WATERLOO – Here in this part of Ontario, curling fans are in rapture. Just weeks after both the Asham World Curling Tour (Brantford) and Canadian Mixed (Kitchener) blazed through town, the Tour is back with the first of the marquee Grand Slam of Curling events, the Home Hardware Masters of Curling.
But first, big news.
As some have expected, the International Olympic Committee has said no to curling's bid for another discipline at the Olympic Games: Mixed Doubles. The interesting sight from last week's Continental Cup (CCA/Michael Burns photo) will not make its debut at Vancouver in 2010, but it could show up at Wherever (South Korea, perhaps?) in 2014.
Here's the scoop, courtesy of The Curling News:
KUWAIT CITY – The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee, the body responsible for deciding on events and disciplines – the composition of sports within the Olympic Programme – released the results of the IOC Programme Commission report on November 28.
Mixed Doubles curling, a new discipline submitted for inclusion into the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, was rejected, as were five other sports (Bobsleigh and Skeleton Team Competition, Luge Team Competition, Alpine Skiing Nation Team Event, Biathalon Mixed Relay and Women’s Ski Jumping.
The IOC comment regarding Women’s Ski Jumping and Curling Mixed Doubles was that “their development is still in the early stage thus lacking the international spread of participation and technical standard required for an event to be included in the programme.”
The only sport accepted into medal-status competition for 2010 was Ski Cross, a sport similar to snowboard-cross, which made its debut at the 2006 Olympics in Turin and was an instant hit with spectators.
More on this in the days to come.
CurlTV is also here in Waterloo, and CBC is in for the semis on Saturday (the Country Canada digital channel) and the main net on Sunday. The Wrench, Eddie Werenich, is in town Saturday with both sets of his 1983 and 1990 Brier and world champion teammates, to receive the Asham WCT Ambassador Award... and, in fact, Saturday has been declared “Wrench Day”. So haul out those old carboard & tinfoil wrenches and head on down.
After all, you can buy this hotel and game ticket package.
Want more? Sunday's finale will live band on the ice, along with a disc jockey, and the ever-present mascot, “Slammer”.
And they're not done yet. Don't forget, all games at all four Slams this year are eight ends in length.
“Curling has to take the next step to attracting not just the core fan but the sports fan,” WCPA honcho Paul Boutilier told The Record. “It becomes for the sports fan two hours and 15 minutes, not three hours, of entertainment even if they don't understand the game. It's a whole different model from what we're used to.”
The shorter games allow the Slams to fit into a 2-1/2-hour window that would seem to accommodate the NBA, Formula One and the NHL. Eight-end games are common in clubs and have been talked about for a long time – and were almost adopted globally in 1999. The Slams are the first big event to move to the shorter games.
“I would think everyone on the Tour will be going to this in the next year or two,” Boutilier said. “There isn't any need for 10 ends with the ice conditions we have now. The game is on right from the start.”
On ice, the forgotten man, Don “Walnut” Walchuk beat Stoughton and Ferbey yesterday... not bad. And look who’s playing with him, allegedly this week only.
Stay tuned to the blog through the weekend, as we post the latest and greatest.
Oh... and we almost forgot. Stop on by and visit! That's right, The Curling News has a gargantuan display booth set up on the concourse, or "running track", located beside Asham Ontario and the 2007 Tom Hortons Brier. We're offering a special subscription deal (on-site only) and we're also selling the 2007 women's curling calendar, which saves customers $8.95 in shipping costs. This weekend only!
• Williams Lake CC in B.C. is getting well-deserved kudos for their off-ice performance in hosting the 2006 B.C. Scott, won by B.C.’s Scott, as in Kelly, of course ...
• Meanwhile, Parksville CC is growing, bucking the current provincial club trend ...
• It’s true there are real fears of curling’s demise in England, but can Manchesterians really claim to be hosts to curling’s “spiritual home”? Due to an event in 1877, it seems they can ...
• The folks at Alberta Curling are happy with with the way the Alberta Tour is progressing... just one question: is Ontario listening?
• The feedback on the imminent closure of the fairly-new curling facility in Lower Sackville, NS is not at all good ...
• OUCH: Hamilton Spectatorcolumnist Steve Buist isn't a fan of the Continental Cup; just check this zinger out:
Memo to the CCA: pull the plug on the Continental Cup and don't even give it a second thought.
It will be missed about as much as Battle of the Network Stars or Beat the Champ.
Canada joining forces with the U.S. to take on Europe in curling makes about as much sense as England joining up with Malta to take on the West Indies in cricket.