It was a very special world men’s curling championship in 2010. And in this Olympic year, we found some comparisons to February’s curling Games in Vancouver.
The magnificent mountain town of Cortina d’Ampezzo was the setting, high up in the Italian alps, about a two hour drive (most of it vertical) from Venice. Physical comparisons to another popular ski destination – Vancouver’s twin, Whistler – would prompt endless debate, so we won’t bother with that one.
As our correspondent Rodger Schmidt told us, the opening day of the worlds met with disaster, as a performer fell some 50 feet to the ground, and was hospitalized. As all are well aware by now, the Olympics started off on a terrible note with the death of a Georgian luger.
As in Vancouver, however, Cortina rose above the shaky start and hosted a tremendous event.
Canadian national team coach, Jim Waite, has been accompanying and advising since the early 1990s. In this QMI story by Terry Jones, Waite declares “… this has been 10 out of 10.”
“This one has been terrific. There’s nothing to complain about,” said Waite. “And it’s just gorgeous. It couldn’t get any better than this. We’ve been to the top of two mountains and we were having lunch on one of them when one of the guys said, ‘Where would you rather be? Here or Regina?’ ”
And now to the most obvious comparison.
Edmonton’s Kevin Koe won gold in Cortina, after city rival Kevin Martin grabbed his long-awaited gold in Vancouver. Koe lost two games in the round-robin and finished second overall but, as happened in the Brier playoff round, he and his mates excelled when they had to deliver.
Blake MacDonald’s perfect corner-freeze, around a corner-guard in the very first end, set up a 3-0 lead for the Canadians, and they never looked back. It was a magnificent shot from a player who would go on to shoot in the 90s, a dominant performance that was in face equalled by his skipper.
The fact that Norwegian skip Torger Nergard struggled with his weight was almost irrelevant. The match might have been much closer, but no one was going to beat the Canadians that day.
Scotland’s David Smith – the 1991 world champion – stole the bronze medal from Pete Fenson of the United States. It was a good result for the Scots, who played only so-so overall (with the exception of Warwick Smith) and it had to be a disappointment for the Yanks, despite their need of a six-game win streak just to make the playoffs.
There are other comparisons, too. The crowds in Cortina were far less zealous than those in Vancouver – of course! – and they were smaller, too… but not poor, by any means.
“Everybody is quite shocked. It’s quite loud and exciting,” said second man Carter Rycroft.
And a few of these fans dared to dress up, with an approach not seen anywhere near Vancouver… or possibly at any Olympic Games, save for fans of Mongolia (WCF photo at left by Urs Raeber).
Canadian fans watching from overseas were treated to an excellent final show from TSN’s venerable broadcast crew of Vic, Ray and Linda. As many are aware, this was Ray Turnbull’s retirement show, and this QMI column from TCN boss gk paints a nice picture.
The game, incidentally, is available for viewing on the TSN website, through Video-On-Demand (VOD). Be sure to indulge, before it disappears from view.
There are three major events left to play, by the way. The World Mixed Doubles and World Seniors are underway this weekend in Chelyabinsk, Russia, and the final Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event, the Grey Power Players’ Championship, starts tonight – yes, tonight – in Dawson Creek, BC, and wraps up on Sunday.
The latter event is available online via CBC.ca – every draw! – with the men’s and women’s playoff draws also appearing on CBC-TV.
[First two WCF photos by Mario Facchini/Newspower.it]