Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Out in the boonies

by Jill Officer

WINNIPEG – It’s that time of the week when the players are likely starting to feel a bit of Brier fatigue… and us media folks are beginning to feel it too. It’s hard work sitting up in the bench, trying to pay attention to four curling games (not just the one that the players have to focus on), write stories, take pictures and consume donuts and coffee.

Of course, I hear a rumour from the TCN editor that one of Canada’s two competitors at the World Mixed Doubles in Finland has just gone on the record as saying, and I quote:

“In one respect I enjoy watching (the Mixed Doubles) more than the Brier.”


Calgary’s Dean Ross then goes on to talk about exactly what I just wrote previously: trying to watch four sheets at once.

That’s a bold statement! I can’t say I agree. I watched my teammates play in the Mixed Dubs at the Continental Cup last December. As exciting as it was because there was so many rocks in play, the arena was so quiet. Sure, players get up to sweep their own rocks, but there’s not the same intensity because there is so much less loud screaming and yelling at players to sweep!

But the Brier been exciting with lots of extra ends taking place in the last couple of draws… it took almost three and a half hours last night, but Newfoundland and Labrador’s Brad Gushue – CCA photo above courtesy of Michael Burns – managed to steal a win from Jean-Michel Ménard of Quebec in an extra.

Ménard appeared to have control of the first half of the game, up 5-2, until Gushue made a great draw from way out in the boonies. And when I say boonies, I mean it. Newfie third Mark Nichols was actually standing on the carpet to hold the broom for his skipper!

Menard then missed the pick, Gushue drew for two, and that seemed to be a bit of a turning point.

Gushue was back on the ice this morning… in another extra end! This time against Nova Scotia’s Brian Rafuse, the Olympians weren’t so lucky. Rafuse didn’t have to throw his last one in the extra.

Ménard was also back on the ice this morning… and also in another extra end!?! Quebec took on Saskatchewan’s Pat Simmons, who took three in the 10th to tie up the match and then stole in the extra. So that’s two extra ends in row for Quebec and they gave up two steals! Ouch.

Kevin Martin was nice enough to tell his competitors in today’s Tankard Times that he’s struggling with his inturn. Who does that? Then again, if the Ol’ Bear is struggling with a turn, it probably means he’s missing by a micrometre instead of a millimetre.

In a story about his team being in control this week, he was asked about his thoughts on the ice that has been produced here by world-class ice tech and Manitoba resident, Hans Wuthrich. Martin told the Times:

“The draw weight I love. Perfect speed. It’s right in my wheelhouse. My inturn, I don't know, you'd have to ask the coach. The reaction when I throw is not quite right. I don’t know.”

Looks like Nova Scotia’s Rafuse has decided that four losses is enough this week. The Easterners have come to play today. After their extra end win over Gushue this morning, they’re staying neck and neck with Martin after five ends this afternoon… right now, they’re actually up two!

Would be nice for Manitoba if Alberta is coming off a loss tonight… then again, Alberta could be on a mission if they happen to lose here to the Bluenosers. The two prairie provinces clash tonight and Burtnyk will be trying to beat one of the bigwigs.

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