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2015 Worlds: Did Ping-Pong rocks squish Canada?

A three-timage sequence showing the attempted "Squish"

A three-image sequence on the attempted “Squish”

[Click on image sequence to increase viewing size]

Exciting stuff at the world men’s championship in Halifax.

USA, skipped by John Shuster, scored their first winning record (6-5) since Pete Fenson went 8-3 back at Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, in 2010, but lost in a playoff tiebreaker to colourful Finland. Then, Norway beat Canada for the second time this week, pushing The Pants into Sunday’s final for the second year in a row and dropping Canada down to tonight’s semifinal, where they will lock horns with the winner of Finland versus Sweden.

Earlier this week, guest blogstar Dean Gemmell was in Halifax… and he mentioned something called The Squish.

Here’s another reference to The Squish, and it comes from last night’s NOR vs CAN page playoff tilt. In the 10th end, CAN skip Pat Simmons tried a tricky hit for two that involved “squishing” the first of two red stones in the combo at left (see image sequence) into the back of the rings, for two points and the win. A single point would score only the tie.

As we all know, the shooter stuck for the tying point but that elusive second red point squished through the back of the house and out of play. It wasn’t even close, actually, and Norway went on to score their winning point in the extra end.

Would that elusive “squished” stone have stuck around in the back if Simmons had struck the first stone off centre, and rolled his shooter across (but not out) of the rings?

Here’s another question: Are the rocks these athletes are throwing and sweeping any different than stones from the past – even the near past – and would those old-school curling stones have reacted differently, as per the wishes of Team Canada?

Ask around, and you might find some past legends of the game who might say something between “maybe” and “definitely.”

We recall a lengthy, three-part interview series we published with the legendary Ed Werenich back in 2009 (Feb/Mar/April issues, Vol. 52, Issues 4/5/6). Eddie was lamenting recent differences in curling stone quality, pointing to what he believed are unnatural stone tendencies these days, which includes takeout results… and said The Wrench:

I would like to see them get rid of the magic mushroom rocks that go down the sheet and break four feet from the hogline in. It takes a person that can read ice and then call ice… it takes that stuff right out of the game. It’s just too easy, with the sweeping instruments of today, to flop one around.

We gotta get rid of the inserts and the sandpaper to get back to the way where the rocks curled on a consistent basis all the way down. Because of the rocks it’s too easy to make double, triple peels. The rocks are like ping-pong balls. I see five or six rocks in motion from throwing just one shot. We always used to talk about the quality of the granite.

So there you go. Did these “magic mushroom” or “ping-pong ball” curling stones befuddle Team Canada’s attempt to win the 1 vs 2 playoff game?

[Image sequence from WCTV coverage – click here to watch the video highlight at the 2:05 mark]

 

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2015 Worlds: Nordic efficiency

Niklas Edin: On a roll

Niklas Edin: On a roll

By Dean Gemmell

HALIFAX – So it was a Canada-free afternoon draw in Halifax. At least on the ice. Considering the fact that Canada had a bye, there was a reasonable crowd. Lots of students of the game in the seats watching the Finns, Czechs, Scots et al. Watching a bit silently, I’m afraid, but intently.

I think the number of teams that record games on video is fewer than those who don’t. I’m not saying this to be pro or con. But I wonder about all those hours of video. Do they end up like so many family camcorder videos, buried on hard drives and left unwatched? It seems to me that it might be helpful if you were simply clicking record at key moments to review later. But even the fastest fast-forward might not be enough to get teams through to the key points of a game they already played. I don’t see the Curling Canada stuff running a camera. Nor Canada’s Bob Ursel, the coach of the Russian men. The the Swiss and the Scots aren’t videographers either (that’s not a particularly scientific survey but it’s what I saw from the bench this game).
[Actually, Scotland always records their matches; one must sometimes look way high up in the rafters to find them! –Ed.]
Sweden and Niklas Edin seem to be getting into a groove and dispatched Japan with Nordic efficiency. I caught up with Edin, his Swedish teammates and coach Freddy Lindberg — alarming when coaches are decades younger than me — for a bit in the Patch last night. Shouting over the band, they told me they were pleased with how things are coming together in their first year together. Reasonable assessment, I would say.
I feel like the whole tournament was on the line for the young Swiss team in their match against Scotland. The Scots and Ewen MacDonald had a couple of chances to win the game in regulation, including a draw to the side of the lid on his last in 10, but couldn’t close the deal until Pfister missed his draw for the win in the extra. Winning would have kept them believing they can get into the playoffs and make some noise. Losing means they’ll probably still be thinking they can — but maybe not really believing it. That’s the head space in curling.
After a fast start, Joel Retornaz of Italy has pulled a Simmons/Morris and left the rings. Amos Mosaner called the game and threw last rocks, after the team started the event Ferbey Four-style. Mosaner skipped as a junior so it’s not a big adjustment. Retornaz threw second and held the stick on skip rocks in their win over the Czech Republic.
Speaking of the Czechs, I’m sensing they’ve hit a plateau. A game away from the Olympics in Füssen and I expected more improvement after playing them in Basel in 2012. They seem stuck at the moment.
I could tell you about Russia-Finland but I have to admit I largely ignored it. Nothing against them. Just the far sheet and I don’t have enough focus to watch every game. I’ll just mention, again, that there’s a lot of hair on that Finnish team.
[Curling Canada/WCF photo by Michael Burns – click on image to increase viewing size]

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2015 Worlds: Sort of quiet

Pants 1, Canada 0

Pants (and socks and caps) 1, Canada 0… so far

By Dean Gemmell

HALIFAX – Not exactly the best night for the home crowd with Canada ceding an early four-ender to a Norwegian team that was dressed like John Daly crossed with Pippi Longstocking by way of St. Andrews. Something like that anyway.

U.S. skip John Shuster had a relatively straightforward quiet hit for two in the fourth and played a double for three. Made it. Ergo, great call. After this morning’s loss, there might have been a bit of anger in that shot. Or a belief that an opportunity needed to be taken. Or it was way simpler than that and he just figured it was an easy shot for three.
Niklas Edin’s Swedish side delivered a reality check to the young Swiss team — up front 8-1 at the break and handshakes after the mandatory six ends. The only concern for the Swedes once they got out in front was making sure one of them didn’t suffer a broken foot due to a Christian Lindstroem peel. A serious chucker, that kid.
I was thinking Joel Retornaz looks a lot older than when we saw in him play for Italy at the 2006 Olympics. Then I realized that was nine years ago — it would be weird if he didn’t.
Remember how shocked everyone was when Italy started out 2-0 this week? Here’s what The Editor blogged about Italy’s stunning win over Canada back at those Torino Olympics… and what was said when Retornaz fled Italy for Switzerland a few months later… and what Rodger Schmidt wrote about him more recently from the Cortina worlds of 2010.
I saw women walking with beers that had not only lids, but straws. Maritime practicality.
Spoke to ice technician Jamie Bourassa between yesterday’s draws. He was hopeful that the soft, fudgy ice that developed Monday last night wouldn’t occur; he turned the lights off between draws and has only people with low overall body temperature working on the ice surface. At least that’s what I heard after the part about the lights. Then I was distracted by beers with straws.
It was sort of quiet in here last night. That’s what happens when the home team gets down early.
[Curling Canada photo by Michael Burns – click on image to increase viewing size]

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2015 Worlds: Some ugliness

Team China

Team China in Halifax

By Dean Gemmell

HALIFAX – A reasonable crowd in here for a weekday afternoon and they saw the gamut, from great shotmaking to some Tuesday League ugliness. Some soft ice picks meant there weren’t many teams on the ice without a hair brush in the mix.

The Czech Republic was really never in it against China, even without Rui Liu standing on the tee line. Sources say Liu is now a father and, apparently, that precludes curling. I’ll let my editor try to explain. (Er, no chance – Ed.)
According to the stats of Gerry Geurts and CurlingZone, Scottish skip Ewen McDonald had a 60% chance of winning when he was up one without the hammer playing the 10th against the USA. I think, however, those stats look pretty shaky when you have a bunch of misses in said 10th end. Then, those stats get better again when you make a super wide in-off on your last throw to force John Shuster to try a Red-Yellow-Yellow run. Count it as a win for Scotland.
The Patch is open, it seems, and I’m headed over there. I fear that if I venture outside it will be snowing, this being Nova Scotia and all.
[Curling Canada photo by Michael Burns – click image to increase viewing size]

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2015 Worlds: Tuesday letdown

Look who is on site at the 2015 world men’s championship in Halifax… it’s our pal Den Gemmell, host of the incroyable podcast The Curling Show. And we’ve given him some blogspace!
What’s wrong with our pants, bub?

What’s wrong with our pants, bub?

By Dean Gemmell
HALIFAX – The Tuesday afternoon draw starts the Squish stretch for half the field, including my American colleagues and Canada, playing this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow morning. I can’t claim to understand it but I imagine there’s a reason for it. Draws are often like that. Except when they just don’t make any sense at all and it’s early Spring and you’re ticked because you were hosed when you had a legit chance to win a quality Toaster Oven.
But here at the worlds, Tuesday is tough, especially when you’re in the Squish. The early rush of adrenaline from the start of the event is fading, and if you’re sub-.500, it can look like you’re about to be forced down into the coal mine for a stretch. Teams who make the playoffs figure out how to fight through it.
U.S. skip John Shuster played a solid third end to get a deuce.
Norway’s pants are typically awful.
The Finns have more hair on one team than entire curling clubs do.
The Chinese were a lot more intimidating with Rui Liu.
More after the break. Must relocate here on the bench…

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Vol. 58 Issue 6: April 2015

  • TCN_April_2015_COVER_HRSIX COLUMNS IN ONE

    Hall-of-Fame columnist Terry Jones takes us through the biggest debates of the curling year– DIGITAL EDITION LAUNCHES MULTIPLE PHOTO GALLERIES

  • SHOTS OF THE YEAR

    We provide quick links to the season’s best shots as part of our Newsdesk – DIGITAL EDITION LAUNCHES MULTIPLE VIDEOS

  • PHOTOS OF THE YEAR

    Two pages in print, and another eight in our digital edition; we present the best in 2014-15 curling imagery – DIGITAL EDITION LAUNCHES MULTIPLE PHOTO GALLERIES

  • THE TV CURLING WARS

    The Brier marked a turning point in the TSN versus Sportsnet battle – DIGITAL EDITION LAUNCHES VIDEO

  • CURLING TV/WEB GUIDE

    You won’t believe the amount of curling to watch in April, and only we have the most in-depth and accurate event listings

  • WELCOME CHERYL

    New columnist Cheryl Bernard on her debut commentating season

  • DESPERATE FOR ICE TECHS

    Matt Hames on U.S. desperation; Mark Dacey tears a strip off Nova Scotia curling mandarins

  • BEWARE THE PIPS

    Columnist Rodger Schmidt warns us of the People in (Curling) Power

  • MATT THE ENGINEER FIXES CURLING

    Columnist Matt Brouwer says curling fans have got it wrong – DIGITAL EDITION LAUNCHES PHOTO GALLERY

  • THE CURLING NEWS GOLD TRAIL

    Which nine men’s and women’s teams have now earned over 100K this season? Only The Curling News tracks every dollar won in the sport, regardless of event affiliation

  • SPECIAL OLYMPICS

    Columnist Fred Rinne knows firsthand of the curling payback, which is “Immediate and priceless” – DIGITAL EDITION LAUNCHES PHOTO GALLERY

  • GUY ON THE ROAD – DIGITAL EDITION EXCLUSIVE

    Travelling man Guy Scholz went a Mile High at the new Denver Curling Club’s first big bonspiel

  • UNIVERSITY CURLING – DIGITAL EDITION EXCLUSIVE WITH PHOTO GALLERY

    A 2015 CIS roundup; columnist Heather Maxted on an uncertain future at U of M

  • CLUB CORNER: CUSTOMERS AND VOLUNTEERS

    Columnist Mark Inglis helps facility managers differentiate between two confusing stakeholders

  • THE LEGEND OF LARRY GREEN

    Columnist Jim Corrigan’s search for the perfect teammate who got away

  • HE THOUGHT HE KNEW IT ALL

    We welcome back columnist Colin Hodgson, the new Brier Hot Shot – DIGITAL EDITION LAUNCHES PHOTO GALLERY

  • PRIERS, AMATEURS AND LAUNDRY

    Columnist Kevin Palmer weighs in on the topics of the year

  • And more… subscribe today!

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2015 Brier: Middaugh makes the call

In the March issue print edition of The Curling News, you’ll find Brier predictions from senior columnist Terry Jones.

In the digital version of that issue, you’ll find Brier predictions from six-time champion and TCN columnist Randy Ferbey.

Now, as an added bonus, we present another round of Brier predictions from none other than Wayne Middaugh, a three-time champion (at three different positions) who always has an opinion. Over to you, Wayne!

Middaugh in Tankard action

Middaugh at the 2015 ON Tankard

By Wayne Middaugh

Let’s start with what’s important and then see who is left standing at the end.

Relegation:

Prince Edward Island – Adam Casey … This team has put in the work this year and deserves to be part of the Brier… the entire Brier.

Nova Scotia – Glenn Macleod and Yukon – Bob Smallwood … Enjoy your three games in the big building and milk it for all it’s worth. You deserve better.

Main draw:

12th – New Brunswick – Jeremy Mallais … The goal is no relegation… sorry, I didn’t know who to pick in this spot and when I looked at the teams, I thought if not you… then who?

T7 – P.E.I. – Team Casey, you paid your dues on tour this year and if you keep doing that I only see you moving up on this list.

T7 – British Columbia – Jim Cotter … One of the nicest guys in the game and I want more for him, but just don’t see it.

T7 – Northwest Territories – Jamie Koe … The curling gods like you as you are what curling is all about, but unfortunately, even with everyone on your side, it doesn’t make you a Brier champion. #guyhemmings

T7 – Ontario – Mark Kean … He beat us twice en route to winning his first Purple Heart and this is where I would have put us in this field.

T4 – Manitoba – Reid Carruthers … Reid was great when he became a WFC with Team Stoughton, then took a few years off from making shots. Looks like he’s back and knows how to win.

T4 – Québec – Jean-Michel Ménard … Has won this before and knows what it takes to trick the front-runners. Question is: How many tricks does he have left?

Top pick: Team Jacobs/NONT

Top pick: Jacobs/NONT

T4 – Team Canada – John Morris … Fan favourites and good guys playing in a hometown Brier. However, they didn’t put in the time on tour and on the ice this year, meaning their week on the Saddledome ice will end in a tie-breaker about Friday.

T4 – Saskatchewan – Steve Laycock … This team can throw it hard and if they get a lead on anyone they can run out the scoreboard… although that’s not enough to win the Brier. Getting better every year and I expect to see them in the playoffs.

3 – Newfoundland & Labrador – Brad Gushue … You go every year it’s only a matter of time before you win this thing… and Brad makes enough last shots to do just that, so I expect him to be playing after the round robin… but not sure this is the year.

2 – Alberta – Kevin Koe … This team was built to win games and the 2018 Olympics, but before you win you’ve gotta learn to lose as a team (and hate that feeling). This week will be a learning experience even though I expect them to be there at the end of the week.

1 – Northern Ontario – Brad Jacobs … JJ started the mojo with the current Olympic gold medallists winning the STOH and I’m funny/superstitious that way. Watching these guys is kind of like watching Pros versus Joes; the Joes win sometimes but not often… and Team Jacobs are pros in every way. Congrats Team Jacobs!

First image by Robert Wilson; second image copyright ® The Curling News by Anil Mungal. Click on images to increase viewing size

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Vol. 58 Issue 5: March 2015

  • ANOTHER CALGARY BRIER

    Hall-of-Fame columnist Terry Jones breaks down the Brier field and makes predictions – DIGITAL EDITION INCLUDES SIX PHOTO GALLERIES

  • THE 2015 STOH – DIGITAL EDITION EXCLUSIVE

    The real story of Canada’s women’s championship in Moose Jaw – INCLUDES VIDEO AND PHOTO GALLERY

  • WORLD CURLING DISASTER?

    Put down your pom-poms, curling fans. Columnist Rodger Schmidt explains why one nation’s dominance will destroy the sport – in Canada, too

  • CURLING TV/WEB GUIDE

    You won’t believe the amount of curling to watch in March, and only we have the most in-depth and accurate event listings

  • TANKARD TALES AND RELEGATION THOUGHTS

    Columnist Matt Brouwer on site at a Brier qualifier, and on the art of curling spin – DIGITAL EDITION INCLUDES EXCLUSIVE ONLINE VIDEO

  • GONE DIGITAL

    That’s right: Each and every issue of The Curling News is now enhanced and expanded online with more pages of exclusive, interactive curling content – but you must subscribe to get it all

  • THE CURLING NEWS GOLD TRAIL

    Which three women’s teams have now earned over 100K this season? Only The Curling News tracks every dollar won in the sport, regardless of event affiliation

  • CURLING IN AMERICA

    Matt Sussman stays up late and breaks down NBC’s Curling Night in America

  • CLUB CORNER: ATTRACTING SPECTATORS

    Columnist Mark Inglis crunched the numbers and suggests how to increase the number of live action fans

  • CURLING? YEAH MON

    Columnist Jim Corrigan accepts the World Curling Federation’s Hall of Fame award for launching curling in… Jamaica!

  • BLUENOSERS ONLINE

    We welcome back Atlantic Canada columnist Teri Udle, who interviews the man behind Livecurling.com

  • ROAD TRIP I: SMALL TOWN CANADA

    New columnist Heather Maxted on the beauty of small town curling trips – DIGITAL EDITION INCLUDES PHOTO GALLERY

  • ROAD TRIP II: TO YOUR STOMACH – DIGITAL EDITION EXCLUSIVE

    Columnist Andrew Stoakley reveals the curling world’s favourite road restaurants

  • ROAD TRIP III: THAT GUY – DIGITAL EDITION EXCLUSIVE

    Columnist Guy Scholz concludes his epic odyssey from Graceland to St. Paul

  • TEAM HOMAN GEARS UP

    One of the world’s top teams offers fans a chance to wear team clothing

  • And more… subscribe today!

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Vol. 58 Issue 4: February 2015

  • February 2015, Vol. 58, Issue 4NOT GONE GIRLS

    Sorry, boys : Our Hall-Of-Fame columnist Terry Jones proves that women – and perhaps mixed doubles – are the biggest things in curling these days – DIGITAL EDITION INCLUDES PHOTO GALLERY

  • (VIDEO) GAME ON

    Columnist Matt Brouwer dissects the curling video game industry and ranks his favourites – DIGITAL EDITION INCLUDES EXCLUSIVE ONLINE VIDEO

  • GONE DIGITAL

    Each and every issue of The Curling News is now enhanced and expanded online with more pages of exclusive, interactive curling content – but you must subscribe to get it all

  • CURLING TV/WEB GUIDE

    You won’t believe the amount of stuff to watch in February, and only we have the most in-depth and accurate listings – EXPANDED FOR DIGITAL EDITION

  • STOH PREVIEW – DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE

    The Curling News breaks down the provincial women’s championships in advance of February’s STOH nationals – INCLUDES EXCLUSIVE PHOTO GALLERIES

  • WORLD WHEELCHAIR PREVIEW

    Columnist Eric Eales previews the entire international field as the 2015 World Wheelchair Curling Championship is poised to begin

  • “ANY FOUR” VS THE PROVINCIAL ELITE

    How many times has once province’s championship men’s team NOT been skipped by one of “The Big Six”? The answer will shock you…

  • GOLD TRAIL RANKINGS

    Which three women’s teams have now earned over 100K this season? Only The Curling News tracks every dollar won in the sport, regardless of event affiliation

  • CLUB CORNER: RECREATION TRENDS

    Part III in columnist Mark Inglis’ series on How To Run A Curling Club – essential reading for any facility manager, volunteer or board member

  • CURLING IN AMERICA

    Columnist Guy Scholz is on the road again, this time from Graceland to St. Paul

  • THE CURLING COUCH POTATO

    From his world of golf and darts – that’s right, darts – columnist Bill Nielson summarizes a fall and winter of curling on TV

  • THE CURLING NEWSDESK

    What’s wrong with playdowns; Brazil versus USA; our Skins Game contest winner; Outdoor curling in Toronto; Target blew it with curling, among other things; who won and who lost on the Plays of the Year, and more – DIGITAL EDITION INCLUDES DIGITAL PHOTO GALLERIES

  • CATCH THE SPIRIT

    The 2015 Spirit of Curling Calendar raises funds for three charities, and curling communities too

  • And more… subscribe today!

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Vol. 58 Issue 3: January 2015

  • Layout 1BRIER/STOH FUTURE IN DOUBT

    Our Hall-Of-Fame columnist Terry Jones breaks down the CCA’s shocking event concepts of the future – INCLUDES DIGITAL PHOTO GALLERY

  • GONE DIGITAL

    As we’ve said, every issue of The Curling News is now enhanced and expanded online with more pages of exclusive, interactive curling content – but you must subscribe to get it all

  • CURLING TV/WEB GUIDE

    You won’t believe the amount of stuff to watch in January, and only we have the most in-depth and accurate listings – EXPANDED FOR DIGITAL EDITION

  • BEWARE THE CURLING ZOMBIES

    Veteran Jim Corrigan on the joy of beating young whippersnappers – DIGITAL EDITION INCLUDES EXCLUSIVE ONLINE VIDEO

  • U.S. TO COVER CANADIAN CURLING – DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE

    Dean Gemmell weighs in on the surprising landmark ESPN deal

  • GOLD TRAIL RANKINGS

    Only The Curling News tracks every dollar won in the sport, regardless of event affiliation

  • MAKING THE CURLING SAUSAGE

    Andrew Stoakley on assembling TV curling audio; plus the infamous crewspiel

  • TAKE A CHANCE – ON ABBA

    Matt Brouwer shares his pre-game warm-up secrets

  • THE CURLING NEWSDESK

    European roundup; Randy Ferbey introduces the Everest Pro-Am; three Men of Curling make their cheque presentations; the Grand Slams continue – INCLUDES DIGITAL PHOTO GALLERY

  • THEY SAID IT

    Our popular collection of quotable quotes on Twitter, featuring The Curling News, Mark Nichols, Team Casey, Rob Swan and Baron Von Awesome

  • OH NO, CANADA

    She won a provincial championship for Saskatchewan, but she cannot enter STOH playdowns – Fred Rinne adds fuel to the residency debate fire

  • THE QUEST TO FIND CANADA’S CUP

    Kevin Palmer travelled to Camrose to consider the words of Nostradamus

  • CATCH THE SPIRIT

    The 2015 Spirit of Curling Calendar raises funds for three charities, and curling communities too

  • And more… subscribe today!

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