Monday, December 14, 2009

Trials' wrap

I made it home to balmy Toronto (temp +2) today, wrapping up a good week in Edmonton. Some thoughts:

* Overall, the Trials was a great success. I think Jackie-Rae Greening (who is really one of the nicest people you'll ever meet) and her gang did a first-class job of hosting the biggest and easily the best Trials to date. And I've been to them all. Edmonton really is the centre of the curling universe.

* Talking to a number of players over the final weekend, it's clear that Kevin Martin and his team aren't going to win any popularity contests among their peers. Almost to a man, the players I talked to said the new Olympic squad isn't really a team in the true sense -- they are more a business. "I've never seen the four of them do anything together other than curl," said one Western Canadian curler. "I don't know if they really like each other." The betting is that if the team starts losing (which, admittedly is a long shot considering the way they played) at the Olympics, there will be lots of finger-pointing. That said, I have no problems with Kevin and the rest. They've been good to me from a professional standpoint and on the ice, they're mighty impressive.

* TSN pulled in its largest television audience for a curling event ever -- 1.2 million -- for the men's final. The 875k for the women's game was great too. Of course the men's game had the perfect ingredients. Two high-profile teams, one from audience-rich Southwestern Ontario and lots on the line. I don't think they'll surpass this for the gold medal game in Vancouver.

* Possibly the only people in Ontario happy that Glenn Howard lost are the organizers of the sponsorless Ontario men's final. Howard would have passed on the provincials if he'd won the Olympic berth. And the next highest-profile curler in the provincal, Wayne Middaugh, isn't entering so it would have been wide open.

* The CCA seems much better prepared to support its Olympic teams this time around. The winners got $50,000 to help out with travel and accommodation and tickets for family members. At the last Games, Russ Howard told me it cost him $24,000 to bring his family along for the trip to Italy. And there's a designated person -- the Great Jock Tyre -- to look after the needs and wants of the family members.


Joey Smallwood said...

It could be argued that Team Martin is the Yankees/Patriots of the curling world...

That has always been my sense, that the team was put together purely to win. It flies in the face of curling convention, but then so has Martin for his entire career.

Is there any other curler with such a mixed-up legacy? Loads of talent, yet so little to show for it on the international stage.

My wife joked that if he comes up short this time, we need to create a by-law that prevents him from being in any further international competitions.

Huskers-For-Palin said...

familiarity breeds contempt

Cathy said...

What you said about the un'teamly'ness of Team Martin is exactly what I was trying to get across to my friends on Facebook. Now, I will start by saying that I haven't liked Martin since he blew it at the Olympics in SLC. He does seem to be working on lightening up his public image; but his team makes no effort to back him up. They're just with him to win, period. And that, to me, goes against what I feel is the spirit of curling, the comradery.

Glenn Howard's rink is a team. You see their rapport, they all have their place on the team, no one more important than the other. When Glenn talks to the press, he speaks with a comfort and confidence that, I feel, comes with knowing your team well.

Could you imagine Team Martin making a video like the one I've watched countless times on YouTube ~ the one that ends with Laing sleeping on a chair?

Last season, I decided to contact both Team Howard and Team Martin via email, to say thanks for their efforts. I got a response from Brent Laing a few hours later, thanking me for my support. Still haven't heard anything back from Team Martin.

I really wish Team Howard was representing Canada at the Olympics. They personify what Canadian curling is all about, with the talent and comradery, and appreciation for their fans.