Friday, February 28, 2014

Robbed? Junior Tweets controverisal pic of stone ruled out of the rings



That's what the Canadian Junior Women's team is asking after a controversial measurement that took place at the World Junior. Canadian skip Kelsey Rocque Tweeted out a picture of the stone and the measure and certainly from the angle shown, it appears the rock was in (It does beg the question of what exactly the skip was doing with a cel phone/camera that she was able to get this photo UPDATE: as reader Anthony pointed out in the comments below, the shot is from the Webcast of the game. D'oh!).  As Norm Cowley of the Edmonton Journal wrote, the move turned a sure win into an extra-end loss. 

Kelsey Rocque felt her Saville Centre rink of Keely Brown, Taylor McDonald and Claire Tully was robbed of a victory at the world junior women’s curling championship on Thursday. 
Rocque tweeted after an 8-6 loss to Korea’s KyeongAe Kim that an official improperly measured a Canadian stone in the 10th end. The measurement was to determine whether the rock was in the rings.
Instead of winning the game, the Canadians had to play an extra end without the hammer.



Here was Rocque's Tweet that explained what she felt was a big, big mistake by the officials.



I've been in competitions over the years where the circles have been off. I remember playing in the Tankard playdowns at Ridgetown CC (Ont.) and just throwing a biter measure on a rock that was clearly off only to see it clang off the stone. Of course it's usually the pin hole that's out.

Now I'm one who happens to think the folks at the WCF don't have much of a sense of humour about these kinds of things so I'm wondering if there will be any repercussions. Calling out an official is never greeted with a warm and fuzzy response. There are lots and lots of rules about what you can do on social media at Canadian events but I'm unsure of what's in place for international championships.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What's next for Team Jones?

With Jennifer living at least part time in Toronto with partner Brent Laing and daughter Isabella, and working in Montreal a fair bit, the future of Team Jones is up in the air. But at least for now, the four members of the gold medal winning rink are just going to bask in the glory of their gold medals. There is certainly lots to consider, as Geoff Kirbyson brought up in the Winnipeg Free Press:

Jones' partner, Brent Laing, is the second for Glenn Howard's Ontario rink, one of the best in the country on the men's side and which may still have Olympic aspirations of its own.
Just how long the couple will continue to live in different provinces remains to be seen. What if they want another child? Might Laing relocate to Winnipeg and try to hook up with a prominent team here? Or could Jones, who works as a senior legal adviser with National Bank Financial, move east?
So what will the future hold? Methinks that in the short term the rink will stay together -- the sponsorship opportunities would be enough for them to make it work. But after climbing the top of the podium, everything else might seem a little less significant.

The cure for straight ice: BC Professor designs new stone that curls all the time

Is the ice at your club straight? And does that frustrate you? Would you like to have swingy ice all the time just like the best teams in the world seem to get at their competitions?

Say hello to UNBC professor Mark Shegelski, who has a patent for a new curling rock that he says will curl all the time, every time, as he told the Prince George Citizen:


Through experiments conducted a decade ago at the Prince George Golf and Curling Club, Shegelski found that by simply changing the diameter of the running surface of the stone, he could get the rocks to act the way they do at championship events without the more labour intensive changes to ice conditions. 
"We could make these rocks with greater radii and get more curl, which is something I thought the curlers really wanted in the game," Shegelski said.
Now the professor has one prototype that he says proves his theories but he's not advancing things because this is just a hobby, not his actual work. As well, he thinks you'd need to test it out over the course of a year. 


"You'd have to make 16 of these rocks and try them out at curling club for at least a full season and then see if other people at other rinks would be interested to do that in other rinks and curling clubs across Canada," he said.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Scottish curlers return home to big celebration too

The British Scottish curlers arrived back in Scotland yesterday, wearing their medals as the did. It wasn't quite the madhouse in Winnipeg where the Jones team landed, but it was a big turnout for the bronze- and silver-medallists.
Here's the video with a commentary that I think is in English.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Team Jones arrives home to massive reception in Winnipeg

Jennifer Jones and her rink landed in Winnipeg yesterday and there was a crush of fans to greet them at the Winnipeg Airport.

The gold medal winners -- including, as the CBC referred to her, "alternative Kirsten Wall" (we'll have to ask Trevor about that)  -- got a heroes welcome. 

By 9 p.m., the airport was packed with more hundreds of raucous friends, family and fans eager to congratulate the team on their win by 9 p.m. Many held signs and Canadian flags. Even Mayor Sam Katz was there, holding bags of goodies for the team when they arrived. 
Mounties in full uniform were also on hand, and a giant red carpet was laid out for the team. Bagpipers played as the women came down the escalator to screaming, cheering fans.

Jones also the Winnipeg Sun the entire experience in Sochi was remarkable, especially the bonding with other members of Team Canada. 

"It's pretty cool to celebrate with Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby and have them tell you how much they watched that game and how inspiring it was to them," she said. "It was pretty cool."

As for what's next for the members of the rink, Jones summed up their immediate plans.

“Try to get some sleep – see my baby girl, who I miss,” said Jones, tearing up. “We haven’t slept a lot, so I think sleep will be our priority.”



.

Scottish curlers meet British Prime Minister David Cameron

Putting politics aside for a minute and forgetting about the looming vote for Scottish independence, the medal-winning curlers from Team GB got to spend a little time with British Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday after arriving back from Sochi.



Here are some of the images from the visit to No. 10 Downing Street.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Everyone loved Harry

We knew the news was coming but that didn’t make it any easier to hear.

This morning, word came down that Neil Harrison had passed away, succumbing after a long battle with cancer.

Harrison made his mark as one of the greatest leads to every slip on a slider. The pinnacle of his career came when he won the Brier and world championship as part of the famed Dream Team skipped by Ed Werenich.

“He was the ultimate teammate,” said John Kawaja, who played with Harrison on that ’83 team. “He brought so much to the team and the team dynamics, to the point where he wasn’t afraid to be in your face if it needed to happen.

“He was the best and most effective teammate I ever played with.”

"That was who you modelled your team after," stated Wayne Middaugh, who battled Harrison while playing for Russ Howard. "Everyone wanted a guy like Neil Harrison as their lead. It wasn't just because of what he did on the ice. He was the ultimate teammate. He kept everyone loose."

In an era before there were specialists, when the weakest links usually played lead, Harrison revolutionized curling by making the lead position his craft. He was a lead and proud of it.
In fact at the 1983 World Curling Championships, Harry become the first player to ever throw a perfect game.

"Everybody knew that Harry only had one turn," added Middaugh, "but he threw it perfectly, every time."

Although he played lead, he was one of the sharpest strategists. He knew the game better than most skips. It’s what made him a great coach after his competitive days ended.

Harrison also contributed to the game via his writing. He was a longtime columnist for the Ontario Curling Report, penning a column that was honest, stark and often hilarious. He wasn't afraid to call out an individual or organization, but also wasn't above poking fun at himself. 

But what made Harry so great didn’t have anything to do with his ability to perfectly place a corner guard or peel out an opponents’ stone, it was his great friendship, his trademark high-pitched laugh, and his love of a good story. Harry was everybody’s friend. He loved the game, but he loved those who played it more. He revelled in sitting around with his pals after the game and sharing a drink and a tall tale.


Funeral arrangements were being made for Harrison who is survived by his wife, Jane and children.

Do you have a favourite memory of Harry? Please post it below in the comments section. 

Does curling belong in the Olympics?

That's the question asked by the Washington Post which also provided an answer: YES.

The Post's Marissa Payne dealt with that age-old question that Americans have about whether or not curling is athletic enough to stay in the Olympic family. She provided one rather interesting statistic about the roaring game: 

According to Harvard University, curling burns 149 calories per 30 minutes of play. Walking, on the other hand, burns… 149 calories per 30 minutes of activity.

I'm not sure that study was based on elite players, but thankfully, Payne followed up with some more information supporting curling. 

“Curling is one of the most highly rated anaerobic sports,” former Olympic curler John Benton told The Blaze, meaning the sport requires short bursts of extreme exertion. Another popular anerobic Olympic sport? Downhill skiing. 

You can read more of the interesting article here and see that there's good reason for curling to stay. Of course, the real reason it will remain as an Olympic sport? Television ratings.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Jacobs' team story an Olympian tale

When I watched Brad Jacobs, Ryan Fry, E.J. Harnden and Ryan Harnden receive their medals today, I couldn’t help but think about what a stunning and awe-inspiring journey it’s been for the boys from the Soo.

In Vancouver four years ago, I don’t think many people would have figured that this rink would be representing Canada let alone winning gold. And to me, that’s what makes this so special. Their story really is what the Olympics are all about.

Hard work. Dedication. Commitment and sacrifice.

All those sound cliché and over-used when you talk about the Olympics. But for these guys, it just really fits. A lot of players in our game work hard, but I’m not sure how many put in the effort these guys did over the last four years. It’s been a long, tough road.

And coming from Northern Ontario, the resources to become a champion curler aren’t plentiful. I remember talking to them a few years back when they didn’t have enough money to travel to all the Grand Slam events. They knew they had to play in those big games to get better, to improve. 

Somehow, they managed to beg, borrow and steal  (well maybe not steal) to play the Tour and get to the Brier.

I always thought they were great curlers and a very solid team, but it was probably the addition of Ryan Fry that put them over the top. I think he really allowed them to believe they could be world class, that they could beat anybody when they had their best stuff. I’m not sure if they realized how good they were before he arrived.

Even winning the Brier, however, wasn’t good enough to get to the Trials. They had to make it through the pre-Trials and the Trials and then the Olympics. That’s just amazing when you look back at it.


What a journey. What a trip. What a wonderful achievement to a great group of guys.

David Murdoch and Lockerbie

If you have some time and want to read one of the most heart-warming and gut-wrenching stories to come out of Sochi, then I'd suggest you read this tale by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! on David Murdoch and his home town of Lockerbie. It's truly a great read. 
The story revolves about the Scottish town that is a curling powerhouse but also known as that place where Pan Am 103 crashed down and how that had a chance to change at the Olympics. Here's a touch of it, based on Murdoch's parents: 
About a half-hour before the match started, the bagpipers took a short break. It was time to go into the arena. Before Matt and Marion headed toward their seats, Matt turned toward me. 
"It's finally a happy story about Lockerbie," he said.
When it didn't work out for Murdoch, at least not with a gold medal, the skip -- who is simply one of the nicest guys you'll meet on the curling ice or, hopefully, in the bar afterwards, felt horrible, obviously.
David Murdoch cried when the match ended. He took the classic Olympic bromide about letting his country down and localized it. This wasn't his gold medal. It was Lockerbie's, or was supposed to be, and instead, Murdoch said, "It just feels like a little bit of a kick in the teeth."

Friday, February 21, 2014

OCA apologizes, CCA ends sanctions, problems continue

Finally, it appears the OCA has come to its senses.

According to multiple sources, the OCA’s president, Ian McGillis, sent a letter to the CCA last night apologizing and retracting statements that were felt by the CCA to be defamatory. That has cleared the way for the association to avoid being suspended and also for the association to be put back in good standing.

The CCA sent out a letter today to the OCA announcing the end to the sanctions and the cancellation of the proposed March 11 meeting at which there was to be a vote to suspend the OCA.

While that may prevent the most pressing issues including a possible suspension, it will not end the bigger issue of a dysfunctional association that has put Ontario curlers at risk.

In other words, the symptoms may have been cured, but the disease lingers.

The incident has brought the spotlight on an association that has horrible communication with its members, clubs and zone reps, has acted questionably at national meetings and has continued with an aura of arrogance.

Understandably, the call for a Special General Meeting has not been withdrawn and it now appears certain that the current board will be facing an angry group of curlers whenever that meeting time is held.


British coach takes a swipe at Jacobs before gold medal match

Soren Gran doesn't like the physical, aggressive style of Canada's Brad Jacobs and his team, saying it's not good for the sport. He criticized the Canadian team's animated emotions that have become their trademark.

Gran, a Swede who coaches David Murdoch's rink, spoke out to the Sun chain a day before his team will meet Brad Jacobs Canadian team for the gold medal.

"The aggressive style we have seen from the Canadians here, that's something I don't like about the sport," Gran said. "I don't think it helps anyone. It doesn't help the player and it doesn't help his teammates."
Gran said that he sees the outward showing of emotion to be a weakness, something that will benefit his team.

"If I see the team we are playing against get aggressive and show anger, I think our guys should be happy because we'd have them exactly where we want them to be. I don't think that helps."
We'll get a chance to see if Gran's theories are correct in today's final.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Jones now a Golden Girl

Four years ago, I got to sit in Vancouver and watch every shot of every draw in the Olympics. One of my seat-mates for that stretch was Jennifer Jones, who at the time was working for Yahoo!

But it was clear that she was burning to be down on the ice rather than up with the media; she wanted to play rather than watch, wanted desperately to be an Olympian and it was obviously eating her up sitting.

I’m not sure if it was at that point or perhaps a time much, much earlier, that she decided she was going to win gold but since then, everything she has done has been about this moment, the time when she got to stand on the top step of the Olympic podium, a gold placed medal placed around her neck.

When she and her teammates Jill Officer and Dawn McEwen cut Cathy Overton-Clapham – despite the fact they were world champions – it was because they believed they would have a better chance to win a gold medal with Kaitlyn Lawes. Despite the fact she became Public Enemy No. 1 and was nearly booed off the ice at the Scotties in Charlottetown for the move, it was about this moment.

When her knee blew out and she had to spend a long, grueling time in rehab and rebuilding the leg, it was about this moment.

For the team, all the planning, all the practicing, all the travel, all the money spent, all the time away from family – including new babies – was about this moment.

Much of the success for Jones can also be attributed to that baby, Isabella, who arrived on the scene a year and a half ago, and her new world with partner Brent Laing. The stability, the purpose and the understanding of her life away from the game easily led to improvements when she was playing.

Today, in the final game, Jones proved once again that she may be the best woman to ever play the game. 

When Lawes stumbled badly through much of the game, it was key shots from Jones that held the team together.

Time and again, Jones threw perfectly to avoid disaster or set up a big end. It wasn’t just in final – although that’s where she truly shined – but all week, every game.

In fact, it’s easy to say that Jones is probably the greatest big-shot, clutch-shooting curler the game has seen. She eats pressure for lunch and looks forward to having to throw a shot to decide the game.


I think there are a lot of people right across Canada now shedding a tear of joy for Jones and the rest of the team. They’ve earned this. Jones has earned this. Now she’s a gold medal champion and that’s a heck of a lot better than sitting on a media bench.

Sir David Attenborough calls curling

If you've ever watched any British documentaries, particularly ones on nature, you've probably heard Sir David Attenborough. His voice is unmistakable, unique.

Somehow, the BBC managed to convince Sir David to do a little commentary on Team GB's game against the U.S. earlier this week and the results were tremendous and hilarious.

For example, he used the following phraseology to describe Anna Sloan delivering a stone.

“And off she goes: gently but flamboyantly launching the oversized walnut down the frozen river,” describes Attenborough of British skip Anna Sloan’s slide.
“The alpha female’s job is complete,” he continues. “It’s now up to the herd to frantically follow the walnut down the river, gently frisking the foreground.”

It's worth the few minutes of watching. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Semi win means relief for Jones

A number of Canada’s top Olympic curlers have told me over the years that while winning a gold medal is a glorious feeling, winning the semi-final contest might provide the biggest relief of the Olympics.

Knowing you’re going home with a medal provides some respite from the pressure of a nation, hungry for medals and one that expects nothing less than gold from its curlers. 

I’m sure that Jennifer Jones and her team are feeling some of that after knocking off Great Britain’s Eve Muirhead with a clutch draw to the four-foot with the final shot of the game. I’m sure it will also quickly change to the realization that one more win means the top step on the podium.

Jones and her rink of Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer and Kaitlyn Lawes weren’t perfect, but they were sure close to it, holding off a fierce Eve Muirhead rink which fell behind early and never quite managed to get back.

The skip was pure clutch with that last shot, a draw to the four-foot, skillfully guided there by Officer and McEwen. 

On the other side of the coin are the semi-final losers. The rink from Great Britain are obviously crushed at the fact that everything they’ve trained for, all the time they’ve spent working is gone as far as a gold medal is concerned.

Now, somehow, some way, they have to regroup and fight for a bronze. To be sure, there is no worse place to finish in the Olympics than fourth.


For Jones, now is the time to get dialed in one more time, to look down the sheet for 10 more ends and realize what’s at stake. Somehow, I don’t think they’ll have any trouble getting up for this one.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Team GB -- does a five-man rotation work?

Here’s a cool video from CurlingZone.com’s Far From Home series looking at the Great Britain team at the Olympics and the controversial tactic of having five players.

I’ve never known a five-player team that’s worked all that well although it’s been done a number of times in major competitions including the Brier and world championships. Of course, having a boatload of money behind it -- reportedly $8.4 million over the four-year Olympic cycle -- and the way GB picks its teams -- a selection rather than a playdown, makes is a bit more understandable. It's the way to the Olympics for the five players.

So far, GB has made it through to the playoffs, today knocking off The Pants from Norway in a tiebreaker to reach the semi.

How much farther will it go? We’ll know on Wednesday

Meanwhile, enjoy the video (note: the piano music gets a bit annoying after a while).





OCA keeps its Zone reps in the dark too

Just when you thought you’d heard it all comes more news of the OCA-CCA conflict.

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve heard from three different Zone reps – you know, the folks who represent a group of clubs in a part of the province. Now you’d think that if you were in charge of the OCA and there was a crisis going on that you’d want to at least communicate with these folks, seeing as how they are the ones who will spread the word down the chain that eventually reaches the curlers.

Nope.

Ontario’s zone reps have had no official communication with the OCA board of directors since November 28.

I’ll give you a moment to pick up your jaw and then write that again.

Ontario’s zone reps have had no official communication with the OCA board of directors since November 28.

So while Ontario curling is in the middle of what could easily be the most serious crisis in its long, long history, the folks who represent the curlers in various parts of the province have had no communication. 

Nada. Zip. Zilch.


Thankfully, a number of them have banded together and are forcing a Special General Meeting of the OCA. They need 10 per cent of the voting body to call for such a gathering and they apparently have that and more. It’s my understanding that at that meeting, they will call for a vote of no confidence in the board.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Grass Roots rising; A petition to stop the OCA suspension

Despite the refusal of either side to discuss the matter, the grassroots of Ontario curling is starting to take notice of the situation, the one that has been festering between the Ontario Curling Association and the Canadian Curling Association.

A petition has been launched that urges all the OCA zone reps to listen to the curlers of the province and settle the dispute by whatever means necessary. 

Here’s what the start of the petition reads:

The Canadian Curling Association is organizing a meeting of member associations and the national board to suspend the Ontario Curling Association from the national body.  This would mean that Ontario curlers would receive no monies and no support from the CCA.  
This petition is to convince the OCA reps to take whatever steps it needs to, to prevent this from happening.  The OCA reps though need to hear our voices, loudly and clearly, on this issue. 
Please sign the petition and let the OCA reps know that by not taking action to prevent this suspension that they are being irresponsible to curlers in this province.

If you want to sign the document, you can do it here: http://tinyurl.com/stopthesuspension


I have signed it and I’d urge you to as well.

Curling takes over the New York Stock Exchange

Curling always gets lots of attention during the Olympics and one place it seems to have found a home is on Wall Street, where brokers and financial analysts alike have fallen in love with the sport since it became a hit in 2010. That was because most of the games in the U.S. were aired on CNBC and that's the channel that's on most of the TVs in the financial district. (Back in 2010, there were a lot of eyes on Cheryl Bernard. This year, I'm told, the Russian women's team is the favourite).

In any case, American curlers biggest promoter Dean Gemmell brought some of the tools of the trade to the floor of the Stock Exchange to show off to some of the hosts.

Speaking of tools, one of the hosts was Kevin O'Leary of Dragon's Den fame who has moved into the U.S. Market with a spinoff show, Shark Tank.

You can see the bit below.




Sunday, February 16, 2014

OCA president speaks . . . well, not really

Joe Pavia thought he was finally going to get the word from the horse's mouth, so to speak, when he had a chance to chat with OCA president Ian McGillis on Saturday. The president was out watching the Colts competition and agreed to a brief chat with Pavia, who writes for the Ottawa Sun and has a blog at hoglinecurling.com. 

However, the conversation was brief and reinforced the fact that McGillis, and by association the OCA, doesn't want to talk about how its members are getting the short end of the stick. Here's a brief example from Joe's blog, wherein the president basically says :

I asked him how this dispute showed the positive side of Ontario curling if curlers are denied the possibility to advance to national competition. He replied that I should ask the CCA that question. 
When asked if he had received feedback from his members he said yes. When asked what he said to them he remarked that the response was between him and the members. 
When asked what is so secret that his members can’t even know what is going on, the president said it was between the OCA and CCA.
I'm not really sure what to say anymore. I'm really sort of dumbfounded. I realize that McGillis is a volunteer and he's probably a really nice guy. I've never met him. But this is ridiculous. Again.

So to catch up, here is my blog on what's at the root of this matter.

And here's the post on how the CCA has reportedly called for a meeting to suspend the OCA, effectively saying they are no longer recognized as the governing body of curling in Ontario.

Stay tuned. I'm sure there's going to be more nonsense in this before too long.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hockey heads turn into curling fans

Gotta love it when athletes from the other sports show up to cheer on the Canadian curlers. In Vancouver, as best as I could tell, the only other member of Team Canada to grace the curling facility was hockey coach Mike Babcock. Now I'll give many of the other Canadians a pass as it was a bit of a hike to get out to the curling rink.

In Sochi, as I understand it, most of the facilities are quite close together as well as the Athlete's Village. It makes it easier to move about. And so just about every member of the Canadian hockey team showed up to watch Brad Jacobs and his rink take on Great Britain today. (Of course the fact that there was room for 25 or so people to come in to watch says something about ticket sales.)

One of the Stone-head curling hats also made its way around the team, including goaltender Roberto Longo who Tweeted his picture of it and pledged his support of the Canadian rock stars.


CCA reportedly calls for meeting to suspend OCA

It appears that whatever the OCA sent to the CCA earlier this week, it wasn't what the national body was looking for. I have been told by multiple sources that the CCA received a letter from the OCA by the Monday deadline but that correspondence didn't satisfy the requirements to end the dispute between the two bodies.

As a result, the CCA has called a special meeting for March 11 at which time the other member associations as well as the national board will vote to suspend the OCA entirely. That means the OCA would be completely cut off from the national body. No money. No support. No national championships. No Ontario curlers into the Hall of Fame. No teams at national championships. Essentially, the OCA would not longer be recognized as the governing body of curling in the province.

And what does the OCA need to do to avoid all this?

Apologize. Offer up a mea culpa. Say we're sorry.

Now there is a groundswell of a movement building. Apparently several zone reps and a few other voting members of the board of the OCA have begun to organize a push for a Special General Meeting if, for no other reason, than to get some answers out of the closed-lip OCA board.

If you want to help push that movement, you can contact your zone rep and give your voice. Here is a list of the reps and their e-mail addresses. 

Presumably there is still time for the OCA to end this situation. What will be its next move?





Friday, February 14, 2014

OCA arrogance hits new level

If you’re a curler in Ontario, I think this will make you very, very mad.

Joe Pavia, who covers curling for the Ottawa Sun and operates Hog Line Curling where he has a regular blog, contacted the OCA to ask what the heck was going on with this CCA-OCA tiff. He wrote an email to the association president, Ian McGillis who responded as follows:

"It has always been the OCA position that we will not put this issue in the public domain and people should focus on the game of curling and the achievements of the excellent curlers in the Country (sic).”


Wow. I mean, Wow, Wow, Wow.

To me, this kind of encapsulates everything that’s happened up to this point. It’s as if the executive of the OCA doesn’t realize just who it serves. You just go over there and cheer on the curling and leave the important stuff to us, it seems to be saying. You don't need to know anything about why your association is under sanction or why it's on the cusp of being booted from the CCA. Only we need to know that. You just go over there and wave your flag and clap. 

Now we know most of what’s causing this issue. You can read all about it here.

Still, there’s a big issue that’s affecting all the curlers in the province but the OCA doesn't seem to give a rat’s ass about what you think. It knows our funding has been cut off and it’s possible that if you win a provincial championship you won’t be able to play for a national title, but you don’t deserve to know what’s going on. That's only the directors. 

I understand that not everything needs to be public but this has gone beyond the point of ridiculous. I think curlers all over should be pissed off at this arrogance. In fact, I’d suggest you write to Mr. McGillis and tell him what you think. Here’s his email which appears on the OCA web site:



 While you’re at it, if you’re upset with the other side, the CCA, you can tell the CEO, Greg Stremlaw. Here’s his email:


 Sooner or later these two sides will realize that they have to start dealing with the curlers. But it won't happen unless you tell them what you think. So email them and let them know. 


Curling's Bodacious Bodies

I never thought I'd actually see these three words together in a headline: curling. bodacious. bodies.

But here they are in this pictorial about the hot bods on the ice at the Ice Cube in Sochi.

We've come a long way from Ed Werenich and Orest Meleschuk.

For instance, who knew that under The Pants, Tommy U had a six-pack?





Although I have to say that I suspected Carmen Schaefer kinda looked like this when her Swiss uniform came off. 





You can see the rest of the selections here in this post at Canada.com 

A curling physio: bad backs and hangovers

Only two curling teams at the Olympics have full time physio/trainers working with them -- the U.S. and Great Britain. And according to the American trainer, Brian McWilliams a lot of folks wonder if two is two too many. 

In a story in the New York Times, McWilliams -- who knew nothing about curling when he took the job -- said curlers go through a lot of wear and tear on their bodies during the course of a competition 

I said, ‘What the heck is curling?'” McWilliams recalled. 
He immersed himself in the sport and now considers himself an expert in all things brooms and bonspiels. He is paid through a small daily stipend, but began as a volunteer with USA Curling. 
Sweeping, he says, can be difficult on the upper arms, back and shoulders. Backs ache from being bent over so much. Athletes are in better shape, he said, than when he started, creating a greater demand for postworkout massages. (McWilliams will be aided in Sochi by a massage therapist for the men’s and women’s curling teams.)
McWilliams, who is in charge of ensuring the American curlers don't take anything that's on the banned substance list, said he doesn't have to worry too much about doping or EPO as in other sports, but he does treat the curlers for an age-old curling ailment. 

The bigger concern for McWilliams is hangovers. Curling tradition dictates that the winning team buy the losers a round of drinks once they put down their brooms and leave the ice. Though postgame revelry at the Olympics may be muted, McWilliams said he was ready. 
“The teams like to have a good time,” he said.

K-Mart on the airwaves in America

If you've been wondering where defending gold medal skip Kevin Martin is these days, look no further than New York. 

Yup, the skip who thrilled everyone in Vancouver is helping NBC with its curling coverage, Norm Cowley reports. He's doing it off a monitor in New York City so he won't have to worry about sharing a room with Bob Costas over in Sochi. 

Martin won't exactly be bringing a lot of experience to the job, however. 

“I’ve never done much of that for anybody,” Martin said about his new broadcasting gig. “I did a game in the West Edmonton Mall event and a provincial final when Tommy Reed won (both in the 1990s).”
Martin lost out in the finals of the Alberta provincial championship, losing his title to Kevin Koe.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Russian curler does a face plant in the four foot

Curling isn't usually thought of as a dangerous sport. At the Olympics, you think of luge, skeleton or maybe aerial skiing. 

But we might have to re-think that for the host Russian men's team after third Andrey Drozdov did a face plant during a game against Switzerland. Most of the time when you see someone wipe out in curling, it's on a slide or perhaps when they're sweeping and get tangled up in the rocks. But Drozdov was in the house watching a takeout approach and simply didn't get out of the way quick enough. 




His head appears to clang off the ice as he fails to avoid the Swiss rocks flying out the back of the rings. Well, not all of the rings. To add insult to a pebbled forehead, not all of the Swiss rocks left the rings. 

Thankfully Drozdov wasn't hurt and stayed around enough to enjoy Russia's first win of the competition. 

You can watch the video of the action right here. 

Norwegians go without pants in protest

It seems not everyone is in love with The Pants.



The Norwegian men's team has, of course, become known for their wild pants which debuted in Vancouver four years ago. This Olympics, the squad has brought out an assortment of colourful strides, all with some sort of combination of Norwegian colours.

But apparently not everyone is smiling. There have been some questions raised as to whether the pants are part of the official uniform. And others suggest they might be distracting to the other teams, although none of the other teams have actually been quoted saying that -- most seem to enjoy them.

On the web site Policy Mic, the official policy of the WCF was shown and The Pants might not really conform.

Are the pants just a fun fashion statement, or does it give the Norwegians an unfair advantage? And are the crazy pants even legal? 
International curling rules require "All team members [to] wear identical uniforms and appropriate footwear when accessing the field of play for games or practice sessions" and state that "the colour of these garments shall be registered with the WCF prior to the start of each competition." But, there are no specific details about uniform pants.
UPDATE: The WCF sent me an email that says, I think, that The Pants are OK inside the Ice Cube because the WCF looks after things in there. But when they go out of the curling facility, they fall under IOC rule so they might be in trouble.

And while were at it, if Ulsrud's pants are too loud what about those things the Russians have on? Barf!

In any case, to protest all the official B.S. that might prevent The Pants from continuing, the team decided to get rid of them -- and not replace them. Yup -- the went pantless. In fact, it was a Pantless Protest.

The millionaire and his rocks

Johnny Jahr might not go home from Sochi with a gold medal in curling but it seems the German curler will return to some comfort in Hamburg. Jahr, who, at 48, is the oldest curler at the Games is wealthy, wealthy, wealthy. How wealthy? According to this story in the Associated Press, really wealthy. 
In an everyman sport full of characters with interesting backstories, Jahr — the oldest curler competing in these Winter Games — probably has one of the most captivating of the lot.He is a major shareholder in two casinos, including one in his home town of Hamburg in northern Germany. He controls part of a huge German publishing house, Gruner + Jahr, which was co-founded by his grandfather and brought in revenues of 2.22 billion euros (now $3 billion) in the financial year of 2012. And he spends most of his time working in property development and investment management.

Older curling fans may remember Jahr's name from back in the 1980s and 1990s when he was a regular with Rodger Schmidt. But he hung up his broom in 2000, only to return for a shot at the Olympics. He's been off the scene so long many of today's top curlers don't know him. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lainger loves curling

First up today, a note about yesterday’s blog, over which I had a few comments. Brent Laing may have said he doesn’t like to watch curling, but in reality he loves it, in fact he adores it.

I hope the only people who actually thought he wasn’t enjoying himself in Sochi were the handful who emailed me yesterday. I may have led people to think he hates watching the Olympic curling through my blog yesterday, which simply isn’t true.

The two-time world champ was just joking to the Sun’s Ted Wyman on what every spouse, partner, parent or sibling goes through at a major championship – that feeling of helplessness as you watch the drama unfold.

As a player, he’s used to being able to control his destiny but as a spectator he and all the rest of the group supporting both Canadian rinks, have to watch and offer support.

The best Lainger can do is hope the lucky earrings he gave to Jones are still working – and so far they have as the Canadian rink put up another win today, this time knocking off Eve Muirhead and her GB team.

Rest assured folks, there’s nowhere that Brent or Mike McEwen would rather be than in those stand cheering for their significant others. Sure, it’s an edge-of-the-seat, chomp-on-the-fingernails thing for them but that’s what makes it so great.

(Also, being the alternate is not easy either as Kirsten Wall relates in this recap of today's game).

And I’m sure the curlers wouldn’t have it any other way. Knowing there’s someone there for you before, during and after the games is a great feeling. Knowing there’s someone there who can truly empathize with the feelings experienced on ice as these two can is even better, I’m sure.

After the 2006 Games, I helped Russ Howard write his book and one of the parts that stood out for me was just how tough it was for the families of the athletes.

I’m not sure if it was any different for the current teams, but Howard had about eight hours after the final rock of the Trials stopped to decide if he was going to bring his wife and kids to Torino. They had to know right away, yes or no. It wasn’t cheap either – I believe it was in the neighbourhood of about $25,000 for the Howards when all was said and done. Of course it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for sure.

There’s the flight, accommodation, meals and even tickets to the game. No one rides for free at the Olympics.


So Laing’s comments were made in jest; my blog was tongue in cheek. He and McEwen and all the families are right behind the players.

****

Keeping with that family theme Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press brought Jones close to tears after a game on Tuesday when told how her mother choked up talking about her daughter at the Olympics. It's a nice story and well worth the read. 

"Oh, you're going to make me cry, too," she said. "It's so great to have our parents here. They're such a big part of this."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Brent Laing hates watching curling, Blake Shelton does not

So, Brent Laing, how are you enjoying the Olympic curling so far?


"I hate it," he said Monday, while watching his partner, Jennifer Jones compete in the opening draw of the Olympic tournament.
"It's really hard to watch. It's so much harder because you have no control. It's much harder to watch than it is to play. When you're playing you are in the heat of the moment and you have some control. It's probably a man thing, the lack of control sucks."
It's not hard to understand Laing's sentiment, which he gave to the Sun's Ted Wyman. After all, he's a competitor and he'd rather be throwing stones than watching them. Same for Mike McEwen who is Laing's drinking buddy this week. 
Apparently the boys have been staying away from any coaching, which is a good thing said Dawn McEwen. 
"No, they haven't tried that," she said, with a laugh."It's just nice having them up there and getting the support from them. It means a lot to us."
We do understand that the staff at Canada House now welcome Brent and Mike the same way the staff used to welcome Norm at Cheers.

****

And apparently Brent and Mike aren't the only ones watching curling. So is country music star Blake Shelton, who sent out a Tweet yesterday professing his love for rocks and brooms.

Maybe he'll write a song about it. Sure Be Cool If You Did.

*****

Now who ever thought curling would make it into Chemical & Engineering News? I know, you're thinking, this is probably cause for celebration.

The roaring game was featured in the august publication with an article about how curling ice is very close to water. According to mechanical engineer "amateur curler" Rick Olson:


The ice is “perilously close to being in the regime of water.” The sweet spot, he says, is -4.5ºC, or just a hair under 24ºF—any warmer, and there’s too much friction dragging on the curling stone. But if the ice is any colder, it won’t “curl,” or travel in the curved trajectory needed for the game. 

You can read the entire article (really, you can) right here.