Thursday, May 25, 2006

Curlers take Parliament Hill

The pride remains strong... months after bidding farewell to northern Italy.

A horde of Olympians and Paralympians – including Paralympic Wheelchair Curling medallists Team Chris Daw as well as able-bodied curling medallists Team Shannon Kleibrink and Team Brad Gushue – were recently hosted in Ottawa by Canada's Minister of Sport, Michael Chong. The itinerary ranged from a meet and greet at the famed Tulip Festival to a charity breakfast, climaxed by the now-traditional march onto the floor of the House of Commons and a reception. Prime Minister Stephen Harper (photo) addressed the athletes, and a copy of his text is located here.

A touching moment occurred when the Paralympians met Conservative MP Steven Fletcher, who continues to write history as the first quadriplegic to sit in Canada's parliament.

Trivia: we spot five curlers in the photo... can anyone name them?


• Speaking of wheelchair curling, did you know the sport is used in a U.S. Paralympic military program?

Team Ferbey says they had a great year, and who is going to argue? Certainly not The Curling News... we ranked them #2 for the entire 2005-06 season, second only to Newfoundland's golden boys. Sayeth The Ferb:

Obviously not doing better at the Trials was a disappointment and we would have liked to get back to the Brier but it’s not that we didn’t play well this year.

For whatever reason we weren’t at the top of our games for those two events. But overall the year was very, very successful. We finished the year out as the number one rated team in the world. We won the money list so from a cash point of year we were successful there too. We won a lot of games this year. There aren’t that many teams that wouldn’t have loved to have had the year we had.

There's more from The Ferb on a recent podcast over at The Curling Show.

• It seems that British politician Gordon Brown – touted by some as the successor to longtime PM Tony Blair – has some funky musical tastes. But he's also a fan of women's curling...

• It’s that time of year: curling clubs look for something new to brighten their chances of luring fresh members in the fall. Curlers in Powell River, BC have approached their municipal government for help with a new facility... but local government has kiboshed Nova Scotia’s “Pugwash Project”... and what’s the answer to a blase facility exterior? Well, partner up with students from your local community. Of course.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Run Gordy, run

40-year-old Minnesotan Gordy Savela (photo) is off and running, today through May 31, on a 340-mile one-man marathon... with a curling broom in his hand.

No, we're not kidding. Read all about it here, and here, and as of this morning, here.

Does Gordy have a cause? You bet: to promote junior curling, and encourage youths to embrace a more active lifestyle. The Itasca club member from Grand Rapids, Minnesota says:

I think curling is a great way for young people to get some physical activity and have a lot of fun.... the broom should differentiate me from all the other joggers out there. It should serve as a conversation starter for when I'm sitting on a park bench or in a coffee shop somewhere. I really want to use this run as a chance to get people talking about curling.

Here's two sites that are also promoting/sponsoring his run. Best of luck to Gordy from The Curling News!

• Still with the USA, the sun-drenched SoCal club has a new logo and website, and this eager group also has two of three open houses already under their belts (the third runs tomorrow in Escondido)... meanwhile, not too far away, curling is also set to make a splash in Vacaville, CA...

Sad news this week out of British Columbia, which now reaches into the sport of curling: one of the four miners killed in tiny Kimberley was a very busy curler and coach; stories here and here...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Meet the Premier

Last week saw Ontario Lieutenant-Governor James K. Bartleman and the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, co-host a reception for Ontario's national team athletes from no less than three 2006 Games: the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games. McGuinty (and other politicos) welcomed his guests, worked the room and eventually met up with Paralympic gold medal wheelchair curling skip Chris Daw (photo).

When Daw queried the Prem on his curling history, McGuinty acknowledged having curled before... but said he threw the rock “overhand.”

Mr. Premier: there are quite a few GTA clubs awaiting your next on-ice effort – perhaps through a staff outing or community team-building exercise? – not to mention more opportunities in your Ottawa hometown. This fall, perhaps?

Later, some of the athletes attended the legislative assembly where Minister Jim Watson made the reception, and the accomplishments of his guests, a matter of government record.

Some media outlets focussed their day-after copy on Ontario's long-suffering sport funding and infrastructure woes. While the province's amateur sport support network is indeed in poor shape – like Canada's military, it has suffered from multiple years of neglect – the current Liberal government has taken steps to address this sporting “fiscal imbalance.” Witness the creation of a new ministry – with a new minister and a dynamic Olympian MP on board – and even a grassroots plan (and fund) aimed at addressing child obesity and inactivity through sport participation.

True, much of the government's “sport” focus is geared around participation issues, and aims to improve quality of life and relieve Ontario's stressed-out healthcare system. But there was also a new lottery launched prior to Torino 2006 which delivered cash proceeds directly to athletes. And the Ontario chapter of stalwart agency KidSport – a longtime favourite of The Curling News – has been revitalized with new funding from Queen's Park.

Onward and upward.


Team changes continue to hit the news, and Olympic teams are not immune. The back end of Japan's impressive women's team have both called it a day, which must be concerting to the host city of the next world women's championships – also the hometown of the departing athletes. Closer to Canada, the Olympic bronze men's team needs a new lead, as the USA's John Shuster has left the Pete Fenson squad, intent on skipping his own team...

• It's another year and another honour for the amazing Anne Dunn squad, from Cambridge/Galt, Ontario, winners of yet another Canadian Senior women's championship...

• The fledgling SoCal Curling Club got some press for their recent open house, in which Yanks are invited to “Blame Canada... and Scotland” for this “curling disease”...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

New player for Gushue?

Alberta continues to dominate the curling headlines early in this off-season.

Take Olympic gold medallist skip Brad Gushue (far right in photo, along with golden teammates). He's in Vancouver today, helping to kick off the arrival of the RBC 2010 Flag Tour, a big family-oriented fun station which has been travelling the nation over the last couple of months. The Tour pumps up Vancouver through this weekend.

Okay... so what does a Newfoundlander (and Labradorian) hanging out on the Left Coast have to do with Alberta?

Turns out there are rumours of a new player on Team Gushue next season... and in a turn from the ordinary, this player would be leaving the land of black gold for the far east, not importing into it. The player is reported to be Chris Schille, a young'un with a colourful Alberta resume, who some feel would mesh well with the Gushues.

If true, this means ancient mariner and Monctonian Russ Howard will not be trying to pull a residency move to play full-time with the squad; he would no doubt make some special tournament appearances with them, but overall would return to New Brunswick to skip his own team.

Still with Alberta: former Ontario skip Mike Harris is en route – literally – to his new gig in Banff, where lo and behold, city council just happens to be mulling over a new $38 million sports and recreation complex, complete with six sheets of curling ice... sounds like there's trouble in Falher... and, not to forget Canada's other Olympic curling team, skip Shannon Kleibrink and third Amy Nixon will take up softball this weekend, accompanied by many Calgary sports heroes and all for a great cause.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Curling Show

We've been proud to partner with curling's first-ever podcasting show this past season. Available at their website, or from iTunes, or via Yahoo!, The Curling Show has showcased some solid and entertaining Q & A with big names – and some lesser known but still fascinating names – all year long.

Dip into their archives and check out interviews with ballsy veterans like Kevin Martin and The Wrench; relative newbies like Jean-Michel Menard; The Superwoman of Curling, Anette Norberg, and other characters like The Doctor, Johnny Mo and the legendary Johnny K.

And they've finally nailed the elusive chief of The Curling News, George Karrys, for a two-part summary show that is now posted online.

So who dat in the photo?

Nope, it's not Karrys, although the tall hair might just work for him as well... it's none other than Curling Show host and honcho Dean Gemmell, the former Brier competitor out of Quebec who now resides in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and pines for the day when curling rears its head in his current base of operations.


• Okay, Carter Rycroft can talk now. His new squad of Blake MacDonald, Kevin Koe and Nolan Thiessen is confirmed in today's Calgary Herald. Rycroft, of course, is the ex-second for 2002 Olympic silver medallist Kevin Martin; Koe was third for the now-Martin-bound John Morris; MacDonald is a two-time provincial finalist (twice bonked by the Ferbey 4) with Team Jamie King, and Thiessen – lead puck for 2006 Alberta finalist Mark Johnson – also counts a 2003 curling gold from the World University Games on his resume.

Sez Koe:

None of us have played together, but if you look at our past history, we've all had success everywhere we've gone. We're all pretty good friends, we're all about the same age group – what's not to like?

• TCN caught up with David Nedohin recently, and asked for a comment on the new Team Martin. The last-rock Ferbster was much obliging, and offered this:

I don't think there is any question as to the talent of the players on the team, and that they'll be a major threat over the next few years. However, similar to the development of any team, the chemistry of these four individuals together has yet to be seen. If they can gel, and each player accepts the roles and responsibilities of their position, they will be a formidible force.

Anyone who doubts that the accomplishments of amateur athletes have little or untraceable positive impact on kids – and by extension, society as a whole – needs to read this story, which tells how Marcia Gudereit's 1998 Olympic gold helped build and deliver an Olympic silver medal, eight years later in Turin...

• This just in: those cool tractor photo cards are now a collector's item, as Kubota Canada has forwarded a joint news release, announcing the end of their curling sponsor parternship with Team Jeff Stoughton.

As the story goes, skip Stoughton met a Kubota honcho on a plane and the two hit it off, resulting in what the now-changed-up Team Stoughton described as the best team sponsor in curling. The five-year partnership is now over, but hopefully Kubota will be back someday. Their investment helped Stoughton stay near the top of the curling ladder... and according to Team Stoughton's many female fans, also brought hot orange into curling fashion just as it became trendy...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Wing Ding rings it in

Congrats to Team Kristy Jenion of Winterpeg (photo, left to right: Raunora Westcott, Jenion, Lisa Roy and Leslie "Chesty LaRue" Wilson) on the success of last Saturday's unique fundraising idea: a wing night at Hooters, complete with a big silent auction table and a putting contest with a BBQ as top prize. A good time was reported and the news is thus presented here, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood TCN Blog.

TCN readers will recall a Newsdesk spotlight on Lisa Roy and her valiant comeback from nearly losing an eye in a shocking highway incident (December 2005 issue, Vol. 49 Number 2). Obviously, her squad's second straight provincial runner-up appearance in 2006 means that Roy is on track to continue regaining optimum vision, and we join thousands of others in wishing her well on this continuing road.

Nova Scotia curling recently held their second annual Celebration of Excellence luncheon, emceed by former Colleen Jones lead Nancy Delahunt, which saw presentations made to 20 provincial championship teams including four national bronze medallists and one national gold medallist. The big news was the creation of an NS Hall of Fame, which will (finally) honour contributors across the spectrum of athlete, coach, volunteer and/or builder. Unsurprisingly, the first winners were Team Colleen Jones, but there was an impressive list of other winners as well...

Here's a cool story about some Ottaweans making the long trek to Winnipeg for the May 7 Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame ceremonies; this year's inductees were listed in the March issue of The Curling News, but here's an online link...

Did you know: the Canadian Curling Association is applying for a federal charity rebate? According to this newsbyte, it's got some other Ottaweans up in arms...

Here's a B.C. story on one of wheelchair paralympic skip Chris Daw's teammates, Gary Cormack. Also in the story is mention of a growing fundraising/awareness tournament called Wheels On Ice. Great stuff; wonder if they've told SFAC Curling about it...?

Finally, ex-Kevin Martin second Carter Rycroft spoke to Monday’s Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune, and he has a team for next year... but isn't talking. Yet.

Said the 28-year-old Rycroft:

(The phone) has been ringing pretty steady. So there are no lack of options, but I have a pretty good idea what I'm going to do.

We had a great run. We won a silver medal together. As far as events go, no one won more events than us in that stretch. We won seven (World Curling Tour) events in a row and I think the next closest is four. Seven tour events in a row is a record that probably will never be broken. We had the money record for one year's earnings.