Wednesday, April 02, 2008

World curling warmup

by Resby Coutts

WINNIPEG – Put competitive people on the ice and you’ll have great curling action... even if the original intent was a bit of fun, and for a good cause.

Tuesday at Winnipeg’s Pembina Curling Club, three international curling teams en route to Grand Forks for the 2008 World Men’s Championship played three local teams as a fundraiser-slash-awareness-generator for the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

Denmark’s Johnny Frederiksen took on Pembina’s Lionel Walz, a former Manitoba Senior Men’s champion; Czech Republic’s Jiri Snitil played Norm Magnusson’s Senior Men’s team (skipped by Lorne Hamblin, who coached the 2002 World Junior Champions) and Scotland’s David Murdoch took on some guy named Jeff Stoughton.

A full house crowd, including a pair of Japanese junior teams in town for the Optimist International Under-18 Championship, turned out to watch the fun and were treated to some great shotmaking in all three games.

Stoughton cobbled together a team that included Scotland’s Peter Loudon... a fellow who actually beat Stoughton in the final of the 1999 Ford Worlds in Moncton. Playing like high-stakes gamblers for much of the session, Stoughton came up short against a Murdoch team that is obviously set for a serious run starting this Saturday in Grand Forks.

Walz was forced to add Denmark’s new consultant-coach John Helston, a former Canadian champion for Mike Riley’s Brier-winning 1984 team, to his lineup. Walz was the gracious host. Facing a hit for two to tie coming home, Walz rolled out to give the Danes a one point victory.

Hamblin and his veteran team rose to the challenge of their first (and most likely only) game in international competition. Snitil and his young team showed they’re ready for their World debut with a solid display of shotmaking and strategy that impressed the Winnipeg onlookers. Tied coming home with the hammer, Hamblin's third Don Newbury made the shot of his season, sinking an out-turn draw into the four foot behind cover to set up the final victory point.

As mentioned, the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation was the big winner as some $400 was raised through a silver collection.

Resby Coutts has a fine weekly radio show in Winnipeg and is also the publisher of the equally fine webzine The Curler. Come back anytime, Res...

No comments: