Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday curling roundup

The Curling News is now on deadline for the first (November) issue of the season, so there's little time to Blog today. Have you subscribed yet? Don't blow it, dudes and dudesses. The special 50th anniversary publishing season is one for the ages. Trust us.

• PHOTO: That's Guy Hemmings in Vermont, USA, on Wednesday afternoon, spreading the good curling word ...

• IN MEMORIUM: A celebration of life yesterday at Ontario's Peterborough Curling Club for Derek Whitehill, who was only 19 when he died in a single-vehicle crash on Monday morning. Whitehill was an avid player and also the junior curling columnist for the Ontario Curling Report, a position founded by TCN publisher gk way back in 1986 ...

• ACROSS THE POND: The Mother Club has a new president ...

• BUILDING IN B.C.: Williams Lake is fast-tracking construction of a brand new arena – which includes a dedicated curling pad – similar to that of Chiliwack, host to next month's Continental Cup of Curling. The local paper approves, and now nearby Quesnel is jealous as all heck ...

• FROM EDMONTON: Kevin Martin had some interesting musings this week. He's parking it while his three young turks are in Portage, MB this weekend along with super-sub (and former Jeff Stoughton third) Jon Mead. Johnny Mo will skip ...

• SHE IS THE LAW: According to Lyndon Little of today's Vancouver Sun, 2002 bronze skip Kelley Law is glad to be back and has her eyes on Vancouver 2010:

A chance at the Olympics is certainly a big part of it. To be part of an Olympics here in Vancouver would be exciting. I had some time off focusing my energies on family and work, but I'm ready to get back at it. The Olympics were the carrot that put it all together.

Georgina (third Wheatcroft) and I kept in touch all last season. I don't think I would have come back had she not been available. I missed the curling. I love the competition. I could never just curl for fun. But for me to come back it had to be with the right people.

The new Team Law is three-for-three in cashing Tour cheques thus far, with one event victory.

I think our strength as a group is our game planning and our work ethic. When I left, we were number one. I still feel that way, but I know it won't be easy. There's a lot of work ahead.

• THESE KIDS TODAY: Here’s an archived story on U.S. college interest in curling immediately after the Turin Olympics ...

• BUBBA: White-hot Kerry Burtnyk had more to say in the Winnipeg Sun this week ...

• THE DOCTOR IS IN: Famous curling headbands are discussed with Kerry Burtnyk lead rocker Cory ‘The Doctor’ Naharnie on The Curling Show ...

• SAY WHAT? Vartan Kupelian of the Detroit News has a nifty curling crack (look below the retro photo of Tiger pitcher Dan Petry). Do these U.S. sportswriters really know their small-town Canadiana, or are they just Googling?

Ottawa Sun scrivner Joe Pavia wins this month’s award for best intro: At times, Jean-Michel Menard feels like moose meat. Check it out here ...

• FINALLY: This is where we could point out the depth and detail of The Curling News and this here The Curling News Blog, but we'll get right to this point. All due respect to this webmaster, and his intentions are good, but since CurlingZone and InTheHack are already hubbing all the news that is already auto-and-user-retreiveable, what’s the point?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Clear the track, Burtnyk's back

Kerry Burtnyk is five-for-five. That's right... since roaring out of retirement, the 1995 world champ (photo from victory number one in Gander) and his new youth squad have won all five tournaments they have entered, and they've completely overshadowed the much-ballyhooed and almost equally succesful other barnstormers led by Edmonton's Kevin Martin (who also won again on the weekend, incidentally). Burtnyk spoke with the Kamloops Daily News after beating Kelowna's Bob Ursel in the final of Monday's Strauss Crown of Curling:

I probably wouldn't have believed (the perfect record) because I don't think I've ever done that before. It's really amazing.
I knew when I recruited them that these were really good young curlers and we had a chance to be a good team. But they've played exceptionally well. Even when things are looking bad some times... they never give up. We've won some games when it wasn't looking so good.

On the women's side, Victoria's Pat Sanders won her second Crown title 10 years after her first, beating China’s Bingyu Wang in the final. That’s right... just a year after Japan’s Ayumi Onodero became the first Asian team to win World Curling Tour title, the impressive Chinese national team almost equalled the feat. Said Sanders, who had been crushed 10-1 by Wang in the A-qualifiers:

I saw throughout the whole weekend that they were playing really well and just trouncing their opponents. It was worriesome as to how to play them. We decided that we would play more open and not let them build up the rocks that they had been doing, and then try and make our opportunities as we went along.

• Speaking of Martin, he spoke to the Edmonton Journal prior to last weekend's win in Bonnyville:

I can see the energy on the ice. And people who have been watching me say we have more energy And that's a good thing.
I think we're a little surprised to see where we are. Now if we can make it 23-2 (they are now at 28-2) in the next 25, that would be fantastic. Winning is easy. We'll see how good this team is when we're on a six-game losing streak.

• OK, so Colleen Jones didn't meet up with her ex-teammates out in Moncton (new skip Mary-Anne Arsenault lost out on the quarterfinals) but Jones' new skip (and old buddy) Kay Zinck won the event, making CJ one-for-one as a women's third. As CJ told the Chronicle-Herald:

I’m a little sore today. But I kind of enjoyed the sweeping part of it because it’s a full exercise. It felt good to be involved in that part of the game. I quite like the early read on third.
What I loved the most was the interaction you have with the other teammates. Skipping is a lonely position. Frankly, I think I was tired of the pressure of being skip and having to make last shots all of the time.

Incidentally, any controversy that may (or may not) have happened between Jones and her former teammates was replaced by the unanimous show of support for
Kim Kelly, who lost her mother Audrey late last week. The Moncton organizing committee and the Zinck and Aresenault teams graciously re-jigged their draw times to allow both squads to attend Saturday's funeral in Amherst. PEI's Nancy Cameron replaced Kelly in Moncton.

• In other spiel action, Saskatchewan's Sherry Anderson is back in a big way: her squad won the second women’s Grand Slam in Winnipeg, beating defending champ Jennifer Jones in the final:

• 2002 golden gal
Rhona Martin will make a guest appearance on the UK’s Catherine Tate Show:

• Maple Ridge curling club, just like The Curling News
, is celebrating its “golden” anniversary this season, and they've even got a promotional video posted on YouTube ...

Like what you're reading? You ain't seen nothing yet. Subscribe TODAY to The Curling News, now celebrating its remarkable 50th Anniversary publishing season! You won't want to miss this extra-special season of wall-to-wall curling coverage, featuring archived stories from the last 50 years reproduced in every issue!

• Kinda forgotten in the hoopla about Burtnyk, Martin and Colleen Jones-At-Third is
Team Randy Ferbey. They're doing well, but were bounced from Flint without qualifying, a rarity these days. Pat Simmons beat them in an A-final while another Sask squad, skipped by Bruce Korte, eliminated them in the C-qualifier – in just four ends – by a 9-1 count. It was the third straight Tour win for Korte in head-to-head matchups with the Ferbey4 ...

• Italy made it to the Euro Mixed final, on home ice, before bowing 7-4 to Scotland ...

• Golden boy
Brad Gushue is on this week's episode of The Curling Show ...

• Oh, the mysteries of curling rocks. Inserts? Ailserts? To sharpen, or not to sharpen? Penticton thinks they have the answer ...

• More from the Strauss Crown of Curling: USA coach and former Sportsnet talkie
Ed Lukowich played lead for Pete Fenson yesterday when regular third Shawn Rojeski had to return to work. Jason Larway – who spared for Doug Pottinger all weekend – moved up to third. The revamped Team Fenson was trounced 10-0 by Ursel in the semis, after winning their quarterfinal 7-5 over Grande Prairie’s Kurt Balderston ...

• In a previous post, we quoted CCA development guy Danny Lamoureux on how curling clubs must change, once and for all, the way they operate. Some of our dear readers were even inspired to comment further.

Now scribe Al Cameron has an in-depth interview with Lamoureux in today's Calgary Herald (subscription only) and this is now a clear sign of a nationally-driven campaign to drag clubs, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century. Here's some gems from the interview, which is a must-read for any club brass, vilunteers or dynamos:

"Clubs have to change the way they're thinking, said Lamoureux, the former manager of the Ottawa Curling Club. "We're so stuck, and I was too, with the way we always did things that we never tried to do anything differently. It was the same thing over and over again, and the world was changing around us, and curling clubs weren't doing anything to take advantage of that. It's time to catch up."

Some clubs have already accepted that message. The Calgary Curling Club, for instance, draws high praise from Lamoureux for creating an instructional curling league, in which new or novice curlers can access instruction for a full season, as opposed to the traditional way of doing things.

"We've always given newcomers one day of instruction, take their cheque and wish 'em good luck," said Lamoureux, who's urging other clubs to adopt the popular Calgary model. "Then we hope like hell that they keep coming back. Most of them never do; we'd lose 50 per cent the first year and the second year we'd keep 10 or 20 per cent of the hardcore people."

Then, there's the perception from non-curlers that a curling club is a members-only deal. One way around that, suggests Lamoureux, is an easy fix: simply replace the word "club" and replace it with the less-intimidating moniker "centre."

"A couple clubs were saying that people were afraid to come in, because it was a 'club,' and they thought they had to be connected or rich to get in," said Lamoureux. "Curling is hardly an elite sport; I mean, golf is way more elite. So we have to get rid of that. Everybody's welcome, it's easy to learn, it's affordable and it's lots of fun. And it's not just about the two hours on the ice; it's about the hour or 90 minutes afterwards that's the best part of curling."

Once you get them in the door, says Lamoureux, curlers should be treated better, whether it means upgrading food and lounge service or – Lamoureux's pet peeve – ice conditions.

"A lot of ice has been crappy," he said. "The attitude was, 'Well, it's the same for both teams.' Well, like hell it is. Bad ice is no good for anybody. Good ice has to be a requirement. People watch it on TV, they see it swinging, they see it's fast. More women and children are curling and, with the no-lift delivery, if it's not quick, there's no point. If I can't get the rock to the other end, I'm outta here."

"No other sport has the free promotion that we do," said Lamoureux. "There are so many people out there who love the sport, and we're perfectly positioned to get 'em all in to play. We just have to change the mindset."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Get yer tickets

Before we begin, there's much ado about the new Team Randy Ferbey unis this fall. And as the CurlingZone photo (above) from the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Westcoast Classic shows, there's a bit of long hair goin' on with the front end. By the way, the shoes are yellow and black too, courtesy of Asham.

The Ferbs made the semis at that event, BTW, and are currently ranked #3 on The Curling News Top 15 list.

Tickets, tickets, get yer tickets... the 2007 Tim Hortons Brier tickets go on sale today, with a variety of packages up for grabs, such as the Grand Opener, the Night Owl, the Early Riser and, of course, the Grand Champion. Hurry hard, folks, because the show – at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum in March – is not to be missed.

Meanwhile, BDO Dunwoody has returned as a Grand Slam of Curling sponsor, and their third consecutive BDO Canadian Open hits the ice at Winnipeg's MTS Centre – site of the 2008 Brier – in late January. Various Peg media stories – here and here, plus Paul Wiecek's subscription-only Free Press – have the ticket sales story from that region; they are also on sale now.

Not to be outdone on the Slam front is the growing hoopla over the first event, Waterloo's Masters of Curling.

In addition:

• It's always good to see some grass roots curling news hit the Quebec papers ... just one small note: many Quebec athletes qualified for the recent Canadian Olympic team, but no curlers (or so we think?) ...

• Tonight, the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame welcomes curling builder Murial Fage. Still an active curling volunteer, Fage is battling cancer as she serves on the Board of Directors of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation ... which has a new pin available this season, as well as a new partnership with their first curling event fundraiser: the venerable Kurl for Kids in Toronto, merely the world’s largest charity bonspiel with over $1.7 million earned since 1990. And in related news, the Schmirler Curling Classic – the Regina staple on the women's side of the Asham World Curling Tour – has a new title sponsor, CU Electronic Transaction Services ...

• Sun Media's Rob Brodie offers another Nancy Lee commentary here ...

• This rivethead doesn’t like Team Annette Norberg's entry into heavy metal mania. We politely disagree. In your face, Fist! ...

• Here's a Solvakian media report on their nation’s progress at the European Mixed, which wraps up in Italy on Sunday...

• A recent announcement saw Kruger Products offically take over the name of Scott Paper Ltd., the long-standing sponsor of Canadian women's curling since 1982. The event, now in its 26th year, is now known as the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Event guru Robin Wilson spoke to The Curling News:

What is truly amazing is that a company that has changed hands three times since 1995 has maintained its long time sponsorship of women's curling in Canada. I think I can speak for women curlers across Canada when I say how much this sponsorship continues to mean to us and how we will continue to support the company and its products as it (with its changing faces) continues to support us.

You can read more about the origins of the sponsorship – it really is a fascinating story – in the upcoming November issue of TCN.

• Read The Curling News every month and check out our new feature, Asham Club Corner, for cool newsbites from the club curling world. Like this: the classic shopping mall exhibit is a tried and true way of promoting a club in the community, just check out this display in Bathurst, New Brunswick this week. Any other clubs still doing this? It’s a no-brainer, folks...

Think this Blog is cool? Subscribe TODAY to The Curling News, now celebrating its remarkable 50th Anniversary publishing season! You won't want to miss this extra-special season of wall-to-wall curling coverage!

• The 20-team Lady Monctonian Invitational tourney, which runs from today through Sunday at the Beausejour Curling Club in Moncton, New Brunswick, may feature the first head-to-head battle between Colleen Jones – now third for Team Kay Zinck – and her old squad, which now has TCN correspondent Mary-Anne Arsenault throwing skip rocks. It may not be a true battle to some, however, as Arsenault sparkplug Kim Kelly has been replaced by PEI import Nancy Cameron for this event.

As Jones told the Halifax Daily News this week:

They’re just an opponent to me now. But that’s the same way I look at everybody else. I tend to look at the whole field and not just one team.

• Finally... hold on to your seats, folks, and enjoy this retro curling promo from 1986, originating from Manitoba. Anyone recognize some of the faces?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Shark Curling

So, the coach of the NHL San Jose Sharks wanted to take his squad curling, declaring the other ice game to be “Canada’s national sport, the Briar (sic) being more important than the Stanley Cup”.

Well, Ron Wilson did just that, with goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (photo) apparently participating with enthusiasm, but on the most obviously talentless foursome.

There's even a match report on the Sharks' website, which was reported in Spain, of all places.

• On the club curling front, there's some crazy-bad news out there. Fort Frances in northern Ontario is in trouble, and the curling club is asking the town for a $72,000 tax bill write-off; Dryden's Eagles Landing Golf & Curling Club has closed their curling operation, with the private owners claiming the 200-strong membership (they need 500) isn't enough to keep eight-sheeter going; and Summerside, PEI's Silver Fox club is in a complete and total uproar. A major developer plans to bring a large shopping centre project to the town, and all are on board except the Silver Fox, which would lose between 25 and 100 parking spots. Check out the increasingly public ugliness here, and here, and here.

On the plus side, the Misty Isles CC in B.C. is once again up and running thanks to donated time and equipment. Can we have some more "plus" stories, please?

Nancy Lee is leaving CBC Sports for the world of IOC broadcasting, and her last known deal seems to be the signing of the Grand Slam of Curling. Her legacy is opined upon by Chris Zelkovich and William Houston, with surely many more to come. Meanwhile, Houston says various industry Canucks are up in arms over an American being hired to steer the TV production of Vancouver 2010 ...

• Today's Conman column in the Edmonton Sun tells of Cathy King’s recent Swiss effort, her world memories, and Alberta's femmethoughts on their revamped 2007 playdown system ...

Jim Bender of the Winnipeg Sun throws the spotlight on the troops serving under the resurgent Kerry Burtnyk ...

• The Winnipeg Free Press (subscription only) recently reported that everyone in the online curling world had a cashpiel result wrong: turns out two-time defending Manitoba junior champion Calleen Neufeld actually won the final of the Agricore United Curling Classic in Beausejour last weekend. So why did the MCT, CurlingZone and even the Free Press initially announce opponent Darcy Robertson as the 6-5 winner (Neufeld actually won by a 7-6 count)?

Event chairman Doug May eventually took the blame telling the Freep how he faxed in the score from the ninth end to both radio station CJOB and the MCT website, setting in motion a rather wrong chain of events. D'oh!

Neufeld took the snafu over her first-ever women's title in stride, telling the Freep: "It's too bad the result went out wrong. But we still got the ($1,500 winner's) cheque, so that's good."

• Did you know the European Mixed Championships are underway right now in Claut, Italy? Well, now you do ...

• Here's a media peek at the Scranton CC in Pennsylvania...

• RONA, an official Canadian Olympic partner, is busily crossing that country and unveiling the names of 100 athletes who will be supported under their “Growing with Our Athletes” program, but so far there’s not a curling name among them...

CurlingZone has a nifty poll question up asking “Which marks the furthest event to which you are travelling to watch live curling?” ...

BLOGBITES: for those curlers who regularly suffer the pain of playing on hockey ice, here’s some moaning and groaning from the other side of fence: hockey players who are appalled to see curling rings painted on their ice ... Team Bender has snapped back at critics of 2005 Manitoba champ Randy Dutiaume ... here's one fellow's loooong explanation of a curling experience in Wake Forest, North Carolina ... and the new CurlDuluth blog is just weirding us out ...

• And finally, another timewaster: if you can get though Biathalon and Ski Jumping, “Nordic Chill” will reward you with a non-sliding, five-rock exhibition of curling... where a single bounce along the side boards is apparently quite legal...!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Stones: It's Only Rock 'N Roll

As good old Regina, Saskatchewan basks in the glow of having the world’s greatest live rock band visit their digs for two massive sold-out gigs – complete with private parties and cultural visits – we must mention a great sign that has appeared in front of the Queen City's Highland Curling Club: OUR STONES ARE AROUND ALL WINTER!

The first TCN spy who emails us a photo of this sign wins a copy of Doug Maxwell’s 2004 tome Canada Curls: The Illustrated History of Curling in Canada. Send your photo to us at: ... but make sure you delete the NOSPAM before hitting send.

Incidentally, the esteemed Editor Emeritus of The Curling News will soon have a new book out, Tales of a Curling Hack, appearing in bookstores any day now. The book launch takes place October 17 in DDM’s hometown of Markdale, Ontario.

Also incidentally, we also want a photo from Regina skip Michelle Englot. Apparently she was among a rare group of fans who had an opportunity to meet the Stones up close. They looked like they have lived a long, hard life, Englot told the Regina Leader-Post.

Fork it over, Chelle.

Just one question... did anyone take those guys curling? Eh?

• Waterloo, Ontario was yesterday's site of the first Grand Slam news conference of the Insight Sports era. The lineup of 18 teams competing in the $100,000 Masters of Curling Nov. 29-Dec. 3 at the Waterloo Memorial Recreational Complex (er, not RIM Park) are, in no particular order:

Randy Ferbey, Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard, Brad Gushue, Kevin Koe, Jean-Michel Menard, Pat Simmons, Pierre Charette, John Base, Don Walchuk, Mark Johnson, Pete Fenson, Tom Brewster, Kerry Burtynk, Mark Dacey, Bob Ursel, Jeff Stoughton and Wayne Middaugh.

There will be an order of these teams announced soon, as the Asham World Curling Tour has revamped its points ranking system and will unveil it next week. The rumour mill says the new system will mesh with the Canadian Curling Association's CTRS rankings, making the WCT and Grand Slam series an integral part of Canadian team qualifying for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

World Curling Players' Association exec Paul Boutilier was in Waterloo, and labelled the city a logical choice to host the hastily arranged event.

"We were looking for a spot that had the experience, certainly from a committee standpoint, to roll out these types of events and the (K-W) Granite Club has had that experience," Boutilier told The Record.

Organizers are holding the event in partnership with K-W Granite and the City of Waterloo.

"One of the reasons we did get asked was our reputation of being able to mobilize bodies quickly and effortlessly," said K-W Granite president Neil Miskell.

"Everything's fallen into place. The names are going to help sell the tickets and I think we're going to be able to put on a first-rate event."

The championship of the $100,000 tournament is scheduled for noon on Sunday, Dec. 3, and tickets – available in five day all-event packages or two-day weekend packages – are on sale today at 10 am at the Rec Complex or through TicketMaster outlets.

• In last weekend's Tour news, Charette and L’Equipe Performance enjoyed un victoire; Kelly Scott won the women's first Grand Slam of the season in Calgary; and this story on Kevin Martin’s second straight win at the PricewaterHouseCoopers Westcoast Classic has a nifty note at the end: the tournament’s website (powered by CurlingZone) handled 200,000 visitors, tops on the World Curling Tour among non-Grand Slam events...

The Spoof, by all appearances a poor man’s version of The Onion, has taken on curling, “the sport of dorks"...

• It was Arnold Asham's big night yesterday as he formally received the Manitoba Aboriginal Entrepreneur of the Year award, as given by the University of Manitoba's Asper School of Business. You can read more about Arnold's passion in this Manitoba Business News cover story, or you could download a nice PDF version here ...

Jeff Stoughton, the latest skip to fall to the red-hot Kerry Burtnyk in a cashpiel final, is online over at The Curling Show ...

• The new flick Trailer Park Boys raked in $1.3 million on its opening weekend, upending the most recent English-Canadian top scorer Men With Brooms, which earned $1.04 million back in March 2002 ...

• BLOGBITS: Texas Dan is back from spieling in Chicago, here and here, and with prolly more to come ... Kelly in Edinburgh tried curling ... as did busy mom Jay, now covered in bruises... this guy insists it’s Team Nichols, not Team Gushue ... welcome aboard to the Calgary Rookies ... and finally, we can put Bowser and Blue to rest, as there’s a new curling song to check out ...

• Last but not least, a new timewaster from the guys who brought you Cow Curling: their latest is called... Attack of the Funky Disco Zombies. Not really our kind of thing, but there you go.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Jill Everest

TCN readers will recall that columnist and 2005 Canadian women's champion Jill Officer was headed off to climb to Mount Everest's base camp back in the spring.

As the photo shows, she actually went through with it. :)

Here's an intro to Jill's column appearing in the November issue of The Curling News about her experience. Make sure you sign up today to receive TCN on your doorstep. You won't want to miss a single issue of our 50th anniversary publishing season. Over to the Jillster.

Katmandu, Nepal. Definitely culture shock.

Just getting out of the airport, into a taxi and to our guesthouse was absolutely insane and chaotic. There are people everywhere, literally.

After reviewing some stats on my return home, I determined that for every square kilometre of Nepal, there are 5,120 people. In Canada, for every square kilometre, there are only 3.5 people! That should give you an idea of the insanity in their country. Plus, there is no organization to the traffic, and since cows are sacred, they tend to stand in the middle of the street and you're forced to drive around them.

Once, while walking around, we saw piles of garbage in the street, mangy dogs everywhere and we were almost run over – numerous times – by a taxi or motorbike.

But after spending a month in Nepal, trekking through the beautiful Himalayas and viewing the highest mountain in the world, I learned a lot about the Nepalese people, culture and country. It was an amazing experience.

The trek itself was extremely difficult, beyond what I had imagined. The first few days were the worst until we got over that physical and mental hump where things actually becomes a little more natural, and easier. But the most important thing though is that we made it: the Base Camp of Mt. Everest and the summit of Kala Pattar (photo), a viewpoint for Everest.

Is there a curling angle? You bet there is. Be sure to pick up a copy of TCN this fall and check out my column for more.


• National Geographic’s Pulse of the Planet is a two-minute “sound portrait of the planet earth” (like that segue from Everest?) The most recent podcast is on “Curling: A Most Social Game”, and the link offers the show text plus the .mp3 itself...

• Speaking of podcasts (another segue) we will indeed call those guys at The Curling Show crazy, because they've got not one (WCPA prez Paul Boutilier), and not two (2007 Tim Hortons brier honcho Dwayne Pyper) but three (last rock Ferbster and CurlTV guy David Nedohin) podcasts up and running. Click away...

• NEWSFLASH: the opening Grand Slam, The Masters, has moved from Kitchener's venerable Auditorium to RIM Park in Waterloo. It says here that this is a good move, given the imminent event date (late November) and the cool factor of this brand-spanking-new 4,500-seat arena...

• Speaking of Slams, the first of four women's Grand Slam events is under way in Calgary. The Trail Appliances Autumn Gold features 32 teams, a $56,000 purse, reigning champ Jenn Hanna of Ottawa, the national teams of Russia, China and Japan, a whack of big-name western squads, and two games broadcast each day on CurlTV. There are also an additional four events on the Asham World Curling Tour underway this weekend...

• My goodness, such language! The Canadian Curling Association is getting a severe PR slap from Quebec's provincial government over the alleged reason why the 2008 STOH went to Regina instead (original La Soleil story here). The CCA is denying the playing of the language card, and they have received some unlikely support from the Conman. Now we have Anglo and French-Canadian media guys going at it. Fascinating.

• Winnipeg is, not surprisingly, crowing about Kerry Burtnyk's storming return to the sport...

• Just in case you missed it, Vancouver's Brent Pierce and resurgent Kelley Law were the Vernon WCT spiel champs...

• Ontario's Royal Kingston Curling Club is no more... but don't panic. The grand opening of their brand-new facility on Day's Road takes place tomorrow. However, it will be bittersweet as they will also pause for a moment of silence over the recent passing of club dynamo Marv Valensky (cancer at age 57). While we await photos of the new unveiling (attention Kingstonians!) you can view photos of the ancient and historic old barn here...

• Another NEWSFLASH: former Scottish and Brit Olympic curling coach Mike Hay has just been bumped up a notch. Soon after resigning as the chief curling honcho, he's just been appointed Olympic Performance Manager for Winter Sports...

• Finally, we simply don’t understand why zero bids were placed on this classic item. What in tarnation is wrong with you people?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Behold: a curling shopping mall

They're yelling for photos from Ontario's recent Mallspiel, so here's The Curling News to the rescue... with a first glance at the show that was the BDO Galt Curling Classic.

Arena ice, located in a shopping mall surrounded by some 167,000 (weekly) wandering souls. Right next to the food court, with an Asham Ontario store temporarily set up. And with a sixth lane of ice, "Sheet F", dedicated to community participation, where about 200 newbies got to try the sport for the first time. Not bad.

We haven't seen this sort of thing since... well, the Telus Classic inside the enormous West Edmonton Mall, back in 1995. Which The Curling News will be revisiting, along with so many other amazing archived stories – dating back to 1957 – in our upcoming 50th anniversary season. Have you subscribed today?

There will be a 2007 event, by the way... in fact the BDO Galt Curling Classic is now confirmed for the next three years. Don't miss it.


Al Cameron speaks with Kevin Martin and John Morris in today's Calgary Herald (subscription only). Having lost just one game this season – the final of Gander's Don Bartlett Classic to the number-one ranked Kerry Burtnyk – Martin had this to say about his brand-new squad:

There's a huge adjustment, just because I hadn't changed anything for so many years, and now I change everything. But 15 (wins) out of the first 16 games is a pretty strong start. John played very well (in Sunday's final). And I think I played 50 per cent – I made my first rock 100 per cent of the time and missed my second one 100 per cent of the time. And you don't win many curling games when you miss the last one all the time.

• According to today's St. Catharines Standard, local city councillors have broken the Ontario city's grants policy and voted to give free ice time to the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors, which will overwhelm their town in February 2007.

A key factor in the decision to waive nearly $14,000 in rental fees was the prospect of St. Catharines' charms being highlighted during CBC-TV's two-day coverage of the event's finals.

"This television coverage is really fantastic and it means a lot to our community," said
Doug Geddie, chairman of the host committee, after showing a clip from CBC's coverage of the 2001 championships – which was also hosted by St. Catharines. Geddie added that in addition to scenic shots, the city's name is included in television graphics and mentioned in on-air comments, and buying the same amount of coverage would cost $50,000, while "500,000 viewers tune in for a national curling event."

Councillor Peter Secord was bullish on the deal.

"You are talking a huge deal here," said Secord. "When we are sitting at the table, pie-in-the-sky is an event that would bring the CBC into town. That is one of the things we dream about. This event is the one we would love to have: St. Catharines on the big screens across the country. This is a no-brainer."

• Here's our curling logo-slash-mascot of the week – for no particular reason – the Chesapeake Crab...

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