Thursday, 28 February 2013

Television versus being there

Television versus being there

Last week I got a call from a friend telling me that they had an extra ticket for the final of the Scotties in Kingston and wanted to know if I wanted to go. I thought about it for just about two seconds and took a pass. Wanna know why? Because watching curling on television is so much better than in person. 
Watching the game at home, with a roaring fire, a full fridge, my favourite chair and Hamilton Tiger-Cats blanket was a much better option than driving five hours, sitting in a plastic chair and having a stranger coughing beside me.

My theory is that the television product is so strong that it doesn't make sense to make the trek to the arena. It also doesn't make economic sense to take in curling in person when you can get a good experience watching it on your couch.

I was reading somewhere this weekend (sorry, don't have the link) where CCA head honcho Greg Stemlaw says television ratings are up, but ticket sales are down. Doesn't surprise me because watching curling on television is better than watching in person.

Don't get me wrong, going to a live curling event is a fun experience, especially if you have a favourite team to cheer on, but given the chance I would go with watching on television about 99 times out of 100.

Here's a few reasons why:

One: You can see the game better
In person I like to watch from the ends. At most curling events such as the Brier and the Scotties there are more seats at the side than from the end. Also, unless you're in a huge facility like Rexall Place it's hard to get up high enough to see the game.
Even if you're on the end there is a chance that you could not be lined up behind the game that you want to watch or the game that you want to watch is a snoozer and another game is a barn-burner and is three sheets over.
At home there is multiple cameras, various angles and replays. It's a lot easier to see who is shot rock due to the overhead cam than from 300 feet away.

Two: Broadcasters
Yep, I've said it before and I will say it again—Vic Rauter is the bomb. 
Watching from the comfort of home is better because of commentators who explain what is going on and chime in about strategy and analysis.
I would rather listen to Russ Howard than the old woman behind me who wants to know why Jennifer Jones didn't go for the 15 foot angle run-back for two instead of the draw for one.
You can bring headphones and listen to the game at the arena, but it's not the same.
Another added benefit is at home you can hear what the players are saying. At the arena you no idea unless you are in the first couple of rows and even then you only hear a little bit what the players are saying.
TSN also does a good job with the the curling events and Sportsnet has impressed me with the job they've done, especially televising a large number of the provincial finals.

Three: Food
At the arena you can spend $27 for a beer (or two), a hot dog and a pretzel. At home you can spend $27 for a six-pack, a pizza and a jar of peanuts. At the arena you have to walk up a flight of stairs and wait in line for the privilege of paying $8 for a beer. At home all you have to do is walk 20 feet.

Four: Technology
Back when a 27-inch television was considered huge, watching curling on television was not bad. Now it seems everyone has high definition televisions and a 40-inch television is considered a smallish television. Just like most sports, curling looks better on a big screen.
Also it's nice to have Twitter and Facebook and Curling Zone on hand to chat about the game while it's on television. Can't always do that at the arena.

Getting people into the seats will always be a challenge for curling events, but watching at home is just a better overall option.

Now all TSN has to do is work out a system where they televise all four or five games of a draw across all their channels instead of just one feature game. It would be nice to see all of one team's games instead of just a handful. It can be done...I guess that's another blog post for another time.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

OFSAA curling

OFSAA curling

With labour action amongst teachers in Ontario, it looked for a while that OFSAA curling might not take place this year.

Secondary and elementary public school teachers stopped providing extracurricular programming to students on Dec. 10 as part of their battle against Bill 115-- controversial provincial legislation that allowed the government to impose contracts on educators.

The OFSAA championships will be held in Ottawa on March 20-23.

It won't have as strong a field as in previous years, but at least curlers can curl for a provincial championship.

Four conferences are not even sending teams, including GHAC (Oakville/Burlington), LOSAA (Whitby/Ajax), TDSSAA (Toronto) and WOSSAA (London/Stratford)

High school curling in the province was in a state of flux, as the majority of public high schools did not offer sports, although a few parents stepped up at public schools and put in teams. In matter of fact, curling probably fared better than winter sports such as basketball and volleyball.

In Ontario, and this is only a guess, about 65-70 percent of schools are public, with about 20 percent Catholic, and about 10 percent independent or French-Catholic or French-Public, so for about 30 percent of high schools there was no extracurricular job action, but it's hard to have a curling league with only 2-3 teams and the odd public school thrown in the mix.

Again, if I had to guess, I would say curling had only about 20-30 percent participation this year, with about 70-80 percent of the schools not having teams due to the labour situation.

OFSAA was originally to be held in Gravenhurst and was cancelled because everything was up in the air.

With teachers eliminating extracurricular activities as part of their work-to-rule action, Gravenhurst High School athletic director Corry Ziorjen confirmed the event had to be cancelled due to a lack of time to prepare and organize but provided no other comment by press time.
An official with the Gravenhurst Curling Club, who requested to not be identified, expressed frustration over the cancellation, saying the club, the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre and either the Bracebridge Sportsplex or the Bracebridge Curling Club had been rented for that weekend to provide extra sheets of ice for the tournament.
“Now all of Muskoka is losing the curling championships,” said the official. “And in the end, it’s the kids that suffer, some in their last year of high school, who will never have a chance to make OFSAA again.
“I understand teachers’ hands are tied, it just irks me the kids can have the rug pulled out from under them like that,” the official added. “A person can’t point fingers but the politics of the situation is having a cost.”

Members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) voted last week to suspend their protest against the provincial government and allow teachers to volunteer for extracurricular activities at school.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Jones versus Homan

Jones versus Homan

Manitoba versus Ontario.

New guard versus Old(ish) guard.

The ultimate rubber match.

Who is going to win tonight? I have no idea, that's why I am going to watch. Either way you have to tip your hat at both teams.

British Columbia and Team Canada have both had their moments, but the two teams in the finals have been the cream of the crop at this year's Scotties.

Win or lose, you have to admire the play of Manitoba. For Jennifer Jones to come off of off-season knee surgery and then childbirth (or as the NHL would call it--a mid-body injury), is really impressive.

I've always been impressed with Jennifer Jones for her play on the ice and her demeanor off the ice and she has really stepped it up a level at this Scotties. Win or lose she has been a class act.

At the beginning of the Scotties I talked about Rachel Homan and how I think she and her team are the next big thing in women's curling, even going as far to compare her to a young Michael Jordan.

Win or lose, she has been impressive at the Scotties and made me sound like I knew what I was talking about when I said earlier that she is the next big thing. Team Homan has played well and gathered a large following.

If Homan loses tonight it will just fuel her fire. If she wins it will begin what will be, I believe, the start of an amazing career that has no limits on what they can achieve.

Anyway you slice it, curling fans are in for a treat tonight. I would be surprised if tonight's game is not close.

Bronze medal game isn't so bad

Bronze medal game isn't so bad

There is a lot of grumbling from players and media types about the Bronze medal game.
The game was brought in a couple years ago and most players don't like it because..., well, I am not sure. Best I can come up with is that players are tired and have hurt feelings because their championship dreams have been quashed.

It must suck for Team Canada to head out on the ice after a tough loss this morning to Manitoba. I get that. But think of the fans who want to be there. It means something to them.

One of my co-workers was a novice curling fan. When the Brier came to London a few years ago he couldn't make any of the early games because he worked during the week.
The only tickets he could score was to the Bronze medal contest. I didn't want to tell hm that the players were not exactly thrilled to be playing for third place.
He went and he had a great time. He said the game and the arena was buzzing and it was almost a full house. He went as a novice curling fan and came back as a full-fledged curling fan. Why is a packed house and strong television numbers for a Bronze medal game a bad thing?

Curlers need to look at the big picture and realize that fans want more curling. Sure, your feelings are hurt and if you're not first you're last, but if you're complaining about being forced to play in a Bronze medal game—that fans want to see—then you really don't have a lot of problems.

Fans want a Bronze medal game. Players went through provincial, a week long grind and then playoff games. What's one more game for the curling fans who have supported you during your run. You hear no grumbling in the Olympics about the Bronze medal, so why the fuss now?

Friday, 22 February 2013

My picks for Scotties all-stars

My picks for Scotties all-stars

Here is the list of my Scotties all-star selections.
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.
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.
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 following tonight's draw.
Note: the past two years Manitoba has swept the all-star selection (and three years ago had three first-team all-stars). They are on pace to do it for a third straight year, which is amazing.

1st team all-star: Jennifer Jones, Manitoba
Jones has been amazing all week and leads all skips in percentage going into the last draw at 86 percent. It seems she has gotten stronger during the week.
2nd team all-star: Rachel Homan, Ontario. If I picked this team a bit earlier I might have picked Homan over Jones, but Homan has slipped a little bit over the past few games.
Honourable mention: Andrea Crawford, New Brunswick. Mostly based on the past couple of days. She has really carried New Brunswick over a stretch of games. Team Canada's Heather Nedohin has had her moments, but has had a couple shaky games.

1st team all-star: Kaitlyn Lawes, Manitoba. Has been solid all week. Can't help but think that along with Rachel Homan, Lawes in the future of women's curling.
2nd team all-star: Going with Jeanna Schraeder from British Columbia. One of the best thirds in the game.
Honourable mention: Beth Iskiw, Team Canada. Has been strong all week long. Emma Miskew from Ontario has also been impressive with a couple blips.

1st team all-star: Going into the last draw, both Manitoba's Jill Officer and Ontario's Alison Kreviazuk are tied in percentages at 83 percent. It's like asking us to pick between apple pie and apple crisp. They're both good so we will go with both of them.
2nd team all-star: Sasha Carter, British Columbia. Has played well.
Honourable mention: Team Canada's Jessica Mair is among the leaders in percentage. Quebec's Brittany O'Rourke has a bright future in the sport.

1st team all-star: Dawn Askin, Manitoba. The gold standard, we'll just leave it at that. Head and shoulders above the others.
2nd team all-star: Laine Peters, Team Canada. Has been steady all week and key for Team Canada's strong start.
Honourable mention: Jen Baxter from Nova Scotia has had to curl with the Golden Girls, so she had a lot of sweeping to do. She has played well.

Stuff my daughter says about the Scotties

Stuff my daughter says

Due to my work, my curling, life and other things, I haven't spent a lot of time watching the Scotties this week until Thursday night. I've watched a few ends, but not a whole game from beginning to end. Last night I got a couple hours of viewing time.
It was a nice night, with the wife and kids watching a little curling. The only thing missing was some snacks. Grocery day is tomorrow and it was to cold (and I am lazy), so all we had to munch on was celery and cucumber. Mmm, celery.

My daughter is 11 years-old. She likes curling, but doesn't love it. She wanted to watch some other show, but since I am the boss we watched curling.

She had a lot of questions and comments. I decided to write some of them down.

“When that pregnant Saskatchewan curler has her baby, will the doctor and her husband tell her to hurry hard when she pushes? Maybe her skip can come in when she is in labour and yell at her to hurry hard.”

“How come the curlers get a fruit tray and other snacks in the middle of their game? In Little Rocks all we get is hot chocolate. If we got snacks I would want to curl more.”

“That British Columbia skip is short. I bet I am taller than she is.”

“Is that guy with the funny hat one of Team Ontario's players dad?”

Oh, the things that kids say.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Thursday morning Scotties thoughts Part II

Thursday morning Scotties thoughts Part II

Two amazing games this morning in Kingston.
To be honest, when Saskatchewan fell behind 5-1 after four ends, not only did I think that they were done for this game, but I thought their hopes for a playoff berth were out a window as well. Shumay fought back and stole four straight ends from Team Canada. It was impressive to see and showed a lot about what Jill Shumay is made out of.
In the other game, it was a great game with good decision making and some amazing shots.
I had written Jennifer Jones off going into this Scotties. I thought perhaps with the knee surgery and the time off this year, she was starting to be on the down-side of her career, but she has played lights out at this Scotties and it continued in this game. She was locked in and that was one heck of a curling clinic she ran this morning.

Through adversity...
I think the loss isn't the worst thing to happen to Homan. It will give them a little more fire in their bellies. Remember the Michael Jordan analogy I used a week ago? This is just another loss for Team Ontario. They will use the loss as motivation and as a learning experience.
They are still my pick to win it all. Remember, I picked Jones to win this game this morning, so I have that going for me. It seems that Team Homan always bounces back from losses.
Rachel Homan has a the Canadian Airforce Motto tattoo: Per ardua ad astra (Through adversity to the stars). This loss is the adversity she needs to fire her to the championship.

One thing about a Scotties or a Brier that a lot of people forget about is what a grind it is. Homan's team looked tired and Rachel Homan was coughing throughout the game and there are reports that team members have a few minor injuries that they're dealing with.
Not making excuses, but the whole event takes a toll physically and mentally. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back tonight versus Nova Scotia.
Talking about grinds, it will be back-to-back games for the Bluenosers, as they play in the afternoon draw.

The feature game at 2 p.m. will be PEI (4-4) versus Nova Scotia (3-4). Both teams are still in the playoff race. No word on what the feature game will be tonight at 7:30 p.m. Choices include British Columbia versus Saskatchewan or Team Ontario versus Nova Scotia.

Going into this morning's game, Team Ontario had won 31 straight games. That's impressive.

Thursday morning thoughts Part I

Thursday morning Scotties thoughts Part I

Are you ready for the big game?
I know I am. I think the whole country is ready for the big match-up today of Nova Scotia take on PEI.
Hold on, what's that? A 9 a.m. draw? Oh yeah, battle of the undefeateds, Manitoba versus Ontario. Jones versus Homan.
This game has a lot of hype. Too bad it has to be on a weekday at 9 a.m. Oh well, at least I can move my work schedule around to watch most of it.
I will blog some more thoughts later today.

My prediction Jones 7, Homan 5

Will chime in later this afternoon.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Wednesday thoughts at the Scotties

Wednesday thoughts at the Scotties

Deja vu all over again
Ho-hum, victories for Team Ontario, Manitoba and Team Canada last night. All three are 6-0 and barring an epic collapse, all three will be in the playoffs. They're just fighting it out for playoff position now.
Team Canada will play Manitoba at 2 p.m. today, which should be a dandy of a game and will help break up the log jam at the top of the standings. This will be the game where Heather Nedohin will lose her voice.
Team Ontario plays Saskatchewan at 2 p.m.

TSN stinkers
Poor TSN, they haven't really had a marquee match-up yet. They will get what should be a good game at 2 p.m., but at 7 p.m. their choice include Northwest Territories versus Alberta. Nova Scotia versus Newfoundland, British Columbia (which has already had a lot of air time this week) versus PEI and New Brunswick versus Quebec.
Except for PEI and BC (3-3), all of those teams have losing records.

30 for 30
Team Homan now has a streak of 30 consecutive wins after last night's win over Quebec. Count'em, 1,2,3,4...29, 30 for Team Ontario.

Kristie Moore sits one out
Going to a Scotties is supposed to be a dream come true. Too bad for Alberta, as it has become a nightmare. They are 0-6 after losing to Manitoba last night.
Alberta skip Kristie Moore sat the game out and and let alternate Renee Sonnenberg throw last stones.
I believe that Alberta is the deepest and most talented province when it comes to women's curling. Just unfortunate that Moore has struggled in the big time.
Here's what Sonnenberg had to say to Sun Media after the game:
Our goal was to make (Jones) make her last one and we did that. We made them make a ton of good shots. It seemed like every time we made a mistake, they made us pay for it.” said Sonnenberg, who stepped in when Moore asked out for a game.
Kristie was mentally exhausted. She just wasn't confident,” said Sonnenberg.

Brier preview that you can't refuse
I've never seen any of the Godfather movies. Just like the Lord of the Rings movies and Harry Potter, it's one of my pop culture blind spots.
Saying that, here is an early Brier preview from Team Koe that uses The Godfather as its inspiration. Well done boys. But I'm confused, why does Randy Ferby wake up with a horse's head in his bed?
Check out the preview here.
We won, we won
I missed most of last night's draw due to my own curling. I tell ya, it wasn't pretty. We won 9-7 but gave up a five-spot in the second end after we stole three in the first end. We grinded it out and came back for the win.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Tuesday at the Scotties

Tuesday at the Scotties

Here are a few more random thoughts on a Tuesday morning at the Scotties.

Homan Field Advantage
Rachel Homan and her team had a pair of tough games against British Columbia and New Brunswick. They were both close games, but Team Homan was able to pull them out. They are now 5-0.
Nothing wrong with a little adversity. Champions are made on adversity.

These women are nice
There are a lot of subtle differences between men's and women's curling. As my son and I were watching PEI and Saskatchewan last night he pointed out one of the differences—women curlers are a lot more positive and encouraging towards each other than men curlers.
He got a kick out of the high-fives and positive re enforcements that women gave out. A lot of team's motto seems to be, stay positive play positive.

TV today
TSN will be featuring British Columbia versus New Brunswick during the 2 p.m. draw. TSN hasn't said what the 7 p.m. game will be yet, but I think it will probably be Ontario versus Quebec.

Top of the heap
There are three teams that have undefeated records—Ontario, Team Canada and Manitoba. Obviously all three teams have played well, with all three looking dominate at times.
Saskatchewan had it's first loss last night, losing 12-7 to PEI, in what I  thought was a very entertaining game.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), will be an interesting day, as Manitoba takes on Team Canada and Ontario takes on Saskatchewan in the afternoon draw. Expect a standing shake up after Wednesday.
Ontario will showdown against Manitoba on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. in what should be an interesting duel.

Gender gap
The National Post has an interesting story about the lack of women coaches at the Scotties. If you asked me how many woman are coaching the 12 teams in Kingston, I would've guessed anywhere from four to seven.
Manitoba's Janet Arnott is the only woman coach at this year's Scotties. Now that I think of it, I see a lot of men coaches in junior women's curling as well.

I think Quebec lead Sasha Beauchamp, has a good theory:

Like, I’m just throwing it out there, maybe it’s just because the men are paternal figures?” Beauchamp said. “A coach is there to make rules and help guide you along. And usually it’s done with a firmer grip, if I can say that.”

Monday, 18 February 2013

Monday morning random factoids from the Scotties

Monday morning random factoids from the Scotties

Here are a few more random thoughts about the Scotties Tournament of Hearts on an early Monday morning.

Montreal 2014
Kudos to the Canadian Curling Association for choosing Montreal as the host site for next year's Scotties.
It's a bit of a gamble, as Montreal is not prime territory for curling in this country, but there is nothing wrong on moving into a market like Montreal, which is a huge media market and could attract a new audience.
The Scotties hasn't been in Quebec since 1979. Plus, Kruger is probably one of the best sponsors in curling, so it's nice to acknowledge them and host an event in their backyard.
Also, next year is an Olympic year, so the interest for curling by non-curlers is always piqued. Why go to a curling hotbed when the iron is hot? It's probably better to go to large market like Montreal, Vancouver or a Toronto suburb such as Oshawa or Mississauga.
It might not generate the attendance as other mid-major cities such as London, Kingston, Red Deer or Charlottetown, but moving the Scotties to Montreal during an Olympic year is a strategic move.
If you're going to take a gamble, might as well gamble during an Olympic year.

Maurice Richard Arena
The arena in Montreal where the Scotties will be held next year is on the small side—4,750, so even if a crowd of about 1,000 comes out it won't look too empty, and if crowds are as big as they are in Kingston—in the 3,500 range, then it will look full. But the big thing is the television numbers.
One quick thing about the Maurice Richard Arena is the majority of the seats are at the sides. It will be interesting to see if they add temporary end seats for spectators next year.
The arena is not one of those spanking new arenas that host most of the curling Grand Slams and championships. It's almost 50 years old, so there will be no luxury boxes and no bells and whistles.
The Montreal arena hosted boxing and wrestling in the 1976 Olympics.

Nova Scotia
What is happening to Nova Scotia?
They don't look good at all.
They went into the Scotties as a dark horse playoff contender, but have stumbled to a 0-3 start.

On the other hand, Jennifer Jones' team has started out on fire, with a 3-0 record. The Jones Rink has an 87 percent shooting percentage, which is easily tops in the Scotties field, as Team Ontario is second at 81 percent.
They've been dominating so far.

TV games
It will be Nova Scotia versus Manitoba at the 2 p.m. draw and PEI versus Saskatchewan as the featured game on TSN at 7:30 p.m.
Hate to say it, but that Nova Scotia versus Manitoba game looks like a blow out in the making.
An interesting match during the 2 p.m. draw will be Team Homan of Ontario taking on Kelly Scott's B.C. squad. It will be Team Homan's first real test, as they've jumped out to a 3-0 start but haven't had to face a frontrunner yet.
UPDATE: TSN said on Monday morning that the 2pm feature game will now be Team Canada versus Quebec. 

Happy Family Day
It's Family Day here in Ontario, so I hope everyone out there has a nice day with their families.
I intend to hang out with the son and go for a workout at the YMCA and of course catch some women's curling action.
Some exciting family news as our family; (me, Mrs. Hurry Hard and super son and super daughter) have signed up for our first family bonspiel in March. Super daughter was too young to get the big rocks down the ice up until this year, but with some work she is not fairly consistent. I've curled with my son before and I've curled with my wife, but this will be first time all four of us have curled together.
Mrs. Hurry Hard might have to work that day, so I may have to recruit a member of Team Homan to step in for Mrs. Hurry Hard. We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Six random factoids about Scotties

Six random factoids about Scotties

Here are six random thoughts about the Scotties Tournament of Hearts tournament after Day 1 is now in the books.

One: No tweeting
The Canadian Curling Association came down on a handful of alternate players for tweeting during games yesterday.
I am of two minds about this. The Twitter revolution has now hit curling and it's pretty fun to engage and talk with players and hear their thoughts beyond the same old, same old, “we're just taking it one shot at a time.” Twitter gives new insights and makes the players less like robots and more like humans. It was interesting to hear what the fifths had to say.
Saying that, I know where CCA is coming from. They don't want participants to be linked to the outside world, as it may give a team an unfair advantage.
With media and others picking up the slack during games, the curling Twitter revolution will continue without the players, who can chime in before and after their games.

Two: Star siblings
NHL goalie Braden Holtby is the brother of Saskatchewan second Taryn Holtby. Braden Holtby carried the Washington Capitals on his back in the playoffs last year.

Three: Colleen Jones being Colleen Jones
Nova Scotia's Colleen Jones first Scotties appearance was in 1979, a span of 34 years, or before 58 percent of the field was born.
Another thing, Mary-Anne Arsenault is the skip, but make no mistake, Jones is the leader of this team.
Also Jones is still her usual colourful self. She dropped an F-bomb on live TV on Saturday night, then quickly caught herself and said shoot. Classic Colleen Jones.

Four: Parlez-vous anglais?
Allisson Ross speaks English. The Quebec skip is anglophone and is formerly from Ontario where she made one previous Scotties appearance as a lead. She also won a Ontario junior women's title as a lead.

Five: Oh Baby
Saskatchewan third Kara Johnston is pregnant. Not a little pregnant, but a lot pregnant—seven months. Some kid will have a great show and tell story in about six years. Or, better yet, imagine if that kid makes it to the Brier or Scotties in 25 years or so.

Six: Ice
Hearing a few curlers saying it's taking some time to adjust to ice. Which is kind of strange because arena ice is usually very predictable.
Be interesting to see if it's just a Day 1 phenomenon or if it remains a factor going forward.
Ice-makers are so good nowadays, I'm sure they'll get a handle on it.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Harlem Shake comes to Scotties

Harlem Shake comes to Scotties

Curling gets in on the Harlem Shake fad.

Check it out here at the Scotties.
 Man, is there a whiter sport than curling?

Friday, 15 February 2013

Scotties Tournament of Hearts preview

Scotties Tournament of Hearts preview

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts begins Saturday at Kingston's K-Rock Centre (or as I like to call it—the Crock Pot.)

The field is deep with former champions Heather Nedohin, Kelly Scott and Mary-Anne Arsenault (along with Colleen Jones) from Nova Scotia.

I have my favourites, but I also like to cheer on a good story. There is nothing better than a feel good story, and this field has a lot of good stories to cheer for.

So without further ado, I rank down the Scotties field. What I've done is include what the headline could look like for each team if they won. News editors can thank me now.

I also was able to ask ice-maker Gord Downie what he thought of the ice in Kingston and he told me, “Sometimes the faster it gets, the less you need to know. But you gotta remember, the smarter it gets the further it's going to go. When you blow at high dough.”

Then he added, “It'd be better for us if you don't understand. It'd be better for me if you don't understand.”

OK, you got me, that's just some lyrics from Kingston's most famous sons—The Tragically Hip. The lyric might have something to do with the ice, it might not.
A little known fact: The Tragically Hip appeared in the curling flick 'Men With Brooms' and are reportedly huge curling fans. They will make a couple cameos in the following rankings.

As Casey Kasem would say ... on with the countdown:

Rachel Homan (Ontario)
Headline: Homan wins the  Scotties, won't be her last
I went out on a limb and compared Team Homan to Michael Jordan a couple days ago in this blog. Do you really think I was going to pick someone else?
The young guns, this could be their breakout party.

Heather Nedohin (Team Canada)
Headline: Holy Shitballs! Nedohin repeats as champs
I predict that Nedohin will lose her voice by Tuesday. She should cruise to the playoffs.

Kelly Scott (B.C.)
Headline: Great Scott! Scott takes the Scotties
Probably not the best adjective, but this team is scrappy. Always in games. This is her s̶e̶v̶e̶n̶t̶h̶ eighth Scotties appearance.
Also have to give a shot out to Scott. She was one of my first Twitter followers last month and one of the first to reply to us. That puts her on a pedestal in our books.

Jennifer Jones (Manitoba)
Oh baby! Jones bounces back with Scotties win
Whoa baby I feel fine. I'm pretty sure it's genuine. Again, a Tragically Hip lyric, but it could also apply to Jones.
Jones has had quite the season. First she underwent knee injury in the off-season, and then she gave birth to a baby girl in December and jumped back into curling in January.
A four-time champion, Jones and her team has to be considered a favourite.

Kristie Moore (Alberta)
Headline: Moore Excitement! Moore wins Scotties
A bit of an upset in Alberta to get here, but we figure that Alberta has the deepest women's field, so she has to be good.
Moore has experience with Heather Nedohin at a previous Scotties, so the experience isn't totally new.

Jill Shumay (Saskatchewan)
Headline: Shumay, she might, Saskatchewan wins tonight
Shumay was the upset winner in Saskatchewan. If she wins, the team will never have to buy another drink in Saskatchewan for the rest of their lives. Grocery stores from Moose Jaw to Weyburn to North Battleford will be selling Shumay Shreddies.
The Shumay team, including Kara Johnston, Taryn Holtby and Jinaye Ayrey, is making its Scotties debut She is 38 years-old and has never been to the Scotties. She is 38 years-old and has never been to the Scotties. I swear that is my last Tragically Hip reference.

Mary-Anne Arsenault (Nova Scotia)
Headline: Seventh heaven for Jones
Mary-Anne Arsenault will skip the Nova Scotia team with former teammates Colleen Jones — who is playing third — and second Kim Kelly. This will be Arsenault’s 11th trip to the Scotties. Arsenault, Colleen Jones (as skip), Kelly and fifth Nancy Delahunt won the Canadian title five times and the world championship twice. Together they still hold the record for consecutive Canadian wins, at four. Colleen Jones is the most decorated women’s curler in the game.
If this team makes it as far as the playoffs, the media will go bananas. I don't blame them, it might be the last kick at the can for most of this team. Would be nice to see them go out with a bang.

Suzanne Birt (P.E.I)
Headline: Birt is back
A few years ago it seemed that Birt, (formerly known as Suzanne Gaudet) was on the verge of being the next big thing in women's curling.
She is a two-time Canadian junior champion and former world champion who is making her seventh appearance at nationals. She finished with the bronze in 2003, but hasn't reached those heights since.

Kerry Galusha (NWT/Yukon)
Headline: Northern Exposure, Galusha rises to top
This is Galusha's 11th trip to the Scotties.
She too, was one of Hurry Hard's first followers, so she too is okay in our books.

Stacie Devereaux (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Headline: First Newfie Scotties winner
A former Canadian junior champ, Devereaux would be a Newfie legend if she could break on through.

Andrea Crawford (New Brunswick)
Headline: Crawford with the biggest curling upset ever
Actually it wouldn't be a huge upset. Crawford has four Scotties appearances, and in each one finished with a 5-6 record. She could break through and sniff the playoffs.

Allison Ross (Quebec)
Ross is the boss at Scotties
Ross will be a longshot. She was the lead for Kim Gellard's Ontario rink at the 1999 Scotties.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Krista McCarville taking some time off

Krista McCarville taking some time off

As with a lot of women curlers, family and work demands make it hard to curl at an elite level.

Ontario skip Krista McCarville announced yesterday that she is taking some time off to concentrate on her family and her teaching career.

You can read more about the sabbatical here.

McCarville, 30, has made four Scotties Tournament of Hearts appearances, with a bronze in 2010 being her best performance.

Team Homan has next

Rachel Homan is next

I believe in Rachel Homan. I think she is the next big thing in women's curling.

I don't think anyone can disagree with me on that statement.

I think the Scotties in Kingston will be Team Homan's coming out party. 

Every year ESPN magazine has their next issue. It focuses on athletes in different sports who are the next big thing. Right now women's curling's next big thing it Team Homan. They are on the verge of dominating curling for a long, long time.

Homan's career arc reminds me of Michael Jordan. Right now she is where MJ was in 1986.

Jordan was highly recruited out of high school before going to North Carolina. Homan was a provincial curling champ out of Ontario.

It took Jordan a few years, and going up against established teams like Larry Bird's Celtics and the Detroit Pistons, but after the Bulls finally broke through after a few years and won six NBA championships. Homan made her Scotties debut in 2011 and lost in the bronze medal game. She might not win this year, or even next, but there is no doubt her team is the future of curling.

She has had some tough losses, such as last year's Ontario Scotties and the World Juniors. In turn it has made her more steely and given her a competitive fire. She has had success, but not crazy success—yet.

Team Homan has gone 21-1 at the Ontario Scotties the last two years and 31-2 in the last three years. But they haven't broke through. I believe that this is their year.

In the four Grand Slam's the team has went in so far this year, they've won one, lost twice in the finals and once in the semifinals.

Homan is athletic and she has experience. The bulk of the team has been together for almost half of their lives.

Michael Jordan had Phil Jackson. Team Homan has Earle Morris.

Women's curling is a bit different than men's curling. There is more parity in the women's game. However, with a dominating performance at the Scotties, Homan can change that.

This Scotties is being held in Kingston, just down the road from Team Homan's hometown of Ottawa. When Homan wins her sixth Scotties championship in 2023, (she will only be 34 years-old), we remember fondly that this is where it all started. It will be a fun ride to watch where this team is going.

Homan has next.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Other sports copying a curling idea

Other sports are looking at taking the best part of curling broadcasts.

Here's a story about a company promoting a new app/device that allows fans to hear the conversations between players and coaches.

Why can't curling do the same thing?

Just joking. One of the best parts of curling broadcasts is hearing the interaction between players. I can't imagine watching curling without it.

It will be hard for some sports, such as hockey and baseball to broadcast conversations due to strategy involved, but teams may be able to block some things.


The app will feature channels where fans can choose between players or coaches to listen in on.
It will also feature a slight delay, so the team can block any strategy discussion such as between a pitcher and catcher on the mound, or a football team in a huddle, but can broadcast it after the play to show the strategy discussion, Failla said.
“It will not be open mic, the audio will go back to a production team to add elements. We now have a three-second delay but that can be made longer or shorter depending on what we want to accomplish,” he said.
It may also feature colour commentary on one channel.
“The whole idea is to get more people enjoying all kinds of sports,” Kool said.

I'm also guessing that you will hear stronger words than shitballs.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Matt Dunstone is a two-sport athlete

Matt Dunstone can bring the heat in two sports

Here is a few more things about Manitoba skip Matt Dunstone.

Dunstone is the skip of Team Manitoba, which won the 2013 Canadian junior men's curling championship on Saturday.
Apparently Dunstone is a two-sport athlete. Not only does he have a bright future in curling, especially with his aggressive style and apparent joy of the game, but he's a good baseball player too.

He was named named Baseball Manitoba’s Midget Player of the Year in November and has had some interest from colleges south of the border to play down there.

William Dion, who skipped Quebec to a junior title a few years ago, played Canadian college football and recently signed with the Montreal Aloutettes.

Another curler who was a good baseball player in his day was Nolan Thiessen. Thiessen, who is the lead for Kevin Koe, played ball for an American college before concentrating on curling.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Great picture

Great picture

Look at this picture.

It screams out the joy of victory as skip Matt Dunstone celebrates his Manitoba rink's victory in the men's title at the Canadian junior curling championship on Saturday night with a 4-3 victory over Alberta's Thomas Scoffin in Fort McMurray, Alta.

One: A picture like this should be on every Sunday sports section of every major Canadian newspaper.

Two: This picture is a future award-winner.

Three: When I wrote about passion and emotion earlier this week I was thinking of moments like this.

Four: This picture is destined to become an iconic curling picture.

Edit: I should've given credit to this picture earlier, Mark O'Neill take a bow. Great picture of a great moment.

 --Photo, CCA/Michael Burns Photography/Mark O’Neill

Friday, 8 February 2013

Ironman bonspiel

Ironman bonspiel

I am Ironman.

The Ironman Outdoor Bonspiel starts today in Winnipeg.

This is on my bucket list of things to do during my lifetime.

The bonspiel takes place on the Assiniboine River Trail at the Historic Forks. The three-day event will see teams compete in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba.

Look at this looks like heaven...just colder.

Friday at Ontario Tankard

Friday at Ontario Tankard

What a day at the Ontario Tankard.

It's deja vu all over again at the Ontario Tankard. Last year at Stratford you had something like 9 out of the 11 teams still in the playoff hunt and on Friday night it snowed like crazy.
Going into Friday at the Dominion Tankard in Barrie, a huge snowfall hit the area and nine out of 11 teams have an outside chance of making the playoffs.

After you get past Howard, Epping and Frans, there is a lot of parity amongst the remaining teams. All it takes for a team to advance is a little luck and for a team to get on a roll.

And after the upsets we saw last night (Prebble over Howard in an extra end), anybody can beat just about anybody on any given day.

Last year no tiebreakers were needed. Will be interesting to see if there will be tiebreakers this year, as a lot will depend on the Friday draws.

If you're driving around Barrie, keep that car on the road.

AED in every curling club

AED in every curling club

We've all sat in a curling club annual general meeting.

Usually a couple dozen people are there. The issue of membership will be brought up and the same issues year after year. Same old, same old.

In a couple months your curling club will host an annual general meeting. Consider bringing up the issue of having an AED in your curling club.

For members of the Brant Curling Club, the message of the 18th annual Curl for Stroke hit close to home.
Although Angelo Mancini, Bill Page and Mark Singleton don't want any accolades, their heroics created awareness for automated external defibrillators and saved a friend's life.
Last Wednesday, Bill Park suffered a heart attack while watching men's league action at the club, which was hosting the Curl for Stroke a couple of days later.

Curling clubs are full of senior citizens being active. That's great. However, due to the activity and the population that curling clubs serve, there is a bit of an increased risk of a member having a heart attack. An AED can save a life.

All three had plenty of training on using the AED since the curling club received one a couple of years ago.
"It was all so surreal," Singleton said.
"You'd like to talk big and say you weren't scared but we were. We were just doing what we could. All I was thinking about was please don't die on us."
The hours of training kicked in for the men, as did their instinct.
"I don't know why we did what we did, but when it was time to do CPR, Mark just did it," Page said.
"At the beginning, I didn't know if I'd remember how do it all, and, honestly, it just came to me. It's funny because when you're in those classes, you never really think you'll need to remember it all. But we did. And when we were doing it, we did exactly what it (AED) was telling us even if we couldn't hear it."

They cost about $2,000, so it will cost a bit of money, but a strong fundraiser or two and it can be paid for.

Consider bringing up that there is a need for an AED at the next curling club AGM. A life could depend on it.

While what happened Wednesday was strange timing because February is Heart Month, and the Curl for Stroke Bonspiel was about to take place.
"When we hooked him up to the machine, I looked up a couple of times and all I saw was the Heart and Stroke signs everywhere," Page said.
"The timing was just strange."
Unfortunately, the incident is all too familiar for Brant Curling Club members.
"This is the second time in two years something like this has happened," Singleton said.
"Last year it happened on the ice. It's just strange timing and something you wish didn't happen. But it's a reality and we all have to know what to do if it does."
And that's why much of Friday's bonspiel was devoted to awareness, which included a demonstration on how to use the AED.
"It's pretty important to have an AED here," Page said.
"In all honesty, I don't think just CPR would've brought him back. The fact the defibrillator is here, was deployed as quick as we could, and the fact that all three of us were trained made a difference. That's the message people need to understand. They need to know they are available and need to know how to use them."
Mancini said that the people in the community who worked to make AEDs available should be applauded.
"Now the big push is to let people know they are out there," Mancini said.
"We all know they save lives, and although there have been people not as fortunate as Bill, saving one life is making a huge difference."

Happy Heart Month

Thursday, 7 February 2013

One year to Sochi


Every four years curling in Canada and countries across the world experience a blip due to the Olympics.

I have to admit that it was three years ago where I really fell in love with curling watching Cheryl Bernard and Kevin Martin.

I liked curling before, but the 2010 Olympics changed me from a casual fan who would curl once or twice a year, to a dedicated fan.

The “Ice Cube” Curling Center will be the home of curling at the 2014 games.

Who will be Canada's representative?

On the men's side it's pretty easy. There is not the same amount of parity on the men's side as there is on the women's side.

Basically it comes down to Glenn Howard, Kevin Martin, Jeff Stoughton, Kevin Koe and Mike McEwen. Also known as the Big 5.

This will likely be the last run at the Olympics for Howard, Martin and Stoughton. I would expect all three to likely retire after next year or at least slow down.

There are a handful of teams that would be in the hunt: John Epping, Brad Gushue, Brock Virtue or Brad Jacobs, but if one of the Big 5 doesn't get in I would be surprised.

The women's side is a bit different:

There are anywhere from 9-15 possible contenders, and another 10 or so teams that at the very least have a shot of making it to the Olympic trials in Winnipeg in December.

It will be interesting to see the jockeying for a trip to the pre-trials in Kitchener in November.

Women favourites have to include Jennifer Jones, Rachel Homan, Stefanie Lawton and Heather Nedohin, but all it takes is one team starting to click at the right time and place.

Feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Showdown day at Ontario Tankard

Showdown day at Ontario Tankard

It should be a busy day at the Dominion Tankard being held in Barrie. Three draws are taking place, so it will be a grind for curlers.

While things could easily change, it appears that a showdown between the two top teams--Team Howard and Team Epping is shaping up. Let the hype machine begin now. Two top teams in the province. Howard versus Howard. Young guns versus old guns. Two teams step onto the ice, but only one team steps off...okay, will hold back a bit.

Team Epping received a break, as they easily won 9-1 over Jake Higgs in just three ends. Having a quick win will help the team, as it will allow them to rest up and give them added confidence. Heading into the afternoon draw, Epping was 4-0. Team Howard was 4-0 heading into this morning.

Team Epping scored a seven-ender in the third end.

Organizers are expecting a large crowd for tonight's draw.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Ontario officials

Officials blend into background

After what happened in Saskatchewan at the men's curling championships, where a player got the heave-ho for saying something inappropriate on the ice (Fuddle Duddle?), the Ontario officials are under the gun a bit this week at the Dominion Tankard in Barrie.

Steve Green of the London Free Press and QMI Agency, focuses on the Ontario officials.

Suffice to say, the officials know they are there to seen rather than heard.

Green talks with head official Gord Gark. You know Gark is a good guy because he's from Sarnia, so he has that going for him as well.

Gark, in my opinion, has the right attitude--the fans are there to see the players---not the officials.


“We really believe as an association that the game is all about the players,” Gark said before play on Tuesday at the Molson Centre. “The players have learned the hog line is there for a reason and they respect it. Before there were officials, everyone just went over it.”

The curling world is still abuzz with the ejection of Chris Schille at the Saskatchewan men’s championship over the weekend. He kicked rock after his skip, Brock Virtue, made a double, but he got the boot for constant foul language, said the official who gave him the heave-ho.
“I’ve never had an incident that serious,” said Gark, a Sarnia resident who has been the OCA’s head official for seven years, adding the officials like to develop a friendly rapport with the players. “But there is a line there and they respect that.”

Sounds like Gark gives a bit of leeway.

Verbal abuse of an official or damaging the ice by slamming a broom would be cause for an ejection, Gark said, but by the same token that doesn’t mean the players have to be automatons. The occasional curse word is acceptable, so long as it’s not audible to the entire arena.
“It’s a very difficult call,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with someone slamming a broom so long as it’s from the waist down. If you put the broom over your head and swing it, that’s different.
“But these guys are playing for an Olympic spot, when you get right down to it, and we want people to be able to show some emotion. The players do hold themselves to a high degree of accountability and there’s a lot of peer pressure, especially when there’s so much at stake.
“We know the players and we know difficult situations can arise. If we think tensions are rising, we’ll step in if needed.”

Monday, 4 February 2013

2014 Ontario Scotties

And the 2014 Ontario Scotties will go to...

Sault Ste. Marie.

I like Sault Ste. Marie..., no seriously, I do. Beautiful country up there.

The Soo Curlers Association facility will host the provincial tournament.

I have some good friends in the Soo.

I have stayed at the hotel on the river (Delta?) many times, and have always been treated well.

I like to eat at Giovanni's Italian Restaurant, which has some of the best Italian food this side of Windsor. If you stop in, tell them Hurry Hard sent you. Along with a few good restaurants there is also the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds new arena, the Essar Centre which I haven't checked out yet as I didn't make it to the 2010 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

There is also a couple casinos nearby, which is a welcome diversion.

I know some might not be thrilled to travel to Northern Ontario, but for me it's about a five hour trip once I cross the Bluewater Bridge in Sarnia, and it's all a four-lane highway. It's an easy roadtrip.

Here's the details via Soo Today

It was announced Monday morning that the Soo Curlers Association facility will host the 2014 Ontario Scotties tournament.

Ten of the best women’s teams from across Ontario will compete at the club from January 5 to January 12, 2014, for the right to represent Ontario at the 2014 Scotties Tournament in Virden, Manitoba. Starting in 2015, Northern Ontario will, for the first time, send its own team to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The Soo beat out other communites for the honour of hosting the women's provincial curling championship, including Thunder Bay and North Bay.

Here's part of the press release announcement:

Sault Ste. Marie hosting the 2014 Ontario Scotties

SAULT STE. MARIE, ON (February 4, 2013) – Another major curling event is coming to town.

The Soo Curlers Association, in partnership with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the Economic Development Corp., is pleased to announce that the community has been chosen to host the 2014 Ontario Scotties, the provincial women’s curling championships.

...Meanwhile, with a few hundred curlers and visiting fans anticipated for the 2014 Ontario Scotties, the event is expected to inject upwards of $250,000 into the local economy.

With the financial impact for the community, the tourism division of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. was pleased to partner with the Soo Curlers Association to bid on the championships.

...Ticket packages for the 2014 Ontario Scotties event will go sale in the fall of 2013.

To volunteer for the event, or for further information, please contact the Soo Curlers Association at 705-254-6174.

A big day for the Soo and local curling fans

Give me emotion

Emotion and passion are good things

Give me a broom slam. Give me shitballs.

I just wanted to weigh in quickly on Chris Schille controversy.
This past weekend Schille was kicked out a game and told to leave the building during a playoff game during the Saskatchewan provincial men's curling championship held in Melfort Saskatchewan.

I don't think either side agrees exactly what happened, but he was accused of saying a bad word or two, so the head official told him to leave. The curling world has a number of views on what transpired. His team was able to win without him.

I've seen a few takes.

Both are reasoned approaches,

I wrote up a 3,000 word rant on officials, curling, curling's status in the national psyche and media attention. It might see the light of day one day, but I scraped it and thought I would keep it simple.

As a somewhat curling neophyte fan, there is something I like. I like emotion. I like passion. I want players to have fun and show emotion. Last thing we need is for curling to turn into golf.

I understand curling etiquette and I understand the line you can cross into jerkdom, but if curling wants to attract viewers, then curling officals should allow personalities to shine through.

Curling gets compared to golf a lot of times. I like golf, but it's boring for a couple reasons.
  1. They're so good. It's rare to see a meltdown or a bad shot.
  2. They all look alike and and talk alike. It's hard to root for robots. It's corporate and boring. Why do you think John Daly is so beloved? It's because he's different.
Give me passion for the game. The occasional broom slam is okay, almost a good thing.

Who are some of the most popular curlers of the past 20 years? Colleen Jones. She had passion. Russ Howard. He had passion. Don't get me started on Edward Werenich.

People like personalities. They like colour. Why do people still talk about Alberta's Paul Goswell? A junior curling legend, he had personality.

Chances are I will be secretly cheering that Team Saskatchewan does well at The Brier next month. I like team with some character.

Who do you think I cheered for at the Scotties last year? Heather Nedohin. Know why? She had her emotions on her sleeve. Dropping a obscenity on live television endeared her to me. She's no robot.

Give me emotion and passion. Give me shitballs.

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.