Thursday, June 12, 2008

Curling Ice King Hospitalized

Sad news out of Trenton, Ontario that legendary curling ice maestro Shorty Jenkins is in hospital, with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease now confirmed.

In this 2007 photo by David Rollins, above, Shorty is seen whooping it up – or being whooped up, it would seem - with his squad at the Heart to Heart Charity Bonspiel in Sudbury.

“He has all these secrets about icemaking he’s never told anyone,” remarked Jo-Ann Rizzo, who skipped a squad at the last Canadian Olympic Trials and happens to be Shorty’s niece.

“He taught Dave Merklinger, for example, as much as he thought Dave should know, but not everything. He’s going to take many secrets to the grave.

“Somebody should sit with him and write a book. He’s had such an interesting life.”

Actually, there is a full chapter on Shorty in the 2007 book The Roaring Game: A Sweeping Saga of Curling. An essential part of any curling fan’s library, you can read a review – a shameless endorsement, really – on this archived page.

Author Doug Clark briefly traces the life of “The King of Swing” from when he asked his parents if he could leave and join his brothers at an orphanage – he was nine years old – to his air force career and eventually his life as a curling rock star; immortalized in the national Curling Hall of Fame, in a legendary Tim Hortons TV commercial, and in a cameo appearance in the film Men With Brooms.

He’s even got a World Curling Tour cashspiel named after him, which at one time boasted pink house rings – but of course.

“Shorty was a huge part of my enjoyment in writing the book,” said Clark.

“When he started talking about his life story, I knew this was the closest I could get to a biography of a classic Canadian character in just one chapter.

“Even if you don’t love curling, you’ve gotta love Shorty Jenkins.”

Jenkins is expected to return home from hospital in the next two weeks. On some days, he is unaware of his condition – short-term memory being one of the first things at risk with this progressive disease.

“We are really not sure what the near future holds, unfortunately we do know what the distant future will be,” wrote Rizzo in an email to friends.

And so, curling fans who want to send best wishes to Shorty and his wife Johanna are encouraged to do via:

183 Reid St.
Trenton, Ontario
K8V 5W4

“A curling rock is smarter than a human being.”
Shorty Jenkins