Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Battle of the Sexes at the Skins

The TSN Curling Skins gets underway this weekend with the matchup between Cheryl Bernard and Kevin Martin providing most of the hype so far. Here's my Globe column on the topic.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I'm no fan of the Continental Cup

Call me a curmudgeon, but I’m not a big fan of the Continental Cup. For an event that is continually compared to golf’s Ryder Cup, this has all the intensity of a church rummage sale.

The problems with this event are numerous, in my humble opinion. First, the prize pool is a paltry $91,000, with the winning side getting $52,000 split between the all the players. That works out to $2,000 per player (the coaches get paid too so Harry can look after his Greyhound bill).

OK, maybe we can live with that. But I just abhor the format. The regular games? Fine. The skins? OK, but the Mixed Doubles and the Singles?

I understand the reason behind the Mixed Doubles. The curling powers have been trying to find another discipline to put into the Olympics and so this was the testing ground. It’s an inexpensive format for something like the Olympics since there are only two players per team.

It just doesn't look professional. Or even natural. There’s just something weird about someone jumping up and running after a rock to sweep. Reminds me of a game we'd play in junior curling where someone would throw a hit and we'd try to sprint past the rock on the next sheet, seeing if we could beat it down the ice.

I’ve always said that the format that's missing is double-rink, the old form where two teams from one side play two from the other with the total score of both games counting.

It’s exciting, it’s interesting and it has lots of possibilities with say, a men’s team and a women’s team joining forces.

Next, the points system. Does anyone understand it? If you do, does it really make sense? And has North America already won? 30-6 after one day is a big lead. I think. Or maybe it's just a two-possession lead. And if anyone can find a breakdown of the system on the web site, please send me a link. I sniffed around for a while and couldn’t find it.

Also, there’s no way this should take place ever year (excepting the Trials years). Once every other year or once every four years would be much better to make this somewhat special.

Finally, there just doesn’t seem to be any intensity in this at all. The players are all yucking it up and slapping each other on the backs and banging thunder sticks together and singing Kumbaya My Friend, Kumbaya.


I pine for the days when Ed Werenich told Stefan Hasselborg that he was going to stick his broom so far up his ass he’d be pulling hog hair out his nose.

Tune me out, sorry.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Globe column on the EQ head

Here's my Globe column on the new broom head that came out following the Olympics.

It certainly has generated a lot of buzz in the curling community. We had a story in the Ontario Curling Report and the Canadian Curling News also did a big spread. I've had a lot of people asking about it and yes, I use one. I find it makes a significant difference. So by reading the article, you'll know I obviously wasn't at my peak effectiveness before a la Hebert and Kennedy.

The Goldline . . . so far

This week in Toronto, the massive Goldline Bonspiel is going on. This is the unofficial city championship, at least at a club level. The spiel has been going for more than 100 years and for those who’ve been tossing rocks for a while, it’s still known as the Canada Life. That company paid the freight for the first 100 years and since that time a number of other sponsors have come along – Energizer, The Brick and now Goldline, which does a fair bit to help out curling in and around Ontario.

There are roughly 1,200 curlers playing down here ranging from Brier champions to Sunday morning knee-sliders.

The best part about this event is that you can’t take a stacked team into it. There are tight rules about who can play front end and the result is that you get true club teams playing down for a big championship. And you get a lot more teams entering because they know there’s a chance they can go far. You also get to play at all sorts of different clubs as (if?) you progress.

The measuring sticks are the days of the week. You start with two games Saturday to determine your event and then keep playing through the week as long as you win.

This year, having reached the ripe old age of 50, we entered the Senior division and started at East York. We won our first game against Dixie’s Frank Schneider, surging in the late ends. The second game we played Terry Samuels of Thornhill and after getting out to a 6-1 lead, held on for a 7-6 win.

Monday night we got past a determined St. George’s rink skipped by the veteran Elgin Horton at the Cricket Club and Tuesday defeated Kurt Tamowski of Oakville in a game at Richmond Hill.

The Senior division doesn’t have as many rinks at the Open event so tonight we earned a well-deserved bye.