Friday, December 21, 2007

R.I.P. Chevy

What can we possibly say about the sudden passing of Don Chevrier (left, with curling cohort Don Duguid, circa Salt Lake City 2002) that hasn’t been said in the last couple of days? The “voice of God” has been silenced, and as a result there have been plenty of media laudations. In keeping with the style of this here TCN Blog, here’s a few writeups that lie just off the beaten path, that you might not have come across yet... so look here and also here, if you please.

It is certainly a feather on one’s cap to be labelled (by NBC’s Dick Ebersol) as one of the two “greatest all-around sports announcing talents in North American history.” The other? The legendary Jim McKay ...

Some tribute stories also mentioned current CBC curling legend Don Wittman, who is sadly missing this year’s Grand Slam of Curling broadcasts (thus far, anyway). Paul Friesen has a good one located here. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Don and his family.

And now, prepare yeself for one of the biggest clickfests in TCN Blog history. Begin!

• Do you know the Discovery Channel show How It’s Made? Well, the show will finally feature the making of curling stones on tonight’s Episode No. 15 (9:00m ET on the Science Channel), which also looks at refrigerators, aluminium baseball bats and opalescent glass.

The show will make its debut on Canada’s Discovery Channel on January 15... and we’ve even listed the episode in the JVC Curling TV Guide in the upcoming January issue of The Curling News!

“We actually went to Wales, to the quarry itself,” said Nathalie Dallaire of Productions Maj, the show’s Montreal-based production company. “Then we finished up at Canada Curling Stone in London, Ontario.”

Speaking of CCS, there’s a fantastic feature on outdoor – or Open Air – curling in said January issue, including a sidebar on a world-famous rock band’s search for curling stones. Make sure you subscribe today, because you simply don’t want to miss this one!

• The San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club is pumped: they had a TV feature air Monday night on the local NBC station; they’re hosting an open house tomorrow ay 8:00pm at Sharksice in San Jose; and of course they’ll be watching the December 23 broadcast of the Korbel Elite Curling Challenge from the Rockefeller Center in New York, which airs at 2:30pm eastern time.

TCN Blog readers, of course, are aware of the show and also the fact that it will now mark Peja Lindholm’s final North American television appearance ...

• Now over to Mexico, where Alice and Pabu are excited about Mexico City’s first outdoor ice rink. Naturally, they’ve made the call for curling to get on the agenda ...

• There’s lots of media interest in The National down in “The Hawk”; such as local stuff, Halifax stuff (here and also here), good old CP wire, their competitors CanWest and, of course, CBC, too. In fact, the host broadcaster is also big-time: in addition to semi-final and final action on the Mother Corp. network this weekend, each draw has a match webstreamed live from the CBC dedicated curling page. Hardcore fans will note this is a CurlTV production, delivered to CBC ...

• The new Grand Slam website is rocking, too, located here... and of course there’s The National subsite, over here ...

• Yes, The Hawk is popular even without The Ferb. The question now is: will he be ready for playdowns in February?

• Santa is coming: but how does the jolly one know if he’s at a curler’s house?

- Instead of cookies and milk, he finds pins from an obscure curling event
- All the Christmas music playing is recorded by a bagpiper
- A wee man is walking around grumbling. Santa thinks he’s an elf, until he sees “Icemaker” written on his back
- As he exits, a sign attached to the chimney says “No Alcohol Beyond This Point.”

Good stuff, and you can find these and more in this recent column from Joe Pavia of the Ottawa Sun ...

• Wheelchair curling icon Chris Daw is hanging up his Extender, at least for this season. The CCA story is here, and there’s a CanWest story here, although had the story first.

Daw, who is busy promoting the sport in an off-ice role, was also recently elected as curling’s first-ever board member to Athletes Can, and while he won’t be wearing the national uniform this year, Canadians should be happy that he didn’t leave the country altogether ...

• Meanwhile, is the Jim Armstrong wheelchair controversy really over yet...?

• The competition schedule for Vancouver 2010 has been released ...

• Here’s a look at the Ingerlund gals who did so well in B-Division action at the recent Le Gruyère European Championships ...

• Hate to rain on a parade, but we don’t believe Mr. Watkins is the world’s oldest curler. The Curling News did a story a couple of years ago on Regina’s Phil Ward, who we think is still going strong at age 102. In fact, spies recently told us he still drives himelf from the seniors home to the Tartan Curling Club! Any comment, Guinness?

• Multiple sclerosis? No problem for this brave gal... just go curling!

• Here’s a curling-themed computer wallpaper for you ...

• Here’s a look at the defending BC men’s champions, who have a bye to this year’s provincial ...

• And here’s a peek at Mr. Brad Gushue’s biggest challenge on The Rock, good old Mark Noseworthy ...

Al Cameron says two of Jeff Stoughton’s teammates have undergone disciplinary action, but so has a team in Saskatchewan – in a matter of speaking – for prize splitting ...

Mabel DeWare and Bud Gerth have been named Honourary Chairs of the 2009 World Men’s Curling Championship in Moncton. DeWare skipped the only team from New Brunswick to win the Canadian women’s title, back in 1963. She was also vice-chair of the 1980 Air Canada Silver Broom men’s worlds in Moncton and the 1985 Brier. Gerth was chairman of the 1980 Broom and also chaired the Moncton 100 in 1990, the largest cashspiel ever held ...

Here’s a preview of January’s Ramada Perth Masters, which will see current stars Glenn Howard) and blasts from the past (Eddie Werenich) make the trip to Scotland in January...

• Looks like amateur photographer Takeshi loves his BalancePlus shoes ...

Texas Dan tells us the second annual Texas Open Bonspiel is on deck for April 11-13, and it sounds like a hoot ...

• Speaking of hoots, Duluth’s annual House of Hearts Celeb/Charity Bonspiel takes place during the closing weekend of the Brier, and the organizers plan to charter a party bus departing from Winnipeg – and the Keith’s Patch, no doubt – directly to the spiel. Goodness ...

• Finally, where the heck are Willie and Wissel, the two curling trophies from December 11’s Entrepreneur Curling Bonspiel in Apeldoorn, Netherlands? They’ve gone missing, but this here blog would indicate they are on a great adventure. How about that?

What’s surprising is the entire caper has garnered some Dutch press, and things seem to be coming to a head for January 6... although we’re not sure why, nor in what context. Perhaps a sudden influx of comments and suggestions from TCN Bloggers – please click on “comment” – would take these escapades truly international? Who knows... but let’s find out, shall we?

And on that note, the TCN Blog is officially on vacation until January 4 or so. Merry Ho Ho, everyone ...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Here in the Hat

MEDICINE HAT – We’re here in the Hat, for their second Con Cup hosting in the past four years.

This one is the rubber match, with North America and Europe tied at two Cup wins each.

Yes, the NA’s look all-powerful on paper, and well-rested, while the Euros are tired. They just got in from Füssen, which is literally their biggest event of the season. Key players are missing, like Uli Kapp... and Euro champion skip David Murdoch even has a Swede, Niklas Edin, playing third for him.

Mixed Doubles was fun to watch, and as the WCF reports here, it was fun to play, too. At least for Russia’s Liudmila Privivkova and new Mixed Dubs teammate Murdoch (standing), although they did lose to NA’s Jennifer Jones (holding the brush) and Bill Todhunter. This CCA photo is courtesy of Michael Burns, BTW.

Latest results from this afternoon saw Privivkova upset Jones 6-5, Deb McCormick smack Angelina Jensen 11-3, and Kelly Scott avenge yesterday’s loss to Kelly Wood by a 5-4 count.

North America currently holds a 48-24 lead. The winning team is the first to get to 201 or more points.

Allen Cameron is here, naturally, and is doing a bang-up job on his blog, which now sees him toting a camcorder around to add a new video angle to things.

Anything else?

• Wanna design the Vancouver 2010 medals? Why not?

ConMan is braying for Edmonton to host Canada’s 2009 Olympic Trials, but it’s gonna be a battle... meanwhile, he also previews this weekend’s women’s Canada Cup Qualifier here ...

Joe Pavia has a neat report in from Ottawa’s men’s Canada Cup Qualifier, including the news that The Gushues are being followed around by the Rainbow Rockers. Here’s another report, too ...

• The latest webisode of Mike HarrisCapital One Curlers Corner is online now, and the show just keeps getting better and better. And not just because of The Curling News references...!

Dan says we must vote for curling. We agree with Dan!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Swedish stunner: Lindholm quits

This photo (by TCN’s Urs Räber) shows the last competitive curling stone ever thrown by Swedish curling legend Peja Lindholm.

In stunning news, Lindholm has anounced his immediate retirement from the sport. Frustrated by a sixth-place finish at the recent Le Gruyère European Championships in Füssen, the three-time world champion has hung up his brush.

Curling Today has the story here, and we note that Lindholm says he has also “lost his joy of competitive curling.”

The sport, in turn, has lost the joy of observing a passionate competitor, as quick with a quip or an emotional photo pose as he was skilled with slider underfoot.

Fans in North America can catch his last-ever TV appearance at the Korbel Elite Curling Challenge, which was taped in October and airs December 23 on NBC.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Attention KMart Shoppers

words by Matt Hames
photos by Anil Mungal

RAMA – Things change really, really fast in the Casino Rama Skins Game. Yesterday we opined that Wayne Middaugh might miss an out-turn peel one out of 100 times.

Make that two out of 100. Wayne flashes an out-turn peel in the sixth end for a gimme skin for Martin. From then on in, the Ontario team struggled to even score.

It got ugly. If this was a boxing match, they would have stopped it. Opponent Kevin Martin threw guards on his lack rock in seven and his last rock in eight. Polar opposite of the desperation heaters he was hurling in the first half.

And these were guards on guards.

So Martin plays about as badly as a team can possibly play to win a Skins championship. He wins a grand total of 61,000 and owns bragging rights over Middaugh for another year.

Couples finishes second is the headline on the golfer’s website. Here, you can replace that name with Middaugh.

Cheesy winner’s quote, no doubt drafted by TSN press office:

“This event has been a real treat. I’ve never played in such a special venue like Casino Rama before,” said Martin. “It’s almost Christmas time and this will surely make it a happy holiday season.”


We’re outta here, hope you enjoyed it. We sure did ...

Third Chapter

by Matt Hames

RAMA – After four ends, the story is at third.

Johnny Mo (not pictured) isn’t quite delivering the stones like he normally does, and KMart is left with Hail Marys. Like last night’s semi-final, the Martin squad is struggling to even threaten to get a skin. Once again, from the first end onward, it’s been all Wayne Middaugh, all the time.

KMart is throwing bombs on his first rock just to leave himself something on his second. If you’re Team Middaugh, this is how you drew it up. If you’re Team Martin, you’re left hoping that over the next four ends – the ones with the really big money – John Morris can right the ship and get his rocks into better spots.

Curler Doon

by Matt Hames

RAMA – Wait a minute.

We just came across this photo (above), from Füssen, just now posted to a Facebook page. Moments ago, apparently, from a mobile phone half a world away.

Looks like quote a party at the Europeans, where’s it’s about 1:30am.

Could this be the nature of the “technical problems” our fearless leader has alluded to?

Hmm ...

Piper Doon

by Matt Hames

RAMA – The piper is a goalie.

Take a close look. The middle piper for today’s Skins final was none other than this guy, TSN Hockey commentator and former NHL goaltender Glenn Healy.

We mentioned it was cold in here... we nae shall ask him questions aboot his kilt!


by Matt Hames

RAMA – Dang, it’s cold in here.

At his presser yesterday, Martin talked about the ice. He said that it was the same speed in practice as it was for his 14K draw to the can.

That’s awesome, because we’re in what’s called the casino’s Entertainment Centre. It’s a big room with seats. When it was built, no one could have envisioned a curling game played here. Boxing? Sure. But curling?

We already wrote about the plant that is located on a concrete floor.

The picture you see here is the reason it’s so cold in here. That’s a big hose (photo) connected directly to outside. Cold, crisp Barrie-slash-Rama air from outside is being pumped into the arena to keep it a cool 55ºF.

Martin was marvelling about the ice conditions. He rightly pointed out that this proves that a curling event can be held almost anywhere.

We’d add “anywhere that outside cold air can be pumped inside.” Not sure how that would work in sub-tropical climates.

Game on. Martin vs. Middaugh. We’ve got the chills.


by Matt Hames

RAMA – First off all, apologies for technical problems that are preventing these here blogposts from loading instantaneously onto Blogger. Seems there’s a technical problem between here and Germany, where our fearless leader is blogging from the European Championships.
So it seems this is appearing as Not-Quite-Live; hope things get better.

Now, the final. Without question, no athlete on either team could remember how many times they’ve played each other.

Consider this: Wayne Middaugh’s charter lead Scott Bailey was the alternate on Kevin Martin’s team at the last Olympic Trials. And yes, he did play. Also a couple of cashspiels in advance, too.

Last night after the semi-finals, Kevin was asked about playing Wayne today in the final. He said they are great friends who have done battle countless times in the past. But he also asked, somewhat rhetorically, what could be better?

Indeed. What could be better?

You have Wayne Middaugh, who for years and years used the TSN Skins game as his personal ATM machine, versus Kevin Martin, arguably the best shotmaker in the game.

When we looked at the draw, I kind of hoped for a Martin/Middaugh final. It’s not that we would have been unhappy with a Gushue/Howard final... we would have talked about the Brier rematch, of course.

No, we like this one. It’s two guys who love cash and can mash with the best of them. It’s two guys who like rocks in play followed by the runback bullet.

The really good news? The game should feature really good ice. Yesterday was the first game played in the facility. The ice staff (Hans and company) learned a lot yesterday and will use that knowledge to make the conditions even better.

IOW: if you had some chips, you should bet on an epic match.

One note: yesterday Middaugh and Martin were yellow. By virtue of winning the initial draw the button contest before the event, Martin had choice of hammer or rocks. He picked the yellow rocks. Meaning Middaugh gets red for the first time. Meaningful? Doubtful. Gushue had red yesterday and was, quite frankly, all over Martin like a technicolour T-shirt.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Match Report

by Matt Hames

RAMA – Okay, we take it all back. Four ends in, and look what we have here.

(Ha, actually you take it all back [grin] – Ed.)

After last year’s Brier, I wrote that I liked the shot that Brad Gushue called in the seventh end. He went for it. That’s the kind of thinking and strategy one needs in a Skins Game. Forget the consequences and go for it. And right now, Gushue is going for it. He’s not only matching KMart shot for shot, he’s exceeding him. And that’s a bit of a surprise.

Thing is, people have been underestimating Brad for a long time. At the Olympic Trials, he wasn’t considered a threat. At the Brier last year, he was more a sentimental favourite than a real one.

And yet, he proved the pundits wrong. He’s proved that a team from the farthest point on the right of Canada can compete.

After four ends, we just heard Kevin Martin say: We’ve got a battle.

Fast forward ...

When the seventh end of the second semi final started, this was what we thought would happen.

Martin would throw the first rock top four. He would do it because he wants to play the end wide open. If possible, he’ll peel Gushue out and force a carry over, so he could have last rock.

Martin really, really likes last rock in the last end. He's given up money before to get it. But this is different. This is also the four rock rule – remember? And the 4RFGZ can suck rocks into play.

Because that’s not the way it played out. It was Martin throwing draws for his Skins Game Life. Two absolute pistol draws in the seventh end between two peel-weight hits for Gushue. Both going so far off script that we were beside ourselves.

We are beside ourselves, actually... myself and TCN shooter Anil Mungal are stting together. But I digress.

When the dust cleared, Martin had what we all know he wanted. Last rock in the last end with the entire game on the line.

At stake: 14K, and a trip to the final.

And like a good script, it writes itself. Experience versus rookie. Three-time champ versus guy who has been picked to be an also-ran in and Olympic Trial, a Brier and now the skins game.

I’m not sure if it was like this on your HDTV, but it was so quiet during the eighth end that I was afraid to type this. The tension was so thick you could have cut it with a Jack of Clubs, or at least a casino chip. KMart makes a peel weight double that has the crowd thinking it’s over. But then Gushue papers a guard and buries one in the back four, forcing Martin to a draw to the button.

Then they had to do it all over again.

Draw the nut. The pin hole. The button. For the whole ball game.

To recap, Martin won the first skin. He stole it. From then on in, he didn’t get another skin. Actually, he didn’t really have another chance at a skin. It was all Gushue. And yet, the beauty of the skins game is simply this: it can come down to whoever is closest to the pin hole.

Martin starts and covers the pin. Then Gushue throws and comes up short.

I don’t think this answers the question of whether you want hammer in the last end or not. But one thing is for sure. Going first helps.


by Matt Hames

RAMA – Five skins were stolen in the first game.

We wondered about the whole last rock thing before this even started.

So we think it’s interesting that five of the skins in the first game were earned by steals. But that stat may not be quite realistic... there were some picks in some of those ends.

In his post-game interview, Glenn Howard said that he thinks the ice might be a little straighter for this evening’s game. After the first end, we agree. It’s not yet finishing as hard as it did in the early draw. But that could just be because it feels a lot colder in here. As the fans settle in, and things heat up in here, we think we’ll see some finish.

Either way, we favour KMart in this final. We do like the aggressiveness of the Gushue rink – they seem to like to play for the big shot. That comes either from Brad or from his longtime third, Mark Nichols. They’ll need one such shot each end to match the Martin team, we opine.

Olympian vs Olympian

by Matt Hames

RAMA – This Casino Rama Skins Game features one member from each of the last four Canadian Olympic teams. Martin in 1992 (demonstration – we have to say that, apparently)... Richard Hart in 1998... Martin again in 2002 (real, this time)... and of course, the gold medal winner from 2006, Brad Gushue.

The latter, of course, is still without Russ.

Tonight’s matchup is between the last two. It’s Gushue versus Martin. And yes, Gushue has already talked about looking forward to playing Middaugh at some point this weekend. To win though, he’ll have to play a great game.

The Edmonton boys have been outstanding this year. They can draw, they can sweep and they can mash. At The Curling News, our money is on Martin (this is all about money, isn’t it?). But let’s see what Gushue can do to back up his Play Middaugh line.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Couples wins!

RAMA – Couples wins!

In the pre-game, Wayne Middaugh called himself the Fred Couples of the Casino Rama Skins, meaning organizers invite him to Skins games regardless of his current curling record. Still, he’s proven he deserved the invite by defeating Glenn Howard in the first semi-final.

The picks helped.

Three picks in all. The first came on both of Glenn’s rocks in the sixth. That gave Middaugh a skin. Then Glenn’s first rock in seven picked, leaving a tough straight-back double for the skin. It was a makeable shot, but after three straight picks, Howard was shaken.

It’s new ice, and a new carpet, too. The rug was put down a few days ago after a Rita McNeil concert.

Perhaps Brad Gushue was being prophetic. The first part of his prediction has come through. Now he simply has to beat K-Mart.

This game had another interesting anomaly. More guys on the ice lift the rock in their backswing than don’t.

Glenn Howard, Richard Hart and Ian Tetley lift on every shot. Jon Mead and Wayne Middaugh lift on hits. Scott Bailey, and Brent and Craig don’t lift.

But if you’re counting, that’s five lifters versus five no-lifters. And these days, it’s not often you see that.

You won’t at tonight’s second semi-final game. Both skips are no-lifters. In fact, Martin is one of the most famous of the no-lifters, given his shocking ability to throw massive hit weight with mere leg drive.

Enjoy it while it lasts. Because we think it will be a rarity to see more lifters than no-lifters.


RAMA – They just did a little feature about Wayne Middaugh between ends.

Wayne has the most TSN Skins Game experience of anyone in the field. Anyway, in what appears to be a line he might regret, Skins rookie Brad Gushue said that he is looking forward to playing Wayne at this Skins game.

We overheard Craig Savill give a chuckle at Gushue’s line. He, of course, has something to say about who plays tomorrow.

We’re not sure if Kevin Martin heard Gushue’s comments, but his front end sure did. They’re sitting in the stands scouting the game. Why is it always the front end that has to sit in the cold and scout?

Anyway, you don’t see Wayne miss too many out-turn peels. Give him an out-turn center line ripper and he’ll make it nine times out of 10. Maybe 99 times out of 100. This, however, was one time he missed, giving Howard a steal of one in the fourth end. It was an end that Middaugh controlled from the get-go.

We think he’s still thinking about it.

There’s a chance that Wayne will come back and win this game. Ends six, seven and eight are where the money is. However, to win, Wayne is going to have to forget.

And that isn’t easy.

Numbers Game

by Matt Hames

It’s the team with the big numbers on their backs (Glenn Howard) versus the five-man, but-playing-with-four-this-weekend Wayne Middaugh team.

Thanks to The Curling Show podcast interview with Brent Laing, I learned that:

Howard chose 4 in honour of Bobby Orr.
Richie Hart is 11 because it was his hockey number.
Brent is 7 because 2007 was, and still is, a good year.
Craig Savill is 27 because it’s his hockey number.

We wondered if Glenn would throw a center guard, or throw it into the rings in the first end. He threw it into the rings and Wayne, on cue, walked up and threw a corner guard. We knew there were gonna be rocks in play, the question was: would the team without last rock start the end throwing it into the rings?

The answer in end no. 1 is yes. And it could end up working in Middaugh’s favour.

The Skins Ice

by Matt Hames

RAMA – A curling club has the plant under the floor. So do hockey rinks. This game is being played in an entertainment center. Meaning, the plant, the thing that keeps the ice cold, is on top of the concrete.

This photo is of Glenn Howard throwing a practice rock. You can see the ice is raised off the concrete. Within said concrete is the plant that keeps the ice cold.

The rest of the facility is kept cold thanks to the air conditioner. This has to be one of the very first games in history played in December with the AC on. Because it’s cold.

Practice over. Game on.

Barmy Army

FÜSSEN – What a show.

Anette wins, and so does David. So do England (ladies) and Ireland (men), B-Division champs. So do the Czechs, both their squads. So are the Spanish men (the who?). More on that later.

For now, a foto, taken during the final, showing the Barmy Army, cheering on the Scots. Flank position, that is.

Come Ooonnnn!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Casino Rama Skins: Preview

by Matt Hames

RAMA, ON – When you’re watching the TSN Skins game, you’ll be watching an ongoing debate unfold.

A few years ago, Kevin Martin famously gave up a steal, on purpose, to Jeff Stoughton in order to get last rock in the last end. That was in the days of the three-rock rule.

In fact, we’ve seen him do this a couple of times. The last time he tried it, I think his effort went for naught.

Anyway, I forget how many times he’s tried it.

Kevin forgets stuff, too. Like when he brought out the corn broom, not once but twice, at the 1991 Safeway Worlds in Winnipeg. Kevin forgot all about that on yesterday’s TSN talk show Off The Record which pitted the four Skins skips – KMart, Glenn Howard, Wayne Middaugh, Glenn Howard and Brad Gushue – in the debating pit (photo courtesy TSN). Wayner called KMart on it, and KMart said nothing. Did you see that? No? Then go here and watch it... look for the EVENTS tab/link. Wow.

Four of the best teams in the world will, starting tomorrow, help us answer this question: would you rather be up one coming home without, or down one coming home with last rock?

The Skins Game is really just the last end played over and over. If you have the hammer, you need two. If you don’t, you need to steal. Essentially the situation in the last end of a one-point game.

The BDO Black Book of Curling says the odds favor the team up one with. But I think we’re all still working out how to play the last end. In a non-skins match, the team up one without last rock throws it top four foot. If the team that needs two wants to generate offense, they need to throw a guard. In doing so, they leave the team that went first with a free guard on the possible steal point.

I know. It’s all so technical. But I can’t wait to see how the team without the hammer plays the end. I suspect they’ll just throw a center guard and get with it. But, they do have some options. And in thinking about the options, they’ll let us know if they like the hammer, or if they don’t.

Anyway, I’ll be there, blogging live right here at The Curling News Blog, with ace TCN photographer Anil Mungal alongside. That means you need to watch it on the telly and also keep a free hand on your computer. It’s going to be fun, so hit “Refresh” often.

I’m off to play some blackjack; we’ll see you here tomorrow. And the TSN show will be on High-Definition TV, a North American curling first ...

Euro Party Zone

FÜSSEN – The folks here in Füssen did it right.

Their version of the Brier Patch, known as the Party Zone, is located directly between the two arenas where A and B-Division competition takes place for the 55 teams involved here.

That’s right: 55 teams.

Anyhoo, as the photo sort of shows, there is all kinds of hot lighting and reflective stuff going on, a big bar (plus a second smaller one), a dedicated dance floor with disco ball (top left corner) and... a full sheet of curling ice, which you cannot see but is basically to the left of this photo.

Say what?

Turns out this is the three-sheet Füssen Curling Club, and they’ve kept one sheet going, boarded over the other two, and changed the face of the place. Spectators can try the sport they are seeing just steps away, at either of the two competition arenas. Corporate groups and even sponsors have been throwing rocks in droves.

And of course, when the night grows and the music blares louder, all sorts of challenge matches flare up... Greece versus Germany... WCTV crew versus CurlTV crew... you get the picture.

Well done folks.

On the ice, Scotland is through to one final and their boys, skipped by David Murdoch, are almost there, currently up 5-3 on the Danes – with last rock in the ninth – largely on the strength of a steal of two in the seventh. You can check the scores here: the finals are tomorrow, live on Eurosport TV, and also also

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Skin that elf

NEWSFLASH – Murdoch beats Kapp in Füssen.

FLASH ANIMATION – Check out this ElfYourself page designed by Ottawa Sun curling writer Joe Pavia... just in time to celebrate this weekend’s return of the Skins Game.

And boogie down.


Getting Hip to Curling

Beres who?

Here’s another women’s Euro B-Division photo, taken by a photographer who shall remain nameless. Slovak skip Barbora Vojtusova seems to be saying, er, something... wonder what it could be?

Hungarian fitness instructor? Pah. Check this out, Mr. Cameraman.

Sleeping during my game? This’ll wake you up, Mr. Official.

Maybe if I widen my stance, my teammates will see a really big broom, and actually hit it.

In A-Division action, Peja is going home, and the Austrian girls are down into the B next year, it’s Andy versus David tonight and hey, here’s a look at how the men’s tiebreaker scenario unfolded in the first place.

BTW, Toni Müller’s Swiss team – which has had supersub Ralph Stöckli in the lineup as the full-time third since Monday – has been actively blogging during the ECC, and you can check them out here.

Across the pond...

• They’ve announced the draw for The National, the next Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event, and the pools look like this: Section A – Kevin Martin, Kerry Burtnyk, Pat Simmons, Jamie King, Shawn Adams, Eric Fenson ... Section B – Randy Ferbey, Brad Gushue, Joel Jordison, Brent MacDonald, Greg McAulay, Tom Brewster ... Section C – Kevin Koe, Jeff Stoughton, Wayne Middaugh, Peter Corner, Reid Carruthers, Russ Howard.

Hmm... we expected different Howards and Fensons to be in the field ...

• Cinncinati in the US of A has this Yahoo website up and running, designed to attract support and interest, and there’s also this community forum dedicated to arena curling issues ...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hungary’s Alexandra Beres

FÜSSEN – Remember this gal?

Athlete is actually the correct term. And how.

Alexandra Beres of Hungary is here, playing third for skip Ildiko Szekeres in the B Division. Beres has appeared at the Euros before, and she’s also appeared in The Curling News before – the print edition, that is, back in 2004/05 or so.

In that story, we ran a bunch of photos – including the one at left – and profiled the woman who has become a fitness legend in her country; the winner of countless professional fitness competitions, who has appeared on countless TV shows, and even endorses products.

She actually flew home on Monday, to appear at an important competition in Budapest, and returned in time for her team’s night game!

Beres is just getting noticed here in Füssen – a few years behind TCN, it must be noted (ahem) – and just as the B Division wraps up round-robin play tonight. Her squad finished 4-2 and in a three-way tie for second in their pool (with Estonia and France) behind Norway (6-0)... so the Hungarian ladies are into a tiebreaker, at the very least.

It’s just nice to finally get a photo of her doing what we assume she loves to do – throw rocks, while covering up her usual bikini with some warm clothes!

Thanks to Bob Cowan for the curling pic.

Meanwhile, A Division action is down to the short strokes. The last women’s round-robin game is starting now, and Scotland’s Kelly Wood (5-3) is in a must-win against Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott, who is already into the playoffs at 7-1 (tape-delayed on Eurosport TV, 18:00 GMT).

Denmark’s Lene Nielsen and Sweden’s Anette Norberg are also in at 7-1, and Russia’s Ludmila Privivkova has a slim chance at a tiebreaker; she is taking her 4-4 record up against Italy’s 3-5 mark (right now on and

And now for the boys. With the final men’s draw set for tomorrow morning, today’s single-draw results left three teams clear into the playoffs, and many others with a chance of a tiebreaker berth for the fourth spot.

Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud defeated Scotland's David Murdoch 7-6 when Murdoch’s draw to a near-open house came up short. It was a sudden and devastating setback for the Scots, who dropped to 4-4 and a third-place tie with Sweden (6-5 winners over the Czech Republic) and Germany (7-3 victors over France).

Switzerland, who defeated Finland 7-1, and Denmark, 6-5 winners over Italy, are both at 6-2 and are assured of the playoffs. Norway has locked up the first playoff berth with a spotless 8-0 record.

The playoff scene could be very simple... or very crowded, with no less than five teams in possible, albeit unlikely, contention.

“It’s always fun to talk about mass tiebreakers,” said Keith Wendorf, Director of Competitions for the World Curling Federation.

“Of course, when you do talk about it, it never seems to actually happen.”

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Czech this out

FÜSSEN – Okay, now that we’ve gotten that Aerosmith thing off our chest, we feel better.

So do the men who curl for the Czech Republic. They were 0-4 and now they’re 3-4, having just beaten Scotland’s David Murdoch tonight. No wonder they’re smiling (TCN photo by Urs Räber).

Plus, they’re nice guys. And theirs is a great story, having clambered up here from the B-pool last year, and now just hoping and dreaming of a) staying up in the A pool and b) maybe even going to the Worlds.

“It feels great, but we’re still fighting to stay in the A Division,” said skip Jiri Snitil (thumbs up on the right). “We don’t want to go back to the B, we’ve been down there for seven years.

“We weren't ready for Worlds last year. Now we should be ready, if we get the chance. We’re close.”

The top seven teams are going to Grand Forks, with the eighth team facing a challenge from this year’s B Division champ for the final Eurospot at the Worlds.

It was a generally weird night, overall. France’s Thomas Dufour punted three-time World Champion Peja Lindholm of Sweden 7-3. Hello.

And two other strong teams almost gagged it. First it was front-runners Norway, who had to steal three consecutive ends to subdue Italy’s Joel Retornaz, who held a shocking 4-1 lead after three ends of play. Retornaz missed a last-rock draw to force an extra end.

Denmark also got a scare, blowing a 4-1 lead to fall behind 5-4 to Finland’s Kalle Kiiskinen after six ends. Danish skip Johnny Frederiksen eventually made a nervous draw to the four-foot rings for the win.

So where in the world is next year’s Euro shootout? Glad you asked, ’cuz here it is ...

More tomorrow, but to conclude ...

• That David Nedohin sure gets around. Straight from the playoffs in Quebec City did David go, through blizzards and across the ocean to Füssen, and now he’s on his way home again. In the blink of the eye in which he was here, Bob Cowan shot the photo evidence ...

• Did you hear about that ginormous development project in Calgary? According to today’s Calgary Sun, the developers are including “six curling rinks” in the plans.

Er, would that be six rinks or six sheets?

Regardless, can anyone say “SACA heart attack?”

However, neither a rival story nor the developer’s own website say anything about a curling facility (let alone six)... but just about everything else on planet earth seems to be included.

Nothing to get excited about. Yet ...

• A fellow named Fun Sheriff is asking for any blogreaders in the St. Paul, MN area to drop him a line. He needs to curl, you see, and he needs to curl RIGHT NOW ...

• It’s three Peace teams headed to the Alberta men’s provincials ...

• Chris Daw was in T-Bay last weekend, intro’ing the art of wheelchair curling ...

• Another Chris has written a not-so-spectacularly-mediocre curling post – it’s quite neat, actually – located here ...

• And finally, check out this story right away – the Record folks aren’t knows to leave their content available for very long. At all.

But what a cool piece. The incredibly sharp videos (two of them) perfectly capture the lonely job of the ice technician, and there’s also one of the best close-up shots of pebbled ice we’ve ever seen. Nice job ...

Germans love Aerosmith

FÜSSEN – This, sadly, is the only conclusion we can come to.

How is it possible that the same song can be played over and over and over and over, at all times of the day and night, here at the Bundesleistungszentrum Arena?

It’s played after games, while the ice crew are doing their thing.

It’s played when the arena is utterly deserted, and the lights are dimmed.

It’s played during the pre-game warmups.

The song is, inexplicably, I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing by geriatric U.S. rockers Aerosmith (lead singer Steven Tyler in photo), and you can watch it here. Please do, many times, so that you can share our writhing pain.

Look, Aerosmith rocked in their day but their 80s-onward, MTV-driven, pop-shlock, pseudo-revival has never really made the grade. The only thing we really miss about these guys is a young Alicia Silverstone prancing around in their other 80s-onward, MTV-driven, pop-shlock, pseudo-revival videos.

And now some guy out here in the middle of Bavaria can’t stop playing this song during the 2007 Le Gruyère European Curling Championships.

So here’s a photo, some words, and an entire blogpost dedicated to something that has absolutely nothing to do with curling. If this is what you want, dude, this is what you get, and suffering is what your folly brings upon the innocents. Because some of us – like those of us at The Curling News – spend a ridiculous amount of time in curling arenas during events, and such mind-boggling deejay behaviour creates frazzled content providers who are driven, quite simply, utterly stark-raving mad.

Don’t want to live any more
I don’t want to watch them curl

’Cause I’ve lost my mind

And I just want to kill that guy

’Cause even when I watch them curl

This stupid song haunts me still

I’ll still strangle you, dude

And I just want to kill that guy

Monday, December 03, 2007

Willkommen in Füssen

FÜSSEN, GERMANY – So, KMart won another Grand Slam (and well done, again, Mr. Shawn Adams and company) which is his first under the Capital One banner. You can read about it here, but... to be honest, we’re getting a wee bit bored. Aren’t you? Du hast verdammt Recht!

Like, somebody should just go out and whomp the guy, already. Those somebodys will get another chance at the end of the month, at The Hawk.

Hey, did you know the final was streamed online on the CBC Sports website? Nope, neither did we. Hmph. Nevertheless, you can see some online content at this dedicated CBC/BDO Canadian Open page.

There’s another big curling event going on this week, in Füssen, Germany. The 2007 Le Gruyère European Curling Championships are almost finished with Day Three, and it’s Sweden (women) and Norway (men) leading the pack. In the Urs Räber photo above, Austrian third and calendar gal (and TCN fan!) Karina Toth delivers the goods.

North Americans can see this mega event live for the first time right here via CurlTV, while Europeans can watch it on Eurosport TV and also via streaming on the Eurosport family of websites. Plus, you can also read about it here, and follow live scoring here (with B-Pool action here), and even track selected live graphic games here! Whew!

You can also see some great photos and reportage from our friends at Curling Today, the blogpartner to The Scottish Curler. They’re just up the tribune, a wee spot away from us (our seats are better, so nyaah-nyaah!).

There’s yet another popular curling event coming, too. This weekend sees the return of the TSN Skins Game, now known as the Casino Rama Skins Curling Game, and there’s only 1,000 tickets left. Get yours today, or plan your seat on the couch. You can also read preview stories here and here.

There’s certainly more to come from Europe’s biggest event in the coming days, but for now, is there anything else afoot? Oh yes...

• Wasn’t there another Slam this past weekend? Yup, a new women’s event in Nova Scotia, and here’s the scoop ...

• Duluth CC, a favourite haunt of ours here at TCN, is doing very well these days, although they might be missing their games tonight; we hear there’s about 400 feet of snow on the ground out there ...

• Here’s another story on the Nutmeg (and we still love that name) ...

• Looking to catch up on how the Slams came to be where they are today? Here’s a decent primer ...

• Did you miss Witt on Sunday’s Slam broadcast? Here’s a peek at Bruce Rainnie, who filled in ...

• Why wasn’t Jean-Michel Ménard in Québec City? Something to do with the Order of Merit, we’re told. So, instead he went to Cornwall ...

• And finally, here’s the next great curling name, folks: Steen Sigurdson, come on down ...