Friday, February 27, 2009

Not cheering for BC: Weber

Say hello to yet another TCN blogger, folks.

Margo Weber is a competitive curler from Calgary and an avid observer... most recently from her couch, as she is taking time away from the ice lanes to raise a family. In her first effort, she says she knows whom she is NOT cheering for in Victoria...

by Margo Weber

It’s probably no surprise to Marla Mallett that her team from BC has made the 1-2 playoff game at the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. But I bet it’s a surprise to everyone else.

In a field that included Team Canada’s Jennifer Jones, Saskatoon’s Stephanie Lawton and Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard, the play of Team BC has been no less than remarkable.

So can BC hold up their first place status and win one of two chances to make the final? This team made the 1-2 game by virtue of their eighth win on Wednesday night, however has subsequently lost their last two round robin games. If they can’t get things back on track, it’s going to be a long summer of what-ifs for Mallett and her squad from the Vancouver Curling Club.

Mallett (Kruger Products Ltd. photo above by Andrew Klaver) has certainly not let the extra pressure of being the home team diminish their chances. They don’t even seem to care what the crowd thinks.

They chose not to participate in the Ford Hot Shots at the beginning of the week because they feared it would be a distraction from the real goal – winning the Scotties.

Mallett also plays a less-than-crowd-pleasing style of game that is unbelievably boring and pretty lame for the fans. So they are less concerned about the event sponsors and the crowd, and more concerned with their own play. Fair enough.

But Mallett herself got distracted enough in last night’s round robin game against Team Canada that she actually stopped herself in the hack, got up and refocused. Apparently bothered by some opposition team movement at the other end of the sheet, she was later shown jawing to Cathy Overton-Clapham about holding still.

Was Cathy O doing the hokey pokey? How could someone of this curling calibre be so easily distracted over something so minute?

For those that watched the TSN telecast, you heard Linda Moore comment how Mallett had to refocus quite a few times in the BC provincials due to minor distractions. Shouldn't something as trivial as a little movement in the background not bother her at this point?

Yeesh, this is the home team, and the crowd is cheering “British Columbia” every five seconds. Yet she feels the need to talk to Cathy O about her movements. Weird.

Okay, so let’s pretend BC does win tonight – or in the semi – and then faces one of three really good teams in the final. And let’s pretend she even wins that and goes on to represent Canada at the Worlds in Korea. How will she fare?

As a fan of Canadian curling, my support will certainly be behind her in hopes that she captures the world title. But I would be a little nervous about their chances.

First, this is a very defensive team, and the Victoria ice seems to lend to this style of play. But the ice in Korea is sure to be completely different than ice at home – isn’t it? – and the question is: would they be able to adjust?

Second, if Mallett is easily distracted by other teams, the World Championship will not be the place for her. International teams are very different from Canadian teams. If you want to see a bunch of ladies jumping up and down, and high fiving just for making a hit and roll – watch a few games at the Worlds.

I’m going to have to throw my hopes behind a team that isn’t afraid to mix it up. Best of luck to Team BC in their quest, but I want a Canadian gold in Korea, and I’m going to have to cheer for someone else. How about someone like Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche who puts the broom on the edge of the eight foot, goes down to the other end of the sheet and draws to the can without blinking an eye. Typical Mallett strategy would be to scan the house for any cross-house double so that she doesn’t have to draw.

Or how about Saskatchewan, which has the major distraction of an illness in the family of the skip and third, yet has still rallied to a third-place round robin finish despite losing their first three games?

Or Team Canada, an absolute powerhouse in women’s curling which has the major distraction of being Team Canada? Even when these girls are struggling they just plain refuse to roll over and die themselves, as we saw in last year’s STOH and just a few minutes ago, in the 2009 tiebreaker against poor PEI.

There are so many great teams in the Scotties this year that I just don’t have it in me this time to cheer for the home province. Sorry, BC.


Dalene and Peter said...

Bang. On.

Unknown said...

Great article. You've summed up what I have suspected all week just watching on TV. She most definitely doesn't come across as a nice person on TV, that's for sure.

Sure, one could argue that this is the playoffs, and a person should be focused on winning, not making nice for the cameras, but then how do so many other players come across so much better than she does?

TCN said...

Reply from The Curling News editorial staff:

Many of us here at TCN have met Marla Mallett and she is a great person.

How someone "comes across" is also a very subjective thing, particularly when this "coming across" is taking place via television.

For example, how many people – most of whom have never met her – still think Colleen Jones is a horrible person because she chews gum while competing? Or is it really in the manner in which she chews said gum?

Come to think of it, Mallett also chews gum.


If the question itself is subjective, it's going to be pretty hard to pin down a definitive answer.

Suffice to say Team BC was victorious again, and writer Margo Weber probably won't be cheering for them in the final either!

Birch / Ethier said...

I can't believe that ANYONE would want to trash any team from Canada. I know we all have our favorites but to out and out bash a team because they are doing better than expected is so uncalled for. BC has brought their game, won games and is in that final because they have won!

Curling is one of the most friendly sports in the world and this article just made it seem like one of the least!

Marla Mallet (whom I have met in person) is a really nice person and determination (which every player needs to win the Scott) should not be seen as a negative! When was the last time you were in a national playoff! Lets see how serious you would take it!

All I hope for is a final that is well played and hope that the team that plays the best in that game wins! And yes I will be cheering for BC!

Mr. Common Sense said...

Margo, obviously you are not a competitive curler or you would be able to realize that the Mallet team is playing the way they must to win. They are not there to please you or the viewing crowd as they are amateurs and do not get paid for curling. What you see on the TV is very often not reality, would you not agree. It is also a good move not competing in the "Hot Shot" as this is a marketing ploy for Ford and the players do not get to keep the cars and do not get paid for appearing. I think the Mallet team will be a very marketable team for Kruger.

J-Man said...

I agree totally with Margo's point of view on this.

I have met Marla and she is a very nice person and very focused, however I do not agree with the game she plays. It is not a knock on Marla as a person, however it is unfortunately the game she has (or chooses) to play in order to do well.

Marla plays a conservative game very well, and her team plays the game very well, however I find it extremely boring, as do many people, hence I find I cannot cheer for her.

To watch Mallett snap because someone is shifting their weight from foot to foot and saying they are distracting her is ridiculous. If you are really concentrating on your shot, anything in the background should not come into play.

In regards to the Hot Shots, in future, I have it on good authority that the CCA will make the Hot Shots a mandatory thing which will effect the seeding for any tiebreaking games (right, wrong or otherwise).

Mallett is a very good team and has played well this week, however the best team (and chances) for Canada doing well beyond the Scotties is a team willing to go for it EVERY end, and unfortunately I don't think that is Marla's team.