Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Danko Rocks Brier

This is excerpted from the Newsdesk section of the latest print edition of The Curling News, on sale now.

HAMILTON – The following is presented with apologies to Sweden’s Anette Norberg and her friends in the heavy metal band Hammerfall.

But when Danko Jones hits the stage on Friday’s opening night of the Tim Hortons Brier in Hamilton, it just might mark curling’s true hard rock moment.

Light years away from other curling openers – the country-pop of Blue Rodeo, the regional vibe of Ashley MacIssac or the classic canrock drone of Trooper or the Stampeders – Danko Jones, a Toronto-based three-piece with scores of fans in Scandanavia and Europe, is by far the loudest and fastest rock band to ever play a curling event.

Jones, the singer-guitarist of his self-named group, isn’t into sports, and he has virtually no familiarity with curling. “I just listen to music,” he told The Curling News.

But he’s looking forward to the gig. When informed of curling’s legendary older demographic, Jones didn’t bat an eyelash.

“I love playing in front of those (new) people, it’s great,” he said.

“There’s something to be said about playing for the converted, and a lot of bands like to do that. But that’s too safe for rock n’ roll.

“It’s fun. It always yields some interesting responses.”

Idle Sons, Danko Jones, and headliners The Trews open the Tim Hortons Brier March 2 at 7:00pm, on the OLG Entertainment Stage in the famed Keith’s Brier Patch at the Hamilton Convention Centre.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The curling coin

Heard about the coins?

The Royal Canadian Mint is releasing 17 Olympic sport coins between now and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The first batch goes on sale today, at Canada Post outlets, RBC bank branches and at Petro-Canada gas stations.

And the first coin features curling. Specifically, the image of a female curler.

The inaugural curling coin, a 25-cent piece, shows the athlete in the process of throwing her rock on a stylized Maple Leaf background. Up to 350 million of the coins will be put into circulation before the 2010 Games.

Petro-Canada customers can now swap their regular coins for the curling quarter at no charge. Petro-Canada retail locations will also sell an exclusive Vancouver 2010 coin sport cards, featuring a special colour version of each circulation coin embedded in a laminated sleeve. The curling quarter sits within a green collector’s card with an additional curling graphic – yes, it looks cool, and is well worth the $7.95 price tag. What’s more, a portion of the proceeds go to Canadian athletes and coaches through the Petro-Canada’s Fuelling the Dream Fund.

Judging by the lineup The Curling News saw at a Petro-Canada internal launch yesterday, the collector-card versions will be very popular items between now and Vancouver 2010. There was also a media launch in Calgary yesterday, featuring three members of the bronze-medal Shannon Kleibrink team.

Considering the lack of attention that women’s curling received in the early days, the coin is a huge step forward, six-time Canadian champion Colleen Jones told Canadian Press.

“I think it’s fantastic that they’ve chosen curling in their first of a series and the fact they put a woman on a coin is wonderful,” said Jones. "There are so many female curlers in the country and so many great players too that to honour the sport and honour women in sports is great."

Now... the next step is to get a curler on the face of this coin. Can you imagine?


• It’s not just the Canadian women who decide their national champion this weekend; it’s also showtime in Scotland (men and women) and Switzerland (men and women), too ...

• And not to forget the World Wheelchair Curling Championships, drawing to a close tomorrow in Solleftea, Sweden ...

• Hamilton – next week – is under the microscope ...

• There’s a political scandal with curling overtones brewing in Albany, N.Y – and yes, we’re serious ...

• Will we have more clues of What Is This? posted soon? You bet we will. Keep the speculation coming ...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sunday, February 18, 2007

STOH TeriBlog v.2

LETHBRIDGE – The much anticipated first game flew by at warp speed. Still 10 ends (and we used every one of our 73 minutes) but it seemed like a blur. Certainly wasn’t our best game as we lost 6-3 to Kerry Koe’s Yukon/NWT team, but a starting point to adjust to the ice.

This is definitely no curling club ice! Don’t get me wrong, it's great – lots of curl, lightning fast and great for sweeping. I spent most of my season trying to bring up my weight for the ice we usually play on that’s straight as an arrow, and heavy for the first few ends! Not helping me so much this week.

But the kinks are getting worked out and we played much better in our second game. And I vow that never again will Jill have to give my sweepers a message for me saying “Tell She-Ra to bring her weight down.”

Getting back to that second game of ours…man, is Jan Betker on fire or what?!?! Clearly she had to play well to handily beat the tough Manitoba team but she was unstoppable against us too. Skinny picks here, run-back doubles there, she was solid and despite a couple of ends that appeared to be set up well for us, she stepped up end after end with the big shot.

So, we learned a lot on day one and are adjusting well to the playing conditions here in Lethbridge... and looking forward to continuing the incline in performance and enjoying every second of this experience.

Teri Lake, Team Nova Scotia (photo by CurlingZone)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Curling Telethon and live TeriBlog!

It's an all-Canadian post today, because The Scotties are here. Well, it actually starts tomorrow – and can be viewed for a full nine days on TSN and then CBC.

A nice preview story by Donna Spencer here.

Check out info on Sunday’s big Sandra Schmirler Foundation Telethon on TSN below (and pin image at left), one of the sport’s great causes and one which The Curling News is proud to support. But for now...

Live blogging from Lethbridge! Oh yes!

Here’s TCN scribe – and Team Nova Scotia second – Teri Lake, from first thing this morning:

Good Lord I’m tired. But we made it and that’s all that’s important!

Yesterday was a marathon. From checking our online flight status every thirty seconds due to the pending storm for us out East (and the current storm happening in Toronto) we got airborne just in time to miss the bad weather on both ends! The seven-hour flight to Calgary ended with a four-hour wait at the airport for the shuttle to Lethbridge. A very late 12:30 arrival in the ‘Bridge (count it…3:30am Halifax time!) saw these five ladies hitting the hay, and rather quickly. But who can sleep when you’ve just arrived at the Scotties? I mean really!!!

We finally settled in with enough time for a great sleep and early wake up for spa day. A lovely local woman named Angie welcomed us into her home and we took her offer to make ourselves at home very seriously, very quickly. Skipper Jill dumped out the massive bag of pin card goodies and off we went to work. A massage and manicure for five, and pin cards for 70!
Then rush, rush, rush to get our uniforms (I’ll get to that shortly), surrender our TSN head shots, practice, a tour of the Enmax Centre, and now a short rest en route to a reception.
So, I’ve got to get ready now but I’ll be back soon and it will be that much closer to when the real fun begins…

Now, for all the fabulous Schmirler stuff that is going on Sunday, this Scotties week and generally around the curling world:

The second annual Curling Club Challenge takes place during the Sandra Schmirler Foundation Telethon, Sunday February 18.

The telethon is an integral part of The Sports Network’s live TV coverage that day and comes live from Lethbridge, during the afternoon draw of the 2007 STOH.

In the last two years, a total of $324,000 has been committed to the six hospitals in the various Season of Champions cities toward the purchase of vital neonatal equipment.

The curling club that donates the most funds will receive three pairs of tickets to the 2008 major curling events – a pair each to the 2008 Scotties Tournament of Hearts (Regina), the Tim Hortons Brier (Winnipeg) and the Ford World Women’s Championships in Vernon, B.C., courtesy of the Canadian Curling Association. The second ranked club will receive two Reactor2 Carbon Fibre brooms and two autographed Olympic T-shirts, courtesy of Olson Curling Supplies and Team Shannon Kleibrink.

The telethon hotline – which can only receive donations on February 18 – is 1-866-9SANDRA (1-866-972-6372). Rules and details can be found on the Foundation website, in the “How You Can Help” section.

Also, a new limited-edition Sandra Schmirler Foundation lapel pin – featuring the new “Champions Start Small” slogan – is now available. In the center of the pin is the logo of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, which has forearms clasped together around a heart, showing the strength that a united effort can bring to any challenge.

The pin costs $6.00 (tax and shipping inclusive) and it is also available with the French slogan, “Petit champion deviendra grand”.

To order, contact the Foundation office at 1-866-210-6011 or send an e-mail here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Just two men’s provincials left, folks.

In Quebec, Pierre Charette “upset” Jean-Michel Menard in the Page 1/2 game and awaits the winner of the Menard/Robert Desjardins semi, which is played this morning. The final is tonight.

Did you know you can see tonight’s final on Well, now you know.

In Ontario, the TSC Stores Tankard is underway with Glenn Howard and Wayne Middaugh pegged to clash in the final for the third consecutive year.

Yesterday, The Curling News watched veteran Jim Lyle outpoint former champ Bryan Cochrane live on Rogers Television (you can also see it on Cogeco) and the memories were already rushing around before we read today’s Morris Dalla Costa piece. Lyle’s team entered playdowns to get ready for seniors – same as Saskatchewan’s Eugene Hritzuk – and, well, now that Gene made it all the way to the Sask final before losing to Pat Simmons, one wonders if Lyle’s Geritol Gang can do the same.

Lyle has a rather tall slide that TCN remembers seeing before. “Nev” Breivik and Ted Smith have been to the Tankard a hundred times, losing the 1991 capper to Russ Howard. Ken Baute has been around and we remember him bringing down the house at a few Port Elgin SuperSpiels.

There were lots of Cochrane memories, too. This is his 10th Tankard, which is remarkable, and we don’t think his hair has moved one millimetre out of place in all that time. Chris Fulton has won this before – he was a charter member of the time-clock-challenged Rich Moffatt squad after arriving in Ottawa from Nova Scotia – and we still can’t believe a tall guy can get so low in his delivery. Jeff Henderson is a Northern Ontarian, and of course John Steski is, well, a Steski. ’Nuff said.

Congrats to Charley but, also, to PEIs silver medallists, who have a very bright future. Meanwhile, the junior women’s final has stirred up a mild case of controversy. Give it a rest, folks.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Kicking Peja’s Ass

Norberg versus Lindholm.

Curlingtjejerna versus Peja.

It all goes down tomorrow afternoon in Sweden, live on local TV and also on the internet, in the latest curling battle of the sexes. Both Swedish giants have won their 2007 national titles – earlier this week, in fact – so it makes for a fascinating matchup.

Norberg, in an exclusive interview with The Curling News, had this to say:

“We are very excited about the game and for sure it’s going to be for a lot of prestige. Curlers think that we have nothing to lose, but if you ask non-curlers, they think we should win the game.

“I’m looking forward to a close and aggressive game, ending up with us kicking Peja’s ass. That would be awesome!”

You go, girls.

Coincidentally, AP’s Tim Dahlberg mentions the Norbergs in this fun story on athlete blogging at the Olympic Games. Apparently, the gals haven’t met Bode Miller, but they did whoop it up with U.S. speedskater Chad Hedrick on their golden night. Or so the story goes.

You’re about to get a big, big dose of Canadian provincial men’s info. First up, however, is a reminder of this weekend’s Canadian Juniors, which are on CBC-TV tomorrow and Sunday.

And now for the provs... 10 out of 12 will be decided by Sunday, and there’s two things you need, both from The Curling News: the list of event websites, located here, and also a hard copy of the February issue, in which our Curling TV Guide lists all the events that are available on the telly.

What? Don’t have the Feb issue? Silly you, you’re just not listening.

Here’s the latest from The Brier trail:

Dean Joanisse and former world champ Greg MacAulay are on track in B.C. ...

The Ferb is roaring (not in a good way) in Alberta, both in the Sun and in the Journal ...

Murray M reports on Sask ...

• And Bender is on the scene in MB, of course ...

• A pleasant surprise: Martin Cleary is covering the Quebec shootout ...

• And here’s what’s up in Bluenose country ...

Elsewhere... well, there’s a lot going on. Extreme Grandpa scored just $18,000 on Deal Or No Deal Canada last night, but sure entertained in doing so. This looks like a curling-oriented audition for Jackass. And this guy is absolutely in love with Jennifer Jones. So there ya go... for now...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

February on fire

Crazy month, this is.

Men's provincial championships underway, a new issue of The Curling News, and don't forget curling's own "Extreme Grandpa" on Deal Or No Deal tomorrow (Thursday) night.

First up, the new TCN (cover photo left). It's a whopper – you should see the size of this month's Curling TV Guide – and you'll need to subscribe to get it fast. Also in this issue:

• The Scotties TOH preview
• the Trials of Jennifer Jones
• the return of Doug Maxwell; he's unimpressed with the modern-era Brier
Larry Wood calls for a UEFA-style Champions League of curling
• Team Ferbey goes international in our monthly Newsdesk
Teri Lake, en route to the Scotties, is praying her pants look good
They Said It, our popular collection of curling quotables
• February is Sandra Schmirler Foundation month
Grand Slam Winnipeg: we were there
• The Dominion of Canada 50th Anniversary Retrospective
The Curling News Store is open
Rodger Schmidt wants a few curling changes
• the return of Asham Club Corner

And what else, you ask?

• Here's the lineup of Canadian men's provs, some now underway and ending Sunday, others kicking it next week and wrapping up on Feb. 18:

British Columbia
Northern Ontario
Quebec (with a webcam here)
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Newfoundland and Labrador

• DID YOU KNOW: there's a great poll on the front page of CurlingZone right now? (Look to the right.) It asks "Which (men's) team has the best chance of upsetting their provincial favourites?" Very coolio ...

• DID YOU KNOW II: that curling is a demonstration sport at the 16th annual Deafalympics, now underway in Salt Lake City? Five men's and four women's teams are vying for medals, with first-round scores seeing Canada's men defeat China 15-4, and the women whup Croatia 23-1 ...

Peja Lindholm and his new Swedish team won their national championship last night, and are off to Edmonton for the Ford Worlds. But before that, they're involved in something special that's going down this Saturday, Feb. 10. Watch this blog on Friday for the scoop ...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Deal Or No Deal

Remember the story of the “Four Generations” curling team, appearing in a bonspiel in Paris, Ontario, in 2005... with 70 years of difference represented on the ice? No? Well, you must not be a subscriber to The Curling News, because this heartwarming tale appeared in the January 2006 issue.

Flash forward to early 2007, and the TV megahit Deal Or No Deal has set up shop in Canada for a small run of episodes. Guess who is appearing on the show this Thursday night?

It’s none other than Don Lucas (photo left), the patriarch of that Four Generations team. Don made the cut ahead of tens of thousands of hopeful applicants and his appearance with host Howie Mandel (photo right) goes down Thursday night on Global.

For the record, we are told that Mandel dubbed Lucas “Extreme Grandpa” after his video showed him skydiving, among other things (but not curling). We can’t wait to tune in.


Anette Norberg defended her Swedish title yesterday and is headed to the Worlds in Japan. Later today its three-time men’s World champ Peja Lindholm, and his brand-new team (featuring a Scotsman!) versus either Per Carlsén or his brother Nils Carlsén, who will clash in the semifinal ...

• Next year’s Winnipeg Brier is officially off and running, with a cool rock tunes theme, tix on sale Thursday, and a neat fundraiser for clubs ...

• Also Thursday, in Toronto: an open casting call for senior curlers, aged 60 to 85, at Mississauga’s Dixie CC for a “union governement” TV commercial. If you eventually make the cut, they’ll pay you $1,400. The catch: you can’t just show up on Thursday, you have to telephone or email in advance to book your audition ...

• KIDS PART I: A charming tale of Toronto’s multicultural curling scene, with a shout-out to Al Hackner ...

• KIDS PART II: How about this Grade 7 kid throwing skip rocks at the national Juniors?

• KIDS PART III: In Portage, Wisconsin ...

• KIDS PART IV: Canada’s M&M Juniors continue to rock ...

• DID YOU KNOW? ... that it was Canada vs USA in Karuizawa, times two, with split results ...

• Here’s a spotlight on Det. Mark Johnson, who wants to capture a purple heart ...

This fellow asks a good question: which loss would you rather have to tolerate, a last rock nailbiter or a blowout? And with a provincial title on the line?

This poor fellah had a rough outing, but we love the chance to see Robin Williams’ golf sketch again ...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sobeys Slam confirmed

A couple of weeks ago, we suggested that Sobeys would become a new sponsor of the Asham World Curling Tour’s Grand Slam series.

Later today it will be confirmed that a new Slam – for women – will hit Halifax this coming fall.

We’ve discovered the news and a quote from WCPA prez Paul Boutilier, who says: “The Sobeys Slam is a perfect addition to the women’s series. Sobeys has a long heritage of supporting great curling events and we are thrilled to have Sobeys come aboard as a title sponsor.”

The Sobeys Slam, in support of regional food banks, will be held at the Bluenose Curling Club in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia on November 29–December 2, 2007, and will boast a total prize purse of $54,000. A skins game for the “A” qualifiers will be held on December 1 with proceeds going to the food bank.

“Hosting the best women’s teams in the sport will be outstanding for curling fans in Nova Scotia,” said Jim Nix, chairman of the new Sobeys Slam. “We are really proud to be involved with this event.”

This, of course, means that there are now five Grand Slams for women. Next season’s calendar will look like this:

Grand Slam: Trail Appliances Autumn Gold (Calgary, AB – Oct 5-9, 2007)
Grand Slam: Casinos of Winnipeg Classic (Winnipeg, MB – Oct 19-22, 2007)
Grand Slam: Wayden Transportation Ladies Classic (Abbotsford, BC – Nov 16-19, 2007)
Grand Slam: Sobeys Slam (New Glasgow, NS – November 29 to December 2, 2007)
Grand Slam: The Players’ Championship (date and location TBA).

Betker sneaks in

The field is set for the 2007 Scotties TOH in Lethbridge, and Jan Betker's Regina squad (Regina Leader-Post photo) is the last team to qualify.

Betker won the Sask title yesterday on a major gasp of good fortune. After making a self-acknowledged bad call near the start of the ninth end, her squad could only watch as final-game opponent Stefanie Lawton lined up an easy hit for three and a 9-7 lead coming home. But the rock picked, Betker stole one and suddenly it was 8-6 for the eventual winners.


Tough to say who deserved this one, however. Lawton was lying five in the sixth when Betker made a critical hit for one, while the champs had scored deuces in the second and fourth ends to build a lead in the first place. Betker had also won the Sask round-robin at 6-1, which included a 7-4 win over Lawton.

So call it a coin flip, which is exactly what seemed to happen... in that fateful ninth end.

You can read all about the STOH field in the February issue of The Curling News, now in the mail and arriving to subscribers via first-class mail in the next 48 hours.

More on the new issue of TCN in the next blogpost. Followed by some newslinks (but of course).

Friday, February 02, 2007

Korea wins Asian Games

South Korea's Lee Je-ho needed an extra end to beat Japan in the finals of the men's curling tournament at the Asian Games, and later, Korea's Jeong Jin-sook beat Japan to win the women's title and a curling double (photo).

South Korea is battling Japan for second place overall: the Koreans have nine gold medals to Japan's eight. China leads with 15.

Chinese curling – their teams finished third – continues to turn heads, as this story points out.


• The final women's provincial wraps up this weekend in Saskatchewan, and the defending champ knows what Manitoba's Jennifer Jones has been going through ...

• Sweden's men's and women's nationals are also underway, and you can view lots of it live on this website ...

• The Canadian Juniors are underway tomorrow in St. Catherines, Ontario ...

• It's bittersweet times for Dean Moulding, who has our sympathies ...

• Here's the story of a guy in Kansas City advocating curling for St. Louis, MO ...

• Curling is on the upswing in this Michigan town ...

• Was this story a clumsy hack job on curling, or faint praise? Perhaps if it were written more skillfully, we might know for sure. You be the judge... and if you want to comment, here’s where to click ...

• Ben, Ben... Ben. Why, oh why, did you throw your brush head at that poor unsuspecting spectator in Winnipeg? Dean Gemmell talks to this violent thug (big wink) on The Curling Show...

• Ottawa's Joyce Potter and company won an Ottawa sports award last night ...

• Hey look, Merk almost made it ...

• And finally, Texas Dan has discovered Vikingland... and yes, that is a great name ...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Kapp tipped for Edmonton

Germany's two big men's teams – Andy Kapp and Sebastian Stock – are always beating the hell out of each other to go to Worlds, Olympics etc. And both teams are made up of great, funny guys – a treat for any event to have.

It's now the Kapp's turn. Andy, Uli and company have beaten Stock to win the German championship, and have qualified for the 2007 Ford Worlds in Edmonton.

This was the big one. Everybody around the world, and we mean everybody, knows Edmonton will be the biggest Worlds in history. And everybody wants to be there.

In Deutschland, the top eight teams thrashed it out in a single round-robin Page system (er, wot?). The four finalists were Kapp (Füssen), Stock (Oberstorf), Christopher Bartsch (Hamburg) and Severin Walter (Baden).

In the 1 vs 2 Stock beat Kapp 7-6, while the 3 vs 4 saw Walter defeat Bartsch 8-4. In the semi, the Kapps took Walter 7-4.

In the final, Kapp was up 5-2 and then a steal of two in the sixth end left things pretty comfortable. Stocky had to draw against five in the seventh and had a good chance to steal in the eighth, but misplaced guard, and Kapp got another deuce (7-3). Stock finally got a deuce in nine, but the Kapps cleared well coming home and left a steal for Stock, winning 7-6.

On to Edmonton!