Monday, December 08, 2008

Swedish TV “broke” curling show

Oh, we’re sorry.

How clumsy of us.

Did that irritate you?

It did, didn’t it?

Well, that blogpost (below) wasn’t a mistake. We meant to do that.

And now we shall explain ourselves.

Reports out of Örnsköldsvik and the Le Gruyère European Championships 2008 say that Swedish television broadcaster SVT “broke the show” by abandoning Sweden’s Olympic, World and European champion Anette Norberg (full-size photo by Urs Raeber) midway through the extra-end of her battle with Scotland’s Kelly Wood.

The game, a rematch of last year’s Euro championship final and a potential preview of Saturday’s 2008 grand finale, was a barnburner. The score was tied in the eighth when the Scots snapped a surprise four on the Swedes. Lo and behold, the Norbergs clambered back, taking a deuce in nine, stealing one in the 10th, and then finally s

Oops. Sorry again. Won’t happen again. Promise.

AND THEN FINALLY STEALING the extra end for a crazy, exciting, come-from behind victory.

But as the story goes, broadcaster SVT cut away from the match during second stones of the extra end. The clock hit the top of the hour, the commentators apologized, and the channel switched to the smash hit television talk show Fråga doktorn (Ask the Doctor).

Did we mention this was a repeat episode of the smash hit television talk show Fråga doktorn (Ask the Doctor)?

We just did.

Team Norberg are, of course, a national sporting treasure in Sweden. The athletes have won more in curling than virtually anyone reading this rather popular blog could ever dream about.

They have hung out with the King of Sweden. They are rock stars to a 1) Quite 2) Remarkable 3) Degree (full story here). And here they were, last night, trying to win their unprecedented eighth European Championship, battling their arch-rival in one helluva game LIVE ON SWEDISH TELEVISION ON HOME ICE IN SWEDEN.

This has got to be the cardinal sin of live sports broadcasting.

We’ve seen this before. It happened in Canadian curling, once, back in 1987, when CBC cut away from the last stone of Brier final – only in the western part of country, mind you – to go to a newscast, and missed Ontario’s Russ Howard score five points on B.C. skip Bernie Sparkes and hoist the massive gold Labatt Tankard.

There was, of course, such a hue and cry that THAT will never, ever happen again.

It even happened in Canada... in... wait for it... hockey! Yes! Hockey! Can you imagine? Yes, we’re not lying. And the army moved into the streets to quell the riots, the fires raged, and billions of dollars in damage was... okay. It wasn’t really that bad.

But Canadians were generally irate, Dave Hodge got angry and threw his pencil (see “Controversy”), and it’s safe to say THAT will most definitely never, ever happen again, either.

But it does happen. It happened before Heidi, and it has happened after Heidi.

It also happened just last year, again on CBC, in another beloved Canadian sport.

And so, it happened in O’vik.

Swedish Curling Association media man Hakan Sundstrom is producing the daily Eagle Shield News onsite at the championships, and he published the story in today’s edition, available here (scroll down to Eagle Shield News #3).

The story is all there, from his angry words in boldface type to the story of the poor commentators – both of them curling legends, too – who had to apologize to the viewers as the show came to an abrupt end.

And now, we figure you might want to know... what happened next?

Well, as curlers are graced with good humour and occasional self-depreciation, the anger has faded into wistful grinning. Norberg herself was seen shaking her head but laughing at a reception last night.

As it turns out, commentator and two-time Euro champion skip Katarina Hultling – her broadcast partner is the queen of 1990s world curling, Elisabet Gustafson – is aware that the head of SVT sports was apparently quite angry at the decision. It seems said decision was made by someone who was third in line for such decisions: the top guy was ill and not at work last night, and the second-in-line was away from the control room when the call had to be made.

We also know that the commentators were asked to mention that viewers could see the end of the game on a sports show airing later that evening, and that SVT did indeed make good on that promise. But... still...

Should this person be drawn and quartered for such a decision? We’re not sure. In present-day Canada, and in swapping Norberg for any curler wearing the Maple Leaf, on national television, the poor miscreant would probably consider seppuku. In Sweden, however, curling is still considered a fringe sport, which is quite depressing when you realize the legacy of great curlers Sweden has produced over a long, long period of time.

And sadly, this is not unlike many other European countries where growth seems to have stalled out completely (see Germany, France et al).

All we know is this:

a) it’s over;

b) it won’t happen again, at least not for a repeat of the smash hit television talk show Fråga doktorn (Ask the Doctor);

c) and the dumbbell in question is no doubt aware that it was a pretty daft move to cut away from a Swedish Olympic sporting legend at the climax of a big, exciting game played in Sweden just a year out from Vancouver 2010 and where the station he/she/dumbbell works for is a broadcast partner.

But. Still. This was a remarkable occasion, even considering the obvious.

Which is that the dumbbell has absolutely no idea about anything regarding the sport of curling.

Elsewhere in this wild curling world ...

• It’s been a while since Wayne Middaugh won something big, eh? Some would say it’s been a while since he won anything medium-to-small. But the bad boy from Toronto put it all together with second-year third Jon Mead of Winnipeg, got a wee bit fortunate to boot, and won The National.

We note this story on le victoire, en francais, located here.

We now point you to the fine work of Capital One shootist (and TCN photo editor) Anil Mungal, as published today in the St. John’s Telegraph-Journal. Nice grab, Wood.

We also note the image of a lurking Pierre Charette, spotted down at ice level during the CBC telecast of Brad Gushue versus Mike McEwan. When will we hear, we wonder, something – anything – about the World Curling Players’ Association, of which PC purports to be president?

Just asking.

Finally, we note that while China’s Fengchung Wang couldn’t produce a win at the Slam, he did win outright the previous weekend’s WCT event held elsewhere in Quebec, defeating Peter Steski in the finale. That must be the first-ever Tour spiel victory for a Chinese men’s team, and kudos are in order ...

• So, like, do you agree with this guy who says:

That would be a problem with curling, where defense is played through offense. A curler uses an offensive move to knock his or her opponent’s stone further away from the target.

Whatever, dude. By all means, keep on pontificating about things you know nothing about. But this also provides an opportunity for folks to vote in the poll on that same CBS Sports page (left side menu) to confirm that yes, curling is indeed a sport. Currently 18 per cent of respondents say it is, which puts curling in a tie for second with gymnastics, behind golf.

So come on curling fans!

• DID YOU KNOW: that on Prince Edward Island, The Dominion Club Championship will replace the provincial Intermediates competition ...

• Here’s an odd one we like; a plea for funnyman actor Will Ferrell to go curling on film ...

• As this reposted YouTube fan video shows, Jennifer Jones has some fans in Japan ...

• She, herself, husband and some curling ice ...

• Oi, let’s fix those cracks in the ice, folks ...

• Looked like some French-language curling fun went down in Norway ...

• Speaking of the French and the Euro shootout, Toronto fan Thomas Dufour and his amis are picking things up ...

• And finally... the venerable Winnipeg Granite Curling Club... love it or hate it?

1 comment:

Huskers-For-Palin said...

Ehhh, this ain't exactly new....remember the CBC debacle of the 2006 STOH? At least two games got nixed early. The first time was bad enough, the second time (after CBC said it wouldn't happen again) was the straw the broke the camel's back for many. Parks would eventually pay with his job, a protest movement ensues, the CBC loses the SOC while TSN laughs all the way to the bank.