Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Schmirler Curlers raise 50K











THORNHILL, Ontario – 154 golf nuts invaded Thornhill Country Club on July 28 for the sixth annual Sandra Schmirler Golf Classic, including Winnipeg’s own world curling champion skip, Jennifer Jones.

In the TCN photo above, shot by TCN Photo Editor Anil Mungal, we can see Jones celebrating an “Alice”. We strongly suggest you click on the image to zoom in, and experience the full-on emotion. Nice shot Anil, and nice try JJ.

The Sandra Schmirler Foundation was the recipient of nearly $50,000 in funds raised – nearly doubling last year’s take – in the event’s first year at the classic course designed by Stanley Thompson. It was there, way back in 1945, that the legendary Byron Nelson won the Canadian Open, his 11th PGA tournament in a row.

It’s a record which still stands today, and a great story, essentially a Canadian golf secret.

Led by top three sponsors The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company (The Dominion), The Taylor Group and Grand Slammers Capital One, the field featured the following curling celebs: 1998 Olympians Mike Harris and Joan McCusker (the hosts), Jones and fellow 2008 world champions Cathy Overton-Clapham, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert, 2007 global champs Glenn Howard, Richard Hart and Brent Laing, Kerry Burtnyk, Sherry Middaugh, former Al Hackner and Ed Werenich lead man Pat Perroud, and many more.

One question: considering the nasty pin placements, how the hey does Team Benny Heebz score a net 59 for the trophy?

And another question. How the hey does a fairly simple live auction for a single member of Team Howard – probably this guy – to appear at The Dominion of Canada Spinal Tap Bonspiel next February turn into a frenzied bonanza of bidding for the services of no less than 10 superstar celebs?

Nearly all of the above – including the Winnipeggers – will now be back at Thornhill in seven months, curling with and against the usual “lunchbucket” crowd.

Awesome.

What else for this Wednesday?


• More golf stuff as curling legend Russ Howard and hockey legend Bobby Orr were celebrity additions – and special ball strikers – at a major fundraiser in Moncton ...

• Voting has now closed for the Samurai Curling T-shirt design, with 1,097 votes cast and 43 comments in total. Thanks to all who signed up to vote, and let’s hope it’s enough to sway the judges ...

• Here’s a Russian media story on last weekend’s Adamant Cup (see posts from July 26-28 for more) ...

• A U.S. High Performance camp recently wrapped up in Green Bay, Wisconsin ...

• Speaking of U.S. curling, here’s a brief video reminder – from Houston, Texas – of the playing conditions most southern U.S. curlers have to deal with ...

• Last April, the print edition of The Curling News ran a story on Collingwood, Ontario’s recent installation of an elevator for wheelchair curling. Now the provincial government has kicked in another $114,000 to create “a new sporting body for youth and adults with disabilities” based at the club ...

• According to this story, Ussita in Italy is hosting curling – temporarily – for the very first time. Perhaps Renato Negro can illuminate us further... and on that note, congratulations Renato, your great Curling Torino blog has been preaching the faith since December 7, 2006 and recently hit the 50,000 visitor mark!

You can see Renato himself – proudly branded TORINO – in this YouTube video ...

• And finally, it must be April Fool’s Day, correct? No?

So this is a real story?

Because if it is a spoof, then it should be a lot funnier... right?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vote Samurai: final day























Looks like there’s just one more day – Tuesday – in which to vote for the Samurai Curling T-shirt design (above).

When we first informed the masses of the chance for this super tee, 410 people had cast their vote and 24 had commented. Now, 956 have voted – with 39 comments – and while the response is great we are really down to the wire.

This all sounds good but we need more to really impress the judges. Only 10 or so designs get chosen every couple of weeks, and that’s out of some 300 entries. A quick look at other designs on the Threadless.com site indicates lots of strong competition.

So please help: register at the site here and then cast your 5 out-of 5 vote here for the Samurai Curling design. Don’t forget to indicate that you’d be willing to buy – you will not be held to any committment – and please make an ├╝ber-positive comment.

Hurry hard!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Murdoch wins, Gushue praised


















It’s all over in St. Petersburg, Russia, where David Murdoch’s Scottish champions upended Canada’s Brad Gushue, the 2006 Olympic champion, by a 6-3 score in the final.

Pal Trulsen’s 2002 Olympic champs won the bronze, defeating one of the Russian entries 5-4.

In the semifinals, Gushue edged Trulsen 6-5 in an extra-end while Murdoch took out the Russians 7-4.

In the WCT-E photo above (click to zoom in), we note a few things:

1. The event trophies are huge but the individual trophies are quite small!

2. Gushue (far left) deserves an award for fearlessly perching on the very edge of the silver podium without taking a tumble, while his teammates - front enders no less! – stand comfortably in safety. Lead stone Jamie Korab even gets to hold the big trophy!

3. Peter Smith of Scotland – the big guy – has just won way too many trophies in his long career.

4. Who is the new Norwegian lead? We thought coach Ole Ingvaldsen was actually throwing rocks during the week.

5. Note the coloured confetti on the ice. It probably exploded up into the air when the Scots received their championship trophy. But they probably didn’t bounce up and down, chanting, for fear of collapsing the podium.

6. Finally, we note the cool hair and duds on the Master of Ceremonies. That guy has it goin’ on.

So, it’s all over, and the event certainly looked to be a resounding success. We’ve got some comments from World Curling Tour Europe ED Armin Harder, who spoke to TCN about the Canadians:

“The Gushue boys are true sportsmen... they are great ambassadors for the game and for their country. The European Tour really appreciates their flying all that way from Newfoundland. They’ve been the stars here and an enormous boost to our cause, and a pleasure to have along.”

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Russia: on-ice action


















NEWSFLASH: The Gushues defeat Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud 6-3 on Saturday afternoon, and move their win/loss record to 3-0.

Poor Ulsrud... the defending world bronze medallist is now 0-3, having lost his first two matches to Russian teams by scores of 7-3 and 5-4. Yikes.

In this game action photo, the photographer obviously stepped from the sideline right onto the ice behind Gushue third Mark Nichols! Will this be a new photojournalism rule for the 2014 Olympic curling event in Sochi?

More later...

WCT-E photo courtesy Armin Harder (click photo for zoom image)

Curling Korab reports from Russia














Hey look! It’s Team Gushue’s Jamie Korab, right here on the TCN Blog!

What’s up, Jamie? How is Russia?


What was supposed to be a 24 hour travel day turned into 30 hours... after a late departure from St. John’s – three hours late due to fog – we missed every connection. Even the flight we did make in England got cancelled for some reason. Oh well. St. John’s - Toronto - London - Frankfurt - St. Petersburg.

We made it in at 12 midnight. So much for sightseeing – we pretty much off to bed.

News conference and then we played two games yesterday against two Russian teams. First game was started perfect by Korab – two draws called, one in the hack, one hogged. Whoops – setting the bar low for the season! Everyone was a little green when they started, but we really came around in the second half of our first six-end game.

We won the first game 8-1 and also won the second one by a 7-5 score. The ice is wicked – it’s 23.5 seconds with about three-to-four feet of curl. It gets a little frosty, maybe due to the fact that it’s in a shopping mall!


Don’t forget to check results here, and we’ll also put a plug in for the Team Gushue Facebook group, which is even bigger than our Facebook group (harumph!). You can visit there for the team schedule, photos, info and so on.

More from Russia coming soon!

WCT-E photo courtesy Armin Harder... click photo to increase size

Friday, July 25, 2008

Samurai Curling: vote now























We want this new curling T-shirt.

The problem is, it doesn’t exist. Yet.

We need YOUR help to create it. Right now.

Threadless.com is an ongoing T-shirt design competition. Anyone can submit a design and if it scores enough points, and is chosen by the Threadless crew, the shirt will be printed and sold from the site... but only for a limited time.

A brilliant wizard we shall endlessly praise, who goes by the name of Scipp (real name is Niek van Wingerden, age 26) has created a simply whack samurai curling design (above). You can click on the image to see it larger, and the page link is here.

To “vote” for this design, you need to join the Threadless community via this link, then go to the above design, and then score the shirt on a scale of 0-5... zero is bad, so hit 5, of course!

We also want you click the boxes for “I’d buy it”, both T-shirt and print, and we also strongly suggest you leave a positive comment.

These are the tools Threadless.com uses to gauge the response to the T-shirt designs. No one is forced to actually purchase it if it wins, and goes into production.

Voting ends sometime after Monday night, July 28.

Threadless.com looks at the top 300 designs every couple of weeks and picks out only 10-or-so designs to print, based solely on the design score, comments, and the number of “I’d buy it” clicks. Ultimately the decision of which shirts get printed are left up to them, and there is heavy competition.

Our blogreaders have stepped up before... remember the Indy Curling racecar?

Well, it’s time to step up again. Let’s show these guys – and Scipp – that curling is definitely cool, by registering and voting for this shirt!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Russia’s Adamant Curling Cup


















The ADAMANT St.Petersburg Curling Cup is just about ready to start. As you will recall, six international teams will battle it out along with Russian locals in an exhibition series hosted in a shopping mall.

Ice tech Peter Luck, at left in this photo (above) from Tuesday, is the man tasked with bringing the ice to life. Luck, who is 59, has over 30 years of experience in Switzerland – at Wallisellen, near Zurich – and has been the chief ice tech for the past five or so World Wheelchair Championships. He also steered a previous World Juniors in addition to active crew duty at previous World and European Championships.

He’ll head to Vancouver in 2010 for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but first... St. Petersburg!

Action starts tomorrow and concludes on Sunday. The Brad Gushue, David Murdoch and Thomas Ulsrud teams are at full strength, while Pal Trulsen has coach Ole Ingvaldsen at lead stone and Andy Kapp has his brother Uli, who is recuperating from knee surgery, also at lead.

Follow the action here and stay tuned to this here blog site... we just might have some surprises posted through the event.

What else, you ask?


• Following another invasion of New Zealand, the Aussies have declared their World Mixed Doubles team for the 2009 Cortina Worlds ...

This is the best darned curling ice in Michigan! So there!

• Here’s early notice that the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club will be a part of a “get psyched for 2010” Olympic-themed open house on Aug. 24... their club blog is located here ...

Memories of the Thistle (Hamilton, Ontario version) ... and here’s what it looks like these days, sadly ...

Here’s a peek at new Canadian Curling Association Governor Jim Campbell ...

• And finally: ever wanted to help map out historical curling locations in Scotland?

Of course you have!

All you need is a computer and high-speed connection. The ancient sport’s archivists are looking for your help – click here for the scoop!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Curling.ca Revamped


















The Canadian Curling Association has a revamped website.

As first glance will tell you, it is now very, very busy... some may even complain it almost overwhelms the senses. But if the mission is to bombard the viewer with as much curling content as possible, they have succeeded, and all that remains is to see if they can maintain the intensity throughout this critical pre-Olympic curling season.

Speaking of the critical pre-Olympic curling season, the oft-maligned CTRS Trials process has its own button, with no less than five descriptive sub-pages. Will this effort finally halt the quizzical stares shared coast to coast... or will they actually increase?

Of interest is the current top news story, scalped from yesterday’s St. John’s Telegram – with full credit, of course. There was a day when the only “news” fit to appear on curling.ca was that of the org’s own news releases. Could this story, which highlights a Canadian team’s upcoming appearance in a clearly non-CCA event halfway around the world, signal a new era of news dissemination?

Of great interest is the new commitment, by staff, to the blogosphere. Warren Hansen’s The Last End, a fixture in CCA publications since the days of black-and-white printing presses, is now online, as are blogs from National Development Coach Paul Webster, located here, and Event and Curling Club Development man Danny Lamoureux, located here.

Will The Boss eventually have a blog?

And we guess we won’t be, er, borrowing any CCA talent for blogposts here at The Curling News, eh?

We also note a tighter relationship between this relaunched site and that of the Season of Champions event site, which leads off with a much bigger splash for their Canadian-hosted events.

All in all, a solid revamp of what is still, after all these years, an important site for the promotion of the sport. After all, the CCA website still comes up No. 1 on a Google search of “curling”, ahead of – in order – Wikipedia, the TSN curling page, the horrible, awful dog’s breakfast which is, sadly, curling.com (no link provided) and even the World Curling Federation.


Elsewhere:

revRecluse continues to unearth – and play with – great curling board games from days gone by. His latest is a glorious Hubley from the 1960s, featuring a delicious concave playing surface ...

• The Bismark Summer Spiel featured a wheelchair curling team for the first time, and there’s video here ...

• Finally, this doesn’t read merely “irreverent” to us. In fact, this sure reads like a rip. Curling compared to... competitive eating? If you agree with our sourness and wish to direct some venom, do so to Flairview Travel Pty Ltd., 680 George Street, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2000. Telephone is either (02) 8263 5100 or +612.82635151, we can’t tell which. Perhaps SuperBacon can find us an email address? ...

Friday, July 18, 2008

New Team Corner

















Was the retirement a sham, or did he simply change his mind?

Is the tour schedule light, or heavy?

Whatever – Ontario’s Peter Corner (Insight Sports photo by Dallas Bittle) is back for another season, and was putting fresh ink on his new team contract as we were busy blogging.

It’s not a shabby squad, either.

While Mike Harris captains the old Team Corner, Pete’s new mates are ex-Wayne Middaugh pals Graeme McCarrel and Ian Tetley, with Brad Savage at lead stone.

Five world titles in that lineup. As we said, not too shabby.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All hail our Curling History














Today’s blogpost is aimed at delivering well-earned congratulations and thanks to... another blog site.

Two sites, actually.

Many readers know that Curling Today is the official blog of The Scottish Curler, a wonderful curling news publication which happens to be older than dirt... just like ours!

As such, many readers should already be aware that a new companion blog has been launched, Curling History. This one is a partnership between SC honcho Bob Cowan and reknowned curling historian Sheriff David B. Smith.

The new blog has a sharp focus on all things faded and blurry: namely, the ancient history of our Roaring Game. And as readers are aware of our recent 50th anniversary and the celebration of all things, er, older than dirt... readers can be assured that we are quite interested in this new blog. And we invite you to get interested, too.

Our three favourite postings thus far, in reverse order, are:

3. How many have drowned? – why have we never heard stories of outdoor curlers crashing through the ice, nor seen photos nor drawings of such disasters? Well, now we have them!

2. Kerr’s History of Curling online - serious kudos to Bob on this one: we spotted the Electric Scotland curling initiative back in mid-May but neglected to run the story. And now the tale has been told in such better fashion! All we shall add are these quotes from Electric Scotland founder Alastair McIntyre:

Since publishing the first chapter, the webmaster of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club sent me a link to the History of the Strathcona Cup, which Id added to the page. As he personally played in the last Scotland vs. Canada match, in Canada, I’m hoping he’ll do me a wee article about it and send in some pictures from it.

I would thus be happy to publish the first edition of Canadian Curling News if you would supply a copy!

Finally, as it happens I have had on my site for some time a wee curling game, which I commissioned back in Scotland. It goes nicely with a similar Caber Toss game!

Thanks, and well done, Alastair. And as we at TCN are well-known curling videophiles, here’s the link to the game.

And finally, our favourite:

1. Silver Broom, Perth, 1975 – ah yes, long-hidden colour photos of a magnificent event, now unearthed in the digital age. This is what it’s all about, folks. And Bob was there, of course, snapping the images of a previous, and glorious, curling era.

We have appropriated one of his pics for our story photo, above, as it shows a skillful western-Canadian-style tuck delivery in action, a delivery that was to become even more famous in the 1980s. Any guesses as to who this is, people?


Elsewhere:

• Famed front-ender Scott Pfeifer has a fractured fifth metatarsal in his sliding foot, and is now armed – er, legged – with a cast and crutches. Seems the second man for Team Randy Ferbey rolled his ankle in a workout on Monday, but aims to be back on the ice for late September ...

• Did you happen to spot the comment after our previous posting? Andrew T from the CCC reports that his group of curling diehards are abandoning the hockey arena and will move into a leased warehouse, and make their own ice in the facility. A huge undertaking indeed, and we certainly wish our Columbus friends all the best ...

• Need your summer curling fix? Here’s the final rocks of the Tropicurl in Pittsburgh, at which the Tam Heather skip made this nifty draw to force a tough last brick from his U.S. opponent, who missed the mark. But our favourite is this one, illustrating the Kids’ defeat of the Geezers ...

• The Gravenhurst, Ontario summer spiel is always a good time ...

• A new European Junior Curling Tour has been announced, with more here. There are three stops announced thus far and the project is steered by the Danish curling coach Sune Frederiksen (Czech Republic) with help from Norway’s Ole Ingvaldsen and Scotland’s Rhona Martin. This welcome initiative is sure to grow, and kudos to WCT-E ...

• Here’s a pretty good wipeout in Strasbourg, France ...

This one is a beauty: an off-the-wall gem outdoors in the fading sun ...

Bob Weeks talks golf and curling on The Curling Show ...

• In what was labelled by London’s venerable Daily Mail as “one of the most audacious recruitment raids since Australia poached a million Britons in the 1950s and 60s”, the Canadian province of Alberta has been calling on Britons to emigrate to Canada, and curling has apparently been mentioned as a lure. Well, then ...

• Here’s another sales page for the silly but cute Ice Cube Curling, and here’s an online promo, too ...

• And finally, commercial spots that poke fun at curling are nothing new, and we only fail to appreciate those which lack decent humour. But does anyone fail to see the irony in a sports betting company taking such a potshot? Canada’s Richard Daneault and Carter Rycroft star in this one from Spain – against their will, and that of CBC-TV, no doubt ...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Doo Dah Curling















The Doo Dah Parade is a popular and utterly farcical show held once a year in Columbus, Ohio, on July 4. It’s modelled after the original Doo-Dah Parade which began in Pasadena, California in 1976 as an avant-garde response to the traditional formality of the Rose Parade.

Naturally, it’s the participant groups that make the very colourful scene. Groups like the legendary “Marching Fidels,” a gang of men and women who dress like Fidel Castro, take siestas along the parade route and conscript bystanders into the “Cuban army”, dressing them in camouflage and forcing them to march in the parade.

In recent years, groups such as The Fishnet Mafia, the Wilber Hills Country Club, Feature Creatures Haunted Acting Troup of Central Ohio, Deri Air, the Ohio Roller Girls, and the Doo Dah Band have taken part. And now, as this ambergris photo illustrates, a group from the local curling club has done so, too (click for larger image).

Judging takes place along the route and participants bribe judges to vote for their entries.

Wonder how the curlers did?


Elsewhere:

• Are there really any fears that the Guelph Curling Club might be closing? No way, we say, but here’s a recent blogpost that just might throw a scare ...

• Oooh, looky at this very cool old curling board game ...

• Here’s a couple of Curling 101 webposts from around the world; this one from Japan and this one from Croatia (we think)

• One-time import curler SSS, in Indiana, has just discovered curling in his own backyard...

• ... and SSS was the first person to register at this online curling group ...

• Sad to see the Midsummer spiel in Nelson, B.C. go the way of the dodo after this week’s 64th anniversary tourney ...

• The Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin will share in a $500,000 “Olympic Opportunity Fund” grant being issued by the United States Olympic Association to 24 organizations. We guess their share, marked for curling initiatives, will be over 20K ...

• And finally, that’s a large paint job for San Jose’s San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club ...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Olympic Curling 2018

















Curling fans are slowly going bonkers over the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games – don’t forget, tickets are on sale in early October – and of course we then have Sochi, Russia in 2014.

In fact, it was one year ago today that Sochi got the nod from the International Olympic Committee, shocking many observers (including us).

What comes next, in 2018?

Well, PyeongChang, South Korea is bidding again, having lost to both Vancouver and Sochi. In fact, it says here the Koreans will bid over and over and over until they win it. Simple as that.

Munich, Germany will be bidding, and despite the proximity of Sochi to Europe, the Germans are a major threat to win.

Tromso, Norway, is going to bid and 2002 Olympic curling champion skip Pal Trulsen has thrown his support behind the bid. They are first out of the hack with a website; a Facebook page, located here (you must be a Facebook member to view it)... and here’s a cool promotional video... love the big rings located on the mountain facing the main stadium!

And in a clear acknowledgment that a bid will go forward, there is even an official opposition group already online. But of course.

The Americans are interested, but if Chicago wins the race to host the 2014 Summer Games, any Yankee winter hopes – probably centered on Denver, Colorado – are gone.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarians and Serbians are reportedly combining on a joint bid; the French are infighting over bidding on summer or winter; the Swiss (in Geneva) need a referendum to proceed, the Swedes are exploring their options, and even some southern hemisphere locales (like New Zealand) are thinking about it. But not Durban, South Africa, as some had recently believed.

All formal bids are due in January, 2009.


Anything else?

• Once again, the glorious sport of curling was included in many a news outlet’s annual Canada Day Quiz... such as this one here. However, the answer featured a horrendous inaccuracy – can you spot it?

• It was, of course, Canada Day on July 1... and today, on this fourth of July, we say Happy Birthday to our American friends. There is, by the way, lots of curling action going on down south these days:

Texas Dan recently celebrated 50 years of Frisco curling and also illustrates another 50-year anniversary, in Green Bay, Wisconsin – and you’re telling us curling is located right across the street from this iconic shrine? Are you kidding?!

– San Jose has not one but two open house days scheduled for next week, and at two different locations to boot;

– curling maniac Richard Maskel won a new summer spiel in Port Huron, Michigan... with extra photos located here. The photographer was Keith, by the way;

– New York’s Coach Heidt, a hockey and lacrosse buff, was recently intrigued with curling;

– there are curling stones rarin’ to be tossed at the new Chaparral Ice rink in Austin, Texas;

– how about Indianapolis? Yep, here’s the story (plus video);

– Team Debbie McCormick second Nicole Joraanstad – a 2007 calendar girl – was recently voted Madison Sportswoman of the Year for 2008;

– the Pittsburgh Tropical is going on, like, right now;

– and those loveable tinseltowners in Los Angeles are making news, again... first they were somehow part of a Dodger Stadium pre-game award presentation to pro baseball player Russell Martin; and now CurlTV has finally drawn a bead on them. Their latest funspiel goes tomorrow ...

This silly hockey story caught our eye: specifically the reference to past disputes between Canada’s CBC-TV Sports and the world of curling. We simply love the line “... sparked hundreds of thousands of angry curling fans to threaten a march on CBC headquarters with lit brooms and pitchforks” ...

• Here’s an odd little curling cartoon, from Italy:

• Here’s a curling league software package for $79.95; someone tell us if it’s any good ...

Peter dropped by Naseby, New Zealand, and checked out the only dedicated curling facility located in the southern hemisphere of planet Earth. Soon to come is a luge ride (just scroll down a bit) ...

• The Winnipeg Brier has raked in a half-million dollars in profit ...

• And finally, the Canadian Curling Association was in Prince George, site of the 2000 STOH, for a venue inspection for the 2009 Pre-Trials Qualifier. Story plus photo here, and video here ...