Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Gushue fifth for Martin

Gushue fifth for Martin

Looks like Kevin Martin is getting a little bit of insurance for his wonky back. According to various reports it looks like Martin is going to Brad Gushue to be his fifth as the team heads into the Olympic Trials in a couple of weeks.

Makes some sense, as Martin has had some injury issues.

Gushue knows a lot about curling on a big stage, as he has been there before and he famously had Russ Howard with him as his team's fifth when he went to the Winter Olympics in Italy in 2006. That move paid off as the team won gold.

2013 Capital One Road to the Roar

Five Up, Five Down

I am a little late to the party, but here are 10 quick thoughts about this past weekend's 2013 Capital One Road to the Roar held this past weekend in beautiful Kitchener.

One: Congrats to both Brad Jacobs and John Morris on the men's side.
Seeing Jacobs and his team advance to the Olympic trials was no major surprise, considering the team just won a Brier.
I didn't know what to expect from Morris and his rink, but they advanced to the trials Dec. 1-8 in Winnipeg. The team will be a darkhorse heading into Winnipeg, but they will be dangerous.

Two: Congrats to Val Sweeting and Renee Sonneberg for advancing.
Sweeting  eliminated the last two Canadian Olympic reps, Shannon Kleibrink and Cheryl Bernard of Calgary, along the way to Sunday's final.
Sweeting will have one of the best front ends at the trials.
Sonnenberg looked dominant at times in Kitchener. She has won two provincial titles, but just hasn't been able to breakthrough. Maybe her time is now.

Three: Even though I have not been there is person, the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium looks like it's an excellent curling facility. I am making that observation just on seeing the venue on television.
The arena is older, but well taken care of. It has steep seats and while it is a good size, it's still fairly intimate and that's what curling needs.
The last Scotties was held in Kitchener in 2003.
The last Brier held in Kitchener was held in 1986. It would be a great host again. A lot of curling tradition in Kitchener, plus John Morris can lead the pub crawl every night.

Four: Just take a look at the men's draw at the Trials: Stoughton, Morris, Howard, Martin, Jacobs, Epping, Koe and McEwen. Other than arguably Gushue, you have eight of the top teams from the past decade or so.
Stoughton, Howard and Martin are among the best ever, and the rest of the field is stellar.

Five: Just a thought, if a team wins a Brier or Scotties in the two or three years leading up to the Olympics, shouldn't that give them a free pass to the Olympic trials?

Five Down

One: Not to treat the Road to the Roar lightly, as any curling is better than no curling, it's still a long ways to the Olympic trials. It was an exciting weekend, but the four teams advancing still have a long grind in front of them.

Two: I heard a lot of complaints about the rocks and the ice in Kitchener. There was a lot of swing in the ice.

Three: Looking at the women's field in Kitchener, it's kind of surprising not to see Kelly Scott or Cheryl Bernard advance.
Scott has participated in the last two trials and is consistently one of the best rinks in Canada. Bernard came out of nowhere to win in 2010. She came close, but just couldn't get lightning in the bottle for a second time.

Four: We've all done it.
Sweeting vice Joanne Courtney slipped and fell on her stomach while delivering a rock during a key matchup. Luckily she didn't injure herself or do much damage as the rock sailed out before it hit anything.

Five: Off to Winnipeg. In December.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Masters of Curling--open the doors

Masters of Curling

The first Grand Slam of the year is taking place this weekend, as The Masters of Curling, which runs from Oct. 30-Nov. 4 in Abbotsford, B.C.is taking place.

To be honest, I haven't watched too much yet. I watched for about ten minutes at the curling rink after I played on Friday night.

One of my playing partners was watching with me and he joked about the crowd--let's just say there were a lot of empty seats, or perhaps a lot of people dressed up as empty seats.

Most Grand Slams have a lot of empty seats. This is nothing new.

Hear's my wacky out-of-the-box idea--let people in for free. Just open the doors and let people in off the street.

Here's my reasoning. These events aren't really about the crowd watching in person, they're more for the curling fan watching at home in his/her LazyBoy chair.

When I went to my only Grand Slam event in Windsor a few years ago there might have only been about 750 people in the stands. Judging from the fans around me, most of them received comp tickets or they were with the players (spouses/relatives/curling groupies) and got in for free. Not sure how many paid, but it couldn't have been a huge number.

I paid at the door. For my wife and I and two kids it cost us $96. A bit pricy in my mind for a night out. Would I pay that much again if a Grand Slam event came back my way? Probably not, and I am a hardcore curling fan. Probably better to save some money and watch from home.

It was a fun event, and the kids had fun, but with the arena only about 10 percent full, the energy in the building was lacking. Nothing beats a Brier or Scotties, and that's partially due to the (paying) crowds.

My idea would be to let everybody in, especially for the early draws. I know that something that has no value is not worth as much, but at least the seats would be full and people would stop making jokes as they saw all the empty seats on television.

Create an event and an atmosphere and the people will come.

Below is the press release hyping up this weekend's event:

Following a thrilling quarter-final round this afternoon that saw eight teams eliminated, the Masters continued tonight with semifinal action live from the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre in Abbotsford, beginning with the men’s draw at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific (full broadcast details below).

In the men’s draw, Team Howard faces Team Stoughton - the pair accounting for three of the four Grand Slam titles last year. In the other half of the semis, Team Martin will face Team Liu - a rematch of the first draw of the Masters that saw Liu come out on top.

On the women’s side, after a tie-break win over Team Carey, Team Homan defeated Team Nedohin to advance to her third straight Grand Slam semifinal, and will now face Team Ott who beat out Team Kim of Korea. The other semifinal matchup will feature last April’s Players’ Championship winner Team Muirhead of Scotland taking on Team Jones  of Winnipeg.

Men’s Semifinals:

1.    Team Howard, Clearwater, ON (5-0) vs. Team Stoughton, Winnipeg, MB (4-1)

2.    Team Martin, Edmonton, AB (4-1) vs. Team Liu, Harbin, China (4-1)

Women’s Semifinals:

1.    Team Homan, Ottawa, ON (3-2) vs. Team Ott, Davos, Switzerland (4-1)

2.    Team Jones, Winnipeg, MB (4-1) vs. Team Muirhead, Perth, Scotland (3-2)

The Masters Broadcast Schedule

Note: Through a sub-licensing agreement, the broadcast of the Grand Slam of Curling is shared with CBC.

Saturday, Nov. 2

·         Men’s semifinals, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West, and Pacific)

·         Women’s semifinals, 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West, and Pacific)

Sunday, Nov. 3

·         Men’s final, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (CBC)

·         Women’s final, 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT (Sportsnet ONE)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Ontario curling...so far

Where to start--Ontario

After being away for a bit, I thought I would take a quick look at what has happened in the curling world in Ontario for the months of September and October.

Brad Jacobs and his team didn't seem to miss a beat, as they came out of the gate with a pair of victories.
They won the Stu Sells Tankard on Sept. 6, winning in the final over Kevin Koe.
The field at the Stu Sell Tankard was deep, and included Menard, Gushue, Frans and Kean—as well as a number of teams that are regulars at the Ontario provincials.
During the weekend of Sept. 19-22 at the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic in Brockville, Jacobs' rink won once again, beating Jeff Stoughton and his team in the final.
The field was strong, with Brad Gushue (he finished third), Niklas Edin, Kevin Martn, Glenn Howard, John Epping, Jean-Michel Menard, Mark Dacey, Pete Fenson and others.
If you know of a tougher field, let me know. With this being the first Shorty Jenkins Classic since he died last year, it must have been a bittersweet event.
At the StuSells Toronto Tankard, held Oct. 11-14 in...um, Toronto....It was Glenn Howard's rink winning in the final over Mike McEwen. Bryan Cochrane and Mike Anderson had a good weekend, finishing tied for third.
Cochrane skips the team, with up and comer Mathew Camm throwing final rocks. This will be a team that can go far if they qualify for provincials. They have a 17-9 record on the Ontario Curling Tour, and that's against top-notch competition.
The StuSells Tankard Toronto had a strong field, with Howard, McEwen, Epping, Gushue, Stoughton and Frans.
The Huron ReproGraphics Oil Heritage Classic took place this past weekend in Sarnia. I planned to go out and check things out, especially considering I was just around the corner watching my son play football and visiting relatives, but didn't make it over to the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club. Jake Higgs won the event, beating Scott McDonald in the final.
Also this weekend, the Challenge Chateau Cartier de Gatineau took place in, um...Gatineau.
Brad Gushue won in the final against Rob Rumfeldt. Another strong field with Menard and Jacobs amongst the teams.

I'm back

I'm back

Hey, I'm back. Did you miss me?

When I started this blog earlier this year, my vision was to be one of the top curling blogs in Canada. A place for people to read about curling from a fan's perspective.

I think I was somewhat successful in January to April of last year. I blogged just about every day, and more frequently during events such as the Scotties and the Brier.

I think I was onto something and had some momentum, judging by comments and page hits (14,000 people can't be wrong).

With this site I will post commentaries, recaps, and previews of the major curling stories of the day, as well as curling-related anecdotes, rumours and YouTube videos. The tone of the site will be somewhat acerbic and irrelevant--but without being rude.

If I start rating curlers by their looks or if start resorting to fart jokes--then I am doing it wrong.

Hopefully, Hurry Hard Blog is seen as promoting curling and somewhat more cool and fancentric than traditional mainstream websites. Although, that's easier said than done, considering I am in my 40s and drive a mini-van.

I knew during the summer things would slow down in the curling world, but the plan was to ramp things up around Labour Day. Then life got in the way.

Work and kids got in the way. I was working on a major project, but it wrapped up in mid-September. Then I got busy with my kids' fall sports--football and skating, and that took me out of the house six nights of the week.

I wanted to start up again in October, but just became too busy. I figured if I was going to come back, I wanted to come back 100 percent. I kept putting it off and off...Let's be honest, I screwed up and procrastinated. My Grade 8 teacher was right about me. But I'm back.

So--I am ready to give it a big go. We're 100 days to Sochi...so I hope to blog and write all about curling in the leadup to the Olympics. It will be a fun ride. I will be around every day, sometimes a couple times a day. Let's have some fun.

If you have any commentary or comments, feel free to pass them along.

Good curling.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Guelph bites the dust

Guelph bites the dust

News out of Guelph is that Guelph Golf and Curling Club won't have curling this upcoming season.

Guelph Mercury has the story here.

To be honest I didn't know that Guelph had two curling clubs, as I am somewhat familiar with the Guelph Curling Club, but not so much with the Guelph Golf and Curling Club.

A lot of mid-sized Ontario cities have two curling clubs. Although it's not always the case, it seams one club is kind of ritzy club (usually attached to a golf course), and the other is more of a blue-collar club.

Ontario cities that have two clubs include: St. Catharines, Cambridge, Kingston (3), Oshawa, Owen Sound, Brampton, Burlington, Dundas, Brantford and Windsor.

I don't really know a lot about the cities that have two clubs, but like two-newspaper towns, I wonder if they will be a dying breed across the province in the next few years. Curling isn't cheap and the demographics are changing.

I don't like to see curling operations biting the dust, but sometimes a city just can't justify having two curling clubs. If the money is not there than it's just not there.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Curler banned for steroid use

Curler banned for steroid use

Canadian curler Matt Dumontelle, an alternate on Team Jacobs, will serve a two-year ban after testing positive for Methandienone Metabolites, an anabolic steroid, following the gold-medal game at the World Men’s Curling Championship in Victoria earlier this year.

Dumontelle said that he was unaware that a workout supplement he was using contained the banned drug.

From the Toronto Sun:

 “I had no intentions of trying to beat the system,” he said. “I was made aware by our Canadian Curling Association High Performance staff of my responsibilities to respect and follow the rules as set down by the World Anti-Doping Agency. At the end of the day I accept that it was, and is, my responsibility to make sure that I am playing by those rules.”

However, saying that, Team Jacobs will have to face tighter scrutiny (unfairly) this upcoming season. The whispers (again, unfairly) will be there. Being known for their large biceps plus having a teammate busted for steroid use will make people gossip. Is it fair? No, they are innocent until proven guilty. But it's human nature.

Curling has changed a lot in the last 10-15 years. It's more athletic and the new breed of curler will be built more like a football linebacker rather than a football punter.

Here is a Toronto Sun story about the ban.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Changes coming to Ontario?

Are there going to be changes to the way Ontario has teams advance to provincials?

Curlers have told me that Ontario should take a long hard look at how teams advance to procinals.

A meeting was held yesterday at Annandale Golf & Curling Club, Thursday to discuss the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for 2014-15 and beyond.

The OCA asked female curlers to come with viable options viable options for determining the team to represent the OCA at the Canadian Championship. 

A meeting and having discussions about it is a good start.

Currently, the system is set up so that  a team can sign up at their club and make it all the way to the provincial finals. Ontario is divided into 16 zones. Once a team wins their zones they go to one of four regionals. After a regional the top two teams go to provincials.

The playdown method works on paper, but there is still a few glitches. Many zones don't have a lot of teams come out, or just a couple come out for spots.

I am a big fan of the movie Hoosiers. It's about a small high school in Indiana that makes it to the state finals in the 1950s. Everyone loves the underdog story about how any high school can take on the big boys and win.

I would love to see a rag-tag bunch of curlers rise up from zones and make it to provincials to take on John Epping and Glenn Howard's teams. However, even Indiana changed their playdown system eventually.

Maybe it's time to eliminate Zones and just have teams advance to regionals. Also it would be nice to see teams advance from the Ontario Curling Tour. It gives them some motivation to go on the OCT and do well with more at stake other than money.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

John Morris heads west...further west

John Morris

Looks like rumours of John Morris heading to British Columbia to team up with Jim Cotter are bang on. It was announced that Morris is heading to BC. At the very least it should be a very competitive team.

It will be interesting to see what becomes of Jason Gunnlaugson. Doesn't it seem like it was just a few years ago that he was the next big thing in curling, with his heater and subsequent move to Russia.

Morris and Cotter will be teaming up to play in the Capital One Road to the Roar pre-trials being held in Morris' former back yard of Kitchener in November.

Here is all the info from CCA: Read all about it here...or below

Interesting note: Just two of the teams are from east of Ottawa.

Twenty-four teams will be looking to take a step closer to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, when the 2013 Capital One Road to the Roar Pre-Trials, presented by Monsanto, get underway on Nov. 5 at the Memorial Auditorium Complex in Kitchener, Ont.

Tim Hortons Brier champion Brad Jacobs will be playing in the 2013 Capital One Road to the Roar Pre-Trials in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)
Twelve teams of each gender will play off for two berths into the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials, presented by Monsanto, Dec. 1 to 8 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. The Trials will decide Canada’s teams to compete for Olympic gold in Sochi.
Teams qualified for the Road to the Roar through the Canadian Curling Association’s Canadian Team Ranking System. Here is the list of teams:
Brad Jacobs, Sault Ste.  Marie, Ont.
Brad Gushue, St. John’s, Nfld.
Mark Kean, Toronto
Jim Cotter, Kelowna, B.C.
Steve Laycock, Saskatoon
Joe Frans, Bradford, Ont.
Jean-Michel Ménard, St-Romuald, Que.
Greg Balsdon, Toronto
Rob Fowler, Brandon, Man.
Bryan Cochrane, Ottawa
Jake Higgs, Harriston, Ont.
Rob Rumfeldt, Guelph, Ont.

Shannon Kleibrink, Calgary
Laura Crocker, Edmonton
Renee Sonnenberg, Grande Prairie, Alta. (Note: This berth was originally won by Kim Schneider, but the team declined it)
Cheryl Bernard, Calgary
Crystal Webster, Calgary
Amber Holland, Regina
Val Sweeting, Edmonton
Kelly Scott, Kelowna, B.C.
Cathy Auld, Mississauga, Ont.
Tracy Horgan, Sudbury, Ont.
Barb Spencer, Winnipeg
Krista McCarville, Thunder Bay, Ont. (Note: This berth was originally won by Cathy Overton-Clapham, but the team declined it)

In addition to being officially named as a competing team in the Road to the Roar, Cotter’s team also announced on Wednesday that it has added 2010 Olympic gold-medallist John Morris to its lineup for the 2013-14 season.
The format for the Pre-Trials will see teams play a modified triple-knockout draw leading to a four-team playoff. One playoff qualifier will come out of the A-event, one from the B-event and two from the C-event. The A- and B-event qualifiers will meet in the playoffs, with the winner advancing to the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings.
The two C-event qualifiers, meanwhile, will meet in the playoffs, with the winner advancing to play against the loser of the A-B game. The winner earns the other Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings berth.
For more information on the 2013 Capital One Road to the Roar Pre-Trials, go to: www.curling.ca/roadtotheroar/.
To purchase tickets, go to: www.curling.ca/tickets/.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Maple Leaf Gardens...awesome

Maple Leaf Gardens...awesome

Probably one of the best features of this week's  Players' Championship being held at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, is the fact that it's being held at the former Maple Leaf Gardens.

As a kid growing up in southwestern Ontario, MLG was my mecca. I watched it on television every Saturday night and couldn't wait until my first trip. 
The building had so much history. Not just the hockey, but boxing, basketball, lacrosse, concerts and the political conventions.

I used to do a lot of work at Queens Park in the 1990s and I would park my car near Maple Leaf Gardens and then walk the five minutes over to the provincial buildings. I remember seeing Mats Sundin and other Leafs walking down the street. I could've parked at lots closer to Queens Park, but it was always a thrill to walk past MLG.

Things like school, sports and other activities got in the way and I didn't make my first trip to MLG until the Leafs' last season in the building. They were set to move over to the Air Canada Centre and I really wanted to make one last journey to see the Gardens before it closed. I knew if I didn't get a chance to see a hockey game before it closed in a few weeks it would be a huge regret.

I wrangled some tickets for January 4, 1999. The tickets were for standing room, but I was happy to just be the building. A couple things about the building stood out:

One: It was a cozy building. I remember my brother and I wanted to see the Gardens, so we walked around. We took a left and a right and then went down a small hallway, past a security guard and then next thing I know we're standing on the Maple Leafs bench--about five minutes before the game started. Not wanted to get kicked out, we quickly soaked everything in and then turned around.

Two: In the third period a pair of fans sitting in the Reds left and signaled that we could take their seats. I am about 5'10 and my brother is 6'1, but it felt like we Toronto Raptors sitting in those seats. Not a lot of leg-room.

Three: I should mention that my lovely wife allowed me to go to the game, especially since she was 8-months pregnant with our first child. I really wanted to go and knew it was now or never.

I was glad to hear that Ryerson was able to revitalize MLG, especially since it looked like the arena could've fallen to the wreckers ball. 

As Don Landry points out (or more specifically Glenn Howard) it's still Maple Leaf Gardens.   

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Sportsnet announced three out of four Grand Slam sites for next year.

Grand Slam sites

Sportsnet released details for next year's Grand Slam sites,...well three out of the four sites. As that great philosopher Meatloaf once said---three out of four ain't bad.

Editor's note: Two out of three ain't bad. Three out of four is tremendous.

The announced sites for Grand Slams are Abbotsford, Medicine Hat and Summerside.

All lovely places, but if I can't make the four-hour drive to Toronto, it's unlikely I will attend any Grand Slams next year. However, it will be a busy curling season for me next year.

I am in the process of planning my itinerary next season.

Olympic pre-trials in Kitchener--check
Olympic trials in Winnipeg--probably not, but not counted out
Continental Cup in Las Vegas--Oh yeah. Already started counting down the days and saving up my bail money.
TSN skins game--perhaps, I emailed TSN honchos and they said to expect an announcement closer to the fall. If it's going to be held in Niagara Falls (just my random guess) it's a for sure I will be there.
Olympics in Sochi--uh, no. Unless I win the lottery.
Brier in Kamloops--nope, too far away
Scotties in Montreal--intriguing. Anyone have a couch to crash on?  

Here's the press release detailing the three out of four sites for next year's Grand Slams. Site number four to be announced soon.

As announced tonight during Sportsnet’s broadcast of the Players’ Championship – taking place now through to April 21 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens) in Toronto Sportsnet has confirmed three of the four event locations for next year’s Grand Slam of Curling series, with the fourth location to be announced in the coming weeks. 

With all new venues and cities, the 2013-14 Grand Slam of Curling series kicks off with the Masters, taking place in Abbotsford, BC from October 30 to November 3, 2013, featuring 30 men’s and women’s teams competing for a combined purse of $200,000.

From November 13 to 17, Medicine Hat, AB will host the Canadian Open, which will include 18 men’s teams competing for a $100,000 purse, while the Players’ Championship, the final event of the 2013-14 Grand Slam of Curling series, will take place in Summerside, PEI from April 15 to 20, 2014 with 30 men’s and women’s teams competing for a combined purse of $200,000.

Below are the details of the confirmed 2013-14 Grand Slam of Curling series events:

Masters – October 30 - November 3, 2013
Location: Abbotsford, BC - Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre
Draw:  Men’s and Women’s draws
Purse: $200,000 ($100,000 spilt)

Canadian Open – November 13 – 17, 2013
Location: Medicine Hat, AB – Medicine Hat Arena
Draw:  Men’s draw only
Purse: $100,000

Players’ Championship – April 15 – 20, 2014
Location: Summerside, PEI – Credit Union Place
Draw:  Men’s and Women’s draws
Purse: $200,000 ($100,000 spilt)

Additional details regarding the full 2013-14 Grand Slam of Curling schedule, ticket information and broadcast details will be announced at a later date.

Owned and operated by Sportsnet, the Grand Slam of Curling is an elite series of men’s and women's curling events which are part of the World Curling Tour and feature the best teams from across Canada and around the world.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Good read about Team Howard

Good read about Team Howard

One thing about Glenn Howard and his team is they seem very approachable and accessable.

 There was the documentary (or as the creators called it --rockumentary) on the team that was shown on TSN last year.

Sportsnet magazine has a feature online that focuses on Team Howard and the trials and tribulations that the team endured this past season.

You can read it here.

Brett Popplewell stalked the team for the past year, following them around across Ontario and out to the Brier in Alberta. He was with them in the hotel room, in small curling clubs, in the car and at restaurants.

I can imagine that by following the team closely, there would be some great gems that Popplewell saw and heard. I wonder what made the story and what didn't.

Glenn Howard seems fairly candid and fairly open. Here's a few gems from the story:

The Olympics play a big part in their motivation and thought process.
It was a dream they spoke of often. They’d never represented their country on the Olympic stage. For Team Howard, and the skip especially, it was Sochi or bust. 

Team Howard used to be sponsored by Trojan condoms. How did I miss that?

I knew about and heard about Joe Frans and his suspension, but I didn't know about the dust-up in the bar.
An accomplished curler in his own right, Frans had been to the Brier twice, the last time in 2005. It hadn’t been the most rewarding experience. During the tournament, he’d taken a swing at a journalist while drinking in a bar and afterwards tested positive for cocaine. He’d been banned from competitive play for two years. But now he was back, clean and eager for a return to the Brier. 

Did I mention that the Olympics weigh heavily on Howard's mind?
 Later, after the ceremonies were done, Howard sat in the hotel lounge and reflected on all that had happened. He said he was exhausted, that the week had been gruelling and that though it hurt to lose, it wasn’t the end. “It was just a curling game,” he said. “There’s still Sochi.” 


Curling mixed doubles...meh

Curling mixed doubles...meh

Let the great curling mixed doubles debate begin now.

Do you know who doesn't like curling mixed doubles? This guy.

The debate is only going to get larger over the next few years as this specialty, is forced down our throats in the next few years.

My guess is that it will be be it's own event at the 2018 or 2022 Olympics. Might as well embrace it now.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Nolan Thiessen can bring the heat

Nolan Thiessen can bring the heat

When I heard that Nolan Thiessen (lead for Kevin Koe) was picked to throw out the first pitch at a Blue Jays game, I knew he would do well.

Thiessen was promoting this week's Grand Slam event being held in Toronto this week.

Not a lot of people know this, but Thiessen spent some time in the United States as a college pitcher. He was named after Nolan Ryan. Thiessen can bring the heat.

Check out the pitch here:

Not too bad. Up and in. Good form. I think it surprised the catcher.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

RIP Shorty

RIP Shorty

Shorty Jenkins, probably the most famous icemaker ever, and once of curling's most famous ambassadors has died.


What more could be said about Jenkins? He made icemaking an art. However, unlike some innovators who hoarded their secrets, Shorty shared his ideas and experiences with anybody.

I never met Shorty, but from what I've heard, he was very engaging and not afraid to share his ideas with anybody that had 10 minutes to talk to him.

The Shorty Jenkins Classic, the Brockville, Ont. bonspiel that is held every fall in his honour, will be a little bittersweet this year. Jenkins was 77.

Here is some thoughts from the Twitterverse on Shorty's curling.

@EMontford rest in peace my friend. Will miss the king of swing. thanks for everything. We would of got no where with out you.

@TSNVicRauter Curling..no sports has lost an original...have a Timmy's in memory of icemake Shorty Jenkins.

@AshamCurling Curling loses a legend: Shorty Jenkins, the man in pink, passes away. Our thoughts and prayers are with his...

@BalancePlus RIP Shorty Jenkins.Thank you for everything you did for curling

@CurlingRumors #rumorhasit  The ice in heaven just got a whole lot better. RIP Shorty

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Toronto Brier

Toronto Brier

With the Player's Championship being held in Toronto next week, expect the curling media to jump on the story of curling in Toronto and more specifically, whether Toronto should host a Brier or Scotties championship.

There is a lot of pros, but there is a lot of cons as well. It will be interesting to see whether Toronto could host a major curling championship.

 I am not exactly breaking new ground, as Don Landry has gone here before.

Toronto is a big-league town. People won't bat an eye at paying outrageous prices for Toronto Raptors, Toronto Blue Jays and especially Toronto Maple Leaf tickets.

However, fans don't flock to junior hockey in Toronto, as the St. Mikes, Mississauga and Brampton franchises will tell you, as two of the three Toronto franchises have left town for North Bay and Niagara, and if rumours are to be believed, expect the third OHL team to head out to heaven-on-earth, or as I call it, Chatham.

Even the CFL's Argos have attendance issues, as they can only fill up the Stadium Formerly Known as Skydome to less than half capacity. The Buffalo Bills however, despite being a horrible team and having little ties to Toronto, can just about fill up the Skydome/Rogers Centre.

The difference is that the NFL, along with the NBA and NHL are considered A-list products.
The CFL and junior hockey and (sigh) yes, curling, are considered B-level products. A Brier, from an attendance standpoint, would probably be a disaster, which would be a shame.

Saying that, it will be interesting to see how Toronto treats next week's Players Championships being held at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

I hope the curling die-hards, and there are tons in Toronto, make their way downtown to watch some curling.

It will be interesting to see how the Toronto media treat having a major curling event in their own backyard. I assume most of the major players will ignore the Players Championship, other than a small story at the beginning of the week, with the Brier speculation, and then ignore it the rest of the week. If TSN shows highlights in minute 57 of Sportscentre I will be impressed.

I also expect the morning talk show types to do a preview-type segment. If you've seen them once you've seen them a million times,--morning host comes down, gives curling a try, yuk it up for a bit and then says "this is much harder than it looks."

Would they do that with baseball or hockey? Nah, it's an A-list event. Can't make fun of that.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Ryan Fry...he's okay in my books

Ryan Fry...he's okay in my books

I don't know Ryan Fry. Met the guy once and he gave me and my kids an autographed picture with him and Brad Gushue and Randy Ferbey. It's hanging up on my office wall.

Judging from this story, it seems that what he thought was a small gesture, meant the world to a little girl and her dad.

From the Victoria Times-Colonist:

He may not be a true world champion, suffering a loss with his Canadian teammates to Sweden on Sunday, but Ryan Fry will always be one in the eyes of two B.C. curling fans.

Fry will be forever be remembered for his generosity by Brad Sheridan and his five-year-old daughter, Georgia, who ventured over from the Lower Mainland during the 2013 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship in Victoria.
“She had never been to a sporting event before, let alone a curling match, but she was excited to cheer for Canada and we watched some games on television together before heading over,” Sheridan said in an email to the Times Colonist.
“We got to the arena a little early and I took her down to ice level. I pointed out the various teams including, of course, the Canadian group. We talked at the railing for a few minutes and had just turned away to go and find our seats when I heard, ‘Here, sweetheart, this is for you.’ ”
That’s when Sheridan turned around, with Georgia in his arms, and saw Fry was giving his daughter his broom.
“She was more astute than I was and was able to say thank you,” Sheridan said. “I was too stunned to do anything.”
Fry then rejoined his team in the warmup.
“It was an incredible gesture and had a profound impact on both of us,” Sheridan added of the encounter that took place prior to Canada’s win over Russia. “Georgia carried the broom with her everywhere that day, being careful that it didn’t touch the floor while she carried it.
“She absolutely could not wait to show it to her mom, running into the house when she got home,” he said. “She has spoken about it every day since.
“I will try and find an address for Mr. Fry so that I can contact him to say thank you, but this amazing act of kindness and thoughtfulness will stay with both of us forever,” Sheridan said. “This was a class act by a Canadian champion.”

It's gestures like this that make a youngster a curling fan for life. I know part of the reason why my son likes curling is was because a junior curler (who later represented Canada at a junior world championship) spent some time with him at Little Rocks and went above and beyond in encouraging him on.

Little things mean a lot.

Like I said, I don't know Ryan Fry, but he seems like a classy guy. The reason I am a curling fan is because of stories like this.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Getting hot at the right time

Getting hot at the right time

I read somewhere, and I forget now where I read it, where they compare the Brad Jacobs rink with a hockey team getting on a roll during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It' a pretty adept analogy, as Jacobs' team kinda stumbled into the playoffs, but they look like they're hitting their stride now.

It's important for a curling team to peak at the right time. It looks like this team is peaking.

Final is tonight at 7pm (EST).

For a detailed game summary, read this story from Victoria Times-Colonist.

UPDATE: Should also mention game is on TV. I will also try and live blog or tweet (@hurryhardblog) if my kids don't steal the TV or if the dog continues to drive me nuts wanting outside every 10 minutes.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Ferbey's Jacket

Ferbey's Jacket

If you're like me and you browse Kiijii or eBay for curling memorabilia, make sure you keep on the lookout for Randy Ferby's jacket.

Here's the Edmonton Sun story about Ferby's stolen jacket.

Mounties in Strathcona County need help tracking down a thief who stole a sentimental jacket that belongs to a Sherwood Park curling star.

Someone broke into a vehicle that was parked in the Clarkdale Meadows neighbourhood of Sherwood Park March 11 and stole a blue Team Alberta Curling jacket that belongs to Edmonton-area curler Randy Ferbey.

The jacket is blue in colour with yellow trim and it has eight purple hearts sewn on the left sleeve.
The purple hearts represent the eight appearances the curler has been in the Brier.

The jacket also has “FERBEY” embroidered across the back.

Jeez, I guess if the thief is stupid enough to steal it, he would be stupid enough to wear it around.

“The jacket is extremely valuable to the owner as it holds sentimental value from his experiences representing Alberta and Canada at major curling events,” said Strathcona County RCMP spokesman Wally Henry in a release.

Ferbey, who is now retired, has played in eight Briers, six world championships, four Continental Cups.

He is a six-time Canadian champ and a four-time world champ.

Just a question, and in no way am I trying to judge, but why leave something so valuable in your car? Does Ferbey still wear it around?

Either way, let's hope the person who stole this does the right thing and bring it back and quietly leaves the jacket on his porch overnight.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Curling scholarships

Curling scholarships

I was hanging out with some friends from south-of-the-border last year and just like most guys when they get together, the conversation drifted to sports.

They were talking about college football and how one of their nephews had scooped up a baseball scholarship to an American college in the south.

They then tried to joke with me about Canadian colleges and asked if they gave out curling scholarships. I sheepishly admitted that yes, there are post-secondary institutions that do give out curling athletic scholarships. They thought I was telling a whopper, like the time I told them I let my kids ride the polar bears when they come into our front yard.

I know for a fact that here in Ontario Wilfred Laurier University gives out athletic scholarships to curlers.

There are other scholarship programs offered by Canadian colleges and universities, you just have to search them out.

This crossed my desk and I thought I would pass it on.

Spirit of Sandra Junior Curling Scholarship
There is six scholarships being awarded each year. Scholarships are worth $5,000.

Spirit of Sandra Junior Curling Scholarships are funded through crowd sweeps at Season of Champion Events. These scholarships are intended for young athletes who participate in curling in their graduating year from high school or while pursuing a post-secondary education on a full-time basis. The scholarships will be awarded to graduating high school students entering a post-secondary institution and to students in their first or second year in a post-secondary institution. Recipients must be under the age of 21 years as of March 31, 2014. The aim is to give talented junior curlers the opportunity of combining their competitive curling pursuits with a year of academic study (i.e. September through April) in a Canadian University/College setting.

In recognition of Sandra Schmirler, the three-time Canadian and World Curling Champion and first gold medalist for curling in the Olympics, Scholarships will be awarded in the "Spirit of Sandra" and in the name of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation.

You can find out more information here.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Crazy curling parents

Crazy curling parents

This week a pair of outrageous hockey fights involving minor hockey players and parents made front-page news across Canada.

Without going into all the gruesome details, there was a fight between parents of a Tweed Ontario Bantam team and a Six Nations Bantam team and it was captured on video here.

There was also a fight and video of a brawl between Midget teams in PEI, which occurred during the post-game medal ceremony, according to reports.

When I saw those two incidents I thought about when my son was younger. I steered him away from hockey and towards curling, mostly because of the minor hockey politics and baloney. There are some great people in minor hockey, but it has its share of bozos too.

The worst parent behaviour I have seen in junior curling is a couple overzealous parents who coached behind the glass and a couple catty comments. Otherwise, the difference from curling parents and hockey parents, at least from my observation, has been night and day in difference. Curling parents are fairly laid-back compared to hockey parents.

However, at least one person thinks differently. Here's an article in the Sudbury Star from Alan Arkilander who says that takes the behaviour of curling parents to task.

You can read it here.

I am not saying that curling parents are innocent, but I'm not really sure what Arkilander has seen to make his observation:

Even in curling, I have seen poor behaviour by parents, which led the Idylwylde Junior Section to publish a one-page letter about how to behave while their child is curling. Yes folks, even in curling I have seen parents living vicariously through their children, pushing them, spending whatever it takes to get them to the next level, and dwelling on each "bad shot" or loss.
I have seen these children being taught that a win is everything to be gained at any cost, never mind development and having fun.

Anyone have any comments? Has anyone else seen some crazy parent behaviour at curling rinks from parents?

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Don't worry, she's got this

Don't worry, she's got this

I haven't checked Curling Zone and it's curling forums in the last little while, but I can almost guarantee that there was a lot of hand-wringing and people worried about Rachel Homan and her team when she started the Women's curling championships 4-3.

Me, I saw it coming a mile away. I didn't lose faith in Team Homan, --I still give them 50-50 odds of winning it all. I said that at the beginning of the worlds they might struggle a bit. Even when they were 4-3 I wasn't too concerned (although I wouldn't have bet my first-born or my house, but I still had confidence).

Here's some reasons why I thought Team Canada might struggle.

1. New...everything
The World's are a different animal. Different teams, different crowds (all 100 fans) and different ice. It takes a while to get used to the set up and get your bearings.

2. Different country
It has to be tough mentally, with jet lag, different food and different toilet paper. You might snicker, but I would be discombobulated if I didn't have my Scotties toilet paper. (Free sponsor plug)

3. Whirlwind
Since winning the Scotties it must have been hard for the team to know up from down. Media appearances, promotional appearances and just dealing with being the curling darlings. People don't realize what a whirlwind the past 2-3 weeks it has been as they juggling curling and life.

4. Unlucky
Team Homan didn't play all that bad in a few of their losses. I watched a couple of the losses and other than a few bad shots, Team Homan looked very Homan-like.
They just happened to be unlucky and the breaks didn't go there way. It happens in hockey, football and basketball. It doesn't mean you're a bad team, it just means you're unlucky.

I don't want to defend the team, just explain to people why they might not have been world-beaters right out of the gate.

Since the shaky start, Team Homan has won five straight  to earn a spot into the playoffs at the world women's curling championship in Riga, Latvia.

Homan will play in the Page playoff 3-4 game, against Russia or the United States.
Scotland (10-1) and Sweden (9-1) will play in the Page playoff 1-2 game. Both countries beat Homan in the round robin.

Even with the hiccups, Team Homan is in good shape. Would I bet my house they will win? Well, I feel very confident that they are now in control. They're just three wins away from gold, so who knows what can happen, but as I've said before, this team gets better through adversity. I would feel more confident with this team with an 8-3 record than a 11-0 or 10-1 record.

Anything can happen, but Canada has just as good a shot as anyone to win the worlds.

I think they have this.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Mixed doubles--don't knock it until you try it

Mixed doubles curling

The inaugural Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials kicked off today and will be held from March 14-17, 2013 at the Leduc Recreation Centre and Leduc Curling Club in lovely Leduc, Alberta.

What's the consensus on mixed curling? From what I've heard it's mixed. (See what I did there?)

Personally, I don't really have an opinion yet. It might be one of those things that grows on me.

I've talked to some curlers and they hate it. Many of the curlers I've talked to call it a novelty. They hate the chasing up to the rock and sweeping.  They hate the fact that curling associations are pushing mixed curling as the next big thing, even going as far as to suggest that mixed curling will be part of the Olympics in by 2018.

In the spirit of openness and honesty, I've never given mixed doubles a shot. Maybe I should play it a few times before I make my opinion.

Saying that, the more that I've thought about it, there is some things I like about mixed doubles curling.

Here's a list of things that intrigue me about the discipline of mixed doubles:

One: It gets more women involved. Curling is largely a male domain. Heck, the other night at my curling club's mixed league, of the 32 players on the ice, only six were women.
Anything that can get more women involved is a good thing.

Two: Different strategy. With more rocks in play it looks like a fun game. Additionally, with only two players, it gets both players involved in strategy and forces you to make different shots. At the very least it's good practice for regular curling.

Three: Helps people make the leap from a novice curler to a more experienced curler. In mixed doubles curling you have to be a good all-around player. I see a lot of curlers who have become one-dimensional over the years because all the do is play lead or skip. Mixed doubles will help you step up your game the more you play.

Four: My men's team will end up only going in two bonspiels this year. Know why? With four guys with different family and work schedules it's just too hard to get us all together at the same time. It would be easier with just two teammates.

Five: Offence. The mixed doubles curling offers a lot of offence. Who doesn't like offence?

Six: Fast. With only five rocks for each team an end I will assume that mixed doubles can get a game in in about 90 minutes, which is good for curlers and for television.

Seven: More curling. Are you going to argue against more curling?

Saying that, mixed doubles has a lot of room to grow. It will be interesting to see if any curling clubs start up mixed doubles leagues in the future or offer up mixed doubles bonspiels. People have to try it before they knock it.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Team building exercise

Team building exercise

What do Team Homan and Team Jacobs have in common?

They're the women's and men's Canadian curling champions?
They're both fit and athletic?
They're both young?
They're both from Ontario?
They both never been in my kitchen?

Um, yeah okay, you're correct, but the best answer is that the teams, with a couple of minor additions and changes, both Brad Jacobs' team and Rachel Homan's team has basically stayed intact since they were pre-teenagers.

I find that remarkable.

It could just be a coincidence, but it must help to play with the same team for over half of your life and you're not even close to 30 yet. It must help with team chemistry, team bonding and I am no psychologist, but it must help with team dynamics.

Perfection is being able to look your friends in the eye and know you did everything you could not to let them down. Whether it's a practice, game or workout, do you think a member of the Homan or Jacobs team can look at each other and not let the other one down? Imagine the connection that the members of Team Homan and Team Jacobs have. They've seen each other at their worst, they've seen each other at their best.

I can't speak for other provinces, but in Ontario at the Bantam and Junior level, teams are slapped together from across the province.
Take a skip from London, a vice from Brampton, a second from Brantford and a lead from Guelph, put them together and you have...well, nobody knows.
A lot of teams drive a lot of miles hoping that they can catch lightning in the bottle with four spare pieces. The funny thing is; a great team might be right under your nose. The best teammates are the people that you hang out with, go to school with and who you know their parents. It's hard to go to the wall for someone you just started playing for last month and frankly you don't really like. It's different when you've grown up with someone your whole life.

Team Homan, for the most part, grew up together in the Ottawa area. They curled together since Little Rocks. Their coach Earle Morris has coached them since back when they were into the Backstreet Boys.

Team Jacobs has been together for just as long. Tom Coulterman, junior curling coordinator at Soo Curlers Association, has coached them since they were young and was touting them back when they were just 12 years-old.

The bulk of the team has been together since high school. In matter of fact, E. J. Harnden was the skip, Ryan Harnden was the second and Brad Jacobs was the lead when they led Sir James Dunn Collegiate out of Sault Ste. Marie to an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association title in Thunder Bay in 2002. Former teammate Caleb Flaxey was vice.
Fast-forward 11 years and the majority of the team (in different positions) won the Brier.
(Yeah, I know Ryan Fry is an addition this year and he is from outside the province, but he was a good addition).

By the way, the Soo Crew beat Peterborough's John Epping 7-2 in the OFSAA final back in 2002. Whatever happened to that Epping guy?

In the next few months, curling teams from across Canada will let some players go, add some players and then try and make it work. Why not follow Team Homan and Team Jacobs' lead and play with your buddies from Little Rocks curling. It worked out pretty well for them. Sometimes sticking it out with the ones you grew up with is the best option and probably the funnest option.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Final Brier thoughts

Final Brier thoughts

As I type this Brad Jacobs and Jeff Stoughton and their teams are warming up for the final.

I planned on watching the heck out of this Brier, but my own curling, my kids curling and other factors led to me only watching a few games on television. I had hoped to watch about 20 hours of curling this week, but truth be told I probably watched half of that.

Even when I had an evening free, I feel asleep in the ninth end and woke up when the game was over. This old horse can rarely make it past 11 p.m. anymore, especially with the late draws being held an hour or two later because they're out in Alberta.

Anyways, here is a few thoughts on what I saw and heard during the past week of Brier action.

Friday night
If there is one memory that will Friday night. The crowd. The excitement. Friday night with the playoff chase and exciting games will be the highlight moment of Brier 2013.
With the crowds at the 2010 Olympics and this Brier crowd, it shows things are changing. This is no longer your grandparents Brier.
Almost makes it worth being there instead of watching on television....almost.

Kudos for the Canadian Curling Association in using new stones, as they’re the same type of stones that will be used at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. It's good for players to get used to them before they make the trek to the Olympics.
However, while the stones were used at the Canadian junior curling championships, they threw everyone for a loop by making their debut at the Brier.
Curlers are a funny sort, change is okay, not just when it counts the most. The new curling stones threw everyone for a loop. It would've been nice if they had been used at a variety of events before the Brier so teams could compare notes.
Better planning could've made the rocks less of an issue during the first few days of the Brier.

Social media
Curling has a growing presence on social-media. If you're not following your favourite curlers or teams on Twitter or Facebook, do so now. You know in the future it will be come all corporate and it will not be as engaging or accessible as it is now.
Also kudos to Curling Zone and their curling forum. A great way for curling fans from across the country to talk about the game they love.

Started the week looking horrible and then went on a magical run.
They started out at 1-4 and it seemed the world was collapsing on them. You have to give the team credit, as they bounced back and finished 7-4 including victories over Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue and Ontario’s Glenn Howard.

It was only the second time in 12 Briers that Martin hasn’t qualified for the playoffs.

It will be interesting to see how Martin's crew bounces back and if they can put it together to try and qualify for another Olympic spot. They've already qualified for the 2013 Olympic Trials at Winnipeg in December.

Last kick at the can
Will this be the last Brier appearance for Glenn Howard, Jeff Stoughton or Kevin Martin? We hope not, but Howard and Stoughton are on the wrong side of 50 and Martin is 46 and is starting to show his age. How long can they keep it up?

Weak teams
I am not a big fan of relegation, but would British Columbia, PEI or Nova Scotia even qualify for the provincials in Ontario, Alberta or Manitoba? There is a huge chasm between the bottom three teams and the top 4-5 teams.
All three bottom-feeder teams looked over-matched all week.

Bronze medal game
I've been a lone wolf in showing some love and appreciation for the Bronze medal game. So I was a bit dismayed to come home Sunday afternoon and not be able to watch the Bronze medal match on TSN or TSN2. From what I hear the game was just available online. Either TSN is going to cover the Brier from beginning to end or they're not. It also shows to fans that the game means little if TSN2 is not showing it.
I like the Bronze medal game, but it's obvious that not only are the players not crazy about it, so are the broadcasters.
Also, since I am on a rant, would it kill TSN Sportscentre to show more than a minute of Brier highlights? It seems every hour has 33 minutes of NHL highlights, 7 minutes of NHL rumours, 6 minutes of soccer, 4 minutes of NBA highlights and then in minute 51, just after a live report from the Maple Leafs practice, we get a curling update. Is this as good as it is going to get?

Final prediction
I lost a $10 bet betting against Jeff Stoughton in 2011 at the Brier in London. Maybe I can get my money back this year—Manitoba 7, Northern Ontario 5.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Unofficial Brier all-star team

Unofficial Brier all-star team

What a week it was. Alberta struggled and then got it back on track. Newfoundland, Ontario and Manitoba looked good just about all week. Northern Ontario and Quebec also played well.

For some teams it was a struggle. Yeah, we're looking at you PEI and British Columbia.

Either way, kudos to the teams because Friday produced some exciting moments as Alberta came within a hair of making the playoff round and Jeff Stoughton made a nice draw to at least quiet the Rexall crowd and smash Alberta's hopes.

The all-stars used to be voted on by the media, but the system was changed a few years ago and the awards are now handed out on the basis of shooting percentage during the round robin. 

UPDATE: Nope. I am wrong. The media still votes on the all-stars. It's just the Scotties that goes by straight percentages.
Stats are a good way to judge how a player curled, but just like batting average or goals against average, it doesn't tell the whole story, as there are other variables that can come into play as well as other stats. Especially at the lead position. If you're team is losing, your shots are easier. If you're a lead on a team that has the lead in a lot of games, you're shots are a bit tougher.
Therefore, here is my all-star teams that I picked based on what I saw this week. The official all star list will be released probably tonight.
First-team: Ben Hebert, Alberta. In my mind the best lead and sweeper in the world. Also remember he also had to shot with all the bad rocks and he still had a 91 percentage.
Second-team: Craig Savill, Ontario. One of the best in the game. Kept Ontario in good shape.
Honourable Mention: Mark Nichols, Manitoba. Has settled into the lead position nicely after years at Third.

First-team: Brent Laing, Ontario. Only had two games where he shot below 90 percent.
Second-team: Reid Carruthers, Manitoba. Got Manitoba out of trouble a lot of times.
Honourable mention: Marc Kennedy, Alberta. Had one bad game early, other than that he played well, especially when Alberta got on a roll.
Also mention E.J. Harden from Northern Ontario.

First-team: Jon Mead, Manitoba. This guy has been so good for so long. Scary thing about Mead is that he performs at his best during the big games.
Second-team: Wayne Middaugh, Ontario. Mead and Middaugh are two of the best vices out there. Middaugh was a first-team lock until the last game when he faltered a bit.
Despite his age, Middaugh can still bring the heat.
Honourable mention: Martin Crete, Quebec. Helped Quebec grind out a few wins. Also should mention Northern Ontario's Ryan Fry.

First-team: Glenn Howard, Ontario. How come this guy gets better with age? A quick Glenn Howard story. We had a hankerin' for some chicken wings so we ordered some wings from a local joint. We get there to pick them up around supper time and the bar had curling on television. While we were waiting we saw Glenn Howard make a dandy shot. One of the bar flys who had probably been drinking at the bar since noon and looked like he hangs around with the Hell's Angels, looked up at the television and said, "jeez, that bald guy doesn't miss a shot."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
Second-team: Brad Gushue, Newfoundland. Had a great week. Really patient and called a good game for the most part.
Honourable mention: Jeff Stoughton, Manitoba. We loved that little fist-pump towards the crowd on Friday night.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Bad boys

The Curling News had an interesting tidbit about the alleged behaviour of a Team Alberta player at the Brier:

From The Curling News:

According to sources, one of the Alberta competitors removed his player microphone and receiver and threw the equipment against a rink board, causing an estimated $4,000 in damage. Team Alberta has since paid TSN for the cost of the equipment, and a subsequent warning was issued to the entire field of athletes.

Anyone have anymore details they want to share? Feel free to email us at hurryhardblog@gmail.com.

Would love to have a few more details. In matter of fact, if you've seen any other bad behaviour at this year's Brier let us know. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Brier attendance

Brier attendance

Judging by the crowds I see on television, attendance looks kinda sparse in Edmonton this year, which must concern the CCA honchos a bit because Edmonton is the flagship  venue for the Brier.

Through 10 draws, just over 70,000 fans had attended the Brier. Attendance will pick up this weekend and the final should be close to being sold out.

However, it will be doubtful that attendance will be over the 200,000 that organizers are shooting for, which is also a long ways off from the almost 282,000 that came in 2005.
(As an aside: you can bet that Brier organizers will pull out all stops to say they hit 200,000, even if it means a little creative accounting.)

Monday night it looked really empty in the building, as attendance dipped to under 6,000.

Why the low crowds?:

1. No Alberta. Well Alberta is here, but Kevin Martin and his team is struggling. It's no fun to watch a train wreck. This has to account for a loss of 20,000 tickets. If by all miracles Team Martin makes the playoffs or even a tie-breaker, all that praying by the CCA and organizers will have paid off.

2. I know I keep beating this horse, but watching curling on television is getting to be a lot better than in person. While attendance numbers are down, television numbers are strong. Old people like curling. Old people like to be in their house after 6 p.m.

3. NHL.If the lockout dragged on and closed down the season Edmonton sports fans would be desperate for big-time action. Instead, the NHL came back in January and took away the media and sporting spotlight from the Brier when organizers were out selling tickets and building momentum.
When the Brier was held in Edmonton last time the NHL season went kaput. That has to account for a loss of ticket sales.

The Brier will be played at the 6,400-seat Kamloops Interior Savings Centre next year. It will be interesting to see if smaller is better.

Top attendance at Brier
2005Rexall Place (Edmonton) 281,985
2000Saskatchewan Place (Saskatoon) 248,793
2009Pengrowth Saddledome (Calgary) 246,126
2002Pengrowth Saddledome (Calgary) 245,296
1999Skyreach Centre (Edmonton) 242,887
2004Saskatchewan Place (Saskatoon) 238,129
1997CAI Saddledome (Calgary) 223,322
2008MTS Centre (Winnipeg) 165,075
2003Metro Centre (Halifax) 158,414
2001Civic Centre (Ottawa) 154,136
1989Saskatchewan Place (Saskatoon) 151,538
1998Winnipeg Arena (Winnipeg) 147,017
1994Centrium (Red Deer) 130,625
1993Civic Centre (Ottawa) 130,076
1996Riverside Coliseum (Kamloops) 127,746
2006Brandt Centre (Regina) 125,971
1995Metro Centre (Halifax) 121,896

About Me

southwestern Ontario, Canada
I am a curling junkie. Wanted to create one spot to bring fans of the roaring game together, for information, news and thoughts about curling.