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)

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.