Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Two-minute guide to curling

In the quest to entice more and more people to take up curling, the CCA has done a lot of different marketing programs, but I have to say this latest video, the Two-Minute Guide To Curling, is one of my favourites. Obviously targeted at people with only a basic knowledge of the game, it serves as a fun introduction to the sport and covers the basics.

If you're a curler, you've probably been asked about everything this video covers.

So what do you think? Two thumbs up?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Goldline heading towards 50th anniversary

Here's a nice Globe and Mail story by Adam Stanley on the Goldline equipment company which is quickly approaching its 50th anniversary. As the story reveals, however, there was a period when the future of the broom and shoe maker was seriously in doubt.

In the early 1980s, Canada was going through a financial struggle not seen since the Great Depression. Goldline Curling, a family-owned business, was running into the same issues that many small businesses were having: It couldn’t secure funding to remain afloat and had an interest rate on its line of credit that was more than what most credit card rates are today. 
So Doug Flowers, now 65, and his brother did everything they could to keep the business going and look out for their father, whose house was on the line. 
“I had a good friend who I look back on now as our saviour,” reflects Mr. Flowers. “I talked to a lot of banks and they basically just turned us down without even a sniff. This friend of mine, although he was probably a terrible banker, he was a nice guy. He gave us the financing we needed to keep going.”
Flowers says the turning point for the company, which currently sponsors both the gold medal winning rinks of Brad Jacobs and Jennifer Jones, was when it began to source materials off-shore, using the cheaper prices available in Asia to make its products.

“Back in the 1980s, all products were sourced in North America. In the late 90s we slowly started going over to Asia, but now 90 per cent of our product is sourced there,” he explains. 
It became more difficult to assemble product in the small Canadian warehouse, so they trained a team in China to do the work for them.
“It made a real difference in terms of our margins,” Mr. Flowers says. “From 2002 to 2008, if there was a turning point in the success of our business, it would be that five-year transitional period from domestic sourcing to offshore sourcing.” 

Although I'm a Balance Plus guy when it comes to equipment, I know Doug as we curl at the same club. He's a nice guy who I like and respect very much. He has done well in the business of curling and there are certainly a lot of curlers who utilize his gear.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

NB curler attempting to play 100 game in 100 rinks

Here's the story of Rob Swan who curls at the two-sheet club in Harvey Station, N.B., who wants to focus some attention on small-town curling clubs. Many, Swan says, are facing difficult times as they struggle financially with dropping memberships and much-needed repairs. 

To do this, Swan is going to try and play 100 game in 100 different clubs over the next few months. He'll wrap up at the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary, where he'll just watch, not play. 

You can read the story here and also view the CTV report. And Swan has started a Facebook page that will chronicle his adventure which is here

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WCF ready to approve World Mixed Championship

At the World Curling Federation’s big meeting in Reno later this month month (that’s right . . . Reno), it’s expected to put in place a World Mixed Championship.

That may come as a surprise, seeing as how the big push of late has been towards Mixed Doubles. 
The WCF will find out in the near future whether that discipline will make it into the Olympics.

But there hasn’t been much talk about a regular, four-person-team mixed championship.

The Canadian Mixed has been around since 1964 when it was first held at the Royal Canadian Curling Club in Toronto. While it’s always a fun and well-played affair, I’ve always thought it more as a secondary event. After all, there’s no competitive mixed events anywhere; mixed is usually more about the social side of curling. When playdown time comes, the best teams are usually comprised of the best men and women players who split from their regular teams to join up. Some of the best of the best have played in the Canadian Mixed, from Ed Werenich and Russ Howard to Cheryl Bernard and Alison Goring. But it was never their prime focus. 

Now with a world championship on the line, I wonder if that will change? Will it grow in stature?

In tennis, there are mixed specialists and doubles specialists, but still, some of the best players compete in both singles and doubles.

Could the same hold true in curling? Could you have a player compete for both the men’s and women’s events and then mixed? Or will it remain more of a specialist niche, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

I think it’s a positive move and I hope that eventually there’s mixed curling in the Olympics.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Niagara curling conference a big hit

Curling’s first big curling pow-wow down in Niagara Falls was, by all reports, a big success. Lots of chatting, presentations, awards and general discussion about the game went on and most left with good feelings about where things are headed.

There were some interesting changes for the coming season, which were spelled out in the release that came from Ottawa today. Here are the highlights (from my humble point of view):

* The qualifying rounds at the Canadian Seniors and Mixed Championships were eliminated and replaced by a similar 14-team direct-entry format that is currently used at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Championships, with the 14 teams split into two seven-team pools, and the top-four finishers from each pool advancing to the championship round-robin. As well, games at both the Seniors and Mixed nationals will be reduced to eight ends, falling in line with international competitions.

I think this is a wise move. It had to suck to be one of the teams at the Senior last year that came all the way out and then lose in the pre-qualifying event. I think especially for the, um, less competitive events (relatively speaking) such as the Senior and Mixed, everyone deserves to play. The move to the same system used in the Juniors is a good one. I’m sure there are things to deal with such as ice allocation and extra expenses, but it seems to be worth it.

* The two-year trial for the Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials was extended for another year, with a decision expected in the next 12 months on whether the discipline will be included as a medal sport for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

I think Doubles is worthwhile if it gets the nod as an Olympic game, but I hope there are some better or more formalized playdowns in the regions. In Ontario, you could just sign up and reach the provincials!

* The age-eligible date for juniors to play at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors was shifted six months back to fall in line with the World Curling Federation rules. Previously, Canadian juniors had to be 20 and under as of Dec. 31 of the year prior to a Canadian championship; now they have to be 20 and under as of June 30 of the previous year. Prior to this change, non-Canadian players at the World Junior Championships could be up to six months older than the eldest Canadian player.
NOTE: This change won't come into effect until the 2015-2016 season.

This has been long-awaited and fair. I hear there may be even more changes ahead with an under-18 competition being considered.

* Among various minor tweaks to the Canadian rulebook that will govern the sport here from 2014 through 2018 was a change in the timing system. Thinking time for 10-end games will be reduced to 38 minutes from 40 minutes, and to four minutes and 30 seconds in the extra end from five minutes. This change is also expected to be made by the World Curling Federation later this month.

Anything to speed up the game is a good thing. This, I’m sure, was probably applauded by the folks on the TV side of things who have always hoped for quicker game.

* A proposal to investigate potential resources to help teams participating in the qualifying round at the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts was approved, with report to be presented to the membership at the 2015 National Curling Congress.

Not sure exactly what this is all about but likely to help cover costs of those teams that don’t make it into the main competition at the men’s and women’s national championships. Or maybe after you lose out you will get some coaching help? Or possibly it’s just tokens for the Patch.