Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Calgary curling casting call

Remember this TV ad? Of course you do. Looks like it would be fun to film, right?

Well, today we can announce a new Calgary curling casting call. For Jennifer Jones... and for you!

Crowsnest Films of Calgary is shooting a series of short films for Bravo Television in advance of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Curlers are wanted, and needed, for a TV shoot taking place this coming Saturday, October 3, just a few kilometres outside of Calgary.

Interested people have to be prepared for a possible 8-10 hour day where they can watch the entire process, get fed, support Jennifer and be on camera as an essential part of the story!

They are looking for the following:

• 8 men (under 60, over 18)
• 8 women (under 60, over 18)
• 4 senior men (over 60)
• 4 senior women (over 60)

Vintage curling sweaters, plaid coats, team jackets circa 1950s thru 1970s would be appreciated. Old corn brooms would be a welcome accessory as would patches, pins or serious tams!

Interested parties can contact Jessica at 403-966-1027 and via email at Please indicate which category you would fit into and you will be contacted as to where and when you will be needed!

So what are you waiting for?

Howard in Toronto

Here’s Glenn Howard showing his stuff at Toronto’s Leaside Curling Club last night.

Howard and teammates Richard Hart and Brent Laing visited Leaside and then the Cricket club to promote next month’s Grey Power World Cup of Curling at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre, located just west of the Toronto airport.

At each club the lads met with members, signed autographs and participated in an interactive on-ice clinic.

Team Howard begins the World Cup with a Wednesday night (Oct. 21) matchup against Germany’s Andy Kapp, in a repeat of the 2007 Ford World Men’s Championship final.

Also in action on that opening draw is Kevin Martin, who faces Sweden’s Olympic hopeful Niklas Edin; 2006 Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue, who takes on 2006 Olympic bronze medallist John Shuster of the United States; Four-time world champ Randy Ferbey, who battles the Chinese men’s Olympic team; and Edmonton’s Kevin Koe, who takes on Thomas Dufour of France.

Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster or the Hershey Centre box office.

Toronto media seem to awakening, briefly, from their NHL hockey pre-season slumber. Both the Globe and Mail and Toronto Sun published advance stories about the World Cup today.

[LATEST: and another Howard-oriented piece from the Globe’s James Christie was released tonight]

The Howards are jetting to the left coast tonight, for the start of Thursday’s World Curling Tour stop in Vernon, B.C. Four of the Olympic women’s teams confirmed for Vancouver are also competing in the women’s division.

[The Curling News photo by Anil Mungal]

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Season of Champions TV

It’s no surprise that the Canadian Curling Association has made another leap into the digital world.

Season of Champions TV was announced today and premiers live, online, on Wednesday, October 7 at 7:00 pm MT/9:00 pm ET.

It’s the latest innovation by the CCA to use Internet technology to bring the curling community closer to its championship events and the competitors. The strategy includes the on-going development of the website, which underwent a dramatic facelift in July 2008, the website, with comprehensive information on all of the Season of Champions events, plus live scoring from each championship or event utilizing the CCA’s CurlCast program.

It all starts October 7 with a two-hour live webcast from Edmonton – home to December’s Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, aka the Olympic Curling Trials.

Edmonton media personalities Jim Jerome (a famous Patch host) and Jackie-Rae Greening (she of many Edmonton host committees) will host seven of the eight skips who have qualified for the Roar: namely Kevin Martin, Kevin Koe, Randy Ferbey, Jennifer Jones, Shannon Kleibrink, Cheryl Bernard and Stefanie Lawton.

Ontario’s Glenn Howard is unavailable due to work commitments.

The athletes will appear in a live forum, when curling fans will have the opportunity to submit questions online, by simply by logging on to the Season of Champions website. CCA is strongly recommended that fans pre-register their questions.

“The Canadian Curling Association continues to want to reach out to our fans and showcase our events the best way possible,” explained Greg Stremlaw, CEO of the Canadian Curling Association.

“We have made it a priority to not only embrace information technology as a very important tool within our business, but also to use it to help bring curling enthusiasts closer to the best curling events and athletes in Canada.”

Another innovation for the 2009-10 season will be the introduction of, a website dedicated to capturing all the fun and excitement of the infamous Keith’s Patch. This site, which will launch in early November, will feature entertainment information, Up Close and Personal interview sessions and everything else that makes Keith’s Patch the legendary party central for Season of Champions events.

Holland takes Schmirler; Oslo measure

Barely five months after being named Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Curing Association, Regina’s Amber Holland scored a big on-ice win at the Sandra Schmirler Charity Classic.

Holland beat out 2007 world champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna 6-3 in the finale, claiming she kept things “simple” during an 8-0 undefeated run.

As for the pic above... what’s that all about?

Sunday we told you of Oskar Eriksson’s upset victory at the Oslo Cup, and predicted a team blog update on Monday. Team Eriksson did not disappoint, and posted a huge dissertation of their playoff run along with a headline we suggested – perhaps they read The Curling News Blog?

The screen capture shows the very end of the game: a thrilling, last-stone measurement for the championship win. It could have gone either way, but hometown hero Thomas Ulsrud got another silver and the young guns came away with the big prize.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Canada's wheelchair curling team

Say hello to Bruno Yizek, the newest member of Team Canada.

That’s the Paralympic Team Canada, by the way. Alberta’s Yizek was named yesterday as the alternate on the wheelchair curling squad that will defend its Paralympic gold medal at Vancouver 2010 in March.

Canada’s main lineup is the same one which also captured its first world championship earlier this year at the Vancouver Paralympic Centre: skip Jim Armstrong, third Darryl Neighbour and the all-female front end of Ina Forrest and Sonja Gaudet.

Yizek beat out 2009 worlds alternate Chris Sobkowicz and former national team skip Gerry Austgarden for the spot.

For more on the latest curler to wear the Maple Leaf, click here.

[Ian Readey photo from Eric Eales’ Wheelchair Curling Blog]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jones, Gushue rolling early

This busy weekend of curling continues with Monday’s finals of the Sandra Schmirler Charity Classic in Regina.

Among the quarterfinalists are Calgary’s Heather Rankin (photo above) who takes on 2007 world champion Kelly Scott on Monday morning.

Our friend Pal Trulsen kept his time warp going all the way to the semifinals in Oslo, where he finally lost to heir apparent Thomas Ulsrud. In the final, Sweden’s youthful Oskar Eriksson – second and fourth at the last two world junior championships – upset Ulsrud for the men’s victory.

We’re expecting the Swedes to update their team blog sometime on Monday... probably with a headline like Vi vann! or perhaps Helige Gud! Vi slog dem alla!

The women’s crown went to Canada’s Jennifer Jones, who took out a variety of strong teams including defending Olympic champion Anette Norberg in the final. Both Oslo Cup finales ended in 5-4 scorelines.

Elsewhere in Canada, the big story is that Brad Gushue won his third tournament in a row, beating Ian Fitzner-Leblanc in the final of the Appleton Cashspiel in Halifax. The Gushues took out Canada’s 2009 world junior rep Brett Gallant in one semi, while Fitzner-Leblanc defeated 2004 Brier champ Mark Dacey in the other.

KW Fall Classic in Kitchener saw Toronto’s Julie Hastings defeat Stoney Creek’s Karen Bell 4-2 while Bradford’s Dale Matchett beat Jake Higgs of Harriston 8-7 to win the men’s crown.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time Warp Trulsen

It’s the early part of this weekend’s Tour action, but indications are that week three could prove to be quite... eventful.

First, France’s Thomas Dufour beats defending world champion David Murdoch and is now 3-0 in his pool at the Oslo Cup.

Second, the U.S. Olympic women’s team loses to 10-0 to Sherry Middaugh in opening draw action at the Sandra Schmirler Charity Curling Classic in Regina. In two ends. Take three, steal seven.

Finally, Norway’s Pal Trulsen (with Rocky Horror friends above) has reunited his now-retired 2002 Olympic champion squad for the Oslo Cup... and they are also undefeated at 3-0.

Wow. Talk about a Time Warp!

[Photoshop by Anil Mungal. Apologies from TCN.]

Dawson Creek gets Players' Championship

Dawson Creek in British Columbia has been awarded the hosting rights to the 2010 Grey Power Players’ Championship.

The season’s final Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event is scheduled for the EnCana Events Centre in Dawson Creek from April 13-18.

The Capital One Grand Slam of Curling, the World Curling Tour and iSport Media and Management also announced that Grande Prairie, Alberta has secured the hosting rights to the 2011 championship.

After hosting the six-day event in 2009, which attracted 40,125 spectators and featured championship wins by Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones, the 2011 Grey Power Players’ Championship will return to the Crystal Centre in Grande Prairie on April 12-17.

Dawson Creek and Grande Prairie are just 133 kilometres apart.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing the 2010 Grey Power Players’ Championship to Dawson Creek as well as returning the event to Grande Prairie in 2011,” said Wendy Kane, Executive Director of the Capital One Grand Slam of Curling.

“Last year’s tournament in Grande Prairie was a great success and we’re looking forward to putting on an even bigger show in the next two years.”

The 2010 Grey Power Players’ Championship will feature a separate men’s and women’s draw consisting of the world’s top 13 ranked teams from the 2009-10 season as well as curling’s gold, silver and bronze medallists from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

“We’re elated that Dawson Creek was selected to host a premier international sporting event such as the Grey Power Players’ Championship,” said Dawson Creek Mayor Mike Bernier. “This is another great opportunity for Dawson Creek to showcase our great city to the rest of Canada. This world class event will have significant positive social and economic impacts to the community and is a real win-win for Dawson Creek.”

Ticket packages for the 2010 Grey Power Players’ Championship are scheduled to go on sale on November 6.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Canadians go Curlingkanalen

by Teri Lake

OSLO, Norway – Move over Vic, Linda and Ray… Jill and Teri are in the house!

The Curling News columnist-turned-blogger (that’s me) and team have arrived in Oslo, Norway for the Radisson SAS Oslo Cup. We came all the way from Halifax to compete but this morning, skip Jill Mouzar and I got... suckered.

Perhaps it was rookie initiation – we’re Oslo Cup virgins – but we ended up in the commentator’s booth after this morning’s practice (see photo above) to kick off the Curlingkanalen internet coverage of said event. After exchanging looks that resonated a bit of WTF? we jumped into it and, a few coffees later, we couldn’t stop talking.

Alone in the booth, we talked strategy, sweeping and time clocks like old pros (and threw in a few giggles) while France’s Thomas Dufour and Switzerland’s Stefan Heilmann hammered it out. Dufour captured the win (10-4) and we captured the hearts of listeners (well, three of them anyway).

It was quite early in the morning, especially back home in Canada, but we know the camera guy and two techies liked us so much that they’ve asked us back, for as many times as we can swing it. I’m not sure when that will be but, stay tuned. Like the divas we are, we said we’d only come back if provided with telestrating capabilities… or chocolate… we really are easily bought!

I like to stick to the written word in expressing myself but Jill is no stranger to broadcasting. In fact, she’s a pro and I’m simply riding her coat-tails. Jill was a recent competitor in The Score’s Drafted reality show that is looking for Canada’s next sportscaster. You can see Jill, and her boyfriend Paul Brothers, on the website above; check out the Halifax auditions (specifically the 2:15 minute mark of Halifax Auditions Part 2) and follow the show for yourself… this broadcasting power couple kicked serious butt!

We’re on the ice soon against Russia’s Yulia Svetova, with other pool matches upcoming versus Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott, the Czech Republic’s Linda Klimova and Scotland’s Gillian Howard. Follow us!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

RIP Sandra Mulroney

Sandra Mulroney will be remembered today in her home town of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and also at the first big women’s Tour event of the season – this weekend’s Sandra Schmirler Charity Classic in Regina.

Mulroney, who passed away Sunday after a two-year battle with cancer, was the spunky second for Saskatoon’s Sherry Anderson from the late 1990s through the early part of this decade.

That particular Anderson lineup proved to be one of the strongest in women’s curling. The squad ran rampant on the World Curling Tour with big-money paydays – including a victory at the JVC/TSN Women’s Skins Game – and came oh-so-close to wearing the Maple Leaf on two occasions, both of which occurred during the Olympic season of 2001-02.

That year, Team Anderson lost the final of both the 2001 Olympic Trials (to Kelley Law, who won bronze in Salt Lake City) and then the 2002 Scotties Tournament of Hearts (to Colleen Jones).

The photo above shows skip Anderson at left, followed by third Kim Hodson, Mulroney and lead Donna Gignac.

For more on Mulroney’s memory, see this Sault story and also this one from Saskatchewan.

Three Nations Cup curling

There’s more bang for the curling buck available at the Grey Power World Cup of Curling, coming to the Greater Toronto Area in just a few weeks.

The women’s Three Nations Cup has been added to the opening men’s Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event of the season, October 21-25 at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre.

A total of four women’s Olympic qualifiers and hopefuls will compete in the inaugural Three Nations Cup including reigning Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary (in photo at right), 2009 Roar of the Rings direct qualifier Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon (bottom left), reigning World Champion Bingyu Wang of China (left) and 2010 Olympic Winter Games entrant Eve Muirhead of Scotland (main image), who will represent Great Britain in Vancouver.

“We’re thrilled to be adding this elite, international women’s event as part of the festivities surrounding the Grey Power World Cup of Curling,” said Kevin Albrecht, Chief Executive Officer of iSport Media and Management. “Featuring four of the top women’s teams in the world, the Three Nations Cup will provide fans with a snapshot of the competition heading into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.”

This latest curling Cup begins October 22 and concludes with the championship game on October 25.

“Curling fans in the GTA have been waiting more than 20 years for an elite international event to take place in our region, and now we have two outstanding tournaments joined together,” said Elizabeth Woolnough, President of the Toronto Curling Association.

“The Three Nations Cup will provide even more excitement for the GTA’s passionate curling fans.”

Tickets – both for packages and single draws – are now on sale from Ticketmaster and at the Hershey Centre box office.

For more on the impressive, Olympic men’s field at the Grey Power World Cup, check out this previous blogpost.

Got your tickets yet?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gushue makes two (Ursel, King and Homan too)

Just prior to the Shorty Jenkins Classic tour stop in Brockville, John Morris hadn’t even seen a hard copy of his new book, Fit to Curl, which we first told you about in August.

Today, Johnny Mo has seen – and autographed – lots of copies, but his Kevin Martin squad has lost their opening tourney of the season.

2006 Olympic champion Brad Gushue made it two Tour wins in a row with an 8-6 see-saw win over the Martinites in Brockville.

After Martin scored an enormous four points in the first end, the Gushues replied with a single and then a huge steal of three to tie the match.

After exchanging singles for three ends, the St. John’s foursome posted a critical deuce in the seventh end, and followed that up with another steal coming home.

The victory comes just days after the squad’s season-opening win in Switzerland.

In the semis, Gushue had upset two-time defending Shorty champion Glenn Howard by a 5-4 count, on the strength of key steals in the fifth and sixth ends. Howard grabbed a deuce in the seventh but the Newfoundlanders held the fort and scored one in the eight for the victory.

In the other semi, Martin battled Ontario’s Dale Matchett and finally prevailed 9-8 in an extra-end.

Other men’s qualifiers were Edmonton’s Kevin Koe, Winnipeg’s Jason Gunnlaugson, Quebec’s Robert Desjardins and Sarnia’s Heath McCormick/Peter Steski tandem.

In women’s play, young Ontario phenom Rachel Homan prevailed against Quebec’s Eve Bélisle 9-4 in the final. Down 3-1 in the third end, the 2009 national junior finalists took three and then stole consecutive pairs to build an 8-3 lead.

Bélisle had upended China’s Bingyu Wang 7-5 in the semi-finals, while Homas took out Brantford’s Jo-Ann Rizzo by an 8-2 count in the other semi.

Homan’s Ottawa foursome had also beaten the Chinese 7-6 to finish atop their pool at 5-0. The world champions from Harbin finished 4-1.

In Edmonton, Kelowna’s Bob Ursel scored four points in the seventh end to shock hometown hero Randy Ferbey 5-2 in the men’s final.

Four out of the first five ends were blanked. With Ursel holding a slim 1-0 lead in the sixth, the Ferbey Four cracked a deuce to go up 2-1, before Ursel pounced for the big four-count.

Ferbey had made a comeback in the semi-final in dumping crosstown rival Jamie King 8-6. Down 5-1 after three ends, the three-time world champions scored seven points over the next five ends to reach the final.

Ursel defeated Pat Simmons of Davidson, Saskatchewan 5-3 in his semi-final.

On the women’s side, Edmonton’s Cathy King upended Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard, the 2009 Alberta champion, by a 7-3 scoreline.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy curling couple

BROCKVILLE – Here’s a happy curling couple that, who knows, might have actually met years ago at the very tournament they’re both competing in this weekend.

Quebec’s Dale Whale Ness, at left, and Allison A.R. Ross are both skipping teams at the Shorty Jenkins Classic in Brockville. Ness, the prototypical lead for Guy Hemmings back in their back-to-back Brier heydays, is 1-2 in a tough pool featuring Glenn Howard and Brad Jacobs (both 2-1) as well as Winnipeg’s Jason Gunnlaugsson (3-0).

Ross is also 1-2, in a women’s pool heavy on Quebec squads – Eve Belisle and Marie-France Larouche are both 2-1.

Ness is back curling “a little bit” while Ross first returned to the sport last year, following the birth of their two daughters.

Welcome back!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Team China tours Canada

China’s defending world women’s champions were in Toronto last weekend before heading to the Shorty Jenkins Classic tour stop in Brockville, Ontario, which began last night (with an 8-4 Chinese win).

The purpose was a video shoot with the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) which took them on a jaunt to Niagara Falls, the Toronto Islands, the Bata Museum and, of course, many stores for much shopping.

And, as the Jeff Speed photo indicates, they visited the Hockey Hall of Fame, and gave the venerable Stanley Cup a giant hug. To the viewer’s left of the Cup we have Yin Liu (above) and Qingshuang Yue, and on the viewer’s right we have Yan Zhou (above) and the skipper, Bingyu Betty Wang.

Betty’s father, Da Jun Wang, was also flown in from China to take part in the mostly urban-exploration TV shoot.

“Our big mandate within the Olympic Games is that this really is Canada’s games,” explained the CTC’s John Parker-Jervis.

“The goal is to get this footage into key travel markets through the media. It’s a human interest story, filmed in High-Definition, and this (team China) footage will go to their state broadcaster, CCTV.”

Parker-Jervis said the campagin focusses on nine key markets: the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France, Mexico, Japan, China, South Korea and Australia.

“We have (targeted) two countries as emerging markets, India and Brazil,” he added.

For a non-curling example, Parker-Jervis told the story of Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, the only African athlete set to compete in Vancouver. The skiier has become a celebrity in the UK, where he lives, and as such, that particular CTC footage will be sent to the BBC.

“We’re excited to have curling’s world champions travelling in Canada,” said Michele McKenzie, president and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

“They have become big stars and having them here helps spread our tourism message to their fans in China and around the world.”

As regular readers of The Curling News are aware, Chinese teams compete in Canada extensively each year from September to November, and again in January and February, prior to the major global competitions.

There are two other Chinese teams in action in Edmonton this weekend, Fengchun Wang’s men’s Olympic team and a women’s development squad skipped by Xindi Zhang.

For the official CTC news release on Team China’s visit, click here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2011 Brier to London

The last time the Brier appeared in London, Ontario was the year 1974.

Eddie Werenich, The Wrench, was there, playing second for his future third, Paul Savage. Another legend, Bernie Sparkes, was there... playing third for his future third – and the 2009 world wheelchair champion skip – Jim Armstrong.

Quebec’s Jim Ursel was there; he would win the Brier on home ice three years later.

And, of course, the eventual champions from Alberta were there (screen capture above), skipped by the Friendly Giant: Hec Gervais.

Thirty-five years later, Gervais’ second – the CCA’s Warren Hansen – is no doubt jetting to London for tomorrow’s news conference to announce the return of the Tim Hortons Brier to that city, in March of 2011.

Local media has the advance story here.

The 2010 Tim Hortons Brier returns to Halifax, just a few days following the conclusion of the Vancouver 210 Olympic Winter Games.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grey Power World Cup of Curling

The big news today concerns the “Toronto Slam” as the event has been re-branded as the Grey Power World Cup of Curling.

Formerly known as the Masters of Curling, the Grey Power World Cup of Curling runs October 21-25 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, just minutes from Toronto’s main airport.

As the first tournament in the new Capital One Grand Slam of Curling season, the event would normally be big enough on its own. However, as The Curling News has previously reported, this one is worthy of it’s new World Cup name.

No less than 10 of the international teams headed to February’s Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games will take part, challenged by four of the top dogs headed to December’s Canadian Olympic Trials: Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard, Randy Ferbey and Kevin Koe.

A fifth Canadian team will also take part. Brad Gushue’s foursome, fresh off their victory at the first World Curling Tour stop of the season, will compete at the Hershey Centre. The Gushues are looking to win a spot into the Trials at the last-gasp qualification event at Prince George, B.C. in November.

As The Curling News reported last winter, Grey Power first jumped into the Slam sponsorship world by taking title rights to the season-ending Players’ Championship in Grande Prairie.

“We’re thrilled to be increasing our involvement with one of Canada’s favourite sports through our partnership with the World Cup of Curling,” said Catherine Smola, President of Grey Power Insurance Brokers Inc.

“We are hugely impressed by the passion Canadians have towards curling and we believe these world class events represent a tremendous opportunity for us to further connect with our customers.”

Today’s announcement comes from the Slam, the Tour and also from an organization called iSport Media and Management. This is the new home of Kevin Albrecht, the man who first built the Grand Slam property at IMG Canada and took it to Insight Sports some three years ago.

“The ability to extend our partnership with Grey Power to include two of curling’s biggest international tournaments reinforces the growth and popularity of the Capital One Grand Slam of Curling series,” said Albrecht.

“Grey Power’s brand and services have proven to be an ideal fit for curling’s passionate fan base and we are looking forward to building on the success of last year’s Grey Power Players’ Championship.”

Among the international Olympic teams headed to Hershey are reigning World champions David Murdoch of Scotland, reigning World bronze medallist Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, 2007 World silver medallist Andreas Kapp of Germany, 2006 Olympic bronze medallist John Shuster of the United States, 2008 World fourth-place finisher Fengchun Wang of China, defending World University Games champion Niklas Edin of Sweden, France’s Thomas Dufour and Denmark’s Ulrik Schmidt.

The final nation to compete in the Grey Power World Cup is Switzerland. A best-of-seven series between Ralph Stoeckli and Stefan Karnusian will declare their Olympic rep, who will then appear in Mississauga.

Ticket packages for the Grey Power World Cup of Curling are currently on sale, with seats available through Ticketmaster or by visiting the Hershey Centre box office.

The 2009 Grey Power World Cup of Curling is being lauded as the first major international curling event to be held in the Greater Toronto Area since 1986, when Toronto hosted the World Men’s Curling Championship.

The Toronto Curling Association has been a strong partner of the Grey Power World Cup of Curling with strong support from all of the TCA’s 23 member curling clubs.

Following the Grey Power World Cup, the 2009-10 men’s Capital One Grand Slam of Curling series continues with The National, taking place at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, Ont. from January 6-10, 2010; the BDO Classic Canadian Open, from January 20-24, 2010 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg; and concludes with the Grey Power Players’ Championship, an event featuring separate men’s and women’s draws, to be hosted in April (dates and location TBA).

Two additional women’s Grand Slam events get underway next month, with the Calgary’s Trail Appliances Classic on October 9-12 and the Manitoba Lotteries Women’s Curling Classic scheduled for Winnipeg on October 23-26.

Curling into retail

OTTAWA – Joe Pavia took the big step this summer.

The longtime local curling dynamo quit has job of some 18 years – at the city’s annual exhibition – and is the new owner of a curling supply shop in the Ottawa market... the Hogline Curlers Proshop.

And the new proprietor is... as you might expect, pumped but also nervous!

“It’s exciting but scary at the same time. Lots of debt and no steady paycheque... but it beats a real job,” Pavia laughed.

The shop is located within the legendary Ottawa Curling Club, occupying a whopping 400 feet of space.

“Wal-Mart sized,” Pavia joked. However, the joke has inspired a new tagline: Good things come in small packages!

The shop has a spiffy website, complete with a Games and Video page, in addition to a Blog.

Pavia knows all about curling writing. The longtime Ottawa columnist for Ontario Curling Report is also into his fourth year (or is it fifth year?) as a curling columnist for the Ottawa Sun.

Last fall Pavia accepted the Ontario Curling Association’s 2007-08 Media Award on behalf of the Sun, a photo of which was published in the print edition of The Curling News (have you subscribed yet?)

Today also marks the return of Pavia’s Sun column, which is located here.

And if all that is not enough, October will mark the beginning of new Joe adventure – a weekly curling radio show on Ottawa’s local CHIN Radio International station... where Pavia hopes to get the area’s ethnic community fired up about the sport.

Best of luck to a real Joe of curling!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Scottish Brits win Ontario Tour title

OAKVILLE, Ontario – Greg Balsdon’s 7-5 victory in the final over Rob Lobel signified a solid 2009 men’s Ontario Curling Tour Championship.

Both Greater-Toronto-Area (GTA) teams are provincial contenders, and semifinalist Wayne Middaugh is no slouch, either.

Middaugh, incidentally, lost to the Lobels – again – as has often been their head-to-head result over the past decade or so.

However, when Eve Muirhead bushwhacked Brantford’s Jo-Ann Rizzo 8-0 in just four ends to capture the women’s title (above photo by Anil Mungal), everything had seemed a bit... odd.

Not the fact that Muirhead’s highly skilled squad won the event, going 7-0 throughout the week. Just the fact that Muirhead represents the Great Britain Olympic team, who all happen to be Scottish, and who are now jetting home across the Atlantic ocean, about as far as away from Ontario, Canada as one could expect.

“We played very solid as a team,” said Muirhead, who was supported by 2002 world champion skip Jackie Lockhart, 2007 world bronze-medal skip Kelly Wood and veteran Wood front-ender Lorna Vevers.

“(Rizzo) missed a draw in the second end and that was our steal,” said the three-time world junior champion Muirhead, who nabbed four points after scoring two in the opening frame.

“We didn’t really miss a shot after that, I don’t think.”

Muirhead said she loves to come to Canada “to get in spiels like this, the opponents are quite good.

“And we’ll be back in a few months to come.”

The Olympians-to-be, who captured $5,000 for the victory, will compete in an exhibition series during the men’s Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event in Mississauga, to be followed by women’s tour events in Red Deer, Alberta and Saskatoon.

Rizzo, who earned $2,500, was as supported by U.S. skip Patti Lank (who replaced calendar girl Chrissy Cadorin), Lee Merklinger and Leigh Armstrong.

Rizzo went 3-1 in her pool before defeating Quebec’s Eve Belisle 8-3 in the quarterfinals and Thornhill’s Colleen Madonia 5-3 in the semifinal.

Muirhead had a cracker of a match in her semi, edging Hamilton’s youthful Brittney O’Neil by a 5-4 count.

On the men’s side, Balsdon earned $6,000 for the win while Lobel was consoled with $3,000.

Other men’s playoff contenders included Middaugh, Sarnia’s Jason Young, Guelph’s Rob Rumfeldt, Harriston’s Jake Higgs and Trevor Feil of Elora.

Gushue scores Swiss opener

BADEN, Switzerland – Brad Gushue, sporting some playoff scruff, won his second Baden Masters tour victory of the past three years with a 6-3 victory over Norway’s three-time world bronze medallist Thomas Ulsrud in the 2009 championship final.

The 2006 Olympic championship squad, which now features former Winnipegger Ryan Fry at second position, stole the third end and added a deuce in the fifth to hold a 4-2 lead after five ends.

The St. John’s foursome added a final steal in the eighth for the victory, which was worth 10,000 Swiss francs to start the 2009-2010 Olympic curling season.

Ulsrud was consoled with SF 5,000 for second place.

In the semifinals, the Gushues took out defending world champion David Murdoch from Scotland by an 8-2 count. In the other semi, Canada’s resurgent Randy Ferbey fell victim to a stunning five-ender in the second frame against Ulsrud, who went on to win the match by a 9-4 scoreline.

In the second round of the tournament, the Ferbey Four had dropped a fiver in the first end against France’s Thomas Dufour, but made a stirring comeback – stealing five points over the final three ends – to win by a 10-6 count.

In the third-place game, Ferbey defeated Murdoch 5-2.

Murdoch and Ulsrud are confirmed to represent their countries (Murdoch will represent Great Britain) at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Ferbey is confirmed for the Tim Hortons Canadian Curling (Olympic) Trials at Edmonton in early December, while Gushue will need to advance from a special domestic pre-Trials competition at Prince George, B.C. in November.

[Photo by Urs Raeber]

It's not easy being green

Okay. Following Friday’s Baden blogpost, Claudio Pescia (at left, with Superfox) would like to make one thing perfectly clear: his “four-year-old” uniforms are actually brand new.

And with regard to the continuous colour?

“We have to wear green, man,” Pescia told The Curling News.

“That’s St. Gallen’s colours! Just like Saskatchewan does.”

We stand corrected. It’s not easy being green!

[Photo by Urs Raeber]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gushue's golf tan

Moments ago, Brad Gushue’s foursome rolled to a 6-2 victory over David Sik of the Czech Republic to move to 3-0 at the Baden Masters 2009 in Switzerland.

An afternoon clash with Sweden’s Niklas Edin takes place at 1:30pm local time.

The Gushues also placed second overall in the shootout, earning them a $400 bonus... and a whoop-whoop. Ralph Stoeckli’s Swiss squad won the shootout, and $500.

The skipper looks tanned and healthy, doncha think?

[Photo by Urs Raeber]

Friday, September 11, 2009

Olympic curling season

And just like that, the 2010 Olympic curling season has begun.

After a busy summer, which saw various camps held in Ontario, Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, and Prague and Fuessen in Europe – plus the requisite summer bonspiel circuit – the ice is in and we’re underway.

The first event on the rebranded Curling Champions Tour – the former World Curling Tour Europe – is underway in Baden, Switzerland. And we can see by the Urs Raeber photo, above, that Olympic-bound Thomas Ulsrud of Norway (in white and red) has some spiffy new uniforms, while opponent Claudio Pescia of Switzerland is still wearing his four-year old green kit. Click to zoom in!

Actually, we love green, and we assume Team Pescia does too. However, the Norwegians pummelled the Swiss 10-3 to start the new Euroseason.

In other matches of note, Canada’s Brad Gushue defeated Switzerland’s Ralph Stoeckli 3-2, while Canada’s Mark Dacey was dumped 6-2 by the defending world champions from Scotland, skipped by David Murdoch.

Canada’s Randy Ferbey takes to the ice in a few minutes, against Switzerland’s Manuel Ruch.

Follow the Baden Masters 2009 results here, and be sure to check out The Curling News Facebook group for more action photos!

Why not join the group? It’s free, with a Facebook account.

In Canada, the Ontario Curling Tour Championships are also underway in Oakville, featuring both men’s and women’s draws, the latter including the Great Britain Olympic team. Eve Muirhead’s troops took out local Lynne Middaugh by an 8-3 score last night.

Another early result of interest saw Alison Goring’s brand new squad upend last year’s provincial finalists – ie. her ex-teammates, now led by Cathy Auld – by a 5-4 count. A fun bit of drawmastering from OCT chief Gerry Geurts, we surmise.

On the men’s side, four teams are 2-0 – including Joe Frans and the Lobel brothers – with Wayne Middaugh set to begin play this morning.

Game on, folks!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Scots aim for Olympic splash

You’re the world champion. You’re expected to get a medal.

This was one of the first questions directed to Vancouver 2010 golden hopeful David Murdoch, during his recent radio interview with BBC Radio 5.

We note that this wasn’t really a question. But “Muddy” handled it with his typical media smoothness.

The interview highlights his team’s training schedule, and Murdoch makes particular mention of his appearance at the Capital One Grand Slam at Mississauga (Toronto) in October.

The two-time world champion also points to his summer training, in which both the men’s and women’s UK Olympic teams cross-trained at a camp in Cyprus.

Sure, the weather was lovely... but the training was somewhat rocky, as this video of the women’s team shows.

The Murdoch interview is posted here.

NOTE: the GB women, skipped by Eve Muirhead, are in Canada far earlier than the men... this week, in fact. They start Thursday at the Ontario Curling Tour Championships in Oakville, with a match against Lynne Middaugh of Orillia.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

SüpüRRR! curling movie

Move over, Men With Brooms. There’s a new curling movie in town.

That town is Istanbul, by the way. In Turkey.

SüpüRRR! (which is Swappp in Turkish, or SweePPP in English) is a new film boasting the tagline Hedef Vancouver, bir zahmet süpürüver, or Destination Vancouver, be a great sweeper!

The film offers a classic boy-meets-girl plotline, in which the hero falls for the heroine, whose father is an obsessed nationalist who requires that any future husband must represent Turkey on a national team. Any team, in any sport.

Screenwriter Selim Çiprut took up the story, in an interview with The Curling News.

“Our boy tries a lot of sports: boxing, sprinting, but he can’t become a national sportsman,” said the 37-year-old Çiprut. “And one day, he sees curling on Eurosport and he says... yes, that’s it! No one knows curling here, so we will become the Turkish National Curling Team!”

Cue Turkey’s leap into the world of curling. There is, naturally, a devilish rival to our hero, and on-ice mayhem must ensue, but you get the idea.

When Paul Gross first mentioned his curling movie to people in Los Angeles, he famously described their reaction: “It was as though I had farted. They really didn’t know where to look.”

Çiprut, who has a previous film writing credit under his belt plus two Turkish TV shows, was greeted with laughter. Good laughter.

“I talked with one of the best Turkish producers, he made my two movies,” said Çiprut. “I told him I have a great idea, and he laughed and said: ‘Who knows curling in Turkey?’

“I told him: everybody knows, but no one has played.”

Turkey’s real-life curling leap was made this past April, when the country became a provisional member of the World Curling Federation. The impetus for all this is the 2011 World University Games, or Universiade, which Turkey will be hosting.

Çiprut reports that the town of Izmit, located in Kocaeli province just outside of Istanbul, has built a dedicated curling facility to host the Universiade discipline. And his actors have become the first curlers in the country.

“The hall was built for curling, and it opened in May,” said Çiprut. “I never knew, I was shocked, surprised and glad to hear that.

“All the actors were taught for one week by a Turkish national coach, and they are the first licensed curling players in Turkey!”

Çiprut has created a SüpüRRR! Facebook group which boasts guerilla-marketing treatments of the film poster (above) appearing in various locations, including a magazine held by Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johanson.

“I am very excited, and waiting for this movie,” said Çiprut. “This film has had a lot of news in the press, and everybody is shocked about curling. Everybody is waiting for December 18. It will be awesome!”

Read more about the film in the upcoming issue of The Curling News, available in late October. Subscribe today!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

China upset in dual NZ Games finals

Australia’s men, led by skip Hugh Millikin, upset China in the gold medal match at the first NZ Winter Games, winning 10-6, tossing out years of recent Pacific Championships results.

Suffice to say, the Aussies are pumped.

“I think this tournament was one of the best sporting achievements we’ve had as a team,” said skip rocker Ian Palangio, in an interview with The Curling News.

“In the end we beat every country in the field at some point. China has had our number for the past couple of years so it was nice to get one back. Part of the magic of the sport of curling is that in a tournament such as this is that there’s a mix of professional and amateur teams, and all can be extremely competitive.”

Of interest was the absence of former China skip Fengchun Wang... who didn’t even make the trip to New Zealand. Rui Liu handled skip duties, as he did for a few games at the 2009 Ford Worlds in Moncton.

In the right-side half of the photo above, Liu calls a shot while Millikin (left, wearing hat) and Palangio observe. Click to zoom in.

Millikin, by the way, is not 61 years old, as many media outlets (including curling media outlets) wrote throughout the week. Only near the end of the tournament did his real age (53) come to light.

The Curling News suspects some fun-loving teammates might have sabotaged Millikin’s page in the official team biographies. But we only suspect.

In the women’s final, Japan’s Moe Meguro (delivering in left-side pic) outscored China’s defending world champions, skipped by Bingyu Wang, by an 8-5 count. More vengeance was displayed here, too, as the Chinese women have dominated their respective Pacific championships in recent years.

In the women’s bronze medal game, the Korean women defeated New Zealand 12-7 while Japan took out Korea 10-7 to win the men’s bronze.

“The Torino Olympics had 2,000 athletes from 60 countries,” Palangio noted.

“This event had 800 athletes from 40 countries, quite a good effort for an inaugural event.”

We’ll have more on this event in the first print edition of The Curling News, which comes out in October. Stay tuned.