Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Big page for Women of Curling calendar

We were right smack in the middle of December’s Continental Cup coverage, and there it was. Another feature on the 2009 Women of Curling calendar, this time from the Edmonton Sun.

The story – and cover pic – dominated an entire page on curling of the Sun, above... and oh, how we wish other media markets were as curling-committed as those in Alberta.

You can click on the image and squint to read the story (at bottom), or you can just click here.

Some U.S. journos were reading, too. TCN publisher George Karrys has a zowie quote in there – about athlete/model Christine Keshen and her, er, hat – and the quip was picked up in the Seattle Times, and then by the Connecticut Post, and then in California’s Modesto Bee before finally making it to the big time: USA Today.

Looks like the calendar media melee may never end.

You can, of course, purchase the calendar and support the Women of Curling in their fundraising efforts by clicking here, and visiting the pages which follow.

You can also dial 1-800-605-CURL, or for anyone outside of North America, call +1 905 887 1261.

Anything else before we leave 2008?

• Check out our next blogpost for a preview of the January 2009 issue of The Curling News, now in the mail and available via subscription ...

• DID YOU KNOW: that Glenn Howard lost first game of the Ontario zone playdowns – no pre-qualification systems exist in that province, folks – and had to scramble through the B-side to make it to round two? Well, now you know.

And by the way, two of Ontario’s four regional playdowns (Jan. 3-4) will see the following first round games: Howard versus Peter Corner (in Elmira) and Wayne Middaugh versus Mike Harris, at St. George’s in Toronto ...

Bob Weeks liked our Eye on the Ice hockey story and he’s suggesting that somebody should host one for curling, too. Weeksy has also volunteered his top 10 curling stories for 2007-08: agree?

• The “friendliest” curling event in the area (of Sept-Iles, Quebec) wraps up today ...

• And speaking of Quebec, who says that province’s regional curling coverage is dead? Le Quotidien has always covered the local scene, as shown here ...

• Four-time Brier competitor Pat Simmons is a co-winner of Moose Jaw’s Male Athlete of the Year award ...

• Do you read Romanian? Here’s a curling feature for you ...

• Lots of U.S. curling stuff to pass along. First there’s this curling feature from the Phoenix Business Journal, which is available in full only to subscribers (sob)... Vermont Public radio has a neat story here... the Canucks in Bawston had a merry time... and this humourist (“satirical witmeister”) from the American Reporter claims to have moved from typical curling ignoramus (“typical curling ignoramus”) to obsessive fanboy without yet throwing a stone.

Well, the next chance for him – and other Indianians – to do so takes place in Indianapolis on Jan. 6 and 8 ...

• And finally, we almost forgot about those Rutabaga Curling guys... so here you go again ...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Curling Eye on Hockey’s Winter Classic

The NHL pro hockey league will be using curling’s famed Eye on the Ice system for the annual outdoor Winter Classic at famed Wrigley Field on New Year’s day.

You can see the field of play being finalized here, also captured above, via web-cam.

The electronic system was created by curling ice maestro Hans Wuthrich, and despite the go-slow approach of NHL facilities guy Dan Craig, it’s only a matter of time – and money – before the system makes its way into each NHL building.

As it should.

The story itself is located here.

Shortly after Chicago, Wuthrich will jet to Ontario for round two of the Casino Rama Curling Skins Game, a TV extravaganza we covered last year a) rather b) extensively (and in many blogposts in between) ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Curling Christmas

After the sad news from Saskatoon (see previous blogpost) we simply must get the holiday spirit rolling again.

As such, check out these Christmas curling fans.

These are actually competitors... the French men’s team skipped by Thomas Dufour, along with some of their women’s counterparts, watching championship action at the recent Le Gruyère European Championships in O’vik.

These guys are developing quite a reputation for unusual wardrobe choices. At the last men’s worlds in Grand Forks, they all sported crazy Caribbean-style straw hats. It looked even funnier when Dufour was called out to the ice – hat and all – to receive the Collie Campbell Award, as the athlete who best combined sportsmanship with playing ability.

So what could be planned for the 2009 Ford Worlds in Moncton, we wondered?

“We already know,” said second Richard Ducroz, whose face is exposed – !! – in the photo.

“But we are not telling anyone. It’s a good one!”

And in other Christmas Curling News:

• The infamous video from the inaugural Santa Curling Championships in Kent, England is rapidly making the rounds across the world. But only The Curling News can show you each incarnation.

First, there’s this report, but there is also a second report, from ITN, featuring different interviews. Finally, there’s some of the source video with natural sound, located here.

Bob Cowan and company offer a Merry Merry from Scotland, and we echo his call!

• So does the gang in Virden, Manitoba ...

• Here’s a nifty Christmas Curling T-shirt ...

• These guys held a recent Christmas Curling Extravaganza ...

• This Christmas curling videogame WAS quite cool, but is no longer available (sob) ...

This looked to be quite the event, too ...

• And what happens when the ice gives way? Why, we have Santa polar bears, of course ...

• Finally, don’t forget to rent Santa’s Slay, a rather hideous film which explains the true story of Santa Claus; how he is really the son of Satan, who used to go on a killing spree every Christmas until an angel took on human form and challenged him to... a curling match.

Seriously. We are not making this up.

The angel in disguise won the match, and by the terms of their agreement, Santa was forced to spread joy on Christmas instead of death for a thousand years. And wouldn’t you know it, a thousand years is up ... today!

Unbelievable, we know.

Merry Ho Ho, everyone!

RIP Ron Mills

The former third man for Rick Folk in 1980, Brier and World Curling Champion Ron Mills passed away Monday at age 65, of cancer.

In 1980 Folk, Mills, and the dominant corn-sweeping Wilson brothers, Tom and Jim, brought Canada its first world curling championship since 1972. The squad were the ones to finally break “The Curse of Labonte” which had been delivered that fateful year (’72) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

This was also Saskatchewan’s last Brier championship title.

In later years Mills was giving back to curling in a big way. He was one of Canada’s few Level Four coaches, and he was also the head statistician for the first five Continental Cup of Curling events. He was sorely missed at the sixth edition this past week in Camrose, as word of his poor health made the rounds.

An obit story from his hometown of Saskatoon can be found here.

Photo courtesy Saskcurl. Ron Mills is second from left.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Continental Curling: Team World Wins

CAMROSE – Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud lost the final skins matchup to Kevin Martin 40-15 but all he had to do was win two skins to clinch the sixth Continental Cup for Team World.

And he did just that in the fourth end on his last stone, a somewhat gentle double-raise takeout for two and the championship skin. The whooping set off a chain reaction and the Norwegians ran to their player’s bench, where they were mobbed by their teammates.

This S&L Photography pic by Sean Mascaluk (above) captured Ulsrud with his game face on.

Much will be written about this event – possibly the last ever held – which was alternately dullish, thrilling and controversial, too. This is a good place to start, but we’ll point to more in the days to come.

But that’s for later. To the championship reception we go! (Ssh, we’re crashing...)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Explosive Curling

CAMROSE – The Edgeworth Centre blew its roof off this morning.

As The Fed explains, bystanders like Kevin Martin were positively giddy.

“Sport doesn’t get any better than that,” Martin raved.

“I don’t care what sport you’re talking about. That was great shooting. It’s amazing shit.”

The photo above was taken by Sean Mascaluk, of S&L Photography right here in Camrose. Sean captured John Morris seconds after he became the fifth curler out of eight to nail the pinhole in a wild all-team sudden-death shootout series.

Following singles play this afternoon, the World now leads North America 119 to 81, and here comes skins curling: men’s, women’s and mixed again tonight, and the big enchilada finale tomorrow.

Here’s a pic of Team Toth, the Austrian national women’s team.

And we now direct you to, and ask you to click on, their team website.

Much like our recent women’s calendar regurgitation, we are trying to boost hits for the Austrian girls in the hopes of burying their old team website URL, which still gets empty traffic hits at this time of year.

The ladies are lovely, even if one Toth sister (Claudia) is no longer on the team (sister Karina Toth now skips). And when websurfers seek them out – probably using the search terms “nude” and “calendar” along with “Toth” – they are directed to their old, conked-out website address.

The problem here is that they lost their old address, and it is now owned by some unscrupulous character.

That’s right... the girls were robbed!

“The old one does not work anymore,” said second Constanze “Stanzi” Hummelt.

“Someone else stole our address and won’t give it back to us. So we have a new one now, and we hope people can find us.”

What a scuzzball this someone else is! A pox on thee, vermin!

So with the power of The Curling News Blog and its faithful readers, please give a click or three to the ladies...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Con Cup Curling Dude in Camrose

CAMROSE – It’s almost 30 below outside, and we’re staying here inside, thank-you-very-much.

The Continental Cup’s “four days of mayhem” are now into Day Two, and the whole thing is as controversial as ever.

And this guy thinks he’s funny.

Meanwhile, North America’s Ben Hebert, above (CCA photo by Michael Burns) thinks he’s cool. We might ask his teammates if he is, in fact, cool. And we might even report back to you on what they said!

Maybe we’ll ask Johnny Mo. He is definitely cool. And bad-ass.

We happen to think Heebz is cool. He wrote an opinion piece for us last year, and we liked it. So did many of you.

He also threw a brush into the stands – unintentionally – at a Slam last season. That was cool. Whoopsie-cool.

Benny also took Al Cameron’s digicam into the Brier locker room last spring. That one could’ve been better... we think he should do that again.

Speaking of Cameron, what’s up with the blog, man? Football is long over. Let’s get rolling here. We can’t remain the most emphatically awesome curling blog without a fight... can we?

Remember our original Curling Dude? He’s still high up there in dudeism.

Anyway, you can read some good reports on the Continental Cup at the Fed website. That’s the World Curling Federation, but “The Fed” sounds cool. You can also read more stuff, and check live scoring, over here.

All for now. More later.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Champ Curling

You may have noticed a particular ticket package available at various major Canadian curling championship events: The Champ.

You can get The Champ at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Victoria, February 21 to March 1; the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary, March 7-15 and also at the Ford World Men’s Championship in Moncton, April 4-12.

What you might not have noticed is some pretty cool branding aimed at tempting you to grab these ducats, and get your butt out to some tremendous live curling.

World champ Jennifer Jones was shipped to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club back in September for an outdoor shoot, filled with sunshine and bright blue water backgrounds.

World champ John Morris, meanwhile, was hauled out to Trilogy Studios in Calgary in October for a grimy, sweaty, indoor boxing shoot that suggests you don’t want to mess with the Mo.

You can check out more of Morris’ Champlike efforts online at the Tim Hortons Brier website while Jones’ seafaring ways are located at the Scotties TOH site.

To hear what both athletes said about the photo shoot, well, you’ll just have to grab a copy of the imminent January edition of The Curling News, which you can purchase via subscription right here. Johnny Mo, in particular, is quite funny.

Canadian Curling Association CEO Greg Stremlaw commented that both Morris and Jones were more than merely accommodating.

“Both athletes were true to form of the characteristics that set elite curlers apart from those in other sports,” said Stremlaw.

“I mean, they were totally co-operative to the point they were thanking us for the opportunity to be a part of it.”

There is also a branded campaign underway for the super-big 50th anniversary Ford World Men’s in Moncton, and it is more lighthearted: local hero Russ Howard and curling funnyman Guy Hemmings can be seen clowning around with various props and headgear on the Ford Worlds website.

The Champ is essentially two specially-priced ticket packages that allow you to get the maximum enjoyment out of the final weekend playoff action at these big events.

For all three majors – the Scotties, Brier and Worlds – The Evening Champ consists of three weeknight draws – the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – plus the entire playoff round on Friday, Saturday and Championship Sunday.

The Weekend Champ goes hard on the Thursday – with all three climactic round-robin draws that day – right through the full playoff draws.

There are, of course, other packages available… from full Event Passes to Rocks In Your Socks, a “stocking stuffer” package sold only in pairs for either the full opening weekend or any of the first three weekdays (Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday) of morning and afternoon action.

The Champ Scotties photographer was Al Harvey of Vancouver. Art Director was Rob Glennie of Winnipeg. Concept development by Rod Palson (In House Strategies) and Rob Glennie.

The Champ Brier photographer was Grant Waddell, with art direction from Brad Bell of Calgary. Concept development by IHS and Brad Bell.

Anything else?

• Did you see this National Post feature on Russ?

Well, guess what. The old wheezer did indeed beat ex-teammate Wayne Middaugh in the quarterfinals yesterday before losing to Bob Ursel in the semis, and suddenly the guy with zero points now has a 2010 Olympic dream... and with his son at second stone, no less.

Ursel, by the way, went on to beat Kevin Martin in the final...

Marie-France Larouche won the big dealio in Ottawa and has now won five of six tournaments this season ...

• And Mike McEwan is also on a roll, and has knocked fellow ’Pegger Jeff Stoughton out of the Canada Cup. Stoughton, who almost beat Brad Gushue in the 2005 Olympic Trials final, may now miss next year’s Trials entirely ...

• DID YOU KNOW: that the CCA is paying for Sean Grassie and Allison Nimik, one-half of the Canadian Mixed championship team, to go to Camrose this week? The appointees will take the opportunity to learn more about Mixed Doubles before they compete in April’s world championship in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy ...

• And finally, some enterprising Germans have modified Reebok’s popular training shoe for curling ...

More New York Curling

In our four years-plus of blogging – and another 48 years of print publishing – New Yawk City has been the site of not one but in fact two outdoor curling exhibition events.

Now there’s a third... and the focus is on you, the innocent bystander, as you get a chance to strut your stuff and win big.

Organized by the Canadian Tourism Commission, curling at Bryant Park is a one-day affair taking place tomorrow, December 17.

Give curling a try and get entered into a draw for a chance to win a new car – a Honda Fit – plus a full-fledged driving trip to Canada, including a gas card for the drive and seven nights’ accommodation.

Come between 12-2pm or 6-8pm in the evening, give curling a try and then curl up at Celsius, a very cool Canadian lounge.

This is all part of a slew of Canadiana that has been taking place at Bryant Park since late October. Much of the interactive hands-on stuff finishes next week, but Celsius stays open through much of January.

“The Pond” at Bryant Park has attracted over three million visitors each of the last three years.

You can see a list of the Events, including Curling (with a video) at this website.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Le Gruyère European Championships 08

ÖRNSKÖLDSVIK, Sweden – Two great final games, one an up-and-down rollercoaster, the other a tightly-wound study of tactical maneuvering, have brought the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2008 to a stunning conclusion.

Scotland’s David Murdoch won an improbable second straight men’s victory with a shocking comeback win over Norway. On the women’s side, Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott buried some five years of frustration by finally defeating the mighty Anette Norberg of Sweden not once, not twice, but thrice in as many days... and in Sweden, no less.

That’s Swiss third Carmen Schaefer – you know her as Carmen of Curling, versions one and also two – celebrating upon the impact of her skip’s final takeout. Swedish third Eva Lund (background) knows what’s coming, Swiss third Valeria Spaelty (left) is rapidly getting airborne and of course WCTV cameras are right in there (WCF photo by Urs Raeber).

Another great photo of Swiss elation can be found here, taken by AFP.

Did you know that in just four days Ott and Norberg will become teammates, together with Bingyu Wang of China, as Team World takes on Team North America at the Continental Cup of Curling in Camrose, Alberta, Canada?

The men from Finland are back in the Worlds – Ford edition, coming up in Moncton – but without M-15, aka Markku Uusipaavalniemi, of course. The 2008 Eurohosts are thus out of the worlds, and Sweden’s men’s program is in complete disarray. Spain and Ireland are back down to next year’s B-Pool in Aberdeen, Scotland.

England’s women stay in the A-Pool and send the Dutch down next year, along with the Czech Republic. Norway’s women, finally minus Dordi Nordby and also missing the elusive Linn Githmark, are back in the Worlds (courtesy of skip Marianne Rorvik) and shall book their tickets to Gangneung, Korea.

Home, James. We’ll catch you next week ...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

iPhone Curling

Got iPhone?

Now you’ve got curling!

Age of Curling, to be precise, a new iPhone game available as of Friday – from Apple’s already legendary App Store – for a introductory (time-limited) price of USD 4.99.

The venues look pretty cool: choose between a 1920s-era factory building, a two-sheet club and a modern Olympic stadium (which is sure to get these guys all fired up re. use of the word “Olympic”). The stadium is in Athens, no less.

Play a quick game or a full match. Features include:

• Player vs Player
• 3 Venues
• Realtime 3D graphics
• “Realistic physics” (uh, sorry Blackish, we’ll let TCN readers decide on that one, okay?)
• Intuitive touch-controls
• In-Game Guide explaining rules and controls

They are already excited in Italy and in Japan.

We’re excited, too!

So check out iTunes in your country ... hurry hard ...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nude athlete calendar shocker

CLICK HERE to read about the 2009 Women of Curling calendar!

CLICK HERE to buy it and support the athlete/models!

And now, allow us a moment to explain.

This is a post aimed at updating the internet search attempts of the many people who are clicking on this archived posting from 2005.

You see, many, many folks from outside our curling world are apparently searching for ways to get their hands on a fundraising calendar featuring gorgeous female athletes. And curling athletes should be included, say we.

So, for TCN Blog fans who’ve read about this before and we apologize for posting it again. But you would not believe the amount of people out there who are clicking on that ancient link, reading about a calendar that is well out of print and which has since been replaced by two more editions.

It was a shocker back then, and it may not be so shocking these days, but we’ll see if the this post can climb higher in the Google rankings than the old one.

And we thank you for clicking, too!

Sweden loves R.E.M.

ÖRNSKÖLDSVIK, Sweden – Here we are, all prepared to write a blogpost on the music which organizers at the Swedbank Arena – home of the A-Division of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2008 – have chosen to play for us every single day, over and over... and we suddenly hear the sound of recent (watered-down) Bon Jovi just as Scotland and Germany are finishing their semifinal warm-ups.

Whatever. Let us proceed anyway.

Readers will recall last year’s ECC in Fuessen, and the deliberate attempts to drive us crazy by playing one song in the anres over and over and over and over and over and over between all the games, day after day, over and over and over and over again.

This time, up until Bon Jovi a few minutes ago, all we heard here in northern Sweden was the famous 1992 album by R.E.M., Automatic For The People.

We thank the organizers for changing the music today. We should also say that we’re not as upset as we were a year ago, because in this case they are playing an entire CD, and not just one song, over and over and over and over and over. Again.

In conclusion:

1. The best R.E.M. album is a tie between Lifes Rich Pageant and their debut, Murmur, which has just been re-released (and with a rare 10 out of 10 ranking from PopMatters);

2. We did a blogpost mentioning (and pucturing) Jon Bon Jovi back in February, remember?

3. Here is last night’s report from ECC 08, and European viewers can watch Scotland versus Germany (men’s) right now, and Sweden versus Denmark in the women’s semi at 18:00 GMT via the Eurosport Player online web TV portal, with special discounted rates available for selected countries.

The championship finals are tomorrow!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Uusis, He Is Mighty

The 2006 Olympic silver medal skip, Markku (M-15) Uusipaavalniemi, has arrived in O’vik (Örnsköldsvik) for the Le Gruyère European Championships. He arrived in silver-plated sleigh pulled by Finnish reindeer and accompanied by a convoy of 200 portable saunas.

Well, no, not quite.

But M-15 is now in Sweden, cheering on the Finnish men’s and women’s teams which are both toiling in the B-Division. And that rather ludicrous paragraph about sleighs and saunas was directly inspired by the rampant online craziness the tech-savvy Finnish people unleashed on the world at the height of Markku Mania in 2006.

It’s great stuff. And very, very weird. Like this one titled Emperor Uusipaavalniemi and the Klingons in peace talks.

And this one, Uusipaavalniemi Industries enter eCurling market, where M-15 “has a unique vision of the future of curling. He believes the next Olympic curling in 2010 will take place on screen rather than on ice. Using modern technology Uusis can streamline logistics and focus on the core business – humiliating Canada using the LAST STONE.”

Then of course there was the infamous Uusis: You Are Mighty webpage which, sadly, doesn’t exist anymore. Too bad, because that one was unbelievably weird.

As the English-born journalist William Moore, who lives in Finland, told us that year:

The You Are Mighty page is simply an indication of the early-adopter computer smarts of the Finns. Markku Uusipaavalniemi is also already being heavily “photoshopped” by the crowd that do that sort of thing. Finns are into technical stuff.

(See mock computer game cover image above)

There was even one quote from a chat room that went something like: “This Uusipaavalniemi guy has been some use after all. I told the kids that Uusis had to keep a night light on by his bed, because the dark was scared of Uusis, and now the kids aren’t scared of the dark any more, because Uusis isn’t.”

Indeed, that one reminds us of the classic Chuck Norris tough-guy jokes, which were then incorporated (of course) by Uusis’ growing legion of fans/jokesters.

Some others we love:

UIOC takes great leap in basic calculus – “The Uusis Institute of Curling today published their latest endeavor on solving the mysteries of basic calculus...”

Judgement Day – “Finnish people face the morning of the SHOWDOWN with mixed feelings. Intelligence indicates that the Finnish Curling Force is facing a difficult challenge - the Canadian Curling Army outnumbers the finns a thousand to one. Led by Marshal C.G.E Uusipaavalniemi and armed with STONES and BROOMS the thousand fFnnish curling enthusiasts face a million Canadians...”

Definition of Uusis – “Renowned for his piercing stare and accuracy. Famous for leading the coveted Curling-Lifestyle.”

Markku Uusipaavalniemi receives Markku of the Year award - “The award is given on the basis of SHEER AWESOMENESS. It is known around the world and is often compared to the Nobel prizes. ‘Cowabunga!’ comments Uusipaavalniemi. Markku has won each time the prizes have been awarded. Go Uusis.”

Markku performs hostile takeover of Ferrari S.p.A by accident – “Earlier this morning there was unfortunate mishap in Italy. The Finnish Olympic curling team, lead by ‘Massimo’ Uusipaavalniemi, were conducting some undercover training to avoid Canadian spies. Even the GREATEST PEOPLE EVER sometimes make mistakes and this was the day for Uusipaavalniemi: Markku made the mistake of confusing a RED Ferrari Enzo sportscar at FULL SPEED for a RED Canadian curler. His last stone tore the Ferrari in half...”


M-15 is a very politically-correct politician these days, so he’s probably happy to see much of the online madness slowly disappearing from the world wide web. To be replaced, of course, by his own very political website.

And as far as we know, M-15 still owns the curling club which he partially financed and built prior to his 2006 success. And because of this he would really, really like to see the Finnish men, in particular, make it back to the Olympic Games in 2010.

The odds are against them, but the odds were against Uusis back in the fall of 2005, too (look for “Two incredible stories to tell”). In similar fashion, Kalle Kiiskinen’s team needs to make it all the way out of the Euro B-Division to challenge Sweden in a best-of-three for the final spot at the Ford Worlds in March... and then they have to do really well in Moncton to qualify for Vancouver.

But as Uusis proved almost three years ago, anything is possible... when You Are Mighty!

And some more ...

• Speaking of Finland, this curling feature is a decent read ...

• Speaking of the ECC 08, this is the local Allehanda interviewing Anette Norberg (in Swedish) ...

• Here be a YouTube video on construction of the 2010 curling venue, called Vancouver Olympic Centre ...

• Say what? Jim Bender wonders if Mixed Doubles “could kill curling” ...

This curling column by Steve Buist calls attention to skimpy playdown signups (what else is new?) and an endorsement of Curling Etcetera ...

• Jumpin’ Joe Pavia also endorses the book in this column, plus the newish Granite 2 curling computer game, which is making a welcome return to the public eye... er, computer mouse ...

• Here’s a curling primer from a place we haven’t heard of before: Wenatchee, Washington ...

• DID YOU KNOW: that stones from a former Ottawa-area club have ended up in North Carolina? Anyone care to guess the name of the now defunct Ottawa-area club?

• 70-year-old Ontarian Tom Howat is off to Scotland ...

• And finally, this reporter tried curling, and is in a world of hurt as a result. Respect! (And try it again sometime!)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hot Shots curling game... and contest


The Ford Hot Shots have been around the Canadian Curling Association’s big events – the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts – for a long time now. On practice day, the entire field of sharpshooters gather and fire off six pre-set shots, totalling their scores, and eventually one competitor gets to walk away – er, drive away – with a new car.

Now, the CCA and Ford Motor Company of Canada have teamed up to let Joe and Jane Computer play... and play to win, too.

A new website has launched today , where you can discover everything about the ground-breaking contest which starting right now – on December 9, 2008 – and concluding on March 31, 2009; how to register, the rules, the competition (that’s the fun part) and the prizes.

It’s the first time that the CCA has unveiled an interactive skill-based game, and the grand prize will be similar to what one of the curlers competing at the 2009 Scotties in Victoria will win... a two-year lease of a new 2009 Ford Flex SEL FWD, with an estimated retail value of $22,747.

The two finalists will be determined by the total score from their best 20 games. There is no restriction on the number of times you can enter the Ford Hot Shots Online Game.

Upon the contest closing date at the end of March, the top two players – boasting the highest 20-game aggregate score – will be determined and then flown to Moncton, New Brunswick, site of the 2009 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship – the 50th anniversary Worlds! – for a one-game online playoff on Friday, April 10.

In addition to the grand prize, the runner-up prize is a Nintendo Wii Console, with Deca Sports Game Bundle and an autographed Mondetta Team Canada Jacket (which looks even better than the shirt): total approximate retail value $800.

There will also be a number of monthly prizes awarded from now through April such as Mondetta Canada Jackets (approx. retail value $500), Nintendo Wii Console and Deca Sports Game Bundle (approx. retail value $300) and $150 Gift Certificates, for use online only at the Event Max website – the official online store of the CCA’s Season of Champions.

The Ford Hot Shots Online Game is a mirror image of the on-ice skills competition, which has proven so popular at the Hearts and Brier with past winners including Kelley Law, Suzanne Gaudet, Colleen Jones, Jill Officer, Ed Werenich, Pat Ryan, Randy Ferbey, Mark Nichols and John Morris.

Participants must execute six basic curling shots: the Hit and Stay, Draw the Button, Draw the Port, the Raise, Hit and Roll and, of course, the knee-knocker... the Double Takeout.

Points are awarded depending on the success of each shot, along with bonus points generated for curling over the Ford logo in this special online version. Upon completion of the game, which only takes about three minutes to finish, your total score will be recorded and registered.

So there you have it. Game on, Joe and Jane, it’s your turn to shine with the Hot Shots!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Swedish TV “broke” curling show

Oh, we’re sorry.

How clumsy of us.

Did that irritate you?

It did, didn’t it?

Well, that blogpost (below) wasn’t a mistake. We meant to do that.

And now we shall explain ourselves.

Reports out of Örnsköldsvik and the Le Gruyère European Championships 2008 say that Swedish television broadcaster SVT “broke the show” by abandoning Sweden’s Olympic, World and European champion Anette Norberg (full-size photo by Urs Raeber) midway through the extra-end of her battle with Scotland’s Kelly Wood.

The game, a rematch of last year’s Euro championship final and a potential preview of Saturday’s 2008 grand finale, was a barnburner. The score was tied in the eighth when the Scots snapped a surprise four on the Swedes. Lo and behold, the Norbergs clambered back, taking a deuce in nine, stealing one in the 10th, and then finally s

Oops. Sorry again. Won’t happen again. Promise.

AND THEN FINALLY STEALING the extra end for a crazy, exciting, come-from behind victory.

But as the story goes, broadcaster SVT cut away from the match during second stones of the extra end. The clock hit the top of the hour, the commentators apologized, and the channel switched to the smash hit television talk show Fråga doktorn (Ask the Doctor).

Did we mention this was a repeat episode of the smash hit television talk show Fråga doktorn (Ask the Doctor)?

We just did.

Team Norberg are, of course, a national sporting treasure in Sweden. The athletes have won more in curling than virtually anyone reading this rather popular blog could ever dream about.

They have hung out with the King of Sweden. They are rock stars to a 1) Quite 2) Remarkable 3) Degree (full story here). And here they were, last night, trying to win their unprecedented eighth European Championship, battling their arch-rival in one helluva game LIVE ON SWEDISH TELEVISION ON HOME ICE IN SWEDEN.

This has got to be the cardinal sin of live sports broadcasting.

We’ve seen this before. It happened in Canadian curling, once, back in 1987, when CBC cut away from the last stone of Brier final – only in the western part of country, mind you – to go to a newscast, and missed Ontario’s Russ Howard score five points on B.C. skip Bernie Sparkes and hoist the massive gold Labatt Tankard.

There was, of course, such a hue and cry that THAT will never, ever happen again.

It even happened in Canada... in... wait for it... hockey! Yes! Hockey! Can you imagine? Yes, we’re not lying. And the army moved into the streets to quell the riots, the fires raged, and billions of dollars in damage was... okay. It wasn’t really that bad.

But Canadians were generally irate, Dave Hodge got angry and threw his pencil (see “Controversy”), and it’s safe to say THAT will most definitely never, ever happen again, either.

But it does happen. It happened before Heidi, and it has happened after Heidi.

It also happened just last year, again on CBC, in another beloved Canadian sport.

And so, it happened in O’vik.

Swedish Curling Association media man Hakan Sundstrom is producing the daily Eagle Shield News onsite at the championships, and he published the story in today’s edition, available here (scroll down to Eagle Shield News #3).

The story is all there, from his angry words in boldface type to the story of the poor commentators – both of them curling legends, too – who had to apologize to the viewers as the show came to an abrupt end.

And now, we figure you might want to know... what happened next?

Well, as curlers are graced with good humour and occasional self-depreciation, the anger has faded into wistful grinning. Norberg herself was seen shaking her head but laughing at a reception last night.

As it turns out, commentator and two-time Euro champion skip Katarina Hultling – her broadcast partner is the queen of 1990s world curling, Elisabet Gustafson – is aware that the head of SVT sports was apparently quite angry at the decision. It seems said decision was made by someone who was third in line for such decisions: the top guy was ill and not at work last night, and the second-in-line was away from the control room when the call had to be made.

We also know that the commentators were asked to mention that viewers could see the end of the game on a sports show airing later that evening, and that SVT did indeed make good on that promise. But... still...

Should this person be drawn and quartered for such a decision? We’re not sure. In present-day Canada, and in swapping Norberg for any curler wearing the Maple Leaf, on national television, the poor miscreant would probably consider seppuku. In Sweden, however, curling is still considered a fringe sport, which is quite depressing when you realize the legacy of great curlers Sweden has produced over a long, long period of time.

And sadly, this is not unlike many other European countries where growth seems to have stalled out completely (see Germany, France et al).

All we know is this:

a) it’s over;

b) it won’t happen again, at least not for a repeat of the smash hit television talk show Fråga doktorn (Ask the Doctor);

c) and the dumbbell in question is no doubt aware that it was a pretty daft move to cut away from a Swedish Olympic sporting legend at the climax of a big, exciting game played in Sweden just a year out from Vancouver 2010 and where the station he/she/dumbbell works for is a broadcast partner.

But. Still. This was a remarkable occasion, even considering the obvious.

Which is that the dumbbell has absolutely no idea about anything regarding the sport of curling.

Elsewhere in this wild curling world ...

• It’s been a while since Wayne Middaugh won something big, eh? Some would say it’s been a while since he won anything medium-to-small. But the bad boy from Toronto put it all together with second-year third Jon Mead of Winnipeg, got a wee bit fortunate to boot, and won The National.

We note this story on le victoire, en francais, located here.

We now point you to the fine work of Capital One shootist (and TCN photo editor) Anil Mungal, as published today in the St. John’s Telegraph-Journal. Nice grab, Wood.

We also note the image of a lurking Pierre Charette, spotted down at ice level during the CBC telecast of Brad Gushue versus Mike McEwan. When will we hear, we wonder, something – anything – about the World Curling Players’ Association, of which PC purports to be president?

Just asking.

Finally, we note that while China’s Fengchung Wang couldn’t produce a win at the Slam, he did win outright the previous weekend’s WCT event held elsewhere in Quebec, defeating Peter Steski in the finale. That must be the first-ever Tour spiel victory for a Chinese men’s team, and kudos are in order ...

• So, like, do you agree with this guy who says:

That would be a problem with curling, where defense is played through offense. A curler uses an offensive move to knock his or her opponent’s stone further away from the target.

Whatever, dude. By all means, keep on pontificating about things you know nothing about. But this also provides an opportunity for folks to vote in the poll on that same CBS Sports page (left side menu) to confirm that yes, curling is indeed a sport. Currently 18 per cent of respondents say it is, which puts curling in a tie for second with gymnastics, behind golf.

So come on curling fans!

• DID YOU KNOW: that on Prince Edward Island, The Dominion Club Championship will replace the provincial Intermediates competition ...

• Here’s an odd one we like; a plea for funnyman actor Will Ferrell to go curling on film ...

• As this reposted YouTube fan video shows, Jennifer Jones has some fans in Japan ...

• She, herself, husband and some curling ice ...

• Oi, let’s fix those cracks in the ice, folks ...

• Looked like some French-language curling fun went down in Norway ...

• Speaking of the French and the Euro shootout, Toronto fan Thomas Dufour and his amis are picking things up ...

• And finally... the venerable Winnipeg Granite Curling Club... love it or hate it?

Swedish TV “broke” curli

Reports out of Örnsköldsvik and the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2008 say that Swedish television broadcaster SVT “broke the show” by abandoning Sweden’s Olympic, World and European champion Anette Norberg midway through the extra-end of her ba

Friday, December 05, 2008

Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2008

Lots of stuff going on this week – but first, Euro 2008.

And no, not the summer footyfest.

The scene: one year ago in Füssen, Germany. In the “Party Zone”.

The question sounded innocent enough: How does it feel to win a spot into the A-division of next December’s Le Gruyère European Championships, and a chance to compete in the 2009 Worlds?

The tall, handsome fellow leaned against the bar and gestured with his hands. “It’s weird,” he said.

He shrugged.

“We are Spain. We are not even supposed to be here with the big boys.”

Antonio de Mollideno skips the Spanish national men’s team that will already make history when they take to the ice tomorrow at this Le Gruyère Euro shootout in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

Mollinedo’s foursome managed to finish second among the myriad of B-pool teams at last year’s Euros and qualified for this year's A-division, in which the top seven squads will qualify their country for the 2009 Ford Worlds in Moncton. In the TCN photo (above) taken in Füssen by Urs Raeber, Mollinedo (right) leads his grinning squad on their “victory” march down the ice.

And hey... who is that waving the Spanish flag and sign in the background? Anyone?

As this multi-featured Spanish spotlight continues in the December issue of The Curling News, it becomes quite obvious to the reader that Spain might have a better chance of qualifying for Moncton than Brazil.

The Brazilians must beat the United States in a best-of-three “challenge” showdown next month. The Spaniards just need to string some wins together to finish in the top seven in O’vik.

O’vik is a critical championship for another reason – it marks that beginning of the “last chance” for European teams to make it to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

European curling fans are in for a viewing bonanza, as all-sports channel Eurosport is covering 10 matches in High-Definition, and a total of 24 games online via the new Eurosport Player.

Moreover, the Eurosport Player – a subscription service – is available to European (only) curling fans at 25 per cent off the regular rates, for either a monthly or yearly (ending April 30, 2009) subscription.

Subscribers in selected countries need only input their nation’s special code to get the discounted access – click here to see the list of countries and their respective access codes.

Games are also available through STV in Sweden and the Swedish curling webstreamer Curlingkanalen. Rumour also has it that CurlTV is picking up the Curlingkanalen games – although we hadn’t seen anything yet on their website.

The usual brigade of Canadian TV crew members are in Sweden, producing all the feeds for World Curling Television (WCTV). There are also a few Canadian coaches accompanying the more than 51 teams representing 29 countries.

Lots of world news pickup of ECC 08, from Spain to Ingerlund as well as in France, Scotland and Germany. As for hosts Sweden, this news site asks if viewers will watch the games: as of very early Friday morning, 35 per cent said yes and 60 per cent said no (another five per cent “don’t know”). Meanwhile, this event preview story also asked the same poll question, but this one has the Jas at 76 per cent and the Nejs at 24 per cent.

Finally, we all know who is there representing Sweden’s women, but who makes up the “other” Swedish team?

And there’s more. There is always more, here at The Curling News Blog ...

• Did you see the listing of Swiss Sport Television curling coverage at the World Curling Tour Europe (WCT-E) website? You can find it under TV Archive on the left hand side; all games shown on TV this season are available for repeat viewing ...

• Red-hot Glenn Howard has a 1-2 record at the second Slam of the season, The National in Québec City. Could this mean The Streak of seven Tour events in a row – dating back to April of last season – might be ending?

• Also on The National website is a reprint of a story that first appeared in the March/April 1971 edition of Canadian Curling News. The bizarre goings on at the Fuddle-Duddle Brier first appeared a year ago in our paper, now called The Curling News, and the mayhem is not to be missed ...

• Dallas, Texas just loves their curling-promo stories, while WDIO-TV Duluth has both text and video located here and Mankato, Minn. has got KEYC-TV all fired up ...

• Still in America, the Grand National Curling Club has started a men’s curling tour in the eastern United States. Here’s a link (PDF download), and do watch for a special celebration of those GNCC crazies in the upcoming January print issue of TCN ...

• DID YOU KNOW: that the 2008 Tim Hortons Brier in Winnipeg raked in almost $450,000, good for seventh place in the career Brier attendance ...

• Sault Ste. Marie’s local blat is calling for local investment in the 2010 Scotties ...

• Only 14 Winnipeg teams have entered the city’s Scotties TOH playdowns. Yikes ...

• The Dominion is back – again – as a sponsor of yet another national championship, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) shootout, which heads to Montreal in 2009 ...

• And speaking of The Dominion, 26 Manitoba curling clubs are into the Dominion Club Championship (so far) ...

• Here’s a story of a local fill-in team at the big Brooks Tour event last month ...

• A curling safety head band? Why not?

• OK, wait a minute, the Swift Current Broncos would like to clarify that they are indeed OK with the 2010 Ford Worlds coming to “their” arena ...

• Cool T-shirt alert: click here and go to “Collections”, re. the second image ...

• Tickets are now on sale of the B.C. men’s provincial at Golden Ears ...

• And finally, a big Way To Go the Yorkton CC in Saskatchewan: they turned 100 years old yesterday ...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Curling News Book Sale

Page 14 of the December issue of The Curling News is proving to be a popular one.

There’s the TCN Curling TV Guide, of course, which tells ya where and when to tune in for all the great TV curling coverage this month, right up to the Casino Rama Skins Game in early January.

A subscription will, of course, get you this info on a helpful monthly basis.

There is also an advertisement for the TCN Book Blowout, in which we are cleaning out a small inventory of classic curling books – in mint condition – at rock-bottom prices.

Burned by the Rock is a 1991 (second, updated edition) classic by former Toronto Sun writer Jean Sonmor, focussing on the “inside world of men’s championship curling”. Harken back to the days of Ryan’s Express, The Wrench, and Russ and Glenn Howard together on the ice – and off. A very young, and controversial, Kevin Martin, too. It was a great read back then, and it still is today. Was $19.95, now only $9.95!

Ken Watson on Curling is the famous instructional book from the sport’s first true master. Every curler and hardcore curling fan needs this one on his or her bookshelf of honour. Softcover, this original pressing was $21.95 and is now available for only $10.95.

Canada Curls was arguably the greatest work of TCN’s dearly departed Editor Emeritus, Doug Maxwell. Still a decent seller seven years after its initial printing, this oversize all-curling “coffee table” tome was $29.95 but is now available from us for just $12.95.

There are also two more books (not shown) in our collection: the legendary Sam Richardson’s rollicking Say It Again, Sam (was $27.95, now only $9.95) and the curling psyche book Between the Sheets, by co-authors Guy “The Rockin’ Reverend” Scholz and Cheryl Bernard (was $24.95, now only $9.95).

One or two books will cost you $8.95 in shipping and handling, while three or more books will add $10.95 in shipping and handling to your bill. And don’t forget the taxes (argh).

Act now – as in right now – and not just because Christmas is coming. Canada Post is upping the cost of parcel shipping in early January, big time – a 100-per-cent increase! – and that means any book orders we receive after December 23 will be subject to increased S & D charges.

Grab the latest December issue to get the mail-in coupon, or give our intrepid subscription guy Ryan a call at 1-800-605-CURL to order via phone. International callers can dial +1 905 887 1261.

Get your curling read on!