Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bronze or bust

GANGNEUNG, Korea – Team Canada put in a valiant effort against Sweden this afternoon, but it was not to be.

Canadian curling fans, so used to seeing Jennifer Jones and Co. make wild comebacks, almost saw yet another one today.

In total control in the ninth end, one up with hammer, the Joneses ran into trouble – missing five of eight shots, including both of Jennifer’s – and dropped a steal of two.

In the 10th, things didn’t look much better when Dawn Askin was very light on a guard and Cathy O came light on an essential come around.

But JJ took matter into her own hands, making a hit and roll on her first one and then letting fly with a delicate chip ’n flop attempt on her last one, and exceedingly difficult shot with a razor-thin margin of error.

As Jill Officer said, the skipper missed it “by millimetres.”

In the 10th end , with the ice straightening out, Jones’ long guard effort couldn’t be stuffed behind, and she was a tad heavy too, and Anette Norberg of Sweden followed her down for the freeze, and the win.

Great effort, and the first time in a long while – possibly ever? – that a 9-2 record only got you into the Page 3/4 game.

With a two-time world champ and defending Olympic champion as your fourth-place opponent.

Hey now.

Nice event going on here in Gangneung.

Nice WCF pic by Lee Young Gyu, taken as the skipper realized her fate in the fateful ninth end. Click to expand photo size.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sexiest curlers poll


We probably shouldn’t do this.

But we’re going to do it anyway.

A blog titled Euro Women is running a poll to decide the Sexiest Woman of the 2009 World Curling Championship.

There have only been 12 votes cast over the duration of the poll... which has only a couple of days left online.

The contestants (as chosen by the blogsite) are:

Jennifer Jones (Canada)
Madeleine Dupont (Denmark)
Camilla Jensen (Denmark)
Eve Muirhead (Scotland)
Jackie Lockhart (Scotland)
Eva Lund (Sweden)
Debbie McCormick (USA)
Allison Pottinger (USA)
Marianne Roervik (Norway)
Liudmila Privivkova (Russia)
Melanie Robillard (Germany)
Ekaterina Galkina (Russia)
Carmen Schaefer (Switzerland)

Although we are admittedly contributing to the sexploitation of some truly skilled curling athletes, we look in the mirror and realize that, well, we could be accused of doing so already.

And so.

And so again, quite a while ago now.

Thus keeping with our mandate – to show you just about everything that is out there in the world of curling – we present the blog page... and with it your chance to vote.

PHOTO: Denmark’s Camilla Jensen (left) and Madeleine Dupont in Page playoff action Friday night in Gangneung

Boat on the Hill

GANGNEUNG, Korea – Have you heard about the boat on the hill?

Yep, the Sun Cruise Hotel is one of the host hotels here at the Mount Titlis Women’s World Championship 2009, and apart from some iffy wine choices, the place is utterly spectacular.

True, the concept of designing and building a landlocked cruise liner for a hotel seems a bit odd. But everything from the rooms (with heated floors) to the grounds – full of walking gardens and sculptures etc. – to the breathtaking views of the Sea of Japan is simply... well, breathtaking.

Hotel website located here.

On the ice, China’s Bingyu Wang just defeated Denmark’s Angelina Jensen in the 1 versus 2 playoff by a 6-3 score. The Chinese will appear in their second straight world final on Sunday.

Tomorrow it’s Canada versus Sweden in a battle of women’s curling titans, with the victor battling the Danes in the evening’s semifinal.

The World Curling Federation game summary should be posted shortly.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Colourful in Korea

GANGNEUNG – Okay. Just so you don’t think everything about this curling championship is silly... check out the stunning entrance to the arena.

Daily shows like this.

Massive, colourful banners.

There are flags and banners everywhere across the city. And we mean everywhere.

Looks fantastic. Click to view increased image size.

Canadian curling events should take note.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mercer Curling tonight

Tonight is the season finale of Rick Mercer Report, and in said finale, the Canadian funnyman goes wheelchair curling.

Of course, as a faithful reader of The Curling News Blog, you already knew this. And you knew this many times over. And et cetera and so on ...

In the Dallas Bittle photo above, we see that Mercer did actually get a stone in motion. Tune in tonight at 8:00pm (on CBC) to see the results.

Korean Silly Curling

GANGNEUNG, KOREA – Yes, we are here. We have been here for a while. But we have been very busy.

So our first post is just plain silly. Silly as in the “Silly Walks” sketch by the legendary Monty Python comedy group.

You see, the Koreans played a rather unusual tune for the athletes as they marched out onto the ice last night. It was the Monty Python theme song!

Canada coach Janet Arnott seemed quote shocked to see a Silly Walk taking place on the carpet before her. Click on the image to zoom in.

The next time we hear that theme, we’re going Gumby.

Yes. Things are a bit weird here in Korea.

Just the way we like it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rick Mercer Curling V

VANCOUVER – Okay. Canadian TV star Rick Mercer is in his chair, and attacking the poor, innocent curling stone like he’s a sledge hockey player digging the puck out of the corner.

This is to the obvious amusement of Jim Armstrong (right) and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell (left).

All that’s left is to show you is... Mercer’s historic first delivery.

Which we’re not going to do. Not right now, anyway.

You’ll just have to wait. Perhaps until next month, when the final episode of Rick Mercer Report airs in Canada.

For context on what this is about, see the first post in this series.

TCN photo by Dallas Bittle. Click on image to increase size.

Rick Mercer Curling IV

VANCOUVER – Canadian TV star Rick Mercer is safely in his wheelchair, armed with a throwing stick, and he’s finally ready for action.

However, it may or may not be fact that B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is trash-talking the Maritimer. Mercer looks somewhat unamused at the taunting and yet amused at Campbell’s gall.

You’re going to beat my ass? We’ll see about that, Gordo.

Of course, we could be wrong. Campbell may have some wheelchair curling prowess, and he might be passing along some pointers.

You’re giving me advice? We’ll see about that, Gordo.

Or perhaps Campbell is advising Mercer on a possible run for Prime Minister?

Who knows?

For context on what this is about, see the first post in this series.

TCN photo by Dallas Bittle. Click on image to increase size.

Rick Mercer Curling III

VANCOUVER – Canadian TV political comic Rick Mercer finally sat in his wheelchair... and promptly near-tipped it over.

As Mercer braces himself on everyone else’s chairs, 2009 world champion wheelchair curling skip Jim Armstrong gives the funnyman some pointers.

Team Canada third Darryl Neighbour and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell look on.

For context on what this is about, see the first post in this series.

TCN photo by Dallas Bittle. Click image to increase size.

Rick Mercer Curling II

VANCOUVER – Rick Mercer admires B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s chest full of medals, each of which may or may not be made out of chocolate. This is still pre-game kibbitzing. Cameraman is at right.

For context on what this is about, see the first post in this series.

TCN photo by Dallas Bittle. Click image to increase size.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rick Mercer Curling

VANCOUVER – Something wacky and wonderful happened at the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Centre this morning. And The Curling News was there.

Everything was supposed to have been torn away following the last shot of the 2009 World Junior Curling Championship. The media tribune, offices, pipe and drape, signage etc.

And it was all gone, except for the field of play. The blue carpeting stood out with vibrant colour, the ice glittered under the lights, and there was even a set of rocks set up on sheet C.

VANOC extended the complete tear-down of the facility by a day, so that a group of celebs could gather and film a segment of the popular CBC comedy show Rick Mercer Report.

Canadian comedian Rick Mercer was there. So was British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. And so was the back end of Canada’s 2009 world champion wheelchair curling team, Jim Armstrong and Darryl Neighbour.

Apparently, Mercer is in town filming various paralympic sport segments. Today was wheelchair curling. Other days will feature sledge hockey, skiing and more.

This is for the final show of the season, to air in April. Ironically, the opening episode of the Mercer Report’s 2008-09 season featured Paralympic sports – the summer disciplines, which featured in Beijing.

This from the funnyman who already had his staff produce an amusing mock-commercial in an earlier episode this season, entitled Full Contact Curling.

Anyway, The Curling News was there to give an exclusive preview of the raw material being filmed for the show.

In the photo above, lensed by Dallas Bittle, we have a bunch of odd pre-shoot things going on.

The guy on the far left is expressing something with his hands, but no one is paying attention.

The Premier (medals on his chest) is looking at, well, nothing.

Mercer (far right in the Canada top) is looking at Neighbour, and the guy he’s supposed to be talking to (hoody under his jacket) is aware that something is going on behind him.

Finally, Neighbour is looking down and is seemingly unaware that his skipper, Armstrong, is giving him THE EVIL YET INCREDULOUS GLARE!

Wow. What a start to a funny film shoot! Click on the image to zoom in somewhat.

More photos – four more, in fact – will follow shortly. Stay tuned, folks!

Brier: Crazy French Guys


So CurlingZone Brier Blogmeistress Stina did a fine job of taking pictures of visiting international athletes faster than our Brier Bloggals.

Muddy and the Otts are two examples.

But she missed our French friends, led by skip Thomas Dufour (right, with Richard Ducroz) who went from Vancouver to Calgary and then, presumably, back to their training camp in Trois Rivieres in the lead-up to Moncton.

Last year the lads spent two entire months training in Toronto – going home for a handful of days to win the French championship before returning – which we covered in the March 2008 issue of The Curling News.

In Cowtown, these wacky guys found themselves in some kind of locker room, and proceeded to test out some kind of loony oversized curling props.

Trop de bière?

Brier: Blog Babes say Buh-Bye

by Margo Weber and Dalene Heck

[Margo says:]


When my old friend gk contacted me to see if I’d be interested in blogging it up at the Brier, I was, like, ‘Hells Yeah!’

A whole week at the Saddledome goofing around and showering the curling world with my crazy opinions?!

Alas, reality hits. I have a couple of young ones at home and this was not possible. Enter my good friend Dalene Heck who has been nothing short of fantastic. Definitely the Brier Media Rookie of the Year! I’ll never forget Crotch Cam, Stalkergate or the crazy games we played with our new media friends.

I have managed to go to a few games, hit the Patch in style (Oh my GAWD) and send in a post now and then. I’ve met people from across the country, reconnected with old friends, ate too many chicken fingers and had way too much to drink.

gk, hope we didn’t trash up your site too much. You kinda asked for it. xoxo

[Dalene says:]

Peace. Out!

And there you have it. Despite a final substitution when Jeff Stoughton ousted Glenn Howard in Saturday’s semi-final, the 2009 Tim Hortons Brier ended as many suspected it would – with a dominating win by Alberta’s Kevin Martin. What a thrill to be at the Saddledome and watch Martin’s foursome earn their second consecutive Brier, and in front of an excited hometown crowd!

A few weeks ago, if you would have asked me what I’d be doing the week of the Brier, I would have said that I'd be catching most of the games on TV while lounging in my giant-baby-one-piece-footed-pink-camouflage-fleece-pajamas. I never would have expected to meet so many great people (including a new BFF!), take so many pictures of crotches, become a stalker, become a stalkee, do an interview in the CBC Radio studios or help pick the All-Star team.

It’s been an incredibly fun week, that ended with a weekend of exciting curling moments. While I am sad to see it all come to an end, there are many things that I am looking forward to: sleep, spending time with hubby and the kitties, detoxification, sleep, reintroducing vegetables to my diet as a replacement for pocket dawgs, sleep, catching up on all my recorded TV shows, getting back on the treadmill, and sssssllllleeeeeppppp!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this experience what it was, especially my hawt partner in crime, Margo Weber! And to our hubbies for putting up with it all (XOXO).

Denmark curling history

VANCOUVER – The unprecedented continued at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic curling venue as Denmark’s men, skipped by Rasmus Stjerne (far left in photo) overturned a previous playoff thrashing from Canada to deliver a smackdown of their own to the hosts in the gold medal match.

This gives Denmark its first world title in men’s play – ever. And that includes adult men’s competition, too.

The WCF writeup also tells the story of Stjerne’s victory drawing... no, not the one on the ice, but the one with pen and paper. Check it out.

Here are the history makers. WCF photo by Andrew Klaver.

Lyndon Little has the view from Canada here, and they’re already celebrating the women’s gold in Scotland ...

Brier: I say Johnny, you say Mo

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – I say Johnny, you say Mo!





What a crowd!

Given the complete blowout that was the final game, I’m happy to say that I stuck it out and watched Alberta’s Kevin Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert get to enjoy their historic Brier victory with such amazing hometown support.

And let's give a big Hells Yeah to Jeff Stoughton and his Manitoba foursome for the class act that they were in that final game. Jeff’s token spin-o-rama gave the fans one more chance to stand on their feet and salute their tremendous efforts at the end of this week.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brier: Sorry, Jeff

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – Game time, and time for my final pre-game blogpost of the 2009 Tim Hortons Brier.

Jim Brown of the Calgary Eyeopener asked me on Friday morning if I thought it was possible for any team to knock Alberta off of their record setting performance. At the time, even when there were still four other exceptional teams in the mix, I confidently answered in the negative. Kevin + John + Marc + Benny = Unbelievably Unbeatable.

My tune has not changed. Martin has won his last six matchups against Stoughton, and that winning streak isn’t going to end here either.

Since my interview on Friday, Alberta squeaked out another one from Ontario, placing them directly in the final. While they only won the 1 vs 2 game by an inch on Kevin’s final draw, I truly believe that in today's final, they will find a way to again be on the right side of that inch. They will continue doing what they have done for the past 25 games – they will always find a way to win.

This is unfortunate for Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton, who has hit his stride in the last three games. After running the house on Quebec in the tiebreaker, Stoughton continued his own winning streak with wins over Newfoundland and then Ontario to place the Bisons in today’s final.

While these games were largely won on the strength of Stoughton’s red hot shooting (three missed semifinal draws aside!) he was also afforded many an opportunity by his opponents. Brad Gushue’s Newfoundland foursome took too long to get their heads in the game and Glenn Howard curled his worst game of the tournament.

These sorts of opportunities will not be loosely offered up by team Alberta, if at all. Where Stoughton and third Kevin Park have been streaky in their game performances, Alberta has been extremely consistent with nary a blemish to their record. If the Martin foursome let the Brier Tankard slip out of their hands due to a less than stellar performance, it will be nothing short of a catastrophic upset.

Jeff, thanks for making the playoffs exciting after a relatively dull week of curling. Sorry that you won’t be able to see it through.

Brier: KPark and KMart

by Margo Weber

CALGARY – Colour me completely surprised when I realized that Glenn Howard was not going to win that semifinal game. Who gets a four-ender in the Brier semifinal? Jeffy S – that’s who.

So now we have ex-teammies Kevin Martin and Kevin Park squaring off in the oddest final since G. Howard versus Jean-Michel Ménard in 2006.

This was not supposed to happen.

There will be a slashing today. The question is, how long will it take.

Manitoba will not leave empty handed tonight, however. The Olympic Trials (CTRS) qualifying points alone will majorly help Park and Manitoba skipper Jeff Stoughton in his bid to make the final eight in Edmonton this fall.

Maybe we should get our Pros Pick ’Em segment rolling again. Will anyone take odds on Manitoba?

I know what you’re thinking... how can she be so sure Kevin Martin is going to walk away Brier Champion again?

This is how I know.

Two words. Marc Kennedy.

Scottish curling history in Vancouver

VANCOUVER – Scotland’s Eve Muirhead and lead Sarah McIntyre (can’t forget the front-enders, right?) have made history here at the new Vancouver Olympic Centre by winning their third consecutive World Junior Championship in a very well-played, see-saw 8-6 win over Canada’s Kaitlyn Lawes.

Story here.

In the above World Curling Federation photo by Andrew Klaver, Canadian third Jenna Loder directs the line with Scotland’s Muirhead (right) and Anna Sloan in the background.

World Junior men’s final now underway: Canada’s smooth Brett Gallant and Denmark’s fiesty Rasmus Stjerne are battling in the fifth end, with the Danes stealing the fourth end for a 3-2 lead.

See the end of the WCF story for links to the live scoring, which creaked and groaned during the women’s final due to overwhelming demand...

Brier: TSN Tidbits

by Margo Weber

I’ve been watching the Tim Hortons Brier on television, with the idea that I would do a list called the “Top 10 Best Things Said on TSN”.

I didn’t realize how hard this would be and have come up with only five.

Alternatively I have found plenty of cheese from our friends Vic, Ray and Linda. Groan. And some bonus stuff at the end.

Here you go.

Five BEST Things Said on TSN

5. “I don’t have a plan. I’m the second.”
(Ontario’s Brent Laing to Richard Hart during the 1-2 game when asked “What’s your plan?”)

4. “The double?”
(Quebec skip Jean-Michel Ménard pleads with Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton on his last rock during tie-breaker game. When Jeff just laughs, JM adds “The slash?” with a giggle)

3. “We could hit that, then that... but then See-You-Next-Tuesday.”
(Newfoundland lead Jamie Korab during their game against Ontario. For those of you that understand the reference, this is really funny)

2. “I’m just going to sit here and not speak anymore”
(Ray Turnbull)

And the number one thing said on TSN was actually from the Scotties, but hey, I can’t resist...

1. “Like Santa! All dressed up in red and white and giving out presents!”
(Vic Rauter, when Team Canada’s Jennifer Jones mistakenly tapped Quebec in for three in the semifinal.)

Five WORST Things Said on TSN

5. “It’s perfect that the firefighter would be throwing smoke!”
(Vic, when Alberta third John Morris played a double against Manitoba)

4. “Oooooeeee Koooooooeeeeeeeee!”
(Vic, When Territories skip Jamie Koe makes an outside double against Nova Scotia)

3. “The electrical contractor is trying to plug it up.”
(Linda Moore on Ontario’s Hart when he was throwing a guard)

2. “Some people are calling it the raise double-double.”
(Vic, talking about Glenn Howard’s SHOT. In reply, Linda offers “But he didn’t have to roll up the rim to win...”)

And now for our # 1. Oh Ray...

1. “Vic, I want to thank you for reminding me to set my clock ahead. But I didn’t know how to do it, so I put a sticky note on it that says ‘This clock is wrong.’ ”

And I can’t resist this added bonus, from Vic, which sums up the week:

“The weather outside is frightful, but the curling inside is sure to be delightful.”

AND this just in: The Sportscentre boys recently teased Victor with his very own “Top 10 Vic-isms” (greatest Top 10-Eh-Ver?) which go well and beyond curling. Click here and enjoy, because without Vic, “it’s like a sandwich without the tangy zip of the miracle whip.”

Brier: The Mexican, McLovin and Babyface

CALGARY – We couldn’t say it any better than YouTube’s jujames, who asks: “What the heck is the deal with this? The TSN announcers said nothing.”

Click here to view.

Brier: Stoughty shot/blogshots

Nice shaaaawwwt from Manitoba skip Jeff Stoughton yesterday in the Page 3-4 game versus Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue, as described here.

And now we present the TSN montage complete with explanatory arrows, above. Graphic by Anil Mungal.

Compare with Glenn Howard’s shot earlier this week, located here.

Of course, you can also compare in real video, with Howard’s shot here and Stoughton’s here.

Fun fact: did you know that Stoughton is the author of a Brier blog on the CBC website?

Um, not in Calgary, but last year in Winnipeg. It includes headers like “The good, the bad, the ugly and the OK” and even the word “debacle” to explain last year’s disappointing finale.

Speaking of disappointing finales, many will be sad to miss the third installment of Alberta versus Ontario. But for Manitoba fans, a big day from their diminutive skip – and their, er, Alberta import – could give them one heckuva year to cheer, following Canadian titles from Kaitlyn Lawes in the Juniors (world finale underway this morning) and Jennifer Jones at the Scotties.

But be warned, Bison fans. Stoughton is no longer taking on The Bear. The Alberta skip has now morphed into... The Gorilla ...

Brier: Media scrumming

CALGARY – In this Facebook photo snapped by New Brunswick fan Rebecca Tremblay, we can see the Brier media scrum which followed the epic Glenn Howard versus Russ Howard (and Steve Howard) battle on Tuesday. Click to zoom in (a little).

A gaggle of major curling poobahs are indicated by number. Plus the key on-ice protagonists.

At number eight is the shoo-in for Brier Media Rookie of The Year – if they had such an award – Dalene Heck of The Curling News.

Brier Patch IV: Keep your pants on, friend

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – More Patch pics tomorrow, but for now, another from last night... which feels like last week already.

Oh Dougie! Your hard work and determination to get onto this blog did not go unnoticed. Nice to see that you took “Argyle Friday” to a whole new level ...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

World Junior Curling

VANCOUVER – Yes, The Curling News is here, too. But of course.

It’s World Juniors semifinal night, starting up at about the sixth end of tonight’s Brier semifinal, and Canada is involved in one of the matchups.

Kaitlyn Lawes of Winnipeg, last year’s 2008 world bronze medallist, will take on Martina Baumann of Switzerland with the winner meeting two-time defending champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland in Sunday’s final (9:00am Pacific time).

Tonight’s men’s semifinal features Denmark’s Rasmus Stjerne taking on the defending world junior men’s champion, Chris Plys of the United States. And faithful bog readers will recall that Plys is, of course, a Dude.

Canada’s Brett Gallant awaits the winner in tomorrow’s men’s final (1:00pm Pacific time). Gallant smucked Denmark in this afternoon’s page 1-2 game by stealing six in the sixth end. Eurp.

You can see a great “mad face” photo of Gallant at this WCF story page. The WCF photo above, shot by Yadranka, is a little less psycho-looking.

The WCF – the Fed – have been here all week, as they were the previous week for the World Wheelchairs. Backtrack through their site for all the stories of the past two weeks.

Swedish skip OskarThe ProfessorEriksson, last year’s men’s silver medallist, still has a crack at bronze, as does Russia’s Margarita Fomina on the women’s side.

It’s been an awesome tournament, here at the official Olympic and Paralympic curling venue at next year’s Games. And yet another world championship wraps up tomorrow... to be replaced by faraway Gangneung, Korea ...

Brier Patch III: Argyle Turtles

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – If you didn’t get to see my group of argyle friends in the crowd last night, then you may have heard them rocking some tunes with their turtle whistle necklaces.

They call themselves “The Argyle Turtle Band” and were the opening act for Streetheart. At least, that’s their version of last night’s events ...

Brier: is this the best ever?

Question: could this Brier be on its way to becoming, possibly, the greatest ever?

Some guys named Stoughton and Gushue just crashed the Martin-Howard VIP access-only lounge with a scintillating display of playoff curling (CCA photo by Michael Burns).

High drama came down to a stunning conclusion when Jeff Stoughton, staring down a determined Newfoundland comeback attempt (a deuce in the seventh and then double steals in eight and nine) called and made a wild angle-raise double for two and stuck it for the win... which went to a measurement.

In a reversal of the 2005 Olympic Trials final, in which the Stoughton squad started shaking hands with the Gushues while awaiting for the golden measurement – which confirmed Gushue’s Olympic history-to-be at Turin 2006 – this time it was the Newfoundlanders who offered their hands to the Bisons, while awaiting the results of the measurement.

The Manitobans fired 86 per cent as a team compared to Newfoundland’s 83. Stoughton sizzled at 91 per cent – no doubt earning the famous five-out-of-four bonus on his last throw – while Gushue sizzled only slightly less, at 88 per cent.

The ’Tobans went completely crazy after The Shot (II) was made.

Manitoba now moves on to battle Ontario in tonight’s semifinal.

Hoo-boy! Wotta Brier!

Here’s how the live CurlingZone chat module described the action. Can anyone guess which chatter:

a) entered the chatroom just seconds after The Shot (II)?
b) is not in Calgary?
b) is also missing the TV coverage?

[CurlingZone Chat]: Posada has entered at 1:28 pm
[t42] 1:29 pm: They don’t believe it
[t42] 1:29 pm: they are stunned
[Donr] 1:29 pm: measure for win???
[t42] 1:29 pm: Jeff’s face
[Jetboots] 1:29 pm: woo
[t42] 1:29 pm: omg
[Posada] 1:29 pm: What's happening!!!!! Just got here Aiighhh
[t42] 1:29 pm: its mb
[t42] 1:29 pm: but NL would be stupid not to measure
[Donr] 1:29 pm: we hope lol
[Jetboots] 1:29 pm: nice shot
[Posada] 1:29 pm: WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT
[CurlingZone Chat]: hack scruber has entered at 1:29 pm
[Jetboots] 1:30 pm: not over yet
[t42] 1:30 pm: oh my -
[Posada] 1:30 pm: JB - TALK TO ME!!!
[t42] 1:30 pm: shaking hands before measure
[Jetboots] 1:30 pm: yellow
[Donr] 1:30 pm: newfies know
[t42] 1:30 pm: MB take 2 and the game with a long angle double raise take out stick
[Donr] 1:30 pm: wow
[t42] 1:30 pm: yess
[t42] 1:30 pm: That is drama
[Donr] 1:31 pm: was worth the prcie of tsn lol
[sandym] 1:31 pm: helluva shot
[t42] 1:31 pm: Jeff was sick to stomach there from the look on his face - not sure he believed he had done it
[Posada] 1:32 pm: Holy crap
[t42] 1:31 pm: they didn’t sweep it all the way down did they
[t42] 1:31 pm: had to do it on its own
[Donr] 1:31 pm: mb in tough tonight
[Donr] 1:32 pm: might require some more praying to the curling gods
[Posada] 1:33 pm: WHY AM I NOT THERE AIIGGHHARRGH *smash* *bang* *crash* YEEARRGHHHH

Brier Patch II: Stalker confrontation

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – To my pleasant surprise, all-star hottie third James Grattan (left) did not run for the hills when he learned who I was. He was aware of his “hottie” status thanks to skip Russ Howard, who actually showed him this blog!

James even offered to keep the Crotch Cam alive by promising to send other pictures, for apparently team New Brunswick has more stylin’ belt buckles in their arsenal.

And yes, that’s me in the middle. Pleased to meet ’cha!

Brier Patch I: Wild autographs

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – If you are a regular patcher, then it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that this is only one of a few pictures I have of some wild autograph sessions.

Click to zoom in. How many sigs do you recognize?

The question is, will she ever wash her chest again?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Brier: Patching it up

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – In 2004, the following words and definitions were added to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary:

“Double-Double” - a coffee with double cream and double sugar added
“Hurry” - the curling term meaning “sweep”

I have a new challenge. If the intent of the Canadian dictionary is to accurately include staples of Canadian culture, then there currently is a glaring omission that needs to be corrected.

The dictionary includes a few definitions of the verb “patch” or “patching”, most of them having to do with repairing or mending. Applied to curling, these existing definitions would suffice to describe what most people need the morning after a good night out at the Keith’s Brier Patch at the Tim Hortons Brier.

Headaches being repaired with a bottle of Tylenol. Relationships being mended with a quick conversation: “You know I was really loaded when I said that about you last night, right? I’m sorry...”

However, the current definition obviously needs to be expanded to include the actual art of enjoying the Keith’s Brier Patch itself. The art of heading to the biggest party in Canada with 3,000 or so of your closest friends and enjoying a few cold Keith’s with your favourite curlers while being entertained by some of Canada’s best musical acts.

Some examples of the use of the word “patch” in this form are:

“Are you going patching tonight?”

“Sorry, I patched it up too good last night. Going to have to take a night off so that I can continue to patch the rest of the weekend.”

Assuming I will have to submit an official definition for consideration, I have started to make some drafts:

v. patch, patch-ing, patched

1. To partake in the extra-curricular activities offered at the Canadian Men’s Curling Championship, as sponsored by Mr. Alexander Keith at the Brier Patch.

2. To consume ridiculous amounts of alcohol and stalk favourite curlers for autographs, pictures, or to offer strategies for future games.

3. To rush the stage for Streetheart.

Perhaps #3 isn’t quite appropriate, but it is what I personally plan on doing while I “patch” it up tonight. Those boys? I’m Under Their Thumb (2:20 into the video, and it’s awesome).

For a lot of curling fans, the Brier Patch is as important to the tournament as the actual competition. Thus, I will endeavour to find out how to correct this gross oversight in the authority of our Canadian language. And until I make the official submission for review, I will continue to do as much research as possible to ensure I get the definition right. This will be a tough sacrifice, but somebody has to do it.

See you tonight...?

Brier: remove Saskatch, insert Quebec

by Margo Weber

CALGARY – At the beginning of the week, I made a prediction that Newfoundland, Manitoba and Saskatchewan would play off for the right to meet Ontario and Alberta in the playoffs.

But Quebec’s late round robin surge has more than made up for the disappointing showing by the Saskatchewan team skipped by Joel Jordison (CCA photo by Michael Burns).

Jean-Michel Ménard and crew have rattled off five wins in a row, including a biggie over Ontario’s Glenn Howard.

Menard is a previous Brier champion but hey – so was everyone else. Now he plays Jeff Stoughton’s Manitoba team in a tiebreaker this afternoon.

START, stupid game! I’m going through withdrawl! Ah, perhaps I can get something outside of curling accomplished this morning. BTW, my husband is looking forward to having me back next week.

This from today’s Calgary Sun:

Saskatchewan coach Ron Meyers and fifth man Rod Montgomery showed up for last night’s game against Newfoundland/Labrador wearing paper bags over their heads.

Other than Sask (otherwise known as Saskatch) have there been any other surprises at this year’s Tim Horton’s Brier?... I mean other than the fact that I apparently can consume three drinks at once?... Yawnsies...

However, I will be watching the TSN telecast this afternoon while my two- year-old chants “Manitoba!”. NO idea why he’s doing that. I need to start brainwashing him to chant “Let’s Go Grey Slacks!” or at least “Let’s Go White Belts!”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Brier: There Is Beer

[Editor’s Note: Superstar TCN Blogger Dalene Heck will appear on CBC Radio’s Calgary Eyeopener with host Jim Brown at approximately 6:22 am local time tomorrow, Friday March 13. Dalene will talk about the Tim Hortons Brier, set up the playoff picture and possibly describe her Keith’s Patch adventures from the previous evening. Hoo-wah. Tune in to 99.1 FM, 1010 AM or via the internet from anywhere ... ]

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – Thursday night at the Brier. A weird buzz overall. Craziness. Last-minute wrestling for a playoff spot. Standing ovations from the crowd (CCA photo by Michael Burns) to those who are headed home. It’s electric.

And, of course, there is beer.

Every day, the event daily Tankard Times churns out profiles on different players. I can’t help but question whether some of the players allow their friends to complete their forms for fun, or perhaps they have ingested a few wobbly pops before putting pen to paper?

Here are a few that have gotten me wondering…

• Nova Scotia third Bruce Lohnes’ nickname is apparently Juicy Brucey. I’m not sure I’d be advertising that little fun fact myself.

• New Brunswick third James Grattan described himself as “sexy”. While I can’t disagree with him (Hello? All star HOT third!) I never pegged him as the narcissistic type.

• The British Columbia team obviously had fun with their profiles. Skip Sean Geall’s profile stated that he loves curling because “there is beer”. Second Kevin Reckseidler described himself as “classy, gassy and sassy”, while lead Mark Olson is “huggable and kissable”. However, third Brent Pierce apparently wasn’t a part of this game as his profile is lacking some pizzazz!

• When asked why he loves curling, Jamie Koe of The Territories responded with: “Two words, The Patch”. I have to say that I believe my good friend JK completed his profile with all honesty. That is the JK we know and love.

PS: This will officially be my last mention of James Grattan. I can smell the restraining order…

Brier: The Autobot

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – Okay, blogreaders. By popular demand, your pleas have been heard.

And we can add Newfoundland’s Mark Nichols to the official list of people that are probably creeped out by me!

I am told by my good friend’s four-year-old that this belt buckle is “Autobot” of Transformers fame.

PS: It is scary how good I am getting with the Crotch Cam... this picture was my first shot of the day. Curlers beware....

Brier: All-Star voting? Moi?

by Margo Weber

CALGARY – We have a SAY in this stuff?

I learned yesterday that fellow blogger Dalene Heck and I actually have a SAY in who will be on the Brier All-Star team.

Yep. The real one. Not the All-Star Hottie Team. Not the Sense of Ha-Ha Team. Not even the Best Belt Buckle Team. But indeed the real ‘You Can Curl and Should Be Awarded for it’ Team.

You see, the media get to vote on the All Stars. And, can you believe it, we are the media. Ha! Take that, players! Instead of the hardworking people out on the ice voting for their peers, we – the media – get to once again pass our judgement on the curling world. Yay for us!

We need to have our votes in by tonight and I’m super stoked.

I hope that there is no repeat of the Scotties fiasco, where the first and second All-Star teams were actually announced backwards. Both in the presentation at the arena, and for TV, The BC back end of Marla Mallett and Grace MacInnes were shown as first team All-Stars instead of second team. I was like WHAT!? Anyways, total error. Phew!

So, how is it possible that this is how the All-Stars are chosen? Someone enlighten me. Is this some sort of reward for the reporters, a slap on the back, if you will, for a job well done as we clog our arteries with arena food and spend way too much time away from our families? Either way... I’ll take it. I feel like kind-of a VIP. Ha!

Whatever the reason is, I plan not to waste my opportunity to help reward the entertainers we have been watching all week. I will review relevant information. Haircuts will not be used. Belt buckles will be unimportant.

I will use stats. I will pay more attention. Sweeping, judging, line calling, timely shotmaking and perceived team chemistry contribution may enter the picture. In the end, the guys with the best plus/minus will likely get my vote.

I vow to at no time use my hottie team as a reference. I vow to not drink and vote. And I vow to avoid the beloved media bench after posting this article. Except for you, Al Cameron. I will binocular you from my other seats, as per usual.

Wish me luck.

Editor’s Note: Following Margo’s nice words toward Al Cameron, we have joyfully lifted this photo from the Calgary Herald Brier webpages, located here. And a sweet photo it is, from shooter Dean Bicknell.

Brier: Picking to win, Day 6

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – Can you smell what the Rockies are cooking?

Oatmeal, that’s what’s cooking. Plain, boring, blah oatmeal. Which pretty much describes the curling that has gone on at the Saddledome through Draw 14.

Thank goodness for Glenn Howard and The Shot (and Russ Howard and The Swing), or there would be very little to be excited about thus far. Let's take another look at some event statistic to tell the story:

• The average points between winners and losers is still hovering around four.

• How about this for another stat: out of 54 total games, only eight have come down to last rock, and only one of those has gone an extra end.

I have high hopes for today, the final draw of the round robin. A lot of these games mean a lot of things to a lot of players battling it out for the playoffs.

While no one has seemed to be able to even test the dominance of Team Alberta (their average points over their opponents is almost five), at least we have seen some weakness in the armor of Ontario, via Quebec’s win yesterday along with close calls against Saskatchewan and the Territories.

No matter for Ontario as far as standings go – they are safe in their quest for the playoffs – but it gives a glimmer of hope to fans who are rooting for a little more drama in their Brier.

No one likes to be able to guess the ending of a movie when they are only three quarters of the way through!

And how do our Pros figure that the round robin will finish off? Click the graphic above to find out!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brier fashion

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – “It’s a curling game, not a fashion show,” says Mom.

I heard this a few times growing up. And she was right at the time – I mean, did it really matter if my hair scrunchy matched my curling jacket?

However, with the full exposure and the dozens of hours of TV time that the Brier gets, it is understandable that some of the boys are paying attention to what they are wearing on the ice… and, dare I say, even accessorizing!

I could write pages about fashion misses over the years. Dare I bring up Fred Maxie and his headband, circa 1994? Or what about the decades worth of national championships where Manitoba teams were required to wear the worst possible shade of brown from head to toe?

I’ll let the past be. This year’s Brier fashion has it’s own share of hits and misses to comment on…

• The time for the white belts has passed. Sorry Ontario – you made big waves a couple of years ago by breaking the standard and wearing white belts, kudos to you for that. However, you’ve pushed that fashion statement for long enough (photo above of Craig Savill). Please put those back in the closet after this week. Oh yeah, and toss the white shoes that you wore to the opening banquet in there with them.

• The time for jazzy belt buckles is here! Quebec and New Brunswick are leading the way with provincial flag (and superhero!) tributes.

• Fellas, please. You are going to be on national TV. Would it have killed you to get a haircut before getting on the plane to Calgary? You know who you are.

• Oh, Jamie Korab. When some of my friends knew I was going to be writing about fashion, they immediately attacked your hair. I jumped to your defense. While your current hairstyle isn’t entirely my thing, I understand you wanting to showcase your inner Kanye, and I’m okay with that. At least it’s actually a style that is current!

• The CCA and/or Mondetta must take a “hit” as well. I’m glad I was sitting at ice level for the New Brunswick versus Manitoba game otherwise I would have had no idea who was who. White letters on yellow shirts versus yellow letters on white shirts. Brilliant.

I should note that I am writing this post while relaxing on my couch in my giant-baby-one-piece-footed-pink-camouflage-fleece-pajamas. Now THAT is fashion, baby!

More athlete scrutiny: ice marks

TORONTO (Not Calgary Again) – More whispers abound, this time that the CCA is looking closely at what curling countries are doing about the new World Curling Federation rule regarding athlete “damage” to the ice surface.

The rule came out in the fall – highlighting a three-step disciplinary process for said damage – and Scotland, for one, jumped on it immediately.

That’s right, folks. The final step in the process is heavy: player expulsion from the game!

There are also reports that the CCA has quietly spoken to certain athletes (and they have been doing so throughout the season) about their own chances – or likelihood, barring changes to personal tendencies – of being nabbed in this web.

It’s a web which gets spun very seriously a little over a week from now in Gangneung, Korea at the Mount Titlis World Women’s Championship and then next month at the 50th anniversary Ford World Men’s in Moncton.

The above funny photo (by Anil Mungal, of course, courtesy of Capital One) is from the fall Tour season, and is light in tone.

But John Morris took some serious flak at last year’s Brier – and the one before that – regarding knee and hand prints on the ice and to be perfectly fair, he “didn’t do anything different than (he’d) been doing all year.”

Check out some of the players in Calgary after they’ve released their stones, or as they sweep, particularly with dual grippers on their shoes.

As the worlds draw closer, have you noticed any differences?

Brier: $1,000 fines

TORONTO (Yes, Not Calgary) – Yesterday, Margo Weber pointed out the Dalene Heck scoop on Russ Howard The Broom-Bashing Maniac.

And the TCN Blog has another scoop for you today.

To preface, we point you once again to the Al Cameron story on the Russbash, and his reveal that a very naughty Brad Gushue will be paying a $150 fine – to the Sandra Schmirler Foundation – for saying bad things in his horrific loss to Ontario.

Brad actually said “Hit the guard, Gawddurnit” after third Mark Nichols gassed his peel, which was the third Newfie gakk of the 10th end.

We also direct you to this piece by the Canadian Press, which points out that bad boy Jeff Stoughton got an initial $1,000 fine back in the 2006 Brier – for accumulating offenses – which was eventually whittled down to some $250 or so.

Sorry, media boys. Your chump change amounts of athlete cash payments no longer register. Here’s our reveal.

The Canadian Curling Association is not fooling around. These boys, one and all, were read the riot act prior to the tournament and long before Russ could wind up for his tomahawk, BOOM! BANG! Both Gushue and Stoughton were fined $1,000, just like that.

Goosh was fined for the previously mentioned “Gawddurnit” and, while we haven’t yet heard what Stoughton’s offense was... suffice to say that sometimes Stoughton is just, well, Stoughton.

Russ may have received his notice already, or it might be coming today, but chances are he will get smacked. We shall see if the zebras take it easy on the living legend.

For you Saddledome observers: if you think you’ve spotted a chargeable offense, keep your eyes peeled to the carpet after the matches, where the officials gather. This is apparently when the notes are compared, and decisions are made.

For you TSN observers: sorry, you are S.O.L.

The CCA doesn’t release this info and has no intention of releasing this info. Unless, of course, this blogpost provokes some action on that front.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Media Benchers!



UPDATE: There is flak coming back about the fines, with some Bench Boys insisting that official word on the fines is indeed similar to past years – $250 or so.

We like our sources, but the investigation continues ...

Brier: Picking to win, Day 5

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – Good morning, Brier peeps.

Here are the picks for Day 5!

Can Cheryl Bernard build on her lead and add the “Pro of Pros” title to her resume?

Can Manitoba beat Alberta today? A couple of our pros say they can. Click to zoom in ...

Brier: Day Five Update

by Margo Weber

CALGARY – Here are my thoughts – ’cause I do have thoughts – about where we are after Draw 11:

• Alberta (7-0) – These guys are good. In fact, second Marc Kennedy is so good that John Morris and Ben Hebert don’t even bother cleaning his standard peels. They feign interest until about halfway down the sheet, then save their energy. They still have a couple of tough games left, but we may see them go undefeated in the round robin once again.

• Ontario (7-0) – Still excited about The Shot... although I totally called it. I’m such a good curler from my couch! Glenn Howard and Richard Hart have the highest stat percentage and that will make them pretty tough to beat. Brent Laing and Craig Savill made our All-Star Hottie team, so their week is already made. (Big picture here: they are World Junior Champs, World Men’s Champs, Dalene and Margo’s hot list. All that is left is the Olympics.)

• Newfoundland/Labrador (5-2) – Looking good to make playoffs. Found myself cheering “Let’s Go Grey Slacks!” in the stands today.

• Manitoba (4-3) – Flying under the radar. Bad Howard Tuesday. Can definitely afford another loss if they need it, but will have to pick up the pace come playoff time. And hey. Is it just me, or does KPark in a ’Toba jacket (CCA photo by Michael Burns, above) still look weird?

• New Brunswick (4-3) – Loved the broom-bashing on Tuesday. Loved how Dalene scooped the entire media bench on it, and loved seeing Al Cameron, full of bitterness and clouded by vengeance, rush to produce a lengthy story. Not sure why we all think it’s hilarious when Russ Howard snaps a broom, but when Johnny Mo does it in Hamilton, it’s a crime. Either way – awesome. Will we see more emotion when Russ plays against his old Olympic teammies on Wednesday?

• British Columbia (3-4) – Need to win every game. Skipper Sean Geall has had to make some tough shots. Not bad for a first Brier.

• Quebec (3-4) – I’ve been taking some serious jabs from my girlfriends about my all star hottie skip Jean-Michel Ménard. He needs to kick it up a notch – and fast.

• NWT/Yukon (2-5) – Play like they did Tuesday night we might see a few more wins out of these guys. Either way they will enjoy the festivities in the Big Four (or the locker room before they hit the Big Four). Think it’s cold here? It’s -30° Celsius back in Yellowknife.

• Nova Scotia (2-5) – No fire has been lit under Mark Dacey. Seems kinda ho-hum. Perhaps he should have kept the grey slacks he wore at his provincial. Whatever, it’s just the Brier. Have a nice flight home.

• PEI (2-5) – Hope you enjoyed your two wins – and the two ends where you were the TSN telecast game on Tuesday morning.

• Saskatchewan (2-5) – Wow, was I ever wrong about you guys. You can drive home.

• Northern Ontario (1-6) – Enjoy the Patch.

Brier: When in Cowtown...

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – When in Cowtown, bring your biggest, baddest belt buckle. Baby.

Toss the white belts, boys. The latest Brier trend is taking over.

P.S. Apologies to James Grattan (Superman), Steve Howard (Batman) and Quebec’s Martin Crete for being subjects of the “Crotch Cam”. No, that lady aiming the camera at your mid-region was not a crazy stalker. It was just me.

Well okay, maybe part of me was stalking James (aka Bobby DeNiro) just a little bit.