Friday, February 29, 2008

The Curling News March 2008 issue

Folks, this may be our best issue yet, so don’t delay... subscribe today!

In this edition:

Brier preview: 2008 edition is tough to call

Manitoba-rrific! The story of the Scotties

The Great Outdoors: part three of our celebration

Rodger Schmidt says the unthinkable: sorry Canada, but Vancouver 2010 just isn’t that important

Top Secret: you won’t believe curling’s new high-tech world

• 80K to needy curling clubs

Nagano 1998: the 10 year anniversary

Larry Wood on the hall of fame shame

• The JVC Curling TV Guide for March: where and when to get your TV fix

Hec Gervais: the real story, from a childhood friend

• The Roar of Russ: Howard to TSN for Winnipeg Brier

• The world’s greatest celebration photo?

Mary Anne Arsenault: she’s back, in her own words

• RIP: The legend of Merv Mann

• World Wheelchairs: watch out, here comes Korea

Photo Contest: not what you’d expect, but you don’t really need a monkey on your head

They Said It: The Schmirlers, K-Mart, Ferbey and more

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Priceless curling video unearthed

In the above Kevin Stevens photo published in a fall 2005 issue of The Curling News (click to zoom in), we can see a shirtless Heath “Heater” McCormick, among many others, celebrating something. He seems to be facing the wrong direction, but more on that later.

It was no less than an eight-ender, scored against the unfortunate Kristy Jenion (a Manitoba women’s runner-up) at one of the silly season’s spring celebrity/charity bonspiels, the House of Hearts in Duluth, Minnesota. The same HoH which, this year, is chartering transit from the Winnipeg Brier to lure celebs – there’s 20 on the bus so far – and participants down to the bonspiel.

Well, ancient video of this feat has finally surfaced, and can be found here on YouTube. And this is good, because McCormick never actually saw his own shot.

Say what?

Here’s how spiel organizer Tim Wright – a fellow who is pretty good at stories – described it three years ago:

I proclaim this to be perhaps the greatest curling photo ever (aside from a few Saturday nite shots I refuse to put online).

For those not there, this took place Friday March 4th around 9pm. The stud with the shirt off just threw the yellow stone (which is in motion) by the hogline, which is a few seconds away from removing the red stone in the 4-foot for an eighter.

While everyone else was still watching the stone, Heater was more interested in acknowledging the 150 people upstairs pounding on the glass behind him than watching his once in a lifetime moment (assuming he could see that far).

I still can’t stop laughing. You just can’t orchestrate this kind of stuff.

Eagle-eyed readers may be able to spot Hall of Famer Jon Mead, the ex-Jeff Stoughton and current Wayne Middaugh third with brush upraised at the far house... and that’s Toronto’s Peter Corner in the foreground, wearing his 1993 worlds jacket.

Looks like Alison Pottinger standing next to Mead – she’s off to her third consecutive Ford Worlds next month – and that’s either John Morris or Craig Savill wearing the red baseball cap. Savs will soon defend his title at the Brier, but Morris is missing this week’s Canada Cup due to yet another pre-Brier injury.

The Cup, meanwhile, is underway today with games on CurlTV up to the weekend, where CBC-TV and kick in for the semis and finals.

Good times, Duluth is... this year’s event runs March 13-16, and check out the website for the entry form, more videos, galleries, the list of skips, and more!


• Speaking of Savill, his famous 2007 Brier pratfall was the original priceless curling video, but it has now been removed by YouTube due to “terms of use violation.” This is a travesty, of course, and we need to get this rectified. Any ideas? For now, here’s a print report on that glorious wipeout to tide us over. Ah, the memories ...

• Will The Ferb see a shrink? Well, why the heck not? ...

Mike Harris’ newest critic is still at it, and she’s got some friends ...

• Yes, that was a mighty fine come-around thrown by the Canadian champion, wasn’t it?

Star-Spangled Canuck recently noticed JJ’s “extreme hotness” ...

Cynthetic wants to be a Rockstar!

• Yep, it’s true, there are some people in the western world who have never heard of curling ...

Chris Juan has started playing, and he’s hurtin’ ...

Hali went curling in Utah, not once, but twice ...

• Er, okay ...

• Finally, check out the stone walls of this club, in the former “Calumet & Hecla drill house” in Calumet, Wisconsin. Very cool ...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rocking the boat

What an interesting Canadian women’s championship that was.

One year ago, a curling journalist summed up the women’s game by tearing an unexpected strip off virtually the entire gender. This was most surprising given the writer wasn’t really a writer... he was a competitor, a peer beloved by virtually all who play this roaring game. And he’s the last person we would expect to see “rock the boat.”

He said:

Ladies teams have coaches, psychologists, nutritionists et cetera. Fire them all and take responsibility for your own results and nothing is better than throwing a ton of granite.

I am sick of hearing that the men have better sweeping and are more powerful at clearing the guards out front. That is a fact, but you ladies have great deliveries and flexibility. You don’t have to be able to make triples and have your rocks swept 12 feet to win at this game. You should, however, be willing and able to make the simple shots with confidence.

I am so tired of hearing the pet phrases “risk and reward.” You are going to be in games where if you miss a certain shot, you are going to lose and if you make a certain shot, you are going to win. It can be that simple.

You ladies have to toughen up. How many times do you hear after a complete miss... “That’s okay.” “Nice try.” Geez Louise! It is not okay!

I am not advocating dirty looks and broom slamming, but quit celebrating misses. When players miss, they should be less than happy with themselves and the way to show it is by bearing down and making their next shot.

This year, if Neil “Harry” Harrison were still scribbing for SWEEP!, we suspect he would now be nodding his head in some satisfaction. Generally speaking, the bulk of the field seemed to play a better game of curling this time around. More rocks in play, a little more killer instinct, a style based more on winning than the fear of losing.

And that meant a better show, whether you were yelling in person from the Brandt Centre seats, crouched over your computer screen at work, or settled into the sofa watching plasma.

That’s a very general comment. Of course there were episodes of sheer madness – one writer shook his head all week over some suspect Quebec strategy – and over a nine-day rockfest everybody has an opinion. Winnipeg’s Jim Bender mused Saturday about eventual champ Jennifer Jones (Kruger Products photo by Andrew Klaver, above) possibly scaling things back, and, well, look where she is today (coming in to land right about now, actually). As for quantification, we certainly did not bother to look up CurlingZone’s in-depth numbers to analyze the differences between Lethbridge 07 and Regina 08.

But overall, we think Harry would be happy. Perhaps we’ll ring him up and find out..?

Some final Scotties thoughts – at least until you read the March issue of TCN:

– Is there a more up-and-down Canadian women’s skip than Suzanne Gaudet?

– News Talk 980’s Mitchell Blair was a busy fellow, but still wonders “Why didn’t I?

– It looks like Regina organizers can relax for a while, but Victoria dare not ...

– Did you know that the closing Scotties banquet, the “social event of the curling season”, didn’t happen?

– And here’s a blog devoted to Michelle Englot, who made it through a rolling sea of emotions at the STOH.

And furthermore ...

• Something new for the debate about curling’s TV commentators. A Canadian amateur sport bigwig, Diana Davis Duerkop, was thoroughly unimpressed with CBC’s Mike Harris during Saturday’s semifinal telecast, and likewise during the final.

After accusing Harris of favouring Ontario in the semi, she herself shows favouratism to Joan McCusker. Meanwhile, the majority of curling fans we regularly hear from – including Bob Weeks – seem to prefer, or at least tend to agree with, Mr. Harris.

So does sports media observer Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star, the fellow who broke the reality-TV curling hullaballoo. Zelko seems to like everything that both commentators have to offer, and believes they both hush up at the right times.


Davis Duerkop also takes CBC to task for ignoring the Albertans once the final rock was thrown. And we agree with that criticism.

Townie Bastard isn’t strong on the Scotties Newfoundland skip, but he is himself a curling champion this morning. Now is that the legitimately big curling news, or is there more to come?

• Speaking of the hullaballoo, Jef Spaleta is begging for a Rockstar Curling audition in Fairbanks, Alaska ...

• The Montreal Gazette came out with a strong review for Doug Clark’s book, The Roaring Game ...

• Six other international champions were declared over the weekend. In the United States, Craig Brown won his first American men’s title in eight years while Deb McCormick made history by capturing her third women’s crown in a row.

In Scotland, it was Euroking David Murdoch over defending champ Warwick Smith in men’s play but the women’s side produced a surprise in new champion Gail Munroe. Who is Gail, you might ask? Well, apart from riding a grand streak of wins over the past month or so – including a 4-0 record over the vanquished Kelly Wood in recent times – she happens to be Hammy McMillan’s sister!

And in Switzerland, Mirjam Ott clubbed former Olympic skip Luzia Ebnoether 12-5 in the women’s final, while the brand-new pairing of Claudio Pescia and 1998 Olympic champ Patrick Huerlimann – playing third – shocked Ralph Stoeckli 7-6 in the men’s final. To see a video report, click here and again on the blue “News” box.

Watch for an unusual photo of the Swiss champs in the March issue of The Curling News!

• Outdoor curling gets a third feature treatment in the aforementioned March issue (subscribe today!). Today’s Rochester Democrat & Chronicle throws a spotlight on 200 happy outdoor rockers, and there’s this video, too ...

Amanda went ...

• We, too salute this curling hero, Jack Lockhart of North Bay, Ontario ...

• And finally, the memory of Sandra Schmirler – very topical given the recent 10th anniversary of the first women’s Olympic gold – is often disconnected from her husband and their children... who are now old enough to ask questions about mom and her legacy. Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post goes in depth with widower Shannon England, and it results in a lengthy but facinating read ...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Rockstar Curling

It’s almost here.

Rockstar Curling, the proposed new NBC-TV show, is only a couple of months – and a sponsor or two – away from “Reality”.

Things have moved quickly since the original Toronto Star story, and its followup, broke onto the scene (editorial here, too). A few days ago, the official show website went live, and with it the call for applications which will lead to actual tryouts, located across the United States.

There’s also a weblog and, of course, a promotional video.

Press has been ramped up with an official news release and yesterday saw Toronto-based show creator Colin Campbell appear on the syndicated Canadian radio show Prime Time Sports (Thursday show available on the website).

Rockstar Curling intends to hold nationwide tryouts as early as April or May, open to participants 18 years of age and older. A panel of curling coaches will select two teams of athletes – five men and five women – who will spend six to eight months, all expenses paid, in hardcore training... up to eight hours a day, in fact.

Both teams will then participate in the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials process for curling with the hopes of making the team, and “quite possibly representing their country in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C.”

All tryouts, training and competitions will be filmed for the series, which includes nine 30-minute weekly episodes, and an hour-long season finale.

We already know that Lake Placid has been approached to keep their ice going through the month of May, and they want it, so there’s one probable tryout venue. Another is Utica, also located in New York, the home state of USA Curling and NBC curling production company Carr-Hughes.

There has been tons of scribblings about this, folks. The legendary Dave Barry just can’t believe it... and we note he hasn’t written anything about curling since his legendary 1998 piece. Meanwhile, Salon’s equally-legendary King Kaufman has also weighed in, before blundering about our website, looking for this here blog.

Jake Laxen hates the idea – as potentially damaging to the sport... here’s a rather intelligent convo from some Calgary hockey fans... this guy wants it in high-definition... and this guy sounds skeptical, while this guy doesn’t.

And more. This fellow has drawn up a cute graphic, Adweek has chimed in, and this here piece leads readers along to this Tyee classic from 2006 (which we had linked to back then, of course).

Heck, ConMan asked some Alberta guys about it, and they’re even talking it up in... Poland!

“We’ve had some interest from NCAA athletes,” Campbell told Prime Time. “And those guys are serious athletes. And that’s where this whole social experiment comes in, and that’s the fascination from a TV side. It’s not a gawking, train-wreck kind of a reality show, it’s like... could these guys really do it?”

For his part, Prime Time host Bob McCown, who has been known to throw a decent stone or two himself, offered that he wasn’t “as convinced necessarily as you are that in six to eight months you can take a guy who’s never curled and turn him into a world-class curler.

“You might be able to,” McCown continued, “but you have no shot at almost any other discipline.”

Okay. Our turn.

We are The Curling News, and we claim to be “Planet Earths official voice on curling. Chances are also good that you, dear reader, probably know at least a thing or two about the sport... otherwise, you simply wouldn’t be here.

So this is where we would no doubt declare that no human who ever tries out for this show will ever, ever, ever come close to representing the United States at Vancouver 2010.

Not. Even. Close. Given the microscopic and mind-bending nuances of the sport, we are surprised McCown acknowledged he was merely less convinced.

And this is where most of you would probably agree with us.

But... guess what? We’ve decided that this Just. Doesn’t. Matter.

Curling is fun. For every high-performance athlete – representing only two or three per cent of all global curlers, by the way – there are multitiudes of recreational “Harvey Hacksmashers”, for whom any Olympic dreams are strictly fantasy. Yes, we shall all enjoy the stunned looks on contestant faces as the wannabes realize just how impossible this sport is to tame. Yes, curling is a sport, but it’s more often a great night out, an exercise, a tradition.

And a party!

So let’s get this party started, we say. Come one and all, you Americans, and try out to be the next Rockstar Curler... and, what the hey, Olympic athlete. Curling readers, exhort your non-curling friends to signup. And let’s watch the slow but steady rise of U.S. curling awareness continue to gather steam.

Heck, we can watch it together, on NBC, sometime in 2009.

We like this. And we think you will, too.

What else is going on? Lots!

• There’s no point offering our thoughts on the Scotties; the press is chock-full of coverage these days, and you can watch it yourself on TSN and CBC over the next three days. Kelly Scott is gone, Quebec and Newfoundland are somewhat surprising, Alberta and Ontario are the class of the field, and Manitoba has been given a second life (uh oh!) ...

• Oh, all right, here’s one STOH link... a farewell to a couple of Bluenose legends ...

• The U.S. nats – no TV stars are there, as yet – are in the news in Hibbing. Pete Fenson (4-5) and Todd Birr (3-6) are out of it, and it’s the two Craigs, Brown and Disher, in the Page 1/2 game. On the women’s side, three are at 4-1 (Deb McCormick, Cassie Potter and Aileen Sormunen) and Patti Lank is 3-2 ...

• DID YOU KNOW: that the fantastic story of Pugwash was first reported by Teri Lake in the January issue of The Curling News, complete with photos during construction?

• Well, it took almost a year, but the McGarry club fire has only now been deemed suspicious ...

• Not sure what’s cooler about this Buffalo, NY TV clip: the blogpost title, Captain Freedom and the Curling Squad, or to see the town of “Tonawanda” appear in a curling story ...

• Not to be outdone, here’s Captain Curling from Wausau, Wisconsin ...

• Welcome to the blogosphere, CurlingCanuck. And now that your hit count shall spike – thanks to the ye olde TCN Blog – get back to your keyboard and post some more!

• Portland’s Evergreen CC gets a promo here ...

• Guess what? You can curl in Cortina D’Ampezzo – at a summer spiel – long before the Italian resort town hosts the 2010 world men’s ...

Alex Walling, who wrote the Golden Gushue book in 2006, opines about the former teammates of one Colleen Jones, the previously mentioned Bluenosers ...

Kerry Burtnyk’s 1981 Brier-winning squad, which featured the father of his current third at lead stone, is going into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame, along with others like Jon Mead ...

• Finally, a rare item with zero curling aspects to it; a thoughtful column by Brad Rock of the Deseret Morning News on the state of sports today.

Thank heavens for curling ...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Scotties notes

So what’s up with the Scotties, the Canadian women’s curling championship?

Kelly Scott and Jennifer Jones are both 3-4, oh my. But certainly not out of it. Two Wednesday wins from both squads are definitely in order.

The NBs are out of it, but they were a surprise to begin with. Nice photo, by CP’s Paul Chiasson, of skipper Sylvie Robichaud above. And some quotes from her are located here.

Michelle Englot’s host team is in the running, and wrestled a big and distracting night on Tuesday. The standing ovation as the team left the ice after losing to NS was heartwarming – we also note this local editorial a few days ago – and we can easily forgive the skip and team from declining media interviews after the match. That had to be a first for the media-savvy Englot.

Did you know that Joan McCusker has been blogging daily on the Scotties? You can see her Extra End columns here.

Did you also know about First of all, Sask alternate Lori Kehler, a long time Englot teammate and confidante, is blogging at there (look for Daily Diary) and we also agree with Murray McCormick – check out his robust blogging, too – regarding’s overall Scotties coverage. They have a fellow, labelled Farmer, who does a fine job updating each end with comments from every game on exactly how the points were scored. A great companion to for the morning games (webcasted) and TSN TV for the afternoon and evening draws.

Of course, the other regulars are active; Al Cameron has incisive commentary and lots of interviews at On The Rocks and while Bob Weeks is not in Regina – we expect he would be flying out soon? – he is fairly active with STOH musings on his blog. He also had a nice piece in the Globe and Mail on the Schmirler legacy.

Yes, we remember Cory, from the last Regina Brier. So does the CCA, as his image appears on a few curling promotional materials. He’s also mentioned in this McCusker blogpost on the CCF (Crazed Curling Fans) ...

Speaking of Crazed Curling Fans, don’t forget the pinheads; Regina is, after all, the home of legendary curling pin manufacturer Laurie Artiss Ltd ...

DID YOU KNOW: that Team BC has two “other sport” stars in their lineup? Lead Amanda Brennan – only in her second year of competitive curling – is a former all-Canadian in university soccer... and her aunt is multiple New Brunswick champion skip Heidi Hanlon. Meanwhile, teammate Karla Sparks is a world-class fastball player.

And finally, over $170,000 has been raised for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, and they still have to pass the donations bucket in the stands during the playoffs. A great total so far, and nice to see familiar faces during Sunday’s TSN telethon: Lindsay Sparkes, Al Gilchrist, Shannon England (of course) and even CCA chief Greg Stremlaw all worked the phones. Watch for the big cheque to be presented during Sunday’s final.

And in other news ...

Kevin Martin beat Randy Ferbey three times to book his Alberta tickets to the Brier. Quote of the week from the Journal’s Dan Barnes (discuss if you like):
“(Martin) had to eat a steady diet of glowing Ferbey press clippings for many years, and some of them were actually warranted. But the new book on Ferbey exposes his team as a little past their prime.”

Kerry Burtnyk will be the home team in Winnipeg. Here’s the scoop, and here’s some cool Manitoba men’s highlights packaged by Ty Dilello. Burtnyk gets a Brier reception at his home Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club Friday at 8:00pm, while the Pembina CC hosts a worlds sendoff for Kaitlyn Lawes and her Manitoba and Canadian Junior champion squad this Saturday, at 7:00pm ...

• Who won New Brunswick? Nope, it wasn’t Russ Howard, but we will offer congrats to his former third and the NB skip way back in 1997, Jim Grattan ...

• Another $3,000 was raised for the SSF during last weekend’s TCA Energizer Mixed bonspiel, aka the Toronto city mixed championship. Len McNicholl was the winner, with Alison Goring at third and fourth-place Ontario men’s finisher Rob Lobel sparing for some key games.

It’s been quite a year for Goring, the 1990 STOH champion. The jolly skip, who now throws lead stones and calls the game, led her women’s team to a third-place finish behind Sherry Middaugh in Ontario ...

• The Scottish championships are under way, both men and women, and CurlingZone is in the house ...

• What? Curling is losing an online poll? To... indoor soccer?! Come on people, vote here (left side of page) ...

• They’re still celebrating the wheelchair bronze in the U.S... with video located here:

• Here’s those incredibly young Philly gals, again (both story and video)... turns out they put up a decent fight at junior nats ...

• It was a “once in a lifetime event” ...

• Listen to LIO, curling skeptics. He tried it, and has learned ...

• Nova Scotia christened a new club championship on the weekend, complete with “heart” crests for the champs ...

• Blasts from the past: congrats to former world champs Pat Sanders and Christine Jurgenson, who are off to the national Seniors

• Blast from the past II: remember this guy, who declared curling to be “erotic”? ...

• Finally... did South Park’s Cartman really go calf curling? Anyone?

Friday, February 15, 2008

10 years ago today: Nagano 1998

Ten years ago today, IOC kingpin Juan Antonio Samaranch himself hung gold medals around the necks of Switzerland’s Patrick Hürlimann and his team from Lausanne Olympique, the curling club named after the IOC headquarters in that same Swiss city.

It happened in tiny Karuizawa, a resort town near Nagano, Japan, which usually closes down for winter but was reopened for a very special thing called Olympic Curling. Nagano, of course, was the official host city of the XVIII Olympic Winter Games and the first time the real-deal heavy metal was dished out to those who play The Roaring Game.

Canada’s Sandra Schmirler, tragically felled by cancer less than two years later, won the much-publicized women’s gold.

Silver went to Canada’s Mike Harris and Denmark’s Helena Blach-Lavrsen. The Danes were so pumped they had royal family members in the stands and a couple of curling clubs were built (and now thrive) in the post-Games excitement.

Bronze went to a couple of very highly decorated veterans with multiple world championships to their names: Sweden’s Elisabet Gustafson and Norway’s Eigil Ramsfjell.

Karuizawa celebrates every year with an international tournament, which is going on right now. This year, special 10th anniversary celebrations are planned for the city of Nagano itself.

The World Curling Federation has formally recognized the date, as has the fine weblog Curling Today, the online partner to The Scottish Curler.

Where were you, 10 years ago today? Did you awaken – or stay up – to all hours of the night to see the TV images from the other side of the world? Did anyone really comprehend what a frenzy the pursuit of Olympic dreams would be like today?

Rodger Schmidt, European columnist for The Curling News, has a fascinating viewpoint in the upcoming March issue: take note, as you won’t want to miss it.

And happy anniversary.

To all of us; curling fans... and curling friends.


• Speaking of Patrick Hürlimann, the Executive Board member of the World Curling Federation is back on the ice this weekend as the Swiss Championships begin, playing third for Claudio Pescia. That’s potentially bigger news than Russ Howard offering some coaching consultations to Pescia’s former skip, Ralph Stöckli... which is true, by the way ...

• Holy smokes! Did you hear about the Greatest Shot Of All Time (TM) that Kevin Martin made against Randy Ferbey last night in the Alberta provincial?! Well, now you can read all about it courtesy of Terry Jones... and Al Cameron (in both print and online)... and also from Vicki Hall.

The real winners here are CurlTV subscribers; there were no TV cameras at the event except for those belonging to the all-curling webchannel. And now that shot has been archived so that everybody who owns a CurlTV membership can see it.

Lo and behold, the February issue of The Curling News features an advert with a special promotional code for a seriously discounted (50 per cent off!) annual membership to CurlTV. It’s located on page five, by the way ...

• The Scotties, the Canadian Women’s Championship, starts tomorrow – on TSN TV, on CBC Sports Online daily (morning draws, plus semi and final) and also online via CCA scoring – and when a major curling championship comes to Saskatchewan, the prairie stories spill forth. The surviving members of Team Schmirler, incidentally, are all Honourary Chairpersons of the event ...

• Here’s a look at all the teams, including some with a Saskatchewan angle... and you can always place your bets here ...

• And speaking of Sask, Murray McCormick has been profiling Michelle Englot and her home team this week. Today he throws the spotlight on Darlene Kidd, a former junior champ who had been spending a lot of time in Ontario up until recently ...

• OK, skipper Englot is not featured until tomorrow, but here’s another scribe’s recollection of the media-savvy skip who “gets it” ...

• Oh God, it’s Hillcrest again ...

• The ultimate curling online auction continues, as we promoted a few days ago. Items up for grabs, which raise funds for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, feature some great curling memorabilia from a top competitor: MacDonald Brier montages (1970), MacDonald Brier competitor silverware (1973), Labatt Brier collector pin sets (1988), and even some European Championship pins (1985 and 1995) . Click here for the current lot, and check back often ...

• Quebec’s Jean-Michel Menard is back in the Brier... but sadly for Martin Ferland, there is nothing but... deception ...

• Here’s a quick update on the Manitoba men’s provincials from Paul Wiecek, and Sun guy Paul Friesen sums up the time clock boo-boo that gifted Kerry Burtnyk a key victory ...

• We hadn’t heard of this U.S. hotbed before: Casper, Wyoming ...

• Here’s a little squib on curling in The Waltonian, the student pub for Eastern U in St. Davids, PA ...

• Let’s not forget Munster, Indiana ...

• And here’s some outdoor curling vids – don’t forget, part two of our outdoor feature is in the current Feb. issue of TCN and part three arrives next month – from Gun Lake, BC (4 vids) and also some yee-haw action from the heartland of Minnesota...

• Scotland’s men’s championship is underway next week ...

Dan Dunleavy commentated for last week’s Ontario Men’s Tankard on Rogers TV, and explains the thrill of working with his curling hero ...

• There’s another Capital One Curlers Corner webisode online... you are remembering to check these weekly things out, right? ...

• We are just loving the self-portrait of Orange Girl – the third of three photos in this blogpost ...

• And finally, Johnada has been celebrating Curling Week at his blog – very nice! – but today’s post sees him disagreeing, somewhat, with his Minnesota mate over curling’s status as a good fitness workout.

He quotes a fitness website and its “curling coefficient of .066 calories burnt per minute per kg of body weight” as proof curlers get only a minor workout... inferior, in fact, to fishing in a stream.

We’ll be sure to mail him a copy of the upcoming March issue of TCN, in which some top high-performance coaches break down some real curling “coefficients” and prove that curlers sweat it up much, much more than the casual observer would ever expect ...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thanks Doug

A shout-out to Doug McConachie, longtime journalist and sports editor of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, who is hanging up his pen and paper after Friday.

Yes, journalists can retire, too, and Doug will be missed, as he is a great friend of curling.

Here’s a great farewell piece pseudo-colleague Murray McCormick wrote on Bloglines a couple of weeks ago.

And the photo above of 2008 Sask champion Michelle Englot (left) and her team – who begin Scotties action as the home team tomorrow on TSN – was taken by McConachie, an avowed non-photographer, in probably his last appearance on the ice with a camera.

Thanks to SP Managing Editor Cam Hutchison for the image.

Tomorrow, we’ll celebrate a major curling anniversary ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

2010 Olympic volunteers!

Curling fans are known as superlative volunteers.

In what other sport can up to 1,000 people take a week or more off work to volunteer support of an event... and pay for game tickets and their own uniform, to boot?

A new level of volunteerism begins right now, as of 6:00am today, Feb. 12. Because VANOC, the organizing commitee of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, has just opened the doors for some 25,000 “chance of a lifetime” volunteer positions.

Today also marks the official two-year countdown to the start of Vancouver-Whistler 2010. And what better way to kick off the stretch run?

“It’s the chance of a lifetime to join the team of volunteers as we welcome the world,” states the VANOC website.

“We’re looking for enthusiasm, dedication and a commitment to VANOC’s values of team, trust, excellence, sustainability and creativity. There are many shoes to fill and we need talented people to fill them – one of them could be you.”

They say it’s not a case of first-come first served; the online app will take around 35 minutes to complete, and some 40,000 telephone interviews will take place as a follow-up in the spring. So it might not be a footrace, despite what the Globe has written.

But if you’re a keener, you are well-advised to sign up right now, even if you’re not sure about the logistics of being in Vancouver two years from now. To be specific, who cares... apply anyway.

Imagine... the Olympic experience, from the inside!

Who knows, you might even request – and get – a gig with the curling operation.

Russ Howard is in Toronto this morning, helping to announce the news and rally the troops. Then he’s back in New Brunswick to try and qualify for the Brier... although he will be there with TSN, anyway.

There are other street festivals in other city centres across Canada, too.

So, take a moment and check out these three stories, located here, and here, and also here.

And then get your eyeballs over to the VANOC website, or this special Workopolis page, and get going.

It’s game on for Vancouver 2010!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Reality TV curling show?

So... we have most of a Brier field set. Glenn and Gushue are back. Bob Ursel won an extra-end measurement thriller out in Lotusland. Shawn Adams got rocked by the old guys from Bridgewater. Eric Harnden (no, not his brother Al) is in from northern Ontario, along with his two sons.

Quebec, Alberta, The Territories, New Brunswick and Manitoba are in action this week.

We also know Canada’s junior reps – and Scotland’s, as well – as Ostersund creeps ever closer.

The American Wheelies came home to a hero’s welcome, as their world bronze marked their first trip to the podium. Norway defeated Korea for their second straight world crown, while Canada finished fourth.

But the big news of the day comes again from the United States. The reality TV craze has hit the roaring game, and Rockstar Curling just might eventually make it onto NBC-TV. And with Olympic curling connotations, no less.

The possibilities, as outlined by the Toronto Star, are located here.

Jon Bon Jovi – 1980s poodle-hair photo, above – as a host? Could be interesting... but we think Flavour Flav might be worth a look.

A reminder... tune in tomorrow for a special announcement. We’ll try to go live at 6:00am ET (yawn) with the news, as it happens ...

Friday, February 08, 2008

Colour Balance

Have you noticed something different about Team Glenn Howard this week at the Ontario Tankard?

Well, they’re undefeated so far – again. That’s no different.

But take a good look at their brushes. Sponsor BalancePlus has come out with yet another batch of fresh colours – multiple colours – to tempt your curling fashion sense.

You can see more at the BP website.

Just a few quick notes for your weekend:

• Canada lost the Page 1/2 game and then the semifinal at the World Wheelchair championships in Switzerland. Gerry Austgarden’s all-B.C. foursome goes for bronze against the United States tomorrow, while Korea and Norway battle for gold ...

• Nice to see a blogpost from these fellows... where’ve they been?

• DID YOU KNOW: That the Canuck University curling shootout, the CIS, gets underway in Guelph Ontario in two weeks?

• Remember Keith Ryan? He extracted some tasty revenge against Brad Gushue yesterday ...

Lo-bels ... Lo-bels... Lo-bels ...

• It might start out badly – “They have these little pots that slide down the ice to strategically place in front of the large circle at the other end so they can keep their opponent out of the circle” – but this odd little posting is really quite complimentary by the end ...

• Do you replace your gripper once a year? You don’t? A pox on you! ...

Cam Lewis of Corunna, Northern Ontario, is a house afire over Canada’s zealous border guards; it seems they’ve gone and wrecked his curling plans, which involve some Yankee friends ...

• And finally, this is a very early warning that we want each and every one of you curling nuts to tune into this here blog at 6:00am eastern time on Tuesday.

That’s right – Tuesday, February 12. At exactly 6:00am, in the eastern time zone.

We’re serious. But we can’t tell you why.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

World Wheelchairs

SURSEE – We’re here at the 2008 World Wheelchair Curling Championships, and let us tell you... these rollers can really rock.

Holy cow, USA second Jimmy Joseph is shooting 97 per cent right now, as his team is thumping the Swiss (photo above) by a 7-1 count. Do any of you have any idea how hard it is to shoot much more than 50 or 60 per cent from a wheelchair?!

Korea (7-1) and Canada (6-2) are through to the playoffs, with Norway and Italy (both 5-3) looking to join them in the Page playoffs. Sweden and the United States are at 4-4 and trying to have a say in the final round robin draw, underway now.

Follow the live scoring (and shot-by-shot graphics) here, with summaries also posted on the WCF website.

Faces in the crowd? Well, we happen to be sitting right beside a certain key player at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic curling extravaganza, and it looks like he’s sifting through applications for a certain dream job we talked about last week. Who knows... perhaps he’s looking at your file right now?

But the biggest surprise has to be... TSN curling commentator Vic Rauter.

Nope, the Vicster isn’t working... he’s here on personal time, for a few days, celebrating a 100th birthday with a family member (you remembered Rauter’s family is Swiss, right?). The birthday isn’t until later in the month, but Vic will be busy at the Regina STOH, so he is here now... and he even took some time to drop in and visit the wheelies. Great stuff.

Elsewhere ...

• Ottawa’s Joe Pavia pays homage to Gary Keeler today, and also mentions the Canadian Vision Impaired Championships going on, which now boasts a CCA webpage located here ...

• In Canadian men’s provincial play, 3-1 is good enough for first place in B.C.; NL’s Brad Gushue and Mark Noseworthy are both 2-0; T-Bay and Haileybury teams are 3-0 in Northern Ontario; and over in Ontario, Glenn Howard is 3-0... but who’s that sitting at 3-1? And a game ahead of Wayne Middaugh? It’s the Lobel brothers, that’s who ...

• In Canadian Junior action, Rick Lang’s daughter Sarah and her host team are still undefeated, while the boys’ field is a bit more muddled ...

• And we close on a couple of sad notes today.

First, the wheelchair curling world lost Thomas (Rusty) Drew on Monday. The inventor of the ExtendeR throwing stick died at his home in Belleville, Ontario after a lengthy illness.

And Muriel Fage also passed away on Monday, at age 60. The curling dynamo was a CCA director; Past President of the Nova Scotia Ladies Curling Association; a bigwig with the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and was most recently a director of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation.

Fage was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in 2006 ...

Monday, February 04, 2008

February 2008 issue

There’s lots of cool news today, and we’ll get to that in a moment. But for now, the February 2008 issue of The Curling News is in the building – got yours yet?

Regina Will Rock: the ultimate Scotties preview
Pal Trulsen does Dubai
– Guest column by Ben Hebert: Be Careful What You Wish For
Chevy and Witt: the ultimate curling sendoff
– A supersized edition of the JVC TV Curling Guide: where to find men’s provs in N.B, Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and more
Martin and Howard: double Slam wrap and next stop: St. John’s
– A Tale of Two Cities: in Toranna and The Peg, curlers just wanna have fun
– Fun II: 10 years later, we expose Canada’s legendary Nagano moonshot
– A Tale of Two Ryans: and millions of MySpace hits
– Ferb Furor: Randy Ferbey lets it all hang out
– All Hail the Blogosphere: new entries from The Gap, Hogtown and more
– Outdoor curling part two: Montreal’s Fraser Highlanders
They Said It: a supersized edition of curling’s most eye-popping quotes
– More They Said It: is Olympic status ruining curling?
The Dominion of Canada Club Corner: the challenges clubs face
The Business of Curling: three spring symposiums for clubs
Rodger Schmidt on the Controversial Cup

... and MORE!


Russ Howard gets a week-long tryout as a TSN curling commentator – his second go ’round – as the morning draw colourman at next month’s Tim Hortons Brier. He’ll be paired with Vic Rauter, while stalwarts Ray Turnbull and Linda Moore work with Rauter for the evening draws. Bob Weeks has the scoop ...

• And here’s our scoop: following his success as Rogers TV curling commentator in Toronto in December, Eddie “The Wrench” Werenich will return as the Rogers TV curling colourman for the final three days of the Ontario men’s championship, which starts today in K-W (preview stories here and here) . Draw 1 (1:00pm ET) features defending-everything-champ Glenn Howard against Rob Todd, while former champ at-just-about-every-position Peter Corner takes on Rob Lobel (7:30pm ET) ...

Murrdogg reports that Mark Lang, a 2002 Sask Brier rep with Scott Bitz (who now plays for Joel Jordison) will partner with Global TV’s Warren Woods for coverage of the Sask Tankard, which starts Wednesday.

Former Sask Brier skip Lyle Muyres is the regular guy, but he’s watching his son Dallan compete at the Canadian Junior men’s this week ...

• Kudos also to Eugene Hritzuk: he won the Sask Seniors; he starts play in the Tankard on Wednesday (he was runner-up last year to Pat Simmons), he spared for Toronto’s Wayne Middaugh in a game at the Masters; and was also mentioned in Friday’s blogpost about Great Prairie Names (TM). Popular guy ...

• Lots of Canadian men’s provincials start today (like B.C.) or on Wednesday (like Nova Scotia) and a few go the following week (like Alberta) ...

• Long-time Ottawa Rideau ice technician Gerry Keeler died on Saturday, after further complications from health problems suffered on the eve of December’s JSI Insurance Canada Cup East tourney. Keeler had been on the job for some 35 years.

The funeral will be at 11:00 am on Friday February 8th, with a reception to follow at the Rideau Curling Club (details here). Meanwhile, a Facebook page has sprung up in his honour ...

• The Windsor Curling Club in Nova Scotia not only plans to rebuild on their original site – by October, no less – they also had 270 people come out for a 100th anniversary whoopup ...

We like this quote, from emcee and past president Kevin Matheson:

Tonight proves we didn’t lose our curling club, we only lost our building.

• Anything else to remember from the Windsor arson incident? Get your club a new, simple yet comprehensive insurance plan... and do it right the heck now!

• Speaking of club planning and finances: Monsanto Canada has seriously upped the ante following an overwhelming response to their Imagine a Better House community curling club bursary program ...

Don Turner passed away about a year ago – maybe more? – but his fantabulous curling museum lives on in fanatbulous Weyburn, Saskatchewan ...

Paul Wiecek is reporting that Kevin Koe’s Edmonton boys just got snubbed by the Alberta curling cops. Seems the awesome retro unis the boys unveiled at the Masters last week “contravene the association’s uniform policy” and now the lads have to spend some $1,500 to re-embroider new duds for the provincial.

Can you say marketing opportunity missed?

The top three seeds at that shootout, by the by, are Team Kevin Martin, Team Koe and Team Randy Ferbey ...

• Bad news from Gander, Newfoundland, where the famed DBC is no more ...

• Curling stories abound in the U.S., from Rochester, NY... to Mitch who got his curl on in St. Paul... to Detroit, where their membership numbers are up... to sunny Cali, where Greg just wants to curl before he dies ... in Bismark, North Dakota, where they did a little outdoor spieling... and in Walpole, MA, at the home of an all-outdoor club (thanks to CurlDuluth for the video evidence).

Did you enjoy the January issue feature outdoor curling in The Curling News? Yeah, we know you did... we have been besigned by stories and photos, indicating you guys just love to get your outdoor freak on.

So make sure you check out the February issue of The Curling News (see top story) for part two of our new, revised three-part feature on outdoor curling. That’s right.. we are stretching this baby out, all the way to the March issue!

• Speaking of Yanks, the Chicks With Brooms are battling for the U.S. junior women’s title this week. We’re rooting for them because they choose the long-forgotten kilt ...

• DID YOU KNOW: that it was in Bobcaygeon, where we saw the constellations, reveal themselves, one star at a time ...?

• Harbin is number one in Chinese domestic curling. No surprise there ...

• And finally, an Edmonton Sun online poll from Jan. 20 posed the question What would get more kids involved in curling? There were only three not-very-serious answer options, and here are the results:

Remote-control stones – 26 per cent
The friendly competition – 37 per cent
Big-screen TVs on every sheet – 37 per cent

Friday, February 01, 2008

Ultimate curling auction

Ebay is hosting a very special curling auction.

A former world champion has placed some of his priceless memorabilia on the online auction website, courtesy of a friend named drawmaster, and the clock is ticking to get in on the action.

It’s all to benefit the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, which collects donations to fund projects at neonatal facilities across Canada. That’s right... all proceeds to charity.

As of the time of this blogpost, you had two days and eight hours left to bid on a competitor pin from the 1996 Ford Worlds in Hamilton; three days and seven-plus hours to try for a championship medal from the 1983 Worlds in Regina – that’s the right, the winner’s medal – and six days and five hours to grab a very cool montage of “Silver World” celebrations from that year, featuring the likeness of 17 legendary champions and 24 pins mounted within the frame... currently bidding at just under CDN $500.

The image above is a winner’s trophy from the 1984 Ontario Labatt Tankard, aka the provincial men’s championship.

Other stuff includes pins from the the 1970 MacDonalds Brier and 1965 Canadian Schoolboy Championship, and a bronze medal from the 1987 Olympic Curling Trials (then known as the Labatt National Curling Trials).

And there’s more to come.

Curling historians, journalists or just about anyone half-adept with an internet connection will no doubt be able to guess the team(s) from which this curler hails... or perhaps not? Regardless, he prefers to validate the items at his discretion post-purchase, to the winners.

A great opportunity for a great cause... and now your basement can look like a curling shrine. Click away!


• The 2008 World Wheelchair Curling Championships start Saturday in Sursee, Switzerland ...

• The 2008 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors begin Sunday in Sault Ste. Marie ...

• The 2008 Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championships begin Monday in Ottawa, with Guy Hemmings kicking things off on Sunday. Competition wraps up on Feb. 8 at the Ottawa Curling Club ...

• Have you been to The Pod lately? They’ve Cast their net far and wide with recent chatting from Sherry Middaugh, the Ferb, Simmons third man Jeff Sharp and ’Toba yout Mike McEwan ...

• Watch this space on Sunday for a post on the February issue of The Curling News, which is out right now, and additional curling events upcoming as early as Monday ...

• And finally, did you know that we at The Curling News just love family names from Canada’s prairies? We love seeing them on paper or the computer screen, and trying to pronounce them... even if we know darned well how to pronounce them. But most of the time, we don’t.

Sounds kind of odd, but we are in the business of words... eh?

Take Eugene Hritzuk, who is currently 4-0 at the Sask Senior provincials. We’re quite used to seeing his name, a good ol’ Ukranian moniker.

He’s got opponents named Weppler, and Bohlken... interesting names, but nothing really eye-popping. Randy Graham seems downright boring (sorry, Randy).

Then we come to an opponent named Wendell Charbonneua, who hails from Wadena.

Wendell Charbonneua.

That is so... awesome.

Almost as awesome as Kenny Quewezance, who scored two goals for the Regina Vipers Special Olympics floor hockey team yesterday.

Charbonneua. Quewezance. We love the prairies!

What are some of the best curling “names” you’ve ever heard?

We’ll start off with an actual front-end pair for Sask at the Brier a few years ago... Wyatt Buck and Dallas Duce.

We’re serious ...