Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 1 at the Grey Power World Cup

I spent much of yesterday at the Hershey Centre, watching the teams practice in preparation for the Grey Power World Cup event. Actually, I got to through a few rocks too. There was a media “event” that allowed us ink-stained wretches to toss some granite prior to the practice and I’m proud to say, I won it. Actually, all I did was beat Brian Mudryk of TSN; we were the only two to show up with our gear.
So, some observations:

• Randy Ferbey is still the best interview in curling. The guy just makes me howl with his honesty. He says what so many other people are thinking but won’t say and he’s been around the game so long, he’s seen it all and then some. Much of the stuff I can’t put down here, unfortunately. He did tell me all about the new bar he opened five weeks ago, Randy Ferbey’s The Rink. When I pointed out that he was a lot slimmer than the last time I saw him, he told me he was even thinner before the bar opened.

• Team Ferbey is, by the way, the first squad I know of to arrive with an “entourage.” Well, it’s not really an entourage unless one person counts, I guess but they have brought their therapist/chiropractor along for the trip. They’re using this event as a dry run for the Trials, trying to see if their plan will work. I spoke with this guy for a few minutes and he told me how players at different positions have different ailments. For instance, Pfeifer and Rocque, because of their sweeping, have lots of aches and pains in their arms, triceps and shoulders. They are also asymmetrical in that the muscles on one side of their body are much stronger compared to the other due to sweeping. For Ferby, it’s all about his knee. It’s interesting to see a team go this route, something that’s very common in golf where a player will have a therapist, trainer, psychologist and caddie at big events.

• It seems that almost every top team is taking it easier this year leading into the Trials. Fewer events, some by design, some by happenstance (Lloydminster being canceled), is the order of the day. Most of the rinks will spend more time in the gym than on the ice. Almost all of them have been to the Trials before and they know what to expect.

• Speaking of working out, man these guys are in good shape. With the exception of a couple, they all seem to be lean, mean fighting machines.

• Glenn Howard told me yesterday that he believes the Trials will be the greatest curling event in history because of the strength of the teams. Hard to disagree.

• While there’s lots of focus on Martin and Howard owing to their success over the last three years, neither has a win this year and more than one curler mentioned that the hottest team in the nation so far this year is Bob Ursel.

• The ice seemed pretty good when I was throwing (not that I’m any great judge). There was a big swing – edge of the 12-foot got you the far side of the four-foot -- but later in the day some doors at the arena were mistakenly opened and because of the rainy, warm conditions outside, the humidity came in and everything got frosty. I wasn’t able to attend last night’s opening draw so I can’t report on what happened in Draw 1.

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