Friday, March 17, 2006

Pardi Gras: Fun and Games

REGINA – Fun 'n' games during last night's final draw... as one grumpy observer has already noted:

Could Stoughty vs. Howard have been more of a love-in? Someone better start throwing punches today to balance that out.

Jeff Stoughton did a couple of spineramas, with Glenn Howard hopelessly trying one, as Ontario heads into tonight's Page 1/2 game versus Quebec. The Bison boys are heading home, with Alberta (CurlingZone photo of Carter Rycroft from yesterday aft) and Nova Scotia locking up in this afternoon's 3/4 match.

And, of course, the CCA's $1,000 fine continues to be topical. But check this out: here’s one report on Stoughton’s reaction to the fine and, unbelievably, here is (one of) two more that both tell a completely different story.

Who is right and who is wrong? Was Stoughton having fun with the media – and spoofing himself – or was he a rampaging viking? How is it possible that reputable sportswriters – from the same media organization, no less – could get it so different?

Guess what, folks... if that isn’t a clear warning not to believe everything you read, then we don’t know what is.

Anecdotes galore: TCN was walking through the arena last night when from the stands comes an ancient party battlecry from the 1998 Nagano Olympics... "Hey Now." It's none other than Sami Jo Small, Jennifer Botterill and Fiona Smith, three players from Canada's national women's hockey team: gold (twice) and silver in the past eight years.

The gals have always bonded well with the Olympic curlers, with Small appearing on ice for a personal lesson with Team Gushue shortly after the by's' gold medal triumph in Pinerolo. Indeed, there were a dozen or more hockey gals whooping it up at that golden final.

Furthermore, the gals often compete in an afternoon of challenge curling once a year during their world training camps – it serves as a team-building excercise and breaks the monotony of hardcore training (note that the Calgary Flames and L.A. Kings are just two NHL teams who are also known to trade in their sticks for brushes once in a while).

Watch for Small to make an appearance on CBC Sports Saturday tomorrow, where (if it happens) she'll explain more about her team's connection to the Roaring Game.

The Curling News then took the gals up into private box territory to catch up with the Gushues, who were hosted by sponsor and curling hero Bruce Saville of Edmonton. Saville also sponsored Fiona Smith in her pre-retirement days, and a happy reunion ensued. Meanwhile, the Gushues were eventually whisked out of the building by security – always walking, never stopping – and only re-emerged at a news conference this morning.

The thoughts and opinions of the Golden Boys will be front and centre in tomorrow's media roundup – and TCN will of course supply the links – but eager readers can watch for the stories to include personal memories of Turin; the huge crowd of 2,000 greeting them at the airport; the thrill of sharing the gold with wide-eyed kids; and a few thoughts about the future.

There are also some candid thoughts about this here Brier: in one example Russ Howard apparently picked his brother Glenn to win the Brier... but made the prediction right after the Trials (Gushue witnessed the call). In another, Gushue spoke strongly – as did other team members – against the lack of opportunity to qualify for this Brier. While acknowledging they would have to struggle to refocus following the Games – Howard noted that they might pooch on the ice and finish 2-10 – the "bys" believe that playdown dates should be adjusted in every Olympic year, thus giving the Trials champions the chance to try and qualify for the Brier.

Heavy stuff for Page Playoff Friday.

Elsewhere:

• Scotiabank is a new sponsor for Team Canada’s Kelly Scott, as the Ford Women’s Worlds gets underway tomorrow on TSN...

• Canada's Chris Daw stole the semi-final over Denmark and is through to Saturday’s gold-medal final in Paralympic Wheelchair Curling... and their opponent is arch-rival and world number one Great Britain, skipped by Frank Duffy... meanwhile, a stunning development for wheelchair curling in Canada, as the B.C. government will spend $3.9 million for a state-of-the-art Paralympic sport facility in Kimberley...

• It's Denmark again in the semis for Megan Selzer's Canadian Junior squad at the Worlds in Korea, while Charley Thomas and co. face China in men's play...

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