Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Murdoch: not really the first

Okay. Not that we wish to correct TSN, The Sports Network, when they declare that Scotland’s David Murdoch will become the first international team to compete in the third annual Casino Rama Curling Skins Game in January, 2010.

Because they’re right. In the three-year history of this event, only Canadian teams have featured. So let’s call today’s story a... clarification.

Because when we look back at the last three decades of TV skins curling, there have actually been a few international skirmishes. Before Casino Rama’s time, of course.

The first is pictured above, from the cover of the December 1993/January 1994 edition of Canadian Curling News (click on image to zoom in).

Do you remember this edition of the old McCain/TSN Skins Game? The 1993 event, hosted in Ottawa, was a doozy.

Russ Howard – with brother Glenn and the front-end tandem of Wayne Middaugh and Peter Corner – had just won the Brier and Worlds, and looked very good early on in their semifinal against unheralded Milt Sinclair of Abbotsford, B.C. Howard won the first three skins over the first five ends.

But it began to unravel and the left coasters then took the lead. It was only on the last stone of the match that Howard pulled it out, grabbing a $3,000 skin for a narrow $9,000 to $7,000 victory.

In the final, Howard met up with the first international team to ever be invited to the Skins: David Smith of Scotland, who had upended Ottawa’s Bill Walsh in the other semi (Walsh won $7,750 in another tight match).

Curling fans may remember the very public and vitriolic reaction from Eddie “The Wrench” Werenich, who of course missed out on the chance to compete because of the invitation given to Team Smith. The Wrench was, er, not very happy.

And it was all-Scotland through much of the final. In fact, as the photo shows, the Howards were blanked through the first eight ends, down $15,000 to zero, and Russ was clearly reeling. One wonders if Smitty was actually beginning to feel sorry for him. If so, big mistake.

Russ and Co. had blanked the seventh and Smith had blanked the eighth, leaving an $11,000 skin on the table in the ninth. Howard finally cashed in, making a tap-back to score the skin and make the 10th end meaningful, as it almost always is/was (Casino Rama Skins Games are now eight ends in length, of course).

And lo and behold, the Wounded Moose pulled it off in the final end too, stealing the final $6,000 skin and the victory when Smith missed a last-ditch runback for the win.

The champs took home $37,000, which also included the $10,000 winner’s bonus and another $1,000 for winning the pre-event draw to the button.

This was also the first Skins Game in which all three games went down to the last stone.

And there are two more international skins appearances to remind you of.

We are pretty darned sure – and please correct us if you think we’re wrong – that Norway’s Pal Trulsen appeared in the McCain/TSN shootout soon after his Olympic triumph in 2002.

And another Scottish team, skipped by Tom Brewster, appeared in one of the short-lived M&M Meat Shops Skins events – and made it all the way to the final of the six-team event – televised by rival broadcaster Rogers Sportsnet. Remember that one, folks?

Anything else going on, you ask?

• Wednesday is “Camp Day” at all Tim Hortons stores across Canada, a special day where every penny earned in coffee sales goes to a worthy cause: the Brier sponsor’s Tim Horton Children’s Foundation. Don’t be surprised to see some of Canada’s top curling stars slinging coffee and donuts at various store locations tomorrow ...

• The twin sons of TSN curling colour man Ray Turnbull – affectionately labelled “in-turn” and “out-turn” – were in the news last weekend...

Brad Gushue’s hometown St. John’s Telegram recently published a look back at his squad’s – er, sorry, Russ’ squad’s – 2006 Olympic triumph ...

• SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION 101: For some reason, Canwest News recently recycled this online story from March’s Brier frenzy, in which The Curling News boss George Karrys was quoted on the rarely-discussed question of curling songs ...

• Speaking of curling songs, Skip Cottage liked our recent highlight of the bizarro Jamie Jay Singh song, reposted here... and this here video tribute to Seattle’s Granite Curling Club boasts its own original curling song...

• Less than two months after the successful Ford Worlds came to New Brunswick, that province’s Interscholastic Athletic Association will vote today on whether or not to throw five sports – including curling – off the provincial high school athletic roster ...

• Finally, would anyone care to guess why these apartments for rent in Hoboken, NJ have been called Curling Club apartments?

In Hoboken, New Joisey?

Somebody help us understand. Please.


Dean Gemmell said...

Sorry. Even this New Jersey curler has no idea on that name for those apartments. Confounding.

TCN said...

Dammit. We were relying on you Deano!

TCNPhotoEditor said...

I cant believe the Telegram got the caption wrong in the Team Gushue photo.

JH said...

After much back and forth emails. There were clubs in the area of Hoboken in the late 1800s. The Gordon Medal was contested there as well several times in that era. Hoboken may not have existed then and been part of Jersey City.