There’s not much in the way of national media at the pre-Roar this week in Kitchener, but as he did while covering the sport last year, Sean Fitz-Gerald is providing some entertaining writing about the sport.
Yesterday, he posted a good story on Jean-Michel Menard and the paltry number of Quebec curlers these days. Quebec, despite lots of people, has never exactly been a curling hotbed.
“It’s not a very well known sport in the province,and it’s very difficult to get sponsors,” he said. “And since there’s not a whole lot of curlers, then there’s not a whole lot of big events. So if you want to play the big events, you’ve got to travel a lot.”And travelling costs money.“It’s a vicious circle,” he said.
Menard, of course, is the only Francophone skip to ever win the Brier, which, you would think, would allow him to dine out in his home province, maybe be the Guy Lafleur of curling. Maybe if he had a Canadiens’ logo on his sweater things would be better. But even the feeder system isn’t that good. Marco “The Hack” Ferraro spelled out the situation.
According to Marco Ferraro, general manager of CurlingQuebec, there are as many as 75,000 casual curlers in the province, but onlyabout 15,000 who could be classified as regulars. Quebec is the second-mostpopulous province in Canada, with more than eight million residents.“Per capita, with eight million people, we’re not there,obviously,” Ferraro said.
In this morning’s National Post, Fitz-Gerald has a look at Brad Gushue and has a good revelation from the gold medal skip on how he took a hit when his 2006 team broke up. Apparently those fans out in N+L don't like it when outsiders infiltrate the ranks, especially those pesky Prince Edward Islanders.
"They wanted to scale back and I can understand that now," Gushue said. "I didn't understand it very well, when you're 25 and still want to be the best. There was some tension at that time and I made a decision with Jamie to get rid of him at that time, because I didn't feel the commitment was there. And s---hit the fan."
One reason why is that plenty of names rotated through the open spots, but they have not ended up being curlers from Newfoundland. Third Brett Gallant (Charlottetown), second Adam Casey (Seven Mile Bay, P.E.I.) and lead Geoff Walker (Beaverlodge, Alta.) live on the island, but are from elsewhere.
"Most of the curling fans were curling fans from the Olympics and they knew we were a fully Newfoundland team, with the exception of Russ," Gushue said. "And then you bring in someone else and it's kind of like, 'You're taking our team away.'"
In the K-W Record, Christine Rivet puts together a nice story on a local curling coach Gary Crossley and his work this week with Jake Higg’s squad. Actually, calling it work isn’t right, as the coach points out in what might be one of the all-time great quotes about our sport:
"This isn't work. This is curling,"said Crossley, 57, who had three decades of coaching experience in track and field before swapping grass for ice about five years ago.
And finally, while lots of attention is being focused on the Canadian trials, Team GB has already finalized its squads. Shocker – the rinks skipped by Eve Muirhead and David Murdoch have been named. Here are some details along with some crazy overhead shots that no doubt left the icemaker screaming at the warm bodies all over the ice.
The women’s curling team of Eve Muirhead, Vicki Adams, Claire Hamilton and Anna Sloan were the first athletes to be named on the British team for Sochi 2014 on August 28 2013.The confirmation of David Murdoch, Tom Brewster, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow and Greg Drummond as the men’s team for the Olympics – the second wave of athletes selected – followed just over a month later.