Monday, October 15, 2007

Swiss Tour debut

BADEN, Switzerland – Canadians have seen some of it before.

No takeouts, at all, on lead stones (the original Moncton Rule). Skips wearing microphones and earpieces, answering media questions during the flow of the game (Rogers Sportsnet’s Rock Talk). Tight curling quarters, with the fans right next to the action (the TSN Skins Game).

But this was also something very new. Six ends only, in a live 90-minute television package. Additional rule changes, such as an alternating hammer, and a maximum available score per end of only two. Thunder sticks in the crowd adding to the din.

And when the dust settled, Ralph Stöckli and company had defeated former Olympic teammate Claudio Pescia 6-4, and game one of the new Viatravia Swiss Curling Tour was over (TCN photo by Urs Räber).

Half an hour after the live broadcast ended, the athletes were all on the ice in their street clothes, taking part in the tear-down. This is a truly hands-on endeavour, steered by top skips Stöckli and Andi Schwaller, along with broadcast partner Teleclub (a pay-per-view subscription network) and new curling sponsor Viatravia.

“Here we go,” said a visibly pleased Schwaller after the match. “We are finally on the air. It’s good to get the show up and running.”

“We didn’t have our best day,” said Pescia. “But there were a lot of great shots. This format is quite exciting for the fans, I think, but it’s also exciting for the players.”

The 10-week Tour will feature six teams, including Stöckli, Schwaller, Pescia, Urs Beglinger, Patrick Vuille and junior champion Florian Meister, with SF 35,000 available in winnings. Each team has already received a SF 10,000 starting bonus, with SF 1,000 available for each game “point” scored during the event.

An edited version of each game will be available soon after the broadcast on the Teleclub website, which can be routed through the Swiss Curling Tour site.

More on this fascinating new venture in the soon-to-be-released November issue of The Curling News ...

No comments: