Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Curling Into the Black

Today’s news release on the recent Canadian Curling Association “National Curling Congress” and AGM weekend (photo above) reminds us all that curling politics continue in this early summer.

It also reminds us that not too long ago, Canadian media hounds were draped all over such gatherings, buzzing and speculating over the troubles that seemed to flow endlessly out of Gloucester.

No more. The hounds are fast asleep and today’s news is all good, thus keeping the curling journos in hibernation. And what’s wrong with that, eh?

CCA is now fully in the black, have paid off the entire unfunded deficit, and has started its first-ever financial reserve. This year also featured the largest surplus in CCA history.

The number that was formerly marked in red would appear to be $556,468, by the way, not $1.4 million. In fact, 1.4 M happens to be the amount of the new surplus.

As such, new employment positions might even be in the offing as the CCA analyzes current operations. There are a number of aspects that are desperately needed, especially considering the departure of two longtime employees in 2007.

With this kind of news, it’s clear to see a revitalized spirit of cooperation and outlook for Canadian curling making its way around the boardroom table.

“We are extremely pleased to have had such a banner year,” said CCA CEO Greg Stremlaw, who assumed his role last October. “While our athlete performances at the world level were outstanding, it was the financial performance of the organization that I’m extremely proud of as well.

“This is a significant financial turnaround for the CCA but everyone realizes there is still a great deal of work to be done to totally stabilize the association for the future. I’m committed to running the CCA as a business and the entire organization is forging ahead with renewed fiscal responsibility.”

Which brings us to elections. Fran Todd, a former prez of the Ontario Curling Association and longtime Senior champion (Canada and world, with skips Anne Dunn and Jill Greenwood) is the new Chair of the Board of Governors, and the Peace region’s Graham Prouse is the new Vice Chair.

Todd beat out New Brunswick’s Beth Sullivan in the all-female run to the top job.

You may have noticed some new lingo in the above. True enough, new governance motions and policies were approved which sees the former CCA Board of Directors now changed to CCA Board of Governors, and all (former) Directors are now referred to as Governors. As such, for the first time the CCA no longer has a President - but rather a Chair of the Board. Same with the veep.

Two brand new faces on the Board mirror the home provinces of the new Presi – er, Chair and Vice-Chair: Jim Campbell is an Ontarian and Laura Lochanski hails from Alberta.

Former CCA President Al Forsythe of Moncton retired from the board as did Georgina Anderson of Manitoba.

In another new twist, voting will now be permitted electronically.

CCA has also confirmed that the next two NCCs and AGMs (2009 and 2010) will be hosted in Ottawa.

Todd is pumped about the future. “I’m really looking forward to it,” she told us. “It’s going to be an exciting year.”

Friday, June 20, 2008

Careful With That Axe, Eugene

OK... does anyone know this yahoo?

According to police in Vernon, British Columbia, this nitwit took a few chunks out of the Vernon Curling Club with an axe. Of all the noive!

You can read the brief story here, which includes another photo.

Turns out this happened on March 18, just before the start of the most awesome
2008 Ford World Women’s Championship. Of course, you recall what happened during that tourney – more crime!

There was a happy ending to that tale, however, as the Vernon community raised over $10,000 to reimburse the affected teams. Now, hopefully this axe-wielding dingbat will get what’s coming to him.

Still with B.C., the CCA has opened its 2009 Scotties TOH office in Victoria; the story is here and another photo can be found here.

What else is happening, you ask?

• One of our favourites, The Weakerthans, have made a video for their curling song, Tournament of Hearts. It’s an odd work of art shot in black and white which mixes genuine ancient curling footage with modern fakery. Watch for lovelorn curlers standing on tables at your club this coming fall, yelling “Why?” ...

• The Capital One Grand Slam event schedule has been released, and Richard Hart from Team Glenn Howard is pumped.

“It’s a great schedule,” Hart told The Curling News Blog. “Quebec last year hosted an amazing Slam, and Winnipeg has been a great Slam market the last couple of years. We won the Slam when it was held in Waterloo, so that will be great for us. And I hear the women’s worlds in Grande Prairie was awesome a few years ago, so bring it on.”

• Remember Rockstar Curling? Sure you do.

There was some general moping when the proposed curling reality show delayed tryout announcements until the coming fall, but the project still seems to be a go. A new official-looking YouTube membership was recently taken out, with not one but two videos posted in the last 24 hours. PS: have you signed up yet?

• Not one but two former WCF presidents have fallen: Dr. Don Barcome Sr. in the United States, and Canada’s Clif Thompson ...

Team World at December’s Continental Cup will feature Chinese teams for the first time, plus two rather big names behind the bench, as coach and captain ...

• The 2009 World Mixed Doubles Championships will take place in Cortina, Italy, the site of the 2010 World Men’s. The event runs late, in mid-April ...

John Morris – and many, many others - beware: Scotland is making a move to punish the elite of the sport for leaning, grabbing and otherwise flopping on the ice after throwing. Other countries are sure to follow suit ...

• In curling club news, they’ve broken ground for the new Windsor CC in Nova Scotia; Quebec’s CC Lanaudiere is in trouble; and The Oshawa will survive: following last month’s ominous news, an extremely well-attended meeting has produced a new president and also a new plan of action.

“We’ll be putting together an aggressive membership campaign and are looking forward to another season of terrific curling on great ice!” said past president Rob Faulds.

We also hear the Toronto Curling Association has been helpful... but what of the Ontario Curling Association?

• And finally, the Quote of the Week comes from 1998 Olympic champ and CBC curling commentator Joan McCusker, regarding the influx of volunteers and sports fans from Saskatchewan who are expected during the upcoming winter Olympics:

“You know what that means – a lot of watermelon helmets going on in Vancouver 2010.”

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

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Curling Stompers

This one is all about Stomping. And music. Oh, and curling, of course. And about links... lots and lots of links.

Blogreaders know we love music, and it’s connection to curling. Whether we happen to really love the artist, or, er, despise a particular song, or just recognize a curling connection.

So we simply cannot pass up the opportunity to throw a picture of Canadian music legend Stompin’ Tom Connors up here.

So what’s the connection?

Well, a new play focussing on this legendary character just may vault a Middaugh to Hollywood stardom. No, we;re not talking about Sherry or Wayne... we’re talking about their young daughter, Kelly.

As this story tells, Kelly starts her non-school acting career today (and running through June 21) playing the Stompin’ Tom’s sister in a local production.

Speaking of stomping, we ran a great photo of Arnold Asham in our April edition of The Curling News – did you catch it? Arnold was stomping it up at the Brier in Winnipeg, and our intrepid Jill Officer was on site to get the photos... and now there’s a few videos online, located here and also via a ton of YouTube links here, of his Stompers doing their thing at various events, including the men’s worlds in Grand Forks a few weeks later.

OK, still think that this curling-music thing is a little weak? How about this: Peter Loewen is just loving the curling song by The Weakerthans, and lo and behold, that song was dedicated to a Scottish fan – and music journo – at a Weakerthans’ gig in Birmingham, England the other night.

Still very weak?

OK, then... now we’ll let your fingers do all the talking ...

• Team Kelly Scott has been inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame ...

• Team Michelle Englot is moving on with a new third; former vice-skip Darlene Kidd is hanging them up, and will be marrying Scott Bailey of Team Wayne Middaugh in July ...

• The Sun says Manitoba curling needs some help, pronto, while the Freep says good luck with that ...

• 14-year Saskatchewan Curling Association boss Stan Martin has died, at age 78 ...

• Olympic champion fifth Mike Adam has gone home to Lab City ...

• Kirkland Lake CC in northern Ontario needs new brine pipes, and they’ve raised two-thirds ($50,000) of the funds needed so far ... meanwhile, Alberta’s Fort Saskatchewan club wants a 50K loan, and Saskatoon’s now-defunct Hub City CC has reopened... as... this ...

• Congrats to Moncton’s Lorne Mitton, a former CCA president and overall curling dynamo, on his recent retirement from the mayor’s office ...

• Who is all for curling in Fenland, England? Well, this fellow is, and we are, too ...

• What, more curling club arson mayhem? This time in Chilliwack, B.C., which hosted the 2006 Continental Cup of Curling ...

• Brampton’s Dave Stewart has made it into his town’s Sports Hall of Fame, and as first reported a month or so ago, northern Ontario curling coach Tom Coulterman gets inducted into his hometown sports hall tonight ...

• They’re still curling in Bratislava, Slovakia ...

• And finally, ESPN sports legend Chris Berman was asked about curling.

Whadaya know, Boomer?

“Curling – not a lot. It’s a big thing, it goes slow, you sweep it with a broom... It’s interesting, it’s good humour – or, as you say up here, hu-more. But I’ll be the first to admit – don’t ask me to dissect the world curling championships.”

How come it’s so popular up here and not in the States?

“Don’t know the rules. Doesn’t mean it couldn’t – especially late at night with the bar crowd.”