Thursday, January 31, 2008

Best job in the curling world?

Have we got a job for you.

Actually, it’s the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee – known as VANOC – that wants someone. Perhaps it could be you.

You have until February 3 – that’s this Sunday, folks – to send your resume in for the job of Coordinator, Curling. And if you love curling, and meet the requirements, it sounds like a dream. The location of gorgeous Vancouver (above) ain’t so bad, either.

You would support the Sport and Venue Planning Manager, Curling – this may or may not be Neil Houston, whom we thought had the more simple yet official title of Curling Manager – by “coordinating projects and initiatives relating to the Curling planning process.”

This involves everything from planning and managing all aspects of all curling events – including the 2009 World Junior Championships and a major wheelchair curling championship – to dealing with field of play preparation, liaising with CCA, WCF and CurlBC, building content for curling publications, and so on. From next month (we guess) right up to and past the Games, ending in March, 2010.

Well? What are you waiting for?

Find this dream job through VANOC’s website, located here (look under “Job Opportunities” at the bottom left) or you can go straight to this quick cached link, right here.

Speaking of Vancouver 2010, longtime Canadian national team coach Jim Waite thinks he’s already got “the best job in the curling world”. Jimmy will be stepping down after the Olys, but he provides a sneak peek into some of the planning underway already.

As in past Olympic years, the CCA has plans to find accommodation for the athlete’s families, and the athletes themselves will spend much of their time away from competition also away from the athlete’s village.

Tomorrow on the blog: big news on the February issue of The Curling News, and a very cool announcement for curling fans ...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Witt, boo-birds and a shocking dismissal

If you call yourself a curling fan, you simply must tune in to the Masters of Curling semi-final tomorrow afternoon (3:00pm ET on CBC Sports). Tributes to the late Don Wittman (wearing the infamous peach jacket in another classic screenshot above) will abound, not only on the competitor uniforms but also in a special video tribute.

The final, of course, goes Sunday at 3:00pm ET.

There will be competition, of course. According to the handy JVC TV Curling Guide in the January print edition of The Curling News, there are women’s provincial finals on television in New Brunswick and B.C. this weekend. You’ve got that issue handy, right?


Jennifer Jones got booed last night, big time, and from a Manitoba crowd ...

• Just two days after winning Female Team of the Year honours at the Ottawa Sports Awards – on a night which saw Glenn Howard lead Craig Savill win the Male Athlete of the Year award – Team Rachel Homan has parted ways with lead Nikki Johnston. More details will appear in Joe Pavia’s column in Saturday’s Ottawa Sun ...

Warren Hansen says curling needs a Tiger ...

• There’s lots of Masters curling going on, and not just in Saskatoon. There’s new Masters champs in PEI today (men and women), and in Nova Scotia and Northern Ontario, too ...

• And hey, don’t forget the Grand Masters in Ontario... for the 70-and-over crowd! More on this group coming soon ...

Mike Harris talks streaks, Gretzky and more on another webisode of the Capital One Curlers Corner ...

Darah The Explorer has found another team, and it quite busy with a great COC outreach program ...

One Female Canuck just loved her curling debut (we knew she would, right?) ...

Someone thinks Team Pete Fenson are a bunch of hotties ...

• Here be a look back at the origins of curling in Woodstock, Ontario, the host of next year’s 2009 provincial men’s championship ...

Cristina Brazil has a decent slide, but needs work on her release ...

• Cape Cod has a new handicap-access curling facility ...

• Guess what? Another Saskatchewan playdown format change is in the works ...

• And finally, TSN has gone and built a dedicated webpage charting the progress of the CTRS (the what?) qualifiers toward the Pre-Trials Qualifier (the what?) to find the eventual final eight teams for the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials.

Thanks, guys – we get confused about it pretty easily. So does Brad Gushue, apparently, and he’s got even more to say than that ...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Inside Retro Curling

So, our good friend Al Cameron scooped us with a photo of Team Kevin Koe at the Masters of Curling in Saskatoon. We had the photo earlier on but had an, er, extended lunch.

So now we have another photo – courtesy of Anil Mungal, above – and also the inside story. But of course.

Blake MacDonald got the sweaters from... e-Bay! Apparently someone in Edmonton put them up for sale online, quite some time ago. The seller was parting with four in total and, luckily for Team Koe, the sweaters fit perfectly. What are the odds?

But the full uniform was incomplete, until recently. Now there are patterned pants, finally, to complete the ensemble.

“It’s something we’ve been thinking about for a while,” said Koe.

“We got the sweaters last summer off e-Bay but we had trouble finding the pants. We like the fact that our uniforms are a little different than what you would normally see out there. So far we’ve gotten a lot of compliments from both the fans and the other teams. Everybody thinks they look sharp.”

So do we.

Team Randy Ferbey started the retro look, of course, about three years ago with their annual off-season promotional piece. The lads not only boasted sweaters and pants, but wide-brimmed hats on equally-wide straw brooms.

You can see more of this vintage look in the upcoming February issue of The Curling News... and not only from Team Koe.

We’ll take you way, way back in time – to a small town in Alberta – for an exclusive, never-before-told tale of of the early years of one of Canada’s biggest curling legends.

You won’t want to miss it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Like Don Chevrier before him, and Doug Maxwell back at the end of August, Don Wittman has now donned a headset up in the clouds. And like the previous two gentlemen mentioned, we here at The Curling News are, once again, days late in posting something about him.

The truth is, such writing is proving to be exceedingly, agonizingly difficult. And now, we are getting somewhat angry. What a disaster the last six months have been. The legends of our sport are dying, seemingly all in a row, and the legacy of curling is hurting, plain and simple.

Witt’s passing has brought forth a ton of great memories, and some of our favourites come from Murray McCormick, from Kirk Penton, from Ted Wyman, and from yet another Winnipegger, Paul Friesen, who attended yesterday’s funeral.

And leave it to the curling media, naturally, to talk loudest about Witt’s legendary sense of humour. Bob Weeks does so here, and he also points out here that competitors in this week’s Grand Slam will be wearing special “DW” crests on their uniforms.

Finally, we have Al Cameron, who in turn leads us into this fabulous, conclusive piece by Paul Wiecek. And one of his tales rings familiar.

The publisher of The Curling News, George Karrys, spent two years in the CBC Championship Curling broadcast booth, right beside Wittman, as the network’s research guy. At the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Karrys found himself hanging around the rinkboards – a favourite Witt haunting ground – on practice day, just before competition was to start.

“Witt was telling the story of how he was the first on the scene at the terrorist incident at the 1972 Munich Games,” said Karrys. “Everyone’s been writing about what he did to get so close, but they haven’t mentioned how he and CBC were there ahead of everybody, including the U.S. network which got all the credit for ‘on-the-spot reporting.’

“But Witt pointed out, in Turin, that CBC wasn’t running his stuff. Not until the Yanks, and the rest of the world, had arrived on the scene and started beaming their stuff out. Somebody at CBC management ‘chickened out’ right ast the start, and didn’t use his reports, and a huge opportunity was missed. ‘I couldn’t believe it’, said Witt. But typical of him, he probably didn’t talk about it much.”

It was at that point that Karrys turned to the veteran and said “Dammit Witt, I should write your book.”

“Witt turned to me and said, ‘Do you know any publishers?’ And when I said yes, he said ‘Well why don’t you look into that, Jorge.’ And, like Wiecek, I only turned in a perfunctory effort... perhaps thinking there would be lots of time.”

Karrys agrees that the world has lost a great man... not just the curling world, or the sports world, or even the broadcast world. Witt had time for absolutely everyone he came into contact with, and he was thinking of others – particularly his family – right up to his final day.

And now, in the dying days of CBC’s Season of Champions curling coverage, Witt’s famous, legendary championship calls won’t be a part of the final chapter.

As we said, what a disaster.

Watch for more special tribute content in the upcoming February issue of The Curling News.

Elsewhere... because this is just too damned depressing ...

• Witt’s situation has thrown CBC’s curling coverage for a loop, but here’s a great story from Scott Russell on his attempt to fill the great man’s shoes – and the role “the curlers” played in helping Russell fit in ...

• BLOGALERT: There’s new curling content in the blogosphere, folks, courtesy of Regina Leader-Post and SWEEP! Magazine writer Murray McCormick. We suggest you check out Bloglines on a regular basis ...

• The Scotties are coming... and with two teams declared thus far – Quebec’s comeback kid, Marie-France Larouche, and PEI’s stalwart Suzanne Gaudet – the other provincials are up, running and wrapping up this Sunday. Here’s the list of provincial events and here’s some assorted updates and/or stories on...

Saskatchewan (and another one here), Alberta – with the Edmonton view here and thoughts from Calgary, here and here – Manitoba, courtesy of the Sun and the F-F-F-Freep... Ontario, thanks to Canadian Press, Nova Scotia, located here and here ...

Kevin Martin starts another Grand Slam run tonight in Saskatoon at the Masters of Curling – look for lotsa daily draw coverage webstreamed live at this page – and some media are actually starting to take notice of his five Slams-in-a-row win streak. As the story points out, there are some who wonder if KMart’s success is actually bad for the Slam property, and if fans are beginning to tune out.

Not only do Martin and Sask rival Pat Simmons weigh in on this; Martin lead Benny “Heebz” Hebert has written a guest column in the upcoming February issue of The Curling News, coming soon to a mailbox near you. This column won’t be blogged or webposted, so you’ll need to find a hard copy of the paper. Good luck, as it’s a pretty popular tome... and we don’t send many bulk copies to clubs, as we’re sure you’ve noticed ...

• Speaking of the Slam, Sask Curling is still miffed at the Asham World Curling Tour for scheduling the Masters on the same weekend as the provincial Scotties ...

Looky here, an all-Asham Curling Supplies team is still undefeated in the MCA Bonspiel ...

• Way to go Waterloo, as a few brave souls did the outdoor curling thing last weekend. You can read about it here, and also view an exclusive video, featuring The Wrench among others, in the Jan. 21 posting Video Coverage ...

• The curling rock episode of Discovery’s How It’s Made has made it’s way onto YouTube ...

• Could southwestern Ontario be getting another curling facility?

• A salute to Doug Gillon, sportswriter for Scotland’s The Herald, who is helping his newspaper celebrate their 225th anniversary with this retrospective column (and we thought we have been around at 50 years!)

Gillon, of course, is the man who first brought the secret of curling’s official 1924 Olympic status to light, whereupon the IOC and WCF were pushed and shoved along to eventual super-confirmation by yours truly, the 50-year-old newborn ...

• Speaking of Scotland, two locals made the finals of the successful new women’s cashspiel on the weekend, click here for the quotes and here for the news and great photos (postings from Jan. 18 thru Jan. 20) ...

• Yeah, we love the 80s... the music, perhaps, but certainly not the hitting style of curling ...

• Victoria has said yes to a curling academy ...

• The Potomac hosted a successful open house the other day ...

• And finally, NHL hockey’s Los Angeles Kings went curling the other day in Canmore, Alberta. They and some other teams – like the San Jose Sharks – tend to do this a lot. Here’s Kings goalkeeper Jason LaBarbera, to the Prince George Citizen:

I was on a team with Rob Blake, Mike Cammalleri, and (assistant coach) Nelson Emerson, and it was embarrassing. I’d never curled before, but we played three-end games and our team didn’t get one point. How do you not get a point?

Kopitar fell on his butt on the ice once, that was funny. Some of the Euro guys had never seen curling before, they thought we were joking or something.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Curling Towel – Redux

Be still our beating hearts.

As one drooling poster on CurlingZone noted, Colleen Jones looks simply smashing wearing nothing but a wet head and a towel (above). She did so for this sketch on the CBC-TV comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes, which spoofed the network’s horrid new drama – supposedly centering on “hockey wives” – called MVP.

No, we’re not linking to it. It’s appalling. And there’s no hockey.

But CJ’s cameo is great. As is the sketch. But this isn’t her first time wearing a towel on TV.

The first – at least we think it’s the first – was for a CBC Newsworld story taped during the last Olympics in Turin, where Jones threw a spotlight on the new fashion trends – specifically skin-tight clothing and near-nude calendar appearances – many of the female curlers were sporting. Of course, what was fairly nouveau back then is nearly omnipresent now, but we digress.

The point is, Jonesy will do whatever it takes to get the shot, and now she’s done it twice. And so we add our applause, too.

Speaking of Jones, her how-to book Curling Secrets is doing quite well, and her publisher’s contest – where you can win a private, one-on-one curling clinic with Colleen herself – closes on January 31. We invite you head to the website right now and follow the specific e-mail instructions.


• Two good reviews for a couple of fine curling books – the aforementioned Jones book and this wonderful Doug Clark tome – in Sunday’s Winnipeg Free Press. Here’s our take on The Roaring Game, and Resby CouttsRock Talk interviewed both Clark and Jones last month (see two-part interviews on December 5 and November 12) ...

• The Scotties – Canadian provincial women’s, that is – are off and running. Quebec wraps up this weekend with big guns Bélisle, Osborne and Larouche all undefeated ay 6-0, while PEI starts today. The rest of the provs go next week with most finals on January 27 ...

• Ontario’s final two men’s provincial teams will be decided this weekend, via two Challenge Round competitions – 32 teams in each East and West playdown, with only one winner from each. Late news will see Mike Harris – who has a new Capital One Curlers Corner websiode up and running here – call the game but hand skip rock duties over to third John Epping ...

• According to the Edmonton Journal, Randy Ferbey has recovered from his heel injury and is raring to go, after throwing his first practice rocks in five weeks yesterday.

“I’m a quick healer,” said the Ferb. “The doctors told me to stay off it and not to exert myself – which is something I’m very good at.”

• It’s looking good for tomorrow’s outdoor ice exhibition in Waterloo, as this new blog attests. As we reported last week, The Wrench will be there, too ...

• By now y’all have heard that Paul Boutilier is stepping down from six years of curling politics, effective the end of this season. You can read more recent stuff with new quotes here and also here.

The pundits are correct. “Boots” brought a couple of disparate groups together for the betterment of the sport, and it was a lot tougher slog than just taking some people golfing. It’s also worth noting the 2005-06 season, when IMG left the Grand Slam in the lurch and it was left to Boutilier to soldier on himself, with some last-minute help from Rogers Sportsnet (another year of TV committment) and the ever-present guys at CurlingZone.

Compared to the Slam property’s current status, those days were a near-disaster. Congrats and thanks – from all curling fans – on seeing things through those difficult times ...

• Who won the Toronto city championship? The Beermakers... er, the Leermakers ...

• And Manitoba’s massive MCA Bonspiel ain’t so massive anymore, which means big changes are in the works after today’s start to the 120th edition. ’Tobans can look forward to some good reportage from Chris Cariou, and of course The Bender, while Paul Wiecek is in rare form today with this absolute gem ...

• Seniors, shmeniors... British Columbia’s Rick Folk is yet another decorated veteran – hi there Bob Turcotte and Eugene Hritzuk – who wants back in at the men’s provincials ...

• China is leading the way in both men’s and women’s play at the 2008 Pacific Junior Championships in Jeonju, Korea ...

• WGRZ in Buffalo went curling in Niagara Falls, and that sure looks like TCN columnist Matt Hames chucking bricks...

• From the Where Are They Now file, Bob Weeks updates us on former world champions (and now non-curlers) John Kawaja (1983 and 1990) and Jane Hooper-Perroud (1996) ...

Asham Curling Supplies has quietly opened a brand-new store, and it’s located in downtown Winnipeg ...

• They’re watching curling grow at the Scottish Borders – and we have video here and a print tale located here ...

• Oich! What’s this? East Lothian’s curling season is going to end... in January?! Over to our Scottish Curler friends to please explain the early finish ...

• And now for this weekend’s big WCT-E women’s event, also in Scotland. Here’s some advance press (here... and also here...) and we note the new event trophy is quite cool. However, yesterday’s mayhem at London’s Heathrow airport has caught some of the teams – and the spiel organizers – in a real bind, as Curling Today told us last night and again today. Hang on guys; the Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Irrelevant believes that all cash curling is... well, irrelevent. He says so here, and then here, again. Agree? Or not? ...

• We have a new convert, although she doesn't have much to say. Yet ...

• The Frankfurt Lions hockey squad tried a miniaturized form of curling (starts at 8:48) ...

• CapeCast (Jan. 8) visited the local curling club (from 1:00 to 4:30)... and here’s a recent area print story, too ...

• And the Superior CC in Wisconsin is on the rise ...

Mark has uncovered more ancient outdoor curling documentation, circa 1903 in Boston ...

• Here’s Jessica, in Utica, with round three ...

Lauren is online with 8 End, a CommonGate community blog-slash-Wiki-slash-networking, er, thingy, focusing on four Colorado guys with big curling dreams ...

• So here we are, reading a fairly well-written story on sport definitions, and we come across this clunker: Curling is an Olympic medal sport, but requires about the same level of effort as sweeping the back porch.

Uh, he’s kidding, right?

• At least this Alabamian has a healthy respect for the sport ...

D’oh! ...

D’oh! again ...

• Sounds like James was the first to throw a curling stone at the Toyota Centre...

Glenn Howard got cornered, and he reveals much: his team is operating a brand-new fantasy curling camp, and he is fed up with his favourite hockey team (also excerpted and reprinted in the vicious metro hockey media market here). Indeed, the Maple Laughs would kill for his brand of on-ice consistency ...

• And finally, we are delighted to report that Team Courage went 3-2 in recent games, including victories over Team Dreams and Team, er, Orange Towel. How about that?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Monkey Curling

We weren’t planning to post again until tomorrow, but when we came across Al Cameron’s Facebook page – and that of his On The Rocks Facebook page, located here – and saw this photo, we headed straight for our own blog.

Cameron calls this shot “one of the funniest curling photos ever”... and he’s certainly correct.

Thanks to Al and the Calgary Herald photo archive for the image.

Wonder if this eventually inspired the online video game... ?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Curling Stones: How (They’re) Made

You remembered, right?

That tonight is the Canadian premiere of the Discovery Channel show How It’s Made which features curling stones?

As promoted last month, both in the January issue of TCN, and on this here blog (here), and also by an excited Texas Dan?

You did remember, right folks?

Tonight at 8:00pm eastern time, on Discovery Canada ... and we know these folks will be watching!

And THIS JUST IN (we've always wanted to say that):

Curling will get spoofed yet again by the crazies at This Hour Has 22 Minutes... tonight on CBC-TV!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Wrenching TV weekend

Ontario curling fans are in for a treat this weekend, as legendary two-time Brier and world champion skip Ed “The Wrench” Werenich will put on the headset and become a TV curling commentator.

The Wrench (photo) will actually be in his second stint as the colourman for the Toronto Curling Association’s Energizer city spiel, one of the oldest and largest tournaments in the world (Winnipeg’s MCA Bonspiel, hosted later this month, is another massive event).

And you thought golf’s Johnny Miller was a blunt instrument. Hello!

Eddie will commentate the Open (Men’s) final on Saturday, January 12 at 8:00pm ET across the province’s Rogers Television Network. The Seniors finale will air the following Saturday, January 19, at 8:00pm ET, also on the entire Rogers network.

Both finals will also air this Sunday, January 13, albeit on Toronto-area Rogers stations only: The Men’s at 2:00pm ET followed immediately by the Seniors at 4:30pm ET.

Eddie is also scheduled to appear at an outdoor rink in Waterloo, Ontario on January 19, to promote February’s TSC Stores Tankard provincial.

Here’s a surprise: apparently no one can recall if or when the Ontario Men’s Championships have been held in Waterloo. “It hasn’t been here in our time,” says former K-W Granite Club president Lew Ayers.

No way, we say. There must have been a Tankard hosted in K-W. Calling all curling historians: confirm or deny, please.

In other big Toronto news, the pre-sale of half-price ticket packages (only $150 instead of $300) for the Toronto 2009 megaspiel at the Air Canada Centre has been extended to March 15 (hooray!)

In a message sent late yesterday to the city’s 23 curling clubs, the Toronto Curling Association said:

Pre-launch ticket sales for the Toronto 2009 curling attraction are increasing as word about the ‘once in a lifetime event’ spreads! The support from the clubs is gratifying. This Grand Slam event will put Toronto on the curling map.

Paul Boutilier, Executive Director of the Asham World Curling Tour has just advised the official launch has now been scheduled for early April 2008. TCA clubs can continue with the discounted pre-sales until March 15, 2008. Enclosed are several stickers to place on your posters.

Initial payments of $75 (half of the package price) minus the $25 club portion = $50 for this championship event will not be requested from the clubs until March 15, 2008.

We know that two of the Canadian men’s participants will be Glenn Howard and Kevin Martin. Details about the ‘Patch’ and the Saturday night entertainment will be announced shortly.

Great news, and you can read more on the Toronto 2009 website, and also our own exhortations located here.


• Everyone is watching the Edmonton vs. Kamloops battle to host the 2008 Canadian Olympic Trials, but has anybody thought about where the pre-Trials Qualifier should be held? Winnipeg has, and will be bidding, and now Prince George, B.C. wants it, too (click here and also here) ...

What’s interesting about the Trials hosting battle is that the person generally acknowledged to be the top CCA grass roots event manager – Edmonton’s Janna Tominuk, who steered last year’s Edmonton worlds and the 2005 Edmonton Brier – is now working for Norm Daley’s Strauss Canada Cup out in – you guessed it – Kamloops...

• Wednesday’s curling episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie is already available on a streaming website, and there’s also this detailed episode summary, with photos, located here ...

• Last month, the Korbel Elite Challenge was aired, and the outdoor show – taped from New York City in horrid conditions back in October – has caused questions about its value as a promotional opportunity. Well, San Jose, California also had an outdoor promotional sheet set up last month, and the conditions actually looked slightly better than that of Manhattan.

Alice was there, and Pabu has mirrored the NBC report, while he waits for news about curling in Mexico City (unlikely at this point).

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the brilliantly-named Hollywood Curling Club (“Where We Curl Like Stars And Do Our Own Stunts!”) is busy with another outdoor curling exhibition tomorrow, complete with live KTLA TV coverage; this will mark the station’s second curling “show” since November (here’s the first). Sunday is yet another open house, this time in Panorama City.

Great stuff, guys. To keep the PR machine rolling, we suggest a temporary befriending of the train wreck known as Brit-Brit (aka Britney Spears), with the goal of getting her out onto the ice along with her pack of paparazzi. But we’re sure you’ve thought (briefly!) about this already...?

• Here’s a look at curling in Boise, Idaho ...

• And the Cape Cod CC has a new $470,000 upgrade...

• Still with U.S. curling, Scott says that Portland’s recent open house was busy enough to make it tough for him to get hands-on access to the Roaring Game, which is good news, we guess ...

• And let’s not forget Catherine, who curled in Chicago ...

• Here’s a brief look at outdoor curling in Boston, circa 1903:

• Four curl in O-H-I-O ...

• And this U.S. baseball fan played in Quebec at the tail end of ’07 ...

• There’s some big bureaucratic news out of Scotland ...

• And a spotlight is thrown onto curling in Wien, aka Vienna, the beautiful capital of Austria ...

• Meanwhile, here’s a French news story on curling – which has nothing to do with the worlds nor the Olympics – and this is certainly something new ...

• Here’s a calendar of new hoped-for holidays, and we agree with February 23, don’t you?

• This blogpost tells us about a typical curling weekend – lots of curling and late nights – in tiny Hanley, Saskatchewan, from the eyes of a retired RCMP dispatcher. Long live grass roots curling in these, sadly, fast-disappearing prairie towns ....

Bill, from New Jersey, puts The WeakerthansReunion Tour album – and their tune now known as The Curling Song – at number four on his Top 10 list for 2007 ....

• Today’s Winnipeg Free Press sees writer Chris Cariou quoting 2005 Manitoba champion Randy “Lunchbox” Dutiaume as calling himself curling’s Homer Simpson.

“I stumble and I have a booger hanging out of my nose,” Dutiaume explains. “I’m just meat and potatoes.”

God, we love this guy. Thanks heavens the Brier is in Winnipeg, so he’ll be there, no matter how his provincial playdowns end up ...

• DID YOU KNOW: that B.C.’s Blind Championships are underway this weekend?

• And finally, four Canadian teams are in Switzerland battling at the International Bern Damen Cup, including Kelowna’s Kelly Scott (who will stay on for Scotland’s new Glynhill Ladies International the following weekend), Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones, and Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink and Cheryl Bernard ...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Glenn Howard: Union Guy

Nice job, Mercy.

As promoted yesterday, the fictional Saskatchewan town played host to last night’s “curling” episode – Jihad On Ice – of the CBC-TV show Little Mosque on the Prairie, featuring a few interesting things... besides the world’s first fictional Muslim curling team, of course.

“I was in the bubble bath, up to my pecs in bubbles,” recalled actor Manoj Sood of one particular scene.

“I thought to myself... never in TV history has there been a scene where a Hindu-Canadian actor, playing the part of an orthodox Muslim, is in a bubble bath with a shower cap and at the same time reading a curling manual!”

Note that we said fictional Muslim curling team. Faithful TCN readers know, of course, that there is now a tiny pocket of real curling in Rabat, Morocco, as profiled in the December issue of The Curling News.

As blogreader Mark pointed out yesterday, the curling episode was shot last May “at the fabulous Richmond Hill Curling Club.”

And what of last night’s anticipated cameo appearance of a real curling star? We’ll let First Assistant Director David Manion take up the story.

“The executive producer was from Western Canada and he thought of Kevin Martin,” said Manion. “I said we had the current Canadian and World champion right here in Southern Ontario and he is a great guy (like most curlers I know).”

Take a bow, Glenn Howard (photo by Sophie Giraud).

“It was fun,” said Howard, who finally arrived home last night after from winning Scotland’s Ramada Perth Masters on the weekend.

“The crew treated me like gold. I practiced my lines, all two of them, and I think it worked out okay.

“I really like the part when they dissed me,” Howard continued. “That was funny.”

“(Glenn) was great to work with, knew his lines, hit his mark everytime and took direction well,” concurred Manion. “Also on time and friendly as hell.”

The best part of the story? Manion and Howard do indeed have a personal history, although it dates back to the final of the 1980 Ontario Junior championship many, many moons ago. Manion won, and Cliffy lost.

“(David) called me up and said ‘Glenn, I don’t know if you remember me’,” recalled Howard. “I said ‘Of course I remember you!’. I mean, I was so young back then and it was such a big game, how could I forget?”

Manion, who played lead for the John Kawaja squad out of St. George’s in Toronto – which also featured Graeme McCarrel at third – went on to lose the national junior final to Quebec’s Denis Marchand.

Want more? Check out the February print edition of The Curling News for more exclusives from the Little Mosque set... and perhaps a photo or two of that 1980 junior final thrown in for good measure. You should see the hairstyles.

“It was thoroughly enjoyable,” said Howard.

“I even had to join the union.”

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Little Mosque Curling

A reminder, as mentioned in Monday’s January issue preview, that the Canadian comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie returns to television screens tonight (8:00pm ET, CBC) with a curling flourish.

Jihad On Ice sees the local Imam assemble an all-Muslim curling team to challenge a well-known club team. And the episode also features a well-known curling celebrity making a cameo appearance (any guesses?).

This isn’t the show’s first brush with the sport. As blogged almost exactly one year ago, and also written up in the March 2007 issue of The Curling News, last year’s inaugural season saw the cast film a curling promo at the York Curling Club in Newmarket, Ontario. Only some 10 seconds of content was aired, but it had a huge impact.

“As soon as the curling promo piece aired just before season one, people would stop and ask me when does that episode come out?” said actor Manoj Sood, who plays the character Baber Siddiqui (photo by Sophie Giraud).

“I told them that it was just a promo piece and there is no curling episode as such. So many people asked us about the promo and if it pertained to an episode, that production eventually made a decision to make a curling-specific episode in season two.”

And this time, the cast and crew went all-out.

“The promo piece took a a day to make, basically doing a few shots over and over again... there was no real story attached to (it),” Sood said. “In this new episode, we spent almost a week at a curling rink.”

We’ll have more on tonight’s episode tomorrow on the Blog – and extra content in the upcoming February 2008 issue – including a quote from the mystery celebrity. And Sood, for one, sees tonight’s episode as a benchmark “CanCon” moment.

“Until I filmed the promo, and the actual Jihad On Ice episode, I had no idea how many people curled in Canada,” said Sood. “My dad told me that when we first moved to Canada in 1964 that even he had joined a local curling team and curled for quite a few years until we moved to a large city!

“It’s interesting to see and appreciate how important curling is to our country’s cultural and pastime fabric. When people see curling I feel they see Canadian. Our show is very much Canadian and so I feel that Canadian curling and Little Mosque On the Prairie make a great pair. Watch the episode and you will see what I mean!”

Monday, January 07, 2008

January 2008 issue

Howdy folks.

As you may have gathered from our previous post on the Lobel brothers, we’re back from vacation... and not a moment too soon. We’ve got a January issue to promote, after all.

You don’t want to miss this one! Inside we have:

– Open air curling: behold the great outdoors
– Euros 07: Norberg and Murdoch serve notice
– Famous rock band seeks curling stones
Larry Wood blames it all on television
Little Mosque goes curling on Jan. 9
– Gold Trail update
– Discovery Channel tells curlers How It’s Made
Matt Hames behind the scenes at the Rama Skins
Jill Officer asks Wayne: have the Olympics really ruined curling?
Teri Lake on a brand new curling club - from the ground up
– The Grand Slam rocked Quebec
– Memories of the 1972 Brier, held at that same Slam arena
Rodger Schmidt: things that I like
– The CCA asks you to help a friend Discover Curling
– The JVC Curling TV Guide (but of course)

Subscribe here, ladies and gents.

What else is goin’ on?

• Here’s TCN’s Mike Haggerty from across the pond in Scotland, with a special blogreport:

Canada’s world champion Glenn Howard from Ontario won the final of the Ramada Perth Masters yesterday, beating fellow Canadian Kerry Burtnyk from Winnipeg by 6-2.

(Yes, we love how those Scots talk/write – Ed.)

Earlier, Burtnyk had eliminated the last surviving Scottish team with a 9-5 semi-final victory over Atholl’s Gordon Muirhead. The other Scottish teams that qualified for the knockout stages fell at the quarter-final stage, Kilmarnock’s Alan Smith going down by 3-8 by Burtnyk, while Howard beat Stirling’s Logan Gray by 7-0. European champion David Murdoch from Lockerbie also crashed out in the quarter-finals, losing by 1-7 to Switzerland’s Ralph Stöckli, conceding the game after just five ends when the Swiss scored five shots.

(Shots? He must mean points... – Ed.)

After this it took all the way to an extra end before Howard eliminated Stöckli in the semi-finals by 7-5.

The final itself was also a surprisingly one-sided affair, with Burtnyk struggling throughout. Howard opened with single steals in each of the first three ends and then moved further ahead with three shots in the fifth end for a 6-1 lead. Burtnyk could only muster a single shot in the sixth and conceded the game. Howard and his team of Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill travel back to Canada with a winner’s cheque for £5,000, while Burtnyk gained £3,400 for his second place finish.


Quarter-finals: Kerry Burtnyk (Canada) 8, Alan Smith (Kilmarnock) 3; Thomas Ulsrud (Norway) 4, Gordon Muirhead (Atholl) 5 (extra end); Glenn Howard (Canada) 7, Logan Gray (Stirling) 0; Ralph Stöckli (Switzerland) 7, David Murdoch (Lockerbie) 1.
Semi-finals: Burtnyk 9, Muirhead 5; Howard 7, Stockli 5 (extra end).
Final: Burtnyk 2, Howard 6.

• Y’all have read much about the next big thing in women’s curling, one Team Rachel Homan from Ottawa. Surprisingly, despite massive success in the adult ranks, this squad hasn’t been able win the Ontario junior title.

And they were disappointed again last night, when Wilfrid Laurier student Danielle Inglis and her Burlington Curling Club team drew to the four-foot against two Homan stones to win the 2008 championship by a 5-4 count.

The Ottaweans was reportedly devastated by the loss. Homan – whose team lost their first two games of the competition – held back the tears after the match, and told journo Tim Gall that her team played well to get as far as it did. “We just didn't play well (in this game),” Homan said.

Coach Earle Morris said the Inglis team should get full marks, and added he was proud of his team for battling through injuries lead Alison Kreviazuk has a bad knee and Homan herself is believed to have a torn meniscus.

Homan won a tiebreaker and then defeated defending Ontario champion Hollie Nicol’s Kitchener-Waterloo team in semi earlier in the day.

Travis Fanset of St. Thomas won the junior men’s championship, incidentally, with a final-game win over Ottawa’s Neil Sinclair.

• In other junior results, Mary-Jane McGuire won the N.B. women’s title for the third year in a row despite losing two games to former teammate Ashley Howard, the daughter of Russ Howard. McGuire finally beat Howard 10-3 in the semi an then passed Marin McLeod 8-2 in the final. On the men’s side, defending champ Steve Burgess was upset 5-4 in the final by Jon Rennie... in B.C., Vancouver’s Jay Wakefield thumped Darren Nelson of Vernon in the men’s final while Kelly Thompson of Richmond beat Kelsey Samborksky of Kamloops in an extra-end thriller... in PEI, Summerside’s Erin Carmody went undefeated for the second year in a row, winning her title-clinching match 12-4 over Charlottetown’s Katie Sharkey. In men’s play, Spencer Pitre of Alberton must beat 2007 national finalist Brett Gallant of Charlottetown three straight times, starting today, to prevent a Gallant victory... on the rock, Julie Devereaux of St. John’s – led on her sister Stacie’s 2007 Canadian Junior championship team – won the 2008 provincial title with a 7-4 win over clubmate Sammi Adams. The men’s final is underway... Manitoba’s finals are also today, Nova Scotia is wrapping up today and/or tomorrow and three provs – Saskatchewan, Alberta and Northern Ontario – play down this coming weekend...

• Great behind-the-scenes story from Mike Harris, about the late Don Chevrier, in the current online webisode of the Capital One Curlers Corner; check it out ...

• The champions of the Manitoba Curling Tour for this season are the resurgent Mike McEwan team from the Assiniboine-Memorial in Winnipeg, and and Barb Spencer’s Winnipeg Fort Rouge foursome.

McEwen went undefeated with five straight wins in Portage, capturing the MCT men’s division title in a field of 24 teams. With support from B.J. Neufeld, Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld, he defeated Ryan Fry 4-2 in the final.

Jeff Stoughton and Rob Fowler could not play in Portage, so Fry and Steve Gould picked up Chris Schille (who plays for Brad Gushue in Newfoundland) and competed as a three-man team all weekend. They earned runner-up cash of $4,000.

McEwen earned $7,000 in prize money plus the MCT berth in the Manitoba Safeway Championship, to be held at the Brandon Keystone Centre, February 13th to 17th, 2008.

Terry McNamee of Brandon and Reid Carruthers of Beausejour received $2,000 apiece for reaching the semi-finals, while Don Spriggs of Portage and James Kirkness of Winnipeg’s Deer Lodge each earned $1,500 as losing quarter-finalists (24 teams – 6 qualifiers).

Spencer skipped her team of Kristen Williamson, Brette Richards and Barb Enright to a $4,000 cheque for a final 11-4 victory over her sister Darcy Robertson of Fort Rouge, who earned $2,000 as the runner-up team in the women's division. Holly Scott of the Granite and Maureen Bonar of Beausejour received $1,000 as semi-finalists (8 teams – 4 qualifiers).

This was the 17th MCT Championship (starting in 1991-92) and caps off the 2007-08 tour season. McEwen’s tour title is his first, and it is a third in the women's division for Spencer, who won previously in 2001-02 and in 2003-04.

Bob Weeks is stepping it up these days. His Glob & Flail columns – today’s is located here – are running more frequently and now he has officially entered the blogosphere – welcome aboard Bob!

• Finally, the January issue content list above talks about something called Little Mosque (On the Prairie)... check out the webpage for a hint of what’s to come in Wednesday’s episode (January 9). This is a Canadian television show, BTW, although it is rapidly becoming available in other world markets ...

Congrats Team Lobel

Some great news for a Monday morning early in a new year.

After years of frustration, Toronto’s Lobel brothers – Rob and Steve – will compete in their first-ever Ontario men’s provincial, next month in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Blogreaders might be somewhat familiar with younger brother Steve (in the photo above, taken by the intrepid Jim Henderson of SWEEP! Magazine) as per his creative talents. He recently submitted a curling-themed Indy car for a design contest – have you voted for it yet? – and he’s been doing the ProCurler Curling Stuff thing for years. Older brother Rob, who skips, is the quiet one.

Strengthened by their new front end – multi-provincial veterans Kenny McDermot and Oakville ice technician Scott Foster – the Lobels, representing Brampton, beat Guelph’s 2007 provincial playoff skip Greg Balsdon in the first game at their regional playdown, and followed that with two more wins over Owen Sound’s Dave Twining and former provincial playoff skip Dale Matchett of Churchill (with Ed Werenich’s son Ryan at third stone).

And just like that, the lads are into the Tankard final. What seemed so difficult for so many years finally looked easy.

Congrats to two great TCN friends on a long curling career, and this latest accomplishment.