Monday, December 29, 2014

Jones rink gets no love at CP team of the year voting

OK, I admit that I thought Jennifer Jones gold-medal winning team was a bit of a long shot to win the Canadian Press Team of the Year award, and in the end, it finished well back. Actually, it's finish kind of stunned me in that it so far back.

It was predictable that the Canadian men's hockey team won the award. Hockey basically trumps everything in Canadian sports and most of the people who vote on this award -- sports editors from across the country -- focus on hockey on a daily basis so it's understandable that this squad would get the majority of votes.

The men's hockey team received 36 votes, followed by the bobsleigh duo of Heather Moyse and Kaillie Humphries and nine for the women's hockey team, which had that dramatic overtime win in Sochi.

The Jones rink received just four votes, which placed it behind the three aforementioned teams as well as the Calgary Stampeders and the University of Montreal Carabins football team.

It finished ahead of the Toronto Raptors, the Montreal Canadiens as well as the ice dance team of Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, and the University of Windsor women's basketball team, which won its fourth consecutive CIS title.

Is that a bit of a slap against the Jones team in particular and curling in general? In my opinion, yes. Not to diminish the other teams here, but I don't think most of the voters realized the performance the Jones team put in. It was among the best the game has ever seen.

Here's the full article with the breakdown of voting. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Great curling performances overshadowed by hockey at Olympics

Further to my last post on the Jennifer Jones team getting its due, the great Cam Cole has penned a National Post story that deals with how the two Canadian rinks -- Brad Jacobs, of course being the other -- won gold but were overshadowed somewhat by the Canadian hockey teams winning gold on the same respective days.

So, as Cole states . . .
Curling may be as Canadian as maple syrup and Tim Hortons, but Olympic hockey is all of that plus an obsessive mass appeal to which curling, for all its excellent TV ratings and drama and engaging personalities, can only dream of comparing.
Cole does note that the week of the Roar of the Rings was among the most enjoyable of the past decade for him. That's quite something considering Cole is at just about every big sporting event around the world.

The entire piece can be found here.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Jones rink deserves team of the year award

In the coming weeks, the Canadian Press will announce its sports award winners. There are winners announced for male, female and team of the year.

Earlier this week, the Lou Marsh Award was handed out to bobsledder Kaillie Humphries. That drew some criticism from many who felt that hockey player Drew Doughty should have won. Don Cherry was one of the most vocal in that camp. Of course most of the folks complaining, such as Cherry, are hockey pundits. I'm sure there weren't many in the bobsleigh camp who were hoping for Doughty.

Nothing wrong with that but it shows that we all have some bias towards the teams that we see/cover most often.

While fully admitting that, when the team of the year is announced, it's my belief that it should go to the Jennifer Jones team which won gold in Sochi. As those of us closely aligned to the roaring game, of course, this seems an obvious choice. Jones and the team of Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer and Kaitlyn Lawes ran through the field at the Winter Games, going undefeated to capture the gold. It was a truly magnificent performance.

Others who will no doubt be up for the award will be the men's and women's Olympic hockey teams, the Calgary Stampeders and also Brad Jacobs' team.

CP has handed out this award since 1966 and only two curling rinks have won it. It's obviously hard for a curling team to stand out; Canadian curlers are expected to win all the time so it's not always big news to those not that close to the sport.

The only curling rinks named winners of this award were the Sandra Schmirler team in 1998 and the 2006 Brad Gushue team.

Do you feel the Jones rink deserves to win this time?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Curling in Brooklyn -- the New York Times reports

Outside of the Olympics, curling doesn't get much ink in in the U.S., and especially not in the famed New York Times. 

So there was reason to take notice when the paper did a story on the re-birth of curling in Brooklyn. Writer Lisa D. Foderaro did a good job of explaining the game and the gathering at the new curling facility.

Akin to shuffleboard on ice, curling was popular in New York City in the 1800s, another time when men grew Smith Brothers beards, and it was played on frozen ponds and lakes. Now, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, as Prospect Park’s new skating complex is known, is resurrecting the game. 
More than 100 people turned out for an open house in mid-November. Because of the demand, the organizers at Lakeside decided to create three instructional leagues instead of one.

It appeared to be a healthy, happy gathering  at the new club and what they handed out at the end of the evening, may have been one of the attractions.

For now, curling at Lakeside is a decidedly adult sport. That fact is attributable to yet another curling custom — broomstacking. “Traditionally, the winner buys the loser a beer,” Ms. Peace said, nodding toward the bottles of Brooklyn Lager. “We provide everyone with a free beer at the end.”

Of course since the Olympics, curling has gained niche appeal in the U.S., popping up in new spots such as South Carolina. And how many of us have met an American who thinks that they're going to take up curling as a way to get to the Olympics? Ya, never mind those of your fellow countrymen who have been at it for, oh, 20 years or so.

Still, if there's one country (maybe the only?) that's seen significant grass roots growth thanks to curling in the Olympics, it's the U.S. as this NYT article shows.

Changes behind the microphones

A few comments on the changing of the guard in the broadcast booths of both TSN and SportsNet.

First up is the retirement of Linda Moore at TSN. Moore stepped down after 25 years of calling shots for the network due to some health issues.

Moore, in my opinion, was a wonderful broadcaster. She was always prepared, always had information at her fingertips and knew when to talk.

Her style was far more understated and calming compared to her longtime partner in the booth Ray Turnbull. He was gregarious, outgoing and dealt a lot more on emotions.

Moore often focused on the mental side of things and used a lot of stats in her comments. I think she also did a lot of work to stay current and keep up with the new teams, bringing valuable info out.
If she had one fault – in my own personal opinion -- I think at times, she actually leaned too much on the numbers and the coaching-style info (she is a level 4 coach) and not as much on the personality of the players. That’s my own preference of course.

Off the ice, you won’t meet a nicer person than Linda. She’s just a charming, warm and kind individual. She always has time for the fans and her friends and she will definitely be missed. She has been a huge supporter of the game in so many ways. I hope whatever health issues she has, she's able to conquer and that it doesn't impact her life in any way. 

In Moore's place, TSN said it will use a rotation of guest analysts for this year’s events and the first tryout went to Cheryl Bernard.

(I have no knowledge of who else will get a shot in the booth, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see Jennifer Jones there at some point this year.)

For a first-timer in the booth, I thought Bernard did a marvelous job, especially when the women’s games were on. You could hear her gaining confidence and style as the week progressed. At first, some of the comments were quite basic but as the week at the Canada Cup progressed, she improved, providing insights that weren’t obvious to the viewer.

Calling a curling game is not as easy as it might seem with the biggest task being knowing when to talk and when to shut up. In essence, you have two other broadcasters in the booth as well as eight more on the ice.

To me Bernard navigated this better and better with every job and she brought good perspective, especially when commenting on the women’s style of play versus the men’s.

The other newbie to the microphone this year is Kevin Martin. Like Bernard, I’ve found Martin to be improving with each broadcast. He certainly has as much knowledge of what’s happening on the ice as anyone and also lots of background on the players. The toughest part is learning what the viewer will find relative and interesting. He’s doing that better and better.

I think Martin is going through just what Russ Howard had to learn when he first stepped into the booth. Because you are so advance in the game, you want to make sure you’re not talking over the heads of the viewers and providing details they can’t understand. So far, Martin’s done a good job of offering up explanations in a way that every knee-slider can see.

I’d love to see him bring out more info on the players’ styles, deliveries, quirks on the ice, etc., and not just the X’s and O’s of the game. He knows these guys well and can offer up those details. 

But all in all, he’s a great fit as a broadcaster.

So final question: Who do you think are the best commentators? Who would you like to see become one?  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Brad Jacobs: "That was horrible curling"

Never one to mince words, Brad Jacobs summed up his team's performance at the Canada Cup on Sunday to the Sault Star's Peter Ruicci in one short sentence: "That was horrible curling."

Hard to disagree. The reigning Olympic champions were lambasted by Mike McEwen in the final by an 8-3 margin. McEwen's Winnipeg four took two in the first and stole three more in the second for a 5-0 lead no doubt sending lots of folks over to watch Gotham. 

Jacobs seemed to have a tough time reading the ice and was heavy with his final-rock draw in the second. That led to the early lead for McEwen.

That was horrible curling, as bad as it gets,” Jacobs said when reached via cell phone minutes after the match had ended. 
“It's terrible it happened on television.” 
Asked about the difficulty in reading the ice, Jacobs said: “That was definitely one of the problems. The ice tricked all of us a little bit.”
For McEwen, it marked the sixth win in seven events, a ridiculously fast start. As well as they played, the skip noted that getting five points in the first two ends was a shock, as he told Canadian Press. 

"That was a gift," McEwen said of the steal and the 5-0 advantage. "That's not going to happen against a team like that very often, it might not happen again for years. It just shows that being off just a little bit, whether it's a few extra feet of weight or a few inches of line can dramatically swing a game."

In the women's final, Val Sweeting put on a finishing kick to knock off Rachel Homan's team scoring three points in the last two ends for a 6-3 win. The skip gushed cliches to the Canadian Press after the win. 

"A great team game, probably our strongest game all week, start to finish and from lead to skip," said Sweeting after high-fiving part of the large crowd of supporters from her hometown of Vegreville, Alta., just east of Edmonton.

Of course there's more to this story with Sweeting's former teammate Joanne Courtney jumping over to join the Homan squad in the off-season and also the sudden line-up change for Sweeting as well. As Don Landry points out at, it's been a strange year for Sweeting. 

It's an amazing story line. Sweeting loses the 2014 Scotties to Homan. Sweeting's teammate, Joanne Courtney, leaves for Homan's squad. Sweeting adds seven time New Brunswick champ Andrea Crawford. Crawford abruptly leaves the team just before The Masters begins at the end of October. Sweeting wins that event, anyway, with Cathy Overton-Clapham at vice, as Olson-Johns wasn't available to join the team at that point. 

As Landry points out, it's probably not the last time these two sets of teams will face off in big contests.

Friday, December 5, 2014

ESPN to show Season of Champions events online

ESPN, the American sports broadcasting giant, has reached a deal with the Canadian Curling Association and TSN to show some Season of Champions events south of the border. 

That's a huge win for curling, of course, even if the games will be relegated to ESPN3. It means American fans can tune in to watch event such as the Canada Cup or Scotties or Brier. 

In a release, the CCA head honcho Greg Stremlaw offered up the following: 

“We couldn’t be happier to have ESPN on board, and to give curling fans south of the border this opportunity to watch Canada’s elite curlers in action,” said Canadian Curling Association Chief Executive Officer Greg Stremlaw. “We know there’s an appetite in the United States, particularly with snowbirds who spend their winters in warmer weather, Canadians working or attending school south of the border, and the many curling enthusiasts who travel throughout the United States. We’re excited that these fans will be able to get their curling fix this season.”

Now don't expect to be sitting in the grill room after your round of golf in Florida in March, and seeing some Brier rock-tossing on the television. ESPN3 is an online, streaming channel only, meaning you just get it over the internet, perhaps on your tablet or handheld device via the ESPN app.

And ESPN3 is definitely not showing major league stuff. A sift through the lineup shows Division II football, international rugby and NCAA wrestling. 

Still, just to get access to the U.S. and, as Stremlaw says, allow Snowbirds some access to see the games (which, if figure will make up the majority of the audience) is a good step.

Of course ESPN has lots of ties to TSN. In fact, the American outfit owns a chunk of its Canadian brother, making a deal such as this much easier to put together. 

You can read the full release here

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Will the Canada Cup replace the Brier?

An interesting article this week from Terry Jones in the Edmonton Sun, discussing Warren Hansen's theory that the Canada Cup will eventually become the most important curling event in the land, replacing the Brier. 
The theory goes that with the advent of the non-provincial-based teams aimed more and more at the Olympics, the Brier won't be the be-all and end-all it once was. 

“It won’t happen quick, but I believe it’s what it will eventually become,” said Hanson. 
“I think, in time, it’s going to become a stronger event because it has the best teams in it. It’s the No. 1 way you get a berth in the Olympic Trials. That, in it’s own right, is going to give it strength. 
“There’s lots going on right now which may change the structure of a lot of things. Ultimately, something different is going to have to evolve.”

Hansen believes that right now, there are really only about half a dozen teams in the country that would be deemed the cream of the crop. And in more and more of those cases, the teams wouldn't be eligible for the Brier under the current rules for residency. So the focus is less on less on getting a Purple Heart and more and more on a Gold medal. 
We probably have about six teams in that inner circle and probably another six or eight just outside of it. Go beyond that and it gets pretty thin. For the smaller provinces to ever be competitive at the Brier, with what everybody is doing here, it’s virtually impossible. 
“With the whole Olympic thing, that’s where the focus is. In the inter-provincial competition, which goes back to 1927, it was club-based. You went from club play to regional play to provincial championships to the Brier and it was the biggest show in the sport. 
“But curling has evolved to where the top teams don’t have any club association at all. It’s four guys and they may be two from Alberta, one from Manitoba and one from Ontario. That’s where’s it gone because of the Olympics.”
Of course Hansen would compare the two CCA-operated events -- the Brier and the Canada Cup. But indirectly with this theory is that events that don't demand everyone come from the same locale will grow while others slip. So that means the Grand Slam of Curling should also become more important (although it doesn't hold the same rewards as the Canada Cup just yet).

You have to wonder when teams will start forgoing the playdowns to focus on the Slam and Canada Cup? I don't think that's a far-fetched thought; in Ontario, for example where they haven't moved on from the paleo era, getting from start to finish to win the province can take four weekends to complete along with a full week at the provincial final itself.

The Brier will also stop being the national curling event it's been this year when there's a pre-qualifier (whatever that means) ahead of the competition. For the first time this year, not all the provinces/regions will be represented. A New Brunswick or PEI may be forced to sit out due to the silly rules now in place.

Hansen is right. The Canada Cup may one day soon become the biggest event in Canadian curling outside the Olympic Trials. And that day may be here before you know it.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The End of the OCR

If you've been a curler in Ontario over the last four decades, you probably know the Ontario Curling Report. At least, I hope you do. It's been a staple at clubs since the '70s.

But this month, we printed our last edition. The OCR is hanging it up its broom and throwing its last rock.

I've been lucky enough to be the editor of that paper for the last two decades and have thoroughly enjoyed it. We accomplished a lot over the years, and were integral to getting Labatt's to return to the Purple Heart, to getting the Free-Guard zone implemented and to punting a number of officials who simply had to go. Last year, we finally got answers to the "member not in good standing" debacle the CCA put the OCA into and helped change the course of the OCA's leadership. I don't want to take full credit for all of these things; just that we helped move the needle and provided much-needed information.

We didn't always make friends with people in high places and I'm told that is still the case with at least one high-ranking mandarin, but we were always happier to serve the curlers first. I think if there's one thing I'm proud of with the OCR it's that we served the curlers above all else.

We also had a lot of fun over the years with the regular Top 10 lists and the Behind The Glass rumours section. Frank McCourt's cartoons had a home with us too. He is an amazing cartoonist with a slightly twisted mind!

So why did we end it? The simple reason is money. There simply isn't the financial support for a curling newspaper any more as the world turns digital. People get their news now from places like and can read scores and results via Twitter, often directly from the players themselves.

The other reason is that it's been a long run, the four publishers -- myself, Alf Phillips, Peter Birchard and Ken Thompson, along with sales guru Paul Savage -- are all getting up there and perhaps have lost a little of our enthusiasm.

But we didn't want to close up shop without one final issue, which is out now. It's been a great run but the time to say goodbye was right.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Forgotten man in Grand Slam creation

I love reading Nolan Thiessen's columns on the Grand Slam of Curling web site. He's a thoughtful writer who has some good ideas about the game.

His latest column is on the creation of the Grand Slam of Curling and how many of they players sliding boulders in the big events don't really have a clue about where or how the series started. You can read his column here.

One thing that Thiessen doesn't mention is the importance of one guy who really was the force behind putting the Series together -- Kevin Albrecht. In my opinion, the Grand Slam wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Albrecht (later, he almost killed it off but we'll get to that shortly).

Albrecht, whom I knew from his work on the golf side of the business where he was Mike Weir's agent, had been working with some curlers and teams trying to get them sponsorship deals and was having little luck. The reason, of course, was that at the highest-profile event-- the Brier -- the players couldn't wear any sponsor cresting. Most of the other events had little TV time so trying to get any value for the sponsor was tough.

Albrecht lobbied the CCA, along with help from a number of the curlers, but without any luck. The governing body was rock solid in its stand and wasn't about to change.

I thought that the entire thing would  die a slow death. But then I got a call one morning asking if I could come to the IMG offices in Toronto for a meeting. Albrecht wouldn't tell me what it was all about, just come he said.

When I got there, I sat down with him and Kevin Martin. Something was up, I surmised.

That's when they gave me the scoop on the Grand Slam and how the players were going to play in their own events rather than the Brier and the playdowns leading up to them. Albrecht and his team had created four stops, got sponsorship money and was about to unveil it all. He allowed me to break the news in the Globe and Mail.

I remember getting all the details down and then trying to contact Dave Parkes to get the CCA's reaction. He didn't return calls and I later learned his first knowledge of the Grand Slam was while he was sitting on a plane going to Winnipeg. He saw the story that was on the front page of the sports section and apparently went into a slow burn.

The rest, as they say is history. But while Thiessen's column is right that the 18 teams deserve a lot of credit, so too does Kevin Albrecht and IMG for making the Grand Slam a business.

Of course a few years back, Albrecht left IMG, took the Grand Slam rights with him and slowly got into financial trouble. He didn't pay CBC to broadcast the events and it finally stopped. The Slam went to Rogers Sportsnet where it is today.

One interesting point in all this is that it was always referred to as a boycott. But really it was a choice. The players just chose their events rather than the CCA. That's not really a boycott in my books.

At the end of the day, what happened in that situation paved the way for big changes in the game -- prize money (although it's not really called that) at the Brier, more focus on the players and the creation of the Canada Cup.

Although Albrecht walked away from the sport in disgrace, he was vital in advancing it to where it is now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Snaps of your Sleeps for Sandra

So what do curlers do when they retire from competitive play?

If you're Sasha Carter, you get involved in raising funds for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation. Carter is leading a fun campaign called Sweep To Sleep.

It's really quite simple. And loads of fun. All you have to do is take a picture that shows how you and/or your team sleeps. You can have fun with it, make it innovative, creative and even a little bit crazy.

From there, post the picture on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #sandraschmirler -- and then go to and make a donation. You can also challenge other teams to get involved! Call them out and make them take their picture.

Get your family and friends to donate and indicate your team's name on the donation page. The team that raises the most money, will have their funds matched by the foundation and will be provided the opportunity to personally present to a NICU of their choice.

Plus every team that donates will be entered in a draw to win a "Bobblehead" for each member of the rink.

The campaign ends Dec. 15! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Masters TV ratings: OK in a crowded market

The Masters of Curling finished up last week with some good games and even a pretty dramatic shot by runner-up Mike McEwen (if you missed it go here and watch).

The men's final drew 307,000 viewers while the women's final wasn't quite as popular, bringing in 264,000. Both finals took place on Sunday.

That means it's in a class that's less than CFL but above soccer, including the game between Man U and Man City, which had 264,000 sets of eyeballs.

These are decent numbers for curling and I'm sure Sportsnet is happy with them. Anything on a Sunday before Christmas will always have to go up against NFL which saps the audience potential. There was also Skate Canada (Ice Dance, 487,000) and NASCAR (476,000) to deal with.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Called and made: Mike McEwen

OK, this shot is crazy-good and so far, my leader (by a wide margin) for shot of the year. Not only was it an amazing shot, I think it was huge just to be able to see that it was there.
It happened in the Pinty's Grand Slam (see how I used the new sponsor's name in there?) final against Brad Gushue. Despite the great shot, it was the boys from The Rock who took home top prize.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Outdoor curling ice in Toronto could be a reality -- with your vote

So this is one of the coolest initiatives I've seen in quite a while. The Toronto Curling Association is working with the City of Toronto parks department to have them set up curling ice in various spots around the city. Parks is onside and this can be a reality if Toronto can get some funding.

Right now, it's working to try and get a grant through Game On Toronto, which is a Pan Am Games initiative. To do that, curlers have to vote for curling. To do that, you have to go here: 

You need to register and then you can vote once a day to help out curling. 

Hugh Murphy, the TCA's president, told me that the idea behind this is to take curling to the people. Instead of folks wondering how they would curl, how they would join a club, and whether folks other than rich old white people can play the sport, they will have ice pads out there ready for some demonstrations and games. 

So go and vote folks!!! We need your help. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Grand Slam gets title sponsor -- finally!

The Grand Slam of Curling is no more.

Now it's the Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling. Rogers made the announcement this afternoon on the eve of another season of the top-calibre curling events which get underway in Selkirk, Man.

Pinty's, of course, has been involved in curling sponsorship for some time with the TSN Skins Game as well as with the Rachel Homan team. The deal has a three-year term and involves the following, which was presented in a Sportsnet release:

Details of the sponsorship deal include:

·         Title sponsor of Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling
·         In-venue sponsorship including rinkboards, in-ice logos and on-site activations
·         Broadcast commercial spots, sponsor billboards and verbal on-air mentions
·         Integration across Sportsnet’s platforms including digital and magazine

In addition, the deal includes the creation of the Pinty’s Pub and Grill Zone, an in-venue ice-level VIP lounge area at all Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events. The area will be made available to VIP’s, curlers as well as curling fans, allowing them to get up-close and personal with the game and their favourite curling stars.

This is the third year of operation of the Grand Slam under Rogers which had been hoping to find a title since it took over the series. Can't really be anything but good news for the Slam. Chicken wings for everyone! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ovechkin rips pants while curling

As many hockey teams have done over the years, the Washington Capitals held a team building outing at a curling club. This time, it was the Calgary Curling Club. All the players survived the outing. Alexander Ovechkin's pants, however, did not.

The blog Russian Machine Never Breaks, reported on the casualty.

The Caps held what I can only describe as an “intense team building event” at the Calgary Curling Club and I’m sad to report there was one casualty: Alex Ovechkin‘s pants. Let us have a moment of silence for #OviPants.

You can see lots of video and pictures at the site, including many of coach Barry Trotz, who reportedly organized the affair.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Vancouver club given membership deadline or faces being turned into a hockey rink

The North Shore Winter Club is facing a deadline. It needs to sign up 360 members by Nov. 15 or face being turned into a hockey rink, says this article in the North Shore News. 

Now the club is a full athletic facility and therefore the curling membership can be a bit steep to a stand-alone club. There's a $900 initiation fee and then monthly dues of $113. So that works out to about $2,250 to curl (as well as enjoy a limited selection of the rest of the club's offerings).

That's a pretty tall order to try and get that many curlers in that short a period.

What's worse is that it cuts short an agreement the club made with the local recreation association.

The decision seemingly puts an end to an agreement hatched in the late 1990s between the Winter Club and the North Vancouver Recreation Commission to provide a space for public curling following the rec commission's decision to replace the curling rink at Harry Jerome Recreation Centre with the Flicka Gymnastics Club. 

The club's past president, Kevin Dancs, seemed to indicate that having a hockey rink would be beneficial financially for the club. 
If they don't reach the goal of signing up 360 new curling members, the club will start the process to transform the rink from curling into hockey, said Dancs, adding that the club must work to keep member satisfaction high while also considering revenue streams. Only 25 members of the club take part in curling, and the revenue from that ranges from negligible to negative, he said. 
"If it was converted to a hockey rink, then we know that projections are the revenue streams are going to be quite high, plus we have a big component of our membership who are hockey members. They're going to be very happy that they have more ice time for the kids."
You wonder if this is a scene that may continue to be played out in many parts of the country. There are a number of clubs in metropolitan centres that are looking at their curling operation -- which makes up just part of the overall facility -- and wondering if it should continue.

Certainly there can be lots of benefits. If it's a golf club, it allows the facility to keep staff year-round. As well, many players join as curlers and then add additional benefits such as golf or gym use.

But clearly, there seems to be a shake out coming in curling (as it is in golf). There simply don't seem to be the number of players to support as many clubs as we have in places such as Toronto.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Weekend roundup: Koe gets lucky in win, Jones beats Homan

The competitive season is in full swing and some of the big guns notched wins over the weekend, in between turkey dinners.

In Calgary, the new-look Kevin Koe team took top spot at the Crestwood Fall Classic, knocking off Steve Laycock in the final. Koe has an interesting rotation with third Marc Kennedy still sweeping skip rocks with Ben Hebert while second Brent Laing holds the broom for skip stones. While unusual, it certainly makes sense, keeping two of the best sweepers in the game together.

Norm Cowley has all the details on what Kennedy called a lucky win. 

"That game, for sure, we were a little fortunate,” said Koe. “We were in big trouble the first half of the game. We got a good break there to steal two. After that, we played pretty good.”
Meanwhile, what many would view as the top two women's teams in the game met in the final of the Calgary Autumn Gold spiel. This has always been one of the majors in the game and so no surprise that these two made it to the final. 
Jones ended up winning the event but was full of praise for her opponents in this Calgary Sun story by Daniel Austin. 

"They’re a tremendous team and I’m sure,hopefully, we’ll play them a couple more times,” Jones said. “They’re an amazing team, everybody knows that, and we know we always have to play our best to beat them … it worked out well for us today.”

Before the game, the Jones team took in a little Thanksgiving turkey at some of the skip's relatives, posting this great shot on the team's official Facebook page. Love the hats ladies. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Checking out the groceries and other gold medal experiences

Team Jennifer Jones returned to the ice this week at the Calgary Autumn Gold Classic and, as befits the gold medal winners, the team members were the centre of attention.

Most wanted to know how it was living a summer as an Olympic champion, which brought up some great responses in this Canadian Press article by Donna "Spinner" Spencer.

Some check out what groceries the curlers are buying. Others just kind of melt down, said Kaitlyn Lawes:

"It's interesting because even some people just come up and start crying. We've never met them before, but they had an emotional connection to what we did."

Meanwhile, after taking the summer off to enjoy all the bells and whistles that come from winning the Olympics, the team is back at it. There really is no time to rest, said Jones. 

"The way the system is set up for qualifying for the next Olympics is we're kind of required to start from scratch and start right away," she explained. "We're trying to defend our title in South Korea." 
"We had to get right back at it this season. Normally we'd be training hard in the summer, but we took the summer off. It was a great way to recover and we're anxious to get back on the ice."

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Virtue working on in-turns, out-turns and emotions

When we last saw Brock Virtue, he was snapping his broom before being ejected from the final game of the Saskatchewan men's final. The emotional but very talented curler had to sit on the sidelines for the final two ends of the provincial championship contest, having been thrown out by officials.

It was one of rather significant stories of the playdowns last year, with no one remembering a player getting the heave-ho from such a big match.

Well Vitrue is now back in Alberta and curling for Charley Thomas, and in this Calgary Herald story from Jeff Mackinnon, he says he knows things have to change.

“I certainly have room to improve in terms of withholding some emotions at certain times and I’m definitely trying to work on that this season,” the 28-year-old told the Herald.

Thomas things that having Virtue on board is a good fit and will help his new-look rink.

I think part of the reason we are going to work well together is that we complement each other very well,” Thomas said.
“Brock is a pretty emotional player and I like to think I’m pretty even-keeled so us playing together is going to bring out the best in him and hopefully bring out the best in me as well.”