Kids, it’s time to Youtube – Curling style

It seems like Youtube is everywhere these days. For gosh sakes they are even showing Youtube videos on Canada AM every morning ??

Well, now its time for curling to get into the act. We received this note from a reader today who is trying to drum up interest in the curling section of the ubiquitous website:

Perhaps you can pass the word along… We’re looking for curling videos to add
to our YouTube group.

Anyone with a unique perspective on the world’s “coolest” sport can add their
video to http://youtube.com/group/curling.

We have some great videos already posted, along with an exclusive preview of
Canadian director David Ostry’s ode to the game, “Drinkers with a Curling
Problem”.

So, if you have a video, post it up. If you don’t, go shoot a video and give it a try.

We’ll check in in a few days and post some of the best videos here.

Good luck and have fun. Â

Curling rink takes top honour

Very cool news from south of the border. Pete Fenson and his rink of Scott Baird, John Shuster and Shawn Rojeski, and Joe Polo have been named the team of the year, by the US Olympic commitee. The bronze medal represents the first olympic curling medal for the US and I suspect it won’t be the last one either.
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Hopefully, this news will continue to increase interest in the game throughout the United States and get more people out to experience this great game.
Congratulations boys, you deserve it and thank you for creating more buzz for our ‘quirky sport’.

Day Passes for 2007 Brier go on sale

Patrons of the upcoming Brier in hamilton can now purchase day passes for seats that weren’t snapped up during weekly pass sales.

From the curling.ca press release:

“This is a great opportunity for curling fans to pick a day of their choosing to enjoy all the flavour of the Tim Hortons Brier,” said Host Committee Chairman Dwayne Pyper. “It’s another way to allow fans who may not be able to attend for the entire week or for either the first or last weekend to at least experience the event for a day, at a very affordable price.”

And yes, entry to the Brier patch is included. Get’em while its hot, or before all the seats are gone….get Brier tickets online at the CCA website here.Â

Revisited – Warren Hansen’s ‘Curling: The History, The Players, The Game’

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In keeping with the Christmas gift giving season I thought I would touch on something a little bit different today and delve into the world of curling books and curling literature (my mother was kind enough to give me this book for Christmas – thanks Mom!).

Originally published by Key Porter Books back in 1999 – Curling: The History, The Players, the Game – is an impressive collection of curling information meant to serve it would seem as a central guidebook for anyone (novice, expert or observer) interested in the game. Calling this publication a ‘coffee-table book’ would seem a little unfair given the book’s breadth of information, but it does fall into that category given its size, hardcover format, glossy appearance and myriad of photos. But what shines brightest about this book is the staggering array of information about the sport and the fact that it is laid out in an easy-to-consume format and can truly call itself one of the must-own books that every curler should have in their collection (at least for reference sake).

The book was put together by Warren Hansen who is currently the Director of Event Management & Media Relations for the CCA, but he also has a very storied place in the development of curling in this country and as such, seems to be uniquely qualified to write a book such as this. Hansen seems to have touched the game of curling in every way possible – he was a member of Hec Gervais’ Brier-winning rink in 1974, he was also one of Canada’s first curling teachers having launched one of the first curling schools and was one of the Canadian Curling Association’s first employees. To this day he is still very involved in CCA activities, particular the Season of Champions events (Brier, Scott, etc.) and is the managing editor its ‘Extra End’ wrap-up magazine. The foreword to the book was written by none other than former-world champion Kevin Martin.

As the title suggests the book is broken out in three main sections – History, Players and the Game.

I personally found the history section section to be quite interesting, tracing the roots of the game from Scotland through the modern game. But of particular interest was the ‘insider insight’ that someone like Hansen, with his years of service in and around the game, brings to this topic. Particularly the discussion around the inclusion of curling in Olympics was very interesting, with the author providing exclusive insight into the back-room politicking and positioning that eventually resulted in curling being granted full-medal status for the 1998 games in Nagano. As you will read in the book it was not an easy process and the roadblocks that the principles involved ran up against were sometime difficult to deal with (see IOC) and sometimes very surprising (including Ski Canada’s Ken Read?).

As well Hansen’s insider knowledge in the eventual development in a national curling association (see CCA) and the history of the Macdonald (Labatt) Brier makes for a really interesting read.

Along those same lines, Hansen takes the opportunity to wax poetic about some of the great champions of yesteryear from the sport of curling.

For students of the modern game like myself it was really enlightening to learn more about names like Ernie Richardson, Hector Gervais, Bud Somerville and Vera Pezer and others who helped pioneer the competitive game in this country. He also touches on players from the nineties like Sandra Schmirler and Russ Howard.

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Finally, Hansen uses his extensive experience teaching and standardizing the game to provide a thorough guide to the rules, etiquette and playing of the game of curling. As you will see from the photo above he uses extensive photos and figures to illustrate all aspects of the game from the delivery of the stone to sweeping to strategy and much more. I am sure there have been a number of technical manuals written on the sport but this does seem to provide a look at all aspects of the physical game and its strategy that any curler should (or already) knows.

All in all I would recommend this book to other. Here is link to this publication on Amazon.com if you care to take a longer look.

In the coming weeks I will have a look at another popular curling publication The Black Book of Curling – brought to you by our friends at the CurlingZone.

No surprise in Harris return to Ontario

In hearing the news earlier this week that Mike Harris was returning to Ontario, as reported by the Curling News, can’t say I’m really surprised – for a couple of reasons. But, then again for someone like me who is also involved in the golf business, it would have been hard for me to say no to the Banff Springs as well (but it will look good on your resume Mike)!

First off, from a media standpoint, his CBC gig seems to be going very well. To my eye he has developed into one of the better curling analysts we see on television these days and you can certainly tell that his comfort level is high. With the CBC being based here, and with Toronto generally being the sports media hub of Canada – this is where he needed to be.

Also, from a curling perspective, to move from a competitive province like Ontario to a super-competitive arena like Alberta in the first place seemed like sporting suicide. To have 2 of the top teams in the world in Ferbey and martin to go through to make a Brier, that is tough. Never mind the depth of top-quality team beyond those two…

Lastly, it is good to see him land at the Donalda Club – a place where he got his start in the business and where he will have a certain comfort level. Let’s hope this is a good move for Mike in the long-run.

The weekend in Waterloo

The Home Hardware Masters of curling is well under way in Waterloo this weekend and Don Walchuk has been the story so far as he continues to play giant killers. With wins this weekend, over Randy Ferby, Jeff Stoughton and Kevin Koe and include his recent win over Kevin Martin last weekend to the victims list of late. This team could be peaking, and could be dangerous in the playoffs if they can continue their strong play… only time will tell. Joining Walchuk this weekend at third is Don Bartlett, who doesn’t mind the eight end format of the grand slam events this year, “it’s good for us old guys” said Bartlett with a grin.

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Photograph by Dallas Bittle, www.curlingzone.com

There will be plenty of action here today, with tie breakers getting under way at 1:30 PM, followed by the quarter finals at 5:30 and the semis tonight at 8:30. There are tickets still available so come on out and enjoy the action. The World Curling Tour is a grass roots orginization and the fans and sponsors support will go a long way to the overall growth of professional curling in Canada.

Growing the game in the United States is another story and will take exposure, money and plenty of the later. Events like last weeks Korbell Elite Challenge are a step in the right direction. According to Pete Fenson, “Events like that are huge” he added “getting exposure is the number one thing”. The USCA is doing the best it can with limited resources but still needs more money. Another problem with growing the game in the US, has been the shortage of curling stones, which cost around $ 6,400.00 CDN for a complete set. With the recent arrival of thirteen tonnes of Scottish Granite there will soon be plenty of curling rocks to be loaned out to new curling clubs with an option to buy once the lease expires .

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Photograph by Dallas Bittle, www.curlingzone.com

Unfortunately for Pete Fenson, a snow storm delayed his team’s departure from Chilliwack and as a result he lost his first game by default which means he finishes with a record of one win and four loses. The Fenson rink has done reasonably well at these grand slam events, in fact he has qualified for the playoffs in all but three events. This might be the year that Pete finally wins a slam, it just won’t be this one.

A new nickname has been given to the Ferby four here in Waterloo, say hello to the Hardcore Four!

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Is it just me or are the Simmons team uniforms beginning to look like something out of the Swedish elite league?

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Lastly, a public service announcement of the organizers of curling events everywhere…. please, please stop playing the Macarena at curling events!… oh, and you can add the Chicken Dance and anything by the Village People to the list as well.

It’s a grand ole time in Waterloo

The Home Hardware Masters of curling got under way in Waterloo, Ontario at the Waterloo Rec Complex last night. This is the first grand slam event of the 2006 – 07 season, and the for the first time all round robin games will only be eight ends. Draw one action saw money leader Kerry Burtnyk defeat defending Brier champion Jean Michel-Menard by a score of 6 – 4.  Glenn Howard beat provincial rival Wayne Middaugh by a score of 4 – 3. Middaugh could have sent the game to extra ends with an open hit for two but his shooter rolled too far, leaving him with a single point.

Scotland’s Tom Brewster showed no signs of jet lag as he posted a 7 – 3 victory over John Base. Brad Gushue got things off to a good start by beating Shawn Adams by a score of 6 – 3.Â

The schedule game between Pete Fenson and Jeff Stoughton was delayed when Pete and the boys were grounded due to inclement weather.

Interesting to note that the team that started the game with the hammer won three of the four games last night. Therefore, having last rock to start the game appears to be extremely important with the games being only eight ends. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues throughout the week.

Europe wins the Continental Cup

Team Europe claimed the Continental Cup yesterday, beating Team North America handily by taking 229 points of the available 400. Team North America played well early on in the event but just couldn’t get it done in the skins games as the European contingent won almost all of the available points. Rumour has it that the Continental Cup is in jeopardy due to lack of funding and some misgivings on the part of the WCF. Hopefully this is not the case as I found the entire event a joy to watch and from what I can gather all the players enjoyed the experience as well.

Speaking of fun events, I thought NBC did a fantastic job on their coverage of the Korbel Elite Challenge. Pete Fenson squeaked out a win over Debbie McCormack in the battle of the sexes, but the real winner here was the game of curling itself. Don Chevrier and Don Duguid did a great job of explaining strategy and all of the different shots from draws, quiet tap backs to up-weight takeouts which should make the game more interesting to anyone new to the sport. It was also nice to see that Dan Jansen and Picabo Street seemed genuinely interested in learning the strategy and they appeared to be enjoying to whole experience. Could an Olympic curling medal be in their futures….. on second thought, I highly doubt it.

Lazy Handles

Tickets are still available for the Home Hardware Masters grand slam of curling in Waterloo, Ontario starting this Wednesday. The field is full of talent which should make for some great curling so show your support. CBC Sports will be showing the final this Sunday for those of you who can’t be there in person.

The alarming trend of clubs closing down continues, this time it is the Lakeshore Curling Club in Lower Sackville, N.S. and the local curlers are understandably upset. Please see the article in The Daily News.

Gushue’s golden boys are to be inducted into the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador with Russ Howard becoming an honourary member. Congratulations and well deserved.

Gushue and Howard – reunited once again

The Curling News is reporting that Olympic heros Brad Gushue and Russ Howard will play together at this weekend’s Continental Cup of curling – and for the first time since Torino. Full story is here.

You can also check the weekend pairings for the Continental Cup here.

Since the Olympics the two skips have been leading their own rinks:

Gushue has replaced Russ with youthful Alberta import Chris Schille on the road to 2010, while Howard will seek his Brier fortune out of his hometown of Moncton, along with son Steven Howard. Thus, this fourth edition of the Continental Cup is the last hurrah of the men’s Olympic champions, in terms of the once-controversial lineup change that brought Howard on board in October, 2005.

I for one, couldn’t really see a real reunion on the ice for these 2 (before the next Olympics), but it does bear watching. Stranger things have happened…

Historic Brier video footage released by CCA

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What a hoot!

The Canadian Curling Assoc has released a series of historical Brier videos on their www.Curling.ca that profile the MacDonald’s Briers as far back as 1948 and as recent as 1974. The videos were originally shot as short films for MacDonald Tobacco who owned the rights to the Brier prior to 1980. In curling’s early days, they videos were the only TV coverage of curling available and would be shown on the CBC after evening newscasts as an annual wrap-up of the beloved tournament.

CurlTV.com has the whole story here.

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