Monday, April 30, 2007

H2H Gong Show: a success

It’s all over in Sudsbury... Team Doug Hong won the trophy, with Team Rob Thomas taking the second event trophy over Neil Harrison; the third event saw T-Bay’s Mike Assad upend Frank McCourt and the “New Lunch Bucket” event was dominated by Terry Odishaw over Louis Biron.

Other highlights were some great music performed by Andrew Mercer, Mark Noseworthy, Tim Wright and... a fiddler! Highly entertaining from 2:00am until “whenever” each morning. Not to be outdone, Mercer and Joanne Taylor edged-out Chris Schille and Cherie-Ann Loder for the distinction of getting their names on a pair of very old raincoats. Whatever that means.

Also, DBZ apparently got a haircut during Harry’s Beach Party. Uh, great. In addition, three very excited people won tickets for the 2008 Men’s Worlds: the top fundraiser (Jimmy), a member of the organizing committee (Darlene) and the DBZ lead, Kari. All are very excited about the possibility of a week at the Worlds and then the 27th H2H in Sudbury!

The spiel raised $16,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and next year’s date is set for April 24-26. Early registrants who sign up before February 15, 2008 will go into a draw for a trip for two to Florida. Not bad.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bench skipping

Bench skipping is an end-of-season celebrity-charity-curling-spiel pastime. In this David Rollins photo, New Brunswick’s Terry Odishaw (2007 Canadian Mixed champ) and Alberta junior third Joanne Taylor demonstrate their skills at the 26th annual Heart to Heart fundraiser in Sudbury.

BTW, rumours as of yesterday afternoon had Shorty Jenkins on the fast track to the Lunchpail Event (?) ...

Friday, April 27, 2007


The Heart to Heart is underway, following last night’s opening banquet (that’s Shorty Jenkins being hoisted, photo by David Rollins) and this afternoon’s first-ever Sudbury edition of Harry’s Beach Party. Party time!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Beans for Bubba... and a new Team Jones

After breaking the news – earlier today – of Cory Naharnie’s dismissal from the Kerry Burtnyk team, The Curling News doth speculate on who might replace “The Doctor” at lead stone.

Apart from conducting a lightning raid on a youthful Winnipeg squad – such as that skipped by Reid Carruthers – Burtnyk’s most likely course of action is to revisit one of two familiar faces, veterans Keith Fenton (1995 Brier and Worlds etc. with Burtnyk) or Don “Beans” Harvey (1988 Brier with Burtnyk).

Fenton has been linked with the knee-plagued Vic Peters, so the leading lead would seem to be Harvey (photo by CurlingZone), who played with Dave “Night Train” Boehmer earlier this decade and recently served as fifth man for Team Jeff Stoughton.

THIS JUST IN: The trend towards non-geographic teams vying for the 2009 Olympic Trials continues. CurlTV has broken the news that Halifax skip Colleen Jones will team up with British Columbia’s Georgina Wheatcroft and Darah Provencal (ex-Kelley Law). The fourth player? Second Kate Hamer... from Ontario (ex-Sherry Middaugh).


Gong Show Reloaded

PARRY SOUND – Whoo hooooo! Saved by a pit stop in Parry Sound!

All is well, thanks to our driver, Pete (bald guy in photo) and his Nite Lite Limousine company...

Sudsbury Gong Show

by Tim Wright (using Don Barcome’s PDA doohickey)

SOMEWHERE IN NORTHERN ONTARIO – Here we are, blogging live from the big limousine driving up Highway 69 towards Sudbury. See the photo for proof!

We’re headed to the 26th annual Heart to Heart Bonspiel, the first one to be held outside its traditional home of Thunder Bay, and we are the “Toronto” contingent, the alleged “celebrity skips” who were flown into Hogtown from all kinds of locations.

We’ve got Newfies, Minnesotans, Winnipeggers aka Nurses, North Dakotans and yes, even a Toranna person or two... and we are about halfway through our four-hour jaunt to Sudsbury.

We hear that ice wizard Shorty Jenkins and Quebec celeb spiel legend Louie Biron are already on site.

There’s a second limo, somewhere in our backdraft, but we have bigger problems... we just ran out of beer - argh!!! We are a gong show!

Yes, the season is almost over...

Serious allegations?

Serious allegations in the April 12 posting on the SWEEP! website, specifically, that:

“We are soon going to hear that the Canadian Curling Association is in dire straits. We are soon going to hear that the CCA is broke, and broken. We are soon going to hear that the organizing body of this beloved sport has been living in part truths. This envy of almost all other amateur sports organizations in Canada is not to be envied at all. Its senior executives and top Board members have been acting Enron-like. Hiding. Covering up.”


Meanwhile, the CCA is rumoured – thank-you Al Cameron – to be plucking Canada’s first Mixed Doubles representatives from this fall’s national Mixed competition, also rumoured to be hosted in Calgary Nov. 10-16. The chosen ones will travel to Vierumäki, Finland in March to compete in the inaugural World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship ...


• Scotland’s Rhona Martin is now an SIS coach ...

• Saskatoon’s Hub club officially closed last night, amid bittersweet news that the city will bid to host the Brier in either 2011, 2012 or 2013. Writer Doug McConachie offers, rather abruptly, that “even with the excitement of the Brier announcement, curling is gradually dying.”

Still in Sask, some neighboring municipalities are not supporting Moose Jaw’s multiplex efforts. One excuse may be a good one, as this story reveals: there’s another area curling rink in the planning stages ...

• Buzz is that Cory “The Doctor” Naharnie, the flamboyant lead for Team Kerry Burtnyk, was dropped from the lineup yesterday: no word yet on his replacement. My, there seems to be some openings at lead stone these days... Another lead is gone, this time from Jill Mouzar’s Halifax foursome, which is now known as Team Harrison with former third Meredith Harrison (nee Doyle) skipping, Mouzar at third, new face (and former Andrea Kelly teammate) Kristen McDermaid at second, and TCN contributor Teri Lake at lead ...

• Speaking of dispatched leads, Jamie Korab – accompanied by women’s skip Heather Strong – will be two of the local VIPs celebrating McDonald’s restaurants’ 15th annual McHappy Day in the St. Johns area on May 9. One dollar from every Big Mac, McMuffin and Happy Meal will go to the St. Johns Boys and Girls Club. The restaurants anticipate raising $25,000 from this and one other fundraiser ...

• Have to say we haven’t heard this one before. According to a book on a bygone era, mentioned here, Minnesota’s Duluth Curling Club once played a role in blowing the chances of a new hockey arena for the city ...

• Finally, please doff your hat to the memory of Fredericton’s Walter Nason, who passed away last week of brain cancer at age 72.

Nason apparently had the mind of a computer when it came to organizing, scheduling and recording curling matches in his capacity as president of the New Brunswick Curling Association. In a long-ago era he didn’t need a computer to tell which draw would best suit X number of teams; he could crunch the numbers in his mind and come up with the right formula.

Nason eventually hooked up with one of the best New Brunswick curlers in Dave Sullivan, and the two represented the province at numerous national events, including the 1994 Canadian Seniors, where they walked away with the championship title.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Russ Howard to join TSN?

According to Dave MacLean of the Moncton Times & Transcript, Mr. Hurry Hard himself, Russ Howard,might soon be joining Vic, Ray and Linda in the broadcast booth.

The Moncton-based curling icon (Canadaeast photo above by Cindy Wilson) said he’s intrigued by a career in broadcasting and admitted he’s recently received overtures from at least one member of curling most popular broadcasting trio.

The two-time world champion and reigning Olympic gold medallist made the comments during a wide-ranging interview as he criss-crossed the province recently promoting his book Hurry Hard: The Russ Howard Story, which is reviewed here by CP’s Bill Graveland.

“I’m eyeing broadcasting,” Howard said. “There’s a rumour that TSN will be hiring a second crew, because they’re about to take over (from CBC-TV) and they plan on covering way more curling. Ray Turnbull gave me a ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ a few days ago and said I should be involved in that.

“I’ve enjoyed my previous experiences in television, so I think that would be fun.”

TSN president Phil King told MacLean the network is not actively pursuing talent but should an opening become available or staff expansion occur, Howard would certainly be considered.

Howard, of course, auditioned to replace Don Duguid at CBC around seven years ago. The job eventually went to 1998 Olympic skip Mike Harris.

Another emerging field that has proven lucrative for curlers with impressive resumes is coaching. Since the sport was introduced as a full-medal event at the Olympics, many nations have embraced curling and are taking up the roaring game.

Former rival Ed Lukowich – the 1986 world champion who beat Russ in the Brier final – is now the head of curling development for USA Curling and other Canadians are coaching in countries such as Austria, Russia, Japan, Australia and China.

“The other thing that interests me a lot is teaching,” said Howard, a former golf pro before embarking on his current career in real estate.

“I loved teaching golf and curling, but I’m probably a better curling instructor. I’d love to take on the Chinese team or something like that – a team from one of the nations where curling is just getting started. Something like that intrigues me.”


• Lots doing in Saskabush: say farewell, sadly, to the Hub; there’s the annual mayhem that is the SCA; does this news mean that Moose Jaw’s long-discussed new facility will actually get off the ground (we have our doubts); and a Regina team, led by a pastor, has won the 2007 Canadian Aboriginal Curling Championship ...

• The eight-end debate is still raging...

• Here’s... Office Curling ... ?? ...

• U.S. women’s champ Deb McCormick has a season-ending Q&A here ...

The Curling Show has a pile of great interviews up, including the displaced Jamie Korab, his former skip, Brad Gushue, and politico Paul Boutilier ...

• And finally, Kansas City’s fourth-annual bonspiel goes this weekend, as promoted by the one and only curling diehard in St. Louis ...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Megasale still going

Just a reminder that Procurler’s MegaSale is still ongoing, check out their stuff and also the button marked funny...

Elsewhere, a ton of links for ya –

• The Asham World Curling Tour wants to move, immediately, to eight-end games for all competitions – not just the Grand Slams. This comes after strong TV viewership numbers in the Slam’s first year with CBC-TV, but also after mucho controversy concerning the eight-end game, discussed here, here and here at CZ and also in the April issue of The Curling News ...

Colleen Jones is pondering, exactly one year after the news broke of her teammate defection; Jan Betker is hanging it up; and Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche will be back in action ...

This Newfie writer weighs in on Brad Gushue and company (and ex-company)... Brad, incidentally, appears tomorrow at a Halifax school... and still in Newfoundland, Adrian Power’s idea is grand, but what really caught our attention in this story is the new moniker of the former St. John’s Curling Club ...

This guy wants more curling video games (amen brutha)... although we have, in our hot little hands, a rare copy of the Japanese-only Nintendo DS game called Minno No Curling ...

• Other than the editing boo-boo on John Morrison (?), this quickie spotlight on Ben Hebert asks a good question: who is number one, Kevin Martin or Glenn Howard? TCN has decided it’s Howard, but three out of four Slams – plus more than 200K – is a strong argument for K-Mart…

• Our guess is Jorge & Xivi, who have Pasion Por El Curling, would pick Howard ...

• The World Curling Federation’s World Rankings see Canada dominating in both men’s and women’s play, and Glenn Howard says “Hey Now” ...

• The Esquimalt CC facility in British Columbia is suddenly closing, which has prompted an uproar and also a dissenting editorial... and in Fort Nelson, curling seems to have been wiped out by a natural disaster ...

• Here’s an otherwise indecipherable feature on former Italian hero-turned-Swiss Joel Retornaz ...

• According to the Blind Riverians, Canuck Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an inferior moosehorn user. Hope that won’t cost him any votes in the next election ...

• Ever heard of the expression Curling Parents? It’s Swedish – Curlingföräldrar – and it’s now explained here ...

• Still with Sverige, Team Anette Norberg are back in the Blogosphere, with a new page located here ...

Paul McLean, the TSN curling producer who died of cancer two years ago, will be posthmously inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame on May 30. The hall already honours curlers Mike Harris, Wayne Middaugh and more ...

• Team USA was feted on their return to Mankato, MN ...

• Scotland’s golden girl seems set to retire and get into coaching, according to this ...

• In the latest YouTube roundup, hockey’s St. Louis Blues try curling; this is definitely the happiest skip we’ve seen in a while; Poland’s Eurosport curling commentator needs some excitement in his delivery; Johnny Mo joked it up while in winning the car in Hamilton (anyone got a better camera angle?); Finland’s latest bizarro digihomage to The Mighty Uusis; Canada’s Mr. Cool, Richard Hart, gets teased along with his white-belted teammates; and OK guys, it wasn’t that funny after the first 30 seconds... except for the guy who vaccums his face at about 2:37 ...

• Curling on Wordie. Well, there you go.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

TPC: Martin wins; poetic signoff

by Jill Officer

As much as the TCN editor wanted me to wrap up the weekend – and the season – after the men’s final of the Tylenol Players’ Championship, I messed up a bit.

I slept through the game. The entire game.

My boyfriend woke me up twice, but apparently I wasn’t ready to open up my eyes. I was so tired. When I did finally crack open some slits, I saw Sidney Crosby on TV as the Canadian national anthem was being sung... for the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins playoff
game. Oops. Sorry gk.

I did check out the line score and I also asked my boyfriend if there was anything exciting about the game. I see there was a four-ender in the men’s finale as well. It was a little earlier in the game than the one we gave up on Saturday night, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be for Team Kevin Koe to rally back against Team Kevin Martin. And so Martin and his squad win yet
another Slam event on the Asham WCT. Congratulations to Kevin, John, Mark and Ben (photo by CurlingZone).

And so the season ends. Aside from the Curl For a Cure Celebrity Charity bonspiel to take place this coming weekend in Calgary, followed by Sudbury’s famed Heart to Heart, the season is officially over. Anyone else ready for the break? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ll be sitting on the beach in Mexico a week from now, my mind far, far away from the ice or anything to do with our sport.

But that will only last for so long, as we’ll starting planning our bonspiel season, our off season training, and much, much more. Hardly a break when you curl at an elite level, it seems. I’m sure we’re not the only ones that will be planning and such, but it’s definitely important to get away from the game for a while, both physically and mentally.

Before you know it, we’ll be back on the ice... possibly as early as mid-August! That’s only four months away! Jebus!

Until then, here’s a little poem.

The weather is just starting to turn nice and no one wants to think about the ice;

We’ve done our duty for the season, but to be back on the ice now, there’d better be a good reason.

From controversy, to defeat and success, this season is over and I think I’m a mess!

I'm sure I’ll live, although I have nothing left to give.

We’ll see you all in the fall, but until then, farewell, ya’ll.

Have a great summer...

TPC: We did it!

by Jill Officer

CALGARY – If you’re any kind of curling fan you know that our team (photo by CurlingZone) and Kelly Scott’s squad have played each other enough over the years, so it was no surprise, really, that we were set to face them again in Saturday night’s Tylenol Players’ Championship final.

It was a huge game for both sides. For Team Scott, a bye straight to the 2009 Olympic Trials was on the line because it would mark a third “major” win for them... which is exactly what you need to get you directly into the trials. For us, it would be a second major win, meaning we would need only more over the next two years.

Plus, it was the final of a big event and worth a lot of money.

To the game... it was close until the fifth end when we just wrecked on a guard on Jen’s shot to give Scott a draw for four. Yikes. Okay, so we regrouped and knew that if we could just score two then either we could force or steal in seven to keep it close. We get our two, force to one and get our two again to go to the extra. Could it be any closer? Nope. Then we pulled out the steal in the extra!

How excited are we? Extremely, and for a few reasons. Now we have won two major events. As I mentioned, one more over the next two years and we go straight to the 2009 Olympic Trials. Also, a good pot of money, back-to-back Players’ Championship titles, and I'm sure there are a bunch of curling fans who thought Kelly Scott had our number... guess not.

Now, briefly over to the men’s side. My squad filled me in on the action at the Corral from Saturday afternoon as they took in the men’s quarter finals while I caught some zzzzzzz. Anyway, seems Team Kevin Martin got a HUGE break late in their game against the world champs, Team Glenn Howard. With Howard up 4-3 playing the seventh and hitting for one to go up a couple coming home, Howard’s rock picked... and Martin stole three!! Yikes. Needless to say Glenn wasn’t too happy. They did manage to get their deuce in the eighth, but lost in the extra end.

So in the semis, Team Kevin Koe (who is being skipped this week by Kevin Park while Koe and his wife Carla celebrate the birth of their second child) defeated the baldest team out there, Team Randy Ferbey, while Martin defeated Saskatchewan’s Team Pat Simmons.

Now for the rematch, people... this should be a good final on CBC on Sunday. Team Martin versus Team Koe. For those of you who don’t know, these are the same two teams that played each other in the Alberta provincial final to go to the Brier.

We all know who ended up at the Brier, but let’s just say the Curling Gods were definitely with the Martin team in that game as Team Koe had two chances to win and were in complete control of the situation, but unfortunately weren't able to execute. I’m sure there will be some strong desires for the Koes to beat Martin in yet another big game... last month, Martin beat the Koes again in the final of the third Grand Slam, The National in Port Hawkesbury.

Will the presence of Martin’s old 1991 Brier champion teammate KPark make the difference this time?

Well, that’s it for me from the Corral. I should be back in Brandon just in time to see the end of the men’s final on television. Thanks for reading, and make sure ya’ll tune in now, ya hear?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

TPC: Jennifer Jones versus Kelly Scott

by Jill Officer

CALGARY – Okay, so another day without playing until 5:30 pm… but we were okay with that because we had qualified for the playoffs of the Tylenol Players’ Championship.

After the C-qualifiers were determined, we found out we were back on the ice against Edmonton’s Cathy King. Man, we play King a lot! We’ve played them – I think – about four times in the last two events, plus at least a few other times during the Tour season.

So we slept in on Friday… again… for the third time this week. And guess what? We get to do it again on Saturday! That’s because we won both our quarter and semi-final games and we’re into the final. In the semi, we played against Team Kelley Law, skipped this weekend by Colleen Jones (photo by CurlingZone)… had a great, close game. We needed two in the eighth end to win, and we did it.

We were in the final and won the Player’s Championship last year, so we’re extremely excited to be back in a position to repeat as champs. However, we play some champs in the final on Saturday night…Team Kelly Scott, AKA the current World Women’s Champions will be our opponent. We haven’t played Team Scott in any cash events this year, but rather in the Scotties – we played them twice – round-robin and the semi. Unfortunately we lost both times.

Hopefully today the story will be different. But all you blog readers out there will just have to tune in to CBC Sports on Saturday night (10:00 pm eastern after hockey) to see what happens.

By the way, the ice here has been absolutely, fabulously, wonderfully fantastic! Mark Shurek is an ice genius. It makes me jealous that these men’s teams get to play on his ice in all their Grand Slam events.

And guess what? He’s from Winnipeg (okay, Stonewall). Another great icemaker from the Manitoba.

Friday, April 13, 2007

TPC: and the Teams of the Year are...

PHOTO: Last year’s WCT Awards hardware on display

Story by Jill Officer

CALGARY – The Asham World Curling Tour Reception & Awards Dinner took place on Thursday evening at the host hotel – the Fairmont Palliser. The meal was great, but the emcee once again left something to be desired.

Jim Jerome, who has on occasion been a Brier Patch emcee, was the leader of the evening as he was last year. Seems the committee for this Tylenol Players’ Championship even suggested to him that he tone down his vulgarity from last year. Although he perhaps didn’t offend quite as many people, CBC’s Scott Russell – who actually presented the awards of the evening – would have been a fantastic pick for the whole thing.

I will give Jerome some credit as there was a number of “funnies”, but there were also a number of “offsides” and inappropriate comments. And no, they didn’t balance each other out. Sorry, Jim. I’m sure you’re a good guy and maybe your presentation works for others, but it doesn’t do much for me.

Anyway, to the awards. Could there be any other choices for the men’s and women’s Teams of the Year? No. World Champion Teams Kelly Scott and Team Glenn Howard (Glenn, people, Glenn!!!! NOT Russ!) were the award recipients.

Alberta curling great Paul Gowsell (now with much shorter hair, but a great little giggle) was acknowledged with the Asham WCT Ambassador Award.

And the top three money winning teams on the men’s and women’s Asham World Curling Tour were acknowledged as follows...

1. Team Kevin Martin
2. Team Glenn Howard
3. Team Randy Ferbey

1. Team Jennifer Jones
2. Team Sherry Anderson
3. Team Cheryl Bernard

Now over to the rink... our first early morning of the week turned out pretty good. We pulled it off and advanced to a B-side qualifier versus Edmonton’s Cathy King. We won that so we’re into the playoff round. A few bucks, a few Canadian Team Ranking System points and it seems we’ve secured a first place finish on this year’s CTRS, which puts us in good position going toward the 2009 Olympic Trials.

A-side qualifiers are Team Kelly Scott and Team Stefanie Lawton, the other B-side qualifiers are Team Sherry Middaugh and Team Cheryl Bernard. And so we wait. The C-qualifying
games will hit the ice at 11:00 am on Friday. Then, let the playoffs begin!

Women’s quarters and semis take place on Friday with the final on CBC-TV during prime time on Saturday night. What else would you want to do on a Saturday night, but watch some hot female athletes play the greatest sport on earth?!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

TPC: Jeanna is pregnant!

by Jill Officer

CALGARY – The 2007 Tylenol Players’ Championship is now rolling along. However, we waited for what seemed like an eternity to play our second game. It was almost like we were starting a new spiel!

We didn’t play until 5:30 on Wednesday afternoon... and we were got on the bus with some teams that were already playing their second game of the day – third of the tournament – and a qualifying game at that. Some teams that played the late draw last night were scheduled to play first thing again this morning. Er... what’s going on?

Something’s not right. Anyway, now we’re on first thing in the morning. It’s an early one, too... 8:20, but the bus leaves one hour before game time, at 7:20.

I need to eat so that means running down the street to Timmy’s by about 6:45 (it’s Tim's, we know it will be very busy). Also because we’re women, that means alarm rings at about 5:45 – at the latest. Ugh! I’m sure we'll be fine. It’s not like we didn’t get to sleep in today.

There are a couple of lineup changes to report from the ice here. Apart from Colleen Jones, who has been recruited by the Kelley Law squad to skip the team this week, Stefanie Lawton has a new but familiar lead playing this week: its 2007 Scotties runner-up Lana Vey, from Team Jan Betker. No official word yet on whether or not this is a permanent change.

Seems the new timing system is causing some time management problems with some teams. For the women’s teams, of course, this is our first experience with the “think time” clocks. As opposed to the clock running while you’re thinking AND while you’re throwing, the clock only runs when you are thinking and stops when the thrower’s rock hits the nearest tee-line.

Team Law/Jones ran out of time in their first game, but in everyone’s first game there was no penalty. Team Sherry Middaugh also ran out of time yesterday – turns out they missed their last shot anyway. And apparently Team Jeff Stoughton ran out of time and were indeed penalized for it. They lost. Now, I will declare that I wasn’t at the game and don’t know what the game situation was, nor whether or not they had a chance to win.

Also, as an interesting side note, we have a few pregnant curlers out there throwing and sweeping “for two” this week. Crystal Webster is seven months pregnant! She looks great and made some fine shots against us yesterday. Other great-looking expectant mothers include Team Colleen Madonia lead Moira Klein-Swormink, and Team Kelly Scott third Jeanna Schraeder (photo by CurlingZone). That last one should point out, once and for all, that Team Scott’s much-ballyhooed decision on no pregnancies leading up the 2010 Olympics was a joke, and not real to begin with... although we still find the “other” world champion’s Sportsnet videospoof to be quite amusing!

Just a reminder that the finals are on CBC-TV this weekend: it’s your official last TV shot of the season before we all reach for the golf clubs!

The Women’s Final is Saturday at 10:00 pm ET (following CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada) with the Men’s Final underway on Sunday at 4:00 pm eastern time.

That’s it from the Corral in Calgary for, but stay tuned in. You never know what might happen when the best teams in country – and possibly the world? – are duking it out!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tylenol Players’ Championship: Okay Corral

by Jill Officer

CALGARY – We arrived a day early for the Tylenol Players’ Championship. We are Team JJones, by the way, and we have to be specific because there is a Team CJones here as well, though not the squad you might expect (have you been reading this here Blog?).

We had some fun and laughs last night and reconnected as none of us had seen each other since the Canada Cup, three weeks ago in Kamloops. I thought it was a good idea that we would be here a day early to do just that – reconnect – given that we didn’t play until 8:30 pm on Tuesday night, but I’m not sure it made much of a difference.

As great as the ice is here at the Corral, we got caught a couple of times on how far the rocks slide. Anyway, in the end we took a bit of a lickin’ in our first game against Toronto’s Colleen

It seems that so far the event itself is doing fairly well. From what I remember (and please take into consideration the fact that my memory really isn’t that great), the crowds for the draw tonight are already better that they were in general last year. That’s a good sign – both for the event and for curling. Maybe people are starting to realize that these Tour events, especially the Players’ Championship, really are some of the best fields you could assemble in the entire world. All the best teams in Canada are here. What a privilege to play in such an event!

So the ice is great, the best teams are here, now if we could just get some Tylenol to mask the pain of our recent beating, we’ll be good to go on Wednesday.

Which is when the men start. Can’t wait to see the Ferbeys, and their new bald heads!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Jimmy Lee: one more time

We’re no longer in Edmitten, but here’s one last look at Korea’s Je Ho Lee – and his perfectly-balanced no-broom delivery – plus a few insider stories, just for you, faithful TCN reader.

Prior to the round-robin game against Canada, Glenn Howard greeted the Korean skip with a “Hello Jimmy!" and Lee was simply thunderstruck, and replied in halting English, “You know my name?”

In the middle of the match, with the scored rapidly getting out of hand, Howard was calling a shot when he heard Lee’s voice behind him: “Glenn... you let me score a point?”

Howard turned and acknowledged the smiling Lee, and returned to his shot. Moments later, that voice again:

“And then you let me score six?”

Hilarious laughter.

In the final round-robin draw, Lee called for coach Brad Burton – a rather, um, rotund Canadian from B.C. – to come down for a timeout. Lee’s signal drew howls from the crowd: he rotated his hands around his imaginary inflated belly. Lee, of course, might weigh 100 pounds or so.

At the end of that finale, Lee hauled out a big sign in which he thanked the fans in Edmonton for a great “learning experience” and declared “Love you all.”

“I told Jimmy just to say thank you,” said Burton, “But he went out to Staples and this took him all afternoon to get it ready. I told him he should be resting but he wanted to get the sign made.”

TCN columnist Larry Wood edited the daily Eye Opener throughout the event, and declared that Lee “truly deserves the Showboat Award at this Ford Worlds. Does this guy know how to play a crowd, or what?...”

He sure does.

Come back soon, Jimmy Lee.


• Still with Edmonton, Glenn’s buddy Steve offers his congrats... Cookie Gilchrist thinks Glenn is actually the “nicer” and “kinder” Howard... speaking of Russ, here’s a book Q&A with the guy now destined to be known as Glenn’s brother (sounds good, eh?)... and this tall fellow sorta enjoyed the Ford Worlds; and speaking of access issues, did you happen to read Ryan Durham’s web-special located at the TCN website? Let us know your thoughts ...

• Calgary rocks from tonight through Sunday at the Tylenol Players’ Championship: there’s a preview here, and yes, did you happen to note the new (temporary) skip for Team Kelley Law? Wow ...

• More Gushue vs. Korab stuff here, here and here ...

• Team Jeff Stoughton won the popular Bear Mountain Tour event ...

Now we know why Gloria Campbell wasn’t competing at the World Seniors in Edmonton. Congrats on tonight’s H0F induction and best of luck in the battle to come ...

• Let’s hear it for the Masters, folks...

• Finally, yet another game for you to play: here’s a quick review of, and link to, something called Stone Cold Curling ...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Curling Crushjob: no doot aboot it

EDMONTON – In the end, there was no doubt about Canada’s domination at the 2007 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship.

Glenn Howard, already a two-time world champion, returned to the worlds with a new team (CCA photo by Michael Burns) and went 12-1 during the week, including a crushing 8-3 final-game win over Germany’s Andy Kapp.

Howard and third Richard Hart, an Olympic silver medallist in 1998, sizzled with shooting percentages of 98 per cent. Front-enders Brent Laing and Craig Savill – twice world junior champions – both clocked over 90 per cent in throwing accuracy in the final and, like their teammates, through the entire week.

“Niney-eight per cent? Oh my Lord,” said Howard.

“It’s like Richie (Hart) said, we gotta step it up a notch for the final. He said if we can beat our percentages in this game, we’ll win it.”

It was all but over in the very first end, as a series of German misses left Howard with an open draw for four points. The Canadians held Germany to singles in the third and fifth ends, and added a big three-count in the sixth for an 8-2 lead.

“It was the best week of curling our team has ever played,” said Howard.

The Canadian skip won world titles in 1987 and 1993, as third for his brother Russ Howard, who also won Olympic gold last year in Turin. The younger Howard endured a 14-year waiting period before qualifying for the worlds.

“I never really thought I’d get back here, to be honest,” said Howard.

“Everything has to click, all the stars have to be in line. The guys just played unbelievable all week, and made my job real simple.”

Germany’s Kapp, supported by brother Uli Kapp, Andy Lang, Andreas Kempf and Holger Höhne, won four playoffs games en route to the final, scoring 12 valuable qualifying points toward Germany’s attempts to compete in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

“What can you do, the game was over before it started,” said German third Uli Kapp.

“Of course, with a little bit of distance after this game, this was a big success. We were up and down through the week, but from where we were earlier this season, it was great.”

Skip Andy Kapp summed up the week at Rexall Place, which set a world record of over 184,000 in paid attendance.

“His (Howard’s) was the best team I’ve ever seen, in all the years I’ve played,” said the elder Kapp.

It marked the second world silver medal for Kapp, to go along with three bronze medals in a distinguished international career. However, his teams have tanked at the Olympic Winter Games with two eighth-place finishes, at Nagano in 1998 and last year in Turin.

“I’m not sure what it is,” Kapp opined.

“Maybe we think about winning the gold, and millions of Germans are interested in curling, and if you think about that you don’t play so well.

“We want to help grow the sport as well.”

In December, much of the German team will serve double duty in their home town of Fussen. Not only will they compete for Germany at the 2007 Le Gruyère European Championships, but they will also work behing the scenes with the organizing committee. Andy Kapp himself is the chairman of the event.

Todd Birr’s team from the United States won the bronze, notching 10 Olympic qualifying points towards the 2010 games.

Switzerland’s Ralph Stöckli, who won the Colin Campbell Award for combining playing ability with sportsmanship, finished fourth while Sweden’s Peja Lindholm ranked fifth.

Finland’s Markku Uusipaavalniemi disappointed with a sixth-place finish along with France’s Thomas Dufour, who will delight in France’s strongest finish in years.

More disappointment for Scotland’s Warwick Smith and Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud: both skips won gold and bronze, respectively, at last year’s world championship but finished eighth this time, along with Australia’s Hugh Millikin and Denmark’s Johnny Frederiksen.

Korea’s Je Ho Lee won only one game in eleven attempts but thanked Edmonton for a valuable learning experience. Lee was the crowd favourite after hosts Canada.

Next year’s world men’s championship will be held at the famed Ralph Englestad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA. Next year’s Ford Women’s Worlds will be hosted by Vernon, British Columbia, Canada.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Canada has Hart

EDMONTON – A nice piece by Vicki Hall in most of today’s CanWest Global newspapers, including the National Post, spotlighting Team Canada’s Richard Hart (photo by CurlingZone) and his Olympic experience of nine years ago... not quite 10, Richie!

Hart gets another chance to win a global curling crown tomorrow, as the Canadians take on Germany’s Andy Kapp, a 6-4 semi-final winner over Todd Birr of the United States.

Germany dominated the first half of the game, but held only a 3-2 lead at the midway point.

The second half turned into a tactical battle of wits, as Kapp chose to play a defensive style – also the usual American strategy – in the final three frames.

Kapp declined to chase a deuce in the eight end, settling for one, and paved the way for Birr to blank the ninth and hold last-rock advantage in the 10th, trailing 5-4.

In the final frame, a key miss by U.S. third Bill Todhunter left Germany in command of a crowded house, and Birr’s last-rock double-takeout attempt removed only one German stone, handing Kapp the win.

“It’s fun for us to make the final,” said Kapp.

“Ten years after losing the final, it’s really good for us.”

Kapp lost the 1997 global finale 6-3 to Sweden’s Peja Lindholm, who finished this 2007 shootout in fifth place. Germany eliminated the Swedes in the tiebreakers.

After a 6-5 won/loss record in the round-robin, Kapp has reeled off four straight wins, three of them in one day.

“You get so many games for less entry fee,” Kapp quipped.

For Birr, his two playoff losses brought a solid week to a disappointing close. After dropping their first two games, the United States won seven of their next eight matchups, only to run into roadblocks against Canada and Germany.

“We played better today but we didn’t play as well as we had all week,” said the soft-spoken Birr.

The Americans grabbed 10 qualifying points towards the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, a very strong total from a team quietly dismissed as out of their league by many observers one week ago.

Howard’s Canadian unit has a powerful resume full of championship trophies, but all four team members have also finished second in numerous finals.

“We want to win it all, bad,” declared Howard, the 1987 and 1993 world champion.

“We don’t want to finish any less than first. It’s been 14 years since I was here. I treat this like it’s the last time I’m going to get here.”

Friday, April 06, 2007

Germany makes it through

EDMONTON – Germany’s Andy Kapp (top in red, along with brother Uli and Sweden’s James Dryburgh) outscored Sweden’s Peja Lindholm 8-4 in a tiebreaker to claim fourth place and advance to the playoffs of the 2007 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship.

The Germans scored three deuces while limiting to Swedes to singles throughout the match. The killer blow was a soft tap for two in the eighth end that put Germany up 7-4.

“We’re in the same spot we should have been in last night,” said Kapp, a four-time world medallist in 10 appearances. “We always take the long road. In every German Bundesliga we play three games a day, so we are used to it.

“It’s a new game tonight (against Switzerland), so we’ll see.”

Meanwhile, Todd Birr of the USA stuck to his game plan of avoiding all fancy-shmancy duelling with Canada’s Glenn Howard at the start of the Page 1/2 game. At least, for the first two ends... here in the third, there’s just a mess of granite in the house. Later...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Team Gushue speaks

EDMONTON – Alberta native Chris Schille, the second for Brad Gushue, is here at the Ford Worlds, in the runup to Wednesday’s Tylenol Players’ Championship in nearby Calgary.

Moments ago, Schille was dispatched to the Rexall Place media workroom (photo) by his skip to meet the media and explain the unpopular decision to drop popular lead Jamie Korab.

Apparently, the team members had spoken “a lot of times over the past few weeks” and it had “been talked about prior to the Brier”, and the situation all came down to “some on-ice problems, and we had discussions about it throughout the year.”

It was “a real tough decision” and “it really broke our hearts to make this decision.”

It was “almost a clash personality-wise” and “near the end, Jamie seemed not to be in the direction we were going.”

When a reporter asked about Korab’s commitment, Schille said no way, Jose: “Not at all, his work ethic was terrific.”

Another reporter asked about a reported incident between Gushue and Korab at the Strauss Canada Cup, right after the team’s tough loss in the Brier final, and Schille confirmed it to be “an example” where “Brad was saying one thing and Jamie was hearing another… Jamie took it the wrong way.”

Schille said that Korab “started to get a little bit on the negative side… we were trying to build on something they did last year (the 2006 Olympic gold) and (Korab) seemed to be going in another direction.”

Schille also added that “Brad is being attacked about this, especially out east… it’s not really about winning at all costs, it’s about doing the right thing for the team.”

Gushue cuts Korab

Shocking news out of St. John’s this morning, as Brad Gushue has dropped Olympic lead Jamie Korab (TCN photo by Anil Mungal) from his team.

The move, coming days before the final event of the season – the Tylenol Players’ Championship in Calgary – is nothing short of stunning.

ProCurler sale

The guys at ProCurler are having a massive selloff of existing merchandise, and we invite you to go to their website to see all the cool designs that are available at great prices.

Hard to believe that ProCurler has been around for about 12 years now. Wowza. Designed and manufactured by curlers for curlers, we think you’ll like what you see.

And if you don’t, you still have to click on the funny button, and then continue on through the step-by-step instructions (don’t forget Step 4).

Easily one of the funniest things we’ve ever seen... n’est pas?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Great stories from Cathy G

EDMONTON – The Canadian Curling Association announced their next round of Hall of Fame inductees today, and yesterday we mentioned one of them in a blogpost.

Cathy Gauthier of Winnipeg is in as a three-time Canadian (STOH) champion: as second for Connie Laliberte in 1992 and 1995 and as lead for Jennifer Jones (photo) in 2005.

That 2005 season was remarkable, as Gauthier left the broadcast booth and returned to the ice wars when TSN lost the curling contract to CBC... but less than a year later, she had left team Jones and curling again and, of course, TSN was back in the sport. Funny, that.

Others inducted in the athlete category are Anne Dunn, Lindy Marchuk, Gloria Campbell and Vicki Lauder, all of them accomplished Canadian and World Senior champions (Dunn, Marchuk and Campbell just won senior silver here in Edmonton last weekend).

Off the ice, Tom Fry of Fort Frances, Ontario was named Volunteer of the Year; Marilyn Barraclough of Black Diamond, Alberta and Winnipeg’s Arnold Asham were selected to receive the Award of Achievement; Ed Zemrau of Edmonton and Les Harrison of Moncton were chosen as the recipients of the President’s Recognition Award; and Katherine Johnston of Morrisburg, Ontario was selected to receive the Ray Kingsmith Award.

Tomorrow’s Winnipeg Free Press story by Paul Wiecek might mention a couple of standout memories from Gauthier’s career.

The first is her most fond: in a game against Japan at the 1995 Ford Worlds in Brandon, Laliberte made a great freeze in the ninth end, and as the crowd cheered, the Japanese team laid down their brooms and joined in the applause. They had no other way of communicating their acknowledgement of an amazing curling shot.

The second is her most difficult: Gauthier acknowledges that her team’s loss in that 1995 final to Sweden’s Elisabet Gustafson is something she has never been able to work through. Gustafson stole the 10th and 11th ends to leave Gauthier with a memory which no psychologist has ever been able to exorcise. And never will.

Here’s to Cathy G, on her special day.


EDMONTON – Here’s a nice photo of German skip Andy Kapp (by CurlingZone), who is competing in his 10th worlds here at Rexall Place.

Just because.

TSN Skins Game is back

EDMONTON – The Curling News has learned that the TSN Skins Game is making a welcome return to Canadian sport airwaves in late 2007.

The 2007 Casino Rama/TSN Skins Game – and forgive us, TSN, for throwing together a crude mockup logo (above), we’re just so darned excited! – will be announced live on TSN during this afternoon’s Canada vs Germany game at the Ford Worlds here in Edmonton.

We don’t know much, yet, but we do know that:

– there’s big money involved
– men’s teams only (sorry, ladies)
– the venue is located inside Casino Rama itself
Hans Wuthrich is the head ice technician

And we do know something else... everybody’s favourite little bonspiel is back, and Team Glenn Howard has the first invitation.

Welcome back, skins curling!

House of Hearts

PHOTO CAPTION: Yes, there is First Aid from Canada available to all

Story by Tim Wright

DULUTH, Minnesota – If The Curling News was looking for the Jon Mead scoop for the second year in a row, they should have been in Duluth, Minnesota for the sixth edition of the House of Hearts Charity Bonspiel – a spiel Mead has twice dominated.

But this year the title went to another Winterpegger, Kyle Werenich (yes, the nephew of you-know-who) who stunned another Pegger in the final – Taren “No Chance” Gesell. And led by fellow Pegger Ryan Fry, the Sliding Rock Handstand and Stoughty Spinerama took a seat to some new creative slides – while fellow Peggers Kristy Jenion and 2006 spiel nurses (see photo above) Chelsea Carey and Cherie-Ann Loder stood nearby taking notes.

Meanwhile the entire city of Winnipeg turned on its cumulative fog machines and kept them stuck in Minneapolis until Monday night.

Enough about Peggers – Pal Trulsen and Hammy McMillan crossed the ocean yet again to see if previous years were indeed for real. Jetlag is not an issue for them, simply because there is no sleep at this spiel. A heavy dose of Quebec hit Duluth this year, led by Eve Belisle and newly crowned D-Ranger princess Brenda Nicholls (who somehow returned home via Newark, NJ). Don Bartlett came, as always so he can make up for all those years of not throwing takeouts. And he did. 2006 USA Olympian and 2007 World University Champion John Shuster dethroned two-time defender Jenion of the TV Draw title – drawing the lid to win two local Duluthians a 24-inch flat screen. The list goes on and on.

The stories continue to grow as HOH legends like Craig Savill – currently exploiting his YouTube fame at the Edmonton Worlds – and George Karrys – currently watching Savill in Edmonton – are distant memories now. Even Heath McCormick’s infamous shirtless 8-Ender is old news.

We now have sorority girls dressed as referees on the ice, including pig-nosed ladies with shooters in hand to penalize any infractions. The infamous Minnesota Broom-Drop (TM) continues to confuse the Canadian visitors – despite its simplicity. Once again the North Dakota Chicken demonstrates how to drink Miller Lite from his nostril. Don Barcome donates $300 to free a young lady from Small Fry’s evil clutches. New urses Scharf (Krista) and Schultz (Jessica) pin you in exchange for a five-buck shooter. Alberta’s Geoff Walker finds out the three-man lift is indeed possible. And the dance floor changes flavor as each hour passes – coincidentally as the music goes from classic rock to hip hop.

All this for a great cause as the HOH has raised close to $175,000 in its six years of continued growth.

Great people. Great times. Great purpose.

This is Duluth.

This is the House of Hearts.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


EDMONTON – Heard TSN’s Cathy Gauthier talking about France’s Thomas Dufour (in the BalancePlus advertisement above, photographed by CurlingZone) in the afternoon game.

The French are playing great – merveilleux – by the way.

The usual shpiel about how much of a challenge it is for the French, as is for so many Europeans, to train properly on decent ice, against decent competition, blah blah blah.

The Curling News has heard this, as have many of you, for countless decades now. It’s getting tiring. And apart from a couple of really new developing nations – like Korea, Chinese Tapei etc. – it ain’t entirely true, either.

In Dufour’s case, his French ice may indeed be le stinko. But Dufour plays World Curling Tour Europe events, he plays nine games on Hans Wuthrich’s perfect ice at the European Championships, and he also spent two weeks in Montreal prior to Edmonton, prepping for the Worlds.

To her credit, Gauthier mentioned some of these real truths later in the broadcast.

But there’s one thing that she, nor any other Canadian commentator, will never say on air: Canadian ice – club ice, that is – ain’t so great, either. Much of it is... le stinko.

Double silver

Last week, we broke the news about the new Team Mike Harris... three-quarters of them, anyway.

That team is now set: former Harris Olympic teammate Collin Mitchell (background in photo) completes the lineup.

Mitchell returned from a year away from the sport this past season with John Base, and was part of Glenn Howard’s front end – along with brother Jason – for the first five years of the Howard/Richard Hart experiment.

An experiment which, as we all know, has been nothing short of a spectacular success.

Peter Corner, incidentally, has joined the new Team Base. In case you were wondering.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Jimmy The Kid

EDMONTON – OK, so Je Ho (Jimmy) Lee of Korea (photo by CurlingZone) got whacked. 12-nil.

Glenn Howard… what a big meanie!

All athletes inevitably do care about their performance but Team Korea’s efforts are, for a developing nation, praiseworthy, and rest assured they were suffering no illusions about beating the Canadians.

Have you heard the story about why Lee doesn’t throw with a broom? It’s a classic.

The crowds just love The Kid.

More tomorrow...

Sunday, April 01, 2007


EDMONTON – Here’s Canada’s Glenn Howard in a practice slide earlier today, giving CurlingZone photog Dallas Bittle the signature “shooter” gesture made famous by his brother Russ.

Canada looking good, 2-0 thus far (tied with Germany) and ahead 3-2 over Peja Lindholm at the fifth-end break.

More to come. Of course.