwen/Chelsey, Mark/Ben and so on:

Your sweeping makes us better players... and it wasn’t until we started playing this new format of curling, and thought we could shoot and sweep ourselves, that the true impact of your brushes were really noticed. Please accept our apologies for the many years in which we might have taken you for granted...

I tell you, what I wouldn’t do to jump out on the ice and sweep a few of our Canadian rocks recently! If you check out our linescore you’ll notice that we won that game against Slovakia by a score of 12-11... which is great. It currently is the highest combined scored ever in Mixed Doubles, although the Swiss team is racking up a lot of points (15-2 against Wales the other day!).

We had a few shots in that one in which I am convinced that if we had two brushers we may have won the game in six ends... instead we went the full eight ends (including dropping a five-ender in the seventh) and pulled out a single point in the eighth to win.

In the same draw Sweden and Japan also lost giving them both two losses, putting us into sole possession of first place in our pool. It was to be temporary, as we just lost to Hungary 6-4.

The Hungarian gal is Ildiko Szekeres, a former fitness competitor, and here she is in this photo, along with our guy, Dean Ross (and me over Dean’s shoulder, BTW).

First place is big in this event. There are three pools and the three first-place finishers are basically put through to a first, second or third-place finish and all three second-place finishers battle it out for the fourth playoff spot. Positioning is all based on the draw shot challenge at the beginning of the week. I won’t tell you where we stand quite yet.

Susan O’Connor and Dean looked way better today than our game against Italy, but Hungary was a step back. It’s a different game for these two competitive curlers who are used to having two other teammates on the ice to help them through their frustrations. In Mixed Doubles you spend a lot of time thinking to yourself, talking to yourself and generally being by yourself. We’ve tried to work in some team systems that will ensure we mimic a normal four person team speaking pattern... and yes, they are now speaking to themselves a little more!

I got up early the other day for an 8:00am senior women’s draw; my second coaching stint with Diane Foster’s ladies. They lost a tight one, 6-5, after coming back from a 4-0 three-end deficit to almost win... followed by a win... followed by loss to their fellow first-place runner, hosts Finland.

It was only after the other day’s AM game that I discovered there are no timeouts in our senior play. I find it interesting that the WCF has a policy that if there are no time clocks there are no timeouts. There are a number of teams that have coaches available, however, with this WCF policy they are relegated to only seeing their teams before the games and during the fifth-end breaks.

I can totally understand where the WCF is coming from in this regard, as teams in the past have taken advantage of it and in my opinion it has simply hurt the game. I’m hoping in the future that coaches and teams can work this out with the WCF. I spoke with WCF Director of Competitions Keith Wendorf after the game, hoping that timeouts could be inserted for the playoff games... Keith agreed this was a flaw that needs to be worked out, however, in this particularly busy championship the two on-ice officials would not have enough time to help officiate the timeouts in addition to their current duties.

Interesting to note the differences in the two competitions: Mixed Doubles has the hogline rocks, timeclocks, timeouts, a full slate of officials and the Seniors have no hogline rocks nor officials, no timeclocks, and only two on-ice officials. One of the coaches from Europe compared it to a European championship, whereby the ‘A’ Pool have all the bells and whistles and the ‘B’ Pool is comparable to the Seniors. Tough to outfit both sheets with clocks and hogline handles but it would be great if it were possible! Naturally, it all comes down to $$$.

That said, this event is amazing given the tiny number of volunteers on hand. The organizing committe and WCF should be extremely proud of what they have accomplished here in Finland. Everything has gone off without a hitch so far.

A funny moment the other day came from Susan and... a person to be named later. Susan was musing about what she was required to wear for her massage tonight, and being a North American, she asked the other lady in our group if she was going to wear underwear for the massage, She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless responded, “... To the massage or during the massage?” We all had a laugh, but poor Susan is still stumped! I will update you on her Finnish massage shortly!

Huge, huge game tonight following the Hungary disappointment... the final round-robin match, against Japan... and in only a few minutes.


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