Murdoch wins, Gushue praised

It’s all over in St. Petersburg, Russia, where David Murdoch’s Scottish champions upended Canada’s Brad Gushue, the 2006 Olympic champion, by a 6-3 score in the final.

Pal Trulsen’s 2002 Olympic champs won the bronze, defeating one of the Russian entries 5-4.

In the semifinals, Gushue edged Trulsen 6-5 in an extra-end while Murdoch took out the Russians 7-4.

In the WCT-E photo above (click to zoom in), we note a few things:

1. The event trophies are huge but the individual trophies are quite small!

2. Gushue (far left) deserves an award for fearlessly perching on the very edge of the silver podium without taking a tumble, while his teammates – front enders no less! – stand comfortably in safety. Lead stone Jamie Korab even gets to hold the big trophy!

3. Peter Smith of Scotland – the big guy – has just won way too many trophies in his long career.

4. Who is the new Norwegian lead? We thought coach Ole Ingvaldsen was actually throwing rocks during the week.

5. Note the coloured confetti on the ice. It probably exploded up into the air when the Scots received their championship trophy. But they probably didn’t bounce up and down, chanting, for fear of collapsing the podium.

6. Finally, we note the cool hair and duds on the Master of Ceremonies. That guy has it goin’ on.

So, it’s all over, and the event certainly looked to be a resounding success. We’ve got some comments from World Curling Tour Europe ED Armin Harder, who spoke to TCN about the Canadians:

“The Gushue boys are true sportsmen… they are great ambassadors for the game and for their country. The European Tour really appreciates their flying all that way from Newfoundland. They’ve been the stars here and an enormous boost to our cause, and a pleasure to have along.”

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Russia’s Adamant Curling Cup

The ADAMANT St.Petersburg Curling Cup is just about ready to start. As you will recall, six international teams will battle it out along with Russian locals in an exhibition series hosted in a shopping mall.

Ice tech Peter Luck, at left in this photo (above) from Tuesday, is the man tasked with bringing the ice to life. Luck, who is 59, has over 30 years of experience in Switzerland – at Wallisellen, near Zurich – and has been the chief ice tech for the past five or so World Wheelchair Championships. He also steered a previous World Juniors in addition to active crew duty at previous World and European Championships.

He’ll head to Vancouver in 2010 for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but first… St. Petersburg!

Action starts tomorrow and concludes on Sunday. The Brad Gushue, David Murdoch and Thomas Ulsrud teams are at full strength, while Pal Trulsen has coach Ole Ingvaldsen at lead stone and Andy Kapp has his brother Uli, who is recuperating from knee surgery, also at lead.

Follow the action here and stay tuned to this here blog site… we just might have some surprises posted through the event.

What else, you ask?

• Following another invasion of New Zealand, the Aussies have declared their World Mixed Doubles team for the 2009 Cortina Worlds …

This is the best darned curling ice in Michigan! So there!

• Here’s early notice that the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club will be a part of a “get psyched for 2010” Olympic-themed open house on Aug. 24… their club blog is located here

Memories of the Thistle (Hamilton, Ontario version) … and here’s what it looks like these days, sadly …

Here’s a peek at new Canadian Curling Association Governor Jim Campbell

• And finally: ever wanted to help map out historical curling locations in Scotland?

Of course you have!

All you need is a computer and high-speed connection. The ancient sport’s archivists are looking for your help – click here for the scoop!

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Olympic Curling 2018

Curling fans are slowly going bonkers over the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games – don’t forget, tickets are on sale in early October – and of course we then have Sochi, Russia in 2014.

In fact, it was one year ago today that Sochi got the nod from the International Olympic Committee, shocking many observers (including us).

What comes next, in 2018?

Well, PyeongChang, South Korea is bidding again, having lost to both Vancouver and Sochi. In fact, it says here the Koreans will bid over and over and over until they win it. Simple as that.

Munich, Germany will be bidding, and despite the proximity of Sochi to Europe, the Germans are a major threat to win.

Tromso, Norway, is going to bid and 2002 Olympic curling champion skip Pal Trulsen has thrown his support behind the bid. They are first out of the hack with a website; a Facebook page, located here (you must be a Facebook member to view it)… and here’s a cool promotional videolove the big rings located on the mountain facing the main stadium!

And in a clear acknowledgment that a bid will go forward, there is even an official opposition group already online. But of course.

The Americans are interested, but if Chicago wins the race to host the 2014 Summer Games, any Yankee winter hopes – probably centered on Denver, Colorado – are gone.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarians and Serbians are reportedly combining on a joint bid; the French are infighting over bidding on summer or winter; the Swiss (in Geneva) need a referendum to proceed, the Swedes are exploring their options, and even some southern hemisphere locales (like New Zealand) are thinking about it. But not Durban, South Africa, as some had recently believed.

All formal bids are due in January, 2009.

Anything else?

• Once again, the glorious sport of curling was included in many a news outlet’s annual Canada Day Quiz… such as this one here. However, the answer featured a horrendous inaccuracy – can you spot it?

• It was, of course, Canada Day on July 1… and today, on this fourth of July, we say Happy Birthday to our American friends. There is, by the way, lots of curling action going on down south these days:

Texas Dan recently celebrated 50 years of Frisco curling and also illustrates another 50-year anniversary, in Green Bay, Wisconsin – and you’re telling us curling is located right across the street from this iconic shrine? Are you kidding?!

– San Jose has not one but two open house days scheduled for next week, and at two different locations to boot;

– curling maniac Richard Maskel won a new summer spiel in Port Huron, Michigan… with extra photos located here. The photographer was Keith, by the way;

– New York’s Coach Heidt, a hockey and lacrosse buff, was recently intrigued with curling;

– there are curling stones rarin’ to be tossed at the new Chaparral Ice rink in Austin, Texas;

– how about Indianapolis? Yep, here’s the story (plus video);

– Team Debbie McCormick second Nicole Joraanstad – a 2007 calendar girl – was recently voted Madison Sportswoman of the Year for 2008;

– the Pittsburgh Tropical is going on, like, right now;

– and those loveable tinseltowners in Los Angeles are making news, again… first they were somehow part of a Dodger Stadium pre-game award presentation to pro baseball player Russell Martin; and now CurlTV has finally drawn a bead on them. Their latest funspiel goes tomorrow …

This silly hockey story caught our eye: specifically the reference to past disputes between Canada’s CBC-TV Sports and the world of curling. We simply love the line “… sparked hundreds of thousands of angry curling fans to threaten a march on CBC headquarters with lit brooms and pitchforks” …

• Here’s an odd little curling cartoon, from Italy:

• Here’s a curling league software package for $79.95; someone tell us if it’s any good …

Peter dropped by Naseby, New Zealand, and checked out the only dedicated curling facility located in the southern hemisphere of planet Earth. Soon to come is a luge ride (just scroll down a bit) …

• The Winnipeg Brier has raked in a half-million dollars in profit

• And finally, the Canadian Curling Association was in Prince George, site of the 2000 STOH, for a venue inspection for the 2009 Pre-Trials Qualifier. Story plus photo here, and video here

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Shopping Mall Curling in Russia

World Curling Tour Europe – these guys, not these guys – have leaped into the headlines with word of an annual curling exhibition being hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Date of the first event is almost imminent: July 25-27, 2008.

The format sees five international men’s teams of considerable heft being jetted into the city to join three local teams, as yet undetermined.

Invited and accepted are:

Brad Gushue – Canada
Pal Trulsen – Norway
Thomas Ulsrud – Norway
David Murdoch – Scotland
Andy Kapp – Germany

Key to the venture is new WCT-E partner Adamant Construction & Property Management, a rather large Russian developer that happens to own some 1.7 million square metres of property in that city alone.

They also own a few shopping centres, including a big one that happens to boast a small ice rink. A rink that has seen curling displays in the past.

As such, shopping mall curling has come to Russia, just as it came briefly to the world’s biggest mall in Edmonton, and more recently (but sadly no longer) to a mid-sized mall in Galt, Ontario.

“It’s a bit of a breakthrough for us,” said WCT-E chief exec Armin Harder, a Canadian who lives in Switzerland.

“Adamant are covering all the costs, and the idea is to do this quite a few times leading in to Sochi in 2014.

“We look forward to putting on a good show for these guys.”

And what do the players think?

“We were pretty surprised,” said Gushue.

“We were notified by Armin Harder that the event was in the works and they asked if we were interested in attending. Of course, we said yes. But we didn’t want to get too excited until we knew for sure that the event was a go. Once we heard it was a go we got really excited.

“We have our tickets booked and we are looking forward to it… should be a great experience. Hopefully the event will help raise the profile of the game in Russia and add another event on the WCT-E for down the road.”

And on the western front:

“We are happy to be among those top teams that have been invited to this
event,” said Füssen’s Andy Kapp.

“St. Petersburg is a fantastic and booming city and to play a tournament in the middle of summer heat will be very interesting. In Germany and Switzerland we are used to playing tournaments in July and August, but not in a shopping center and not in Russia. If the ice isn’t melting, we will melt it!”

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Nomes ondulando brazilian grandes

We’re feeling kind of silly today, and faithful readers know that this means – brace yourself, and get ready for anything.

So, on that note, here (at left) is what Randy Ferbey’s soccer jersey would look like.

If he was Brazilian.

Yup. There’s now a website, located here, that claims to instantly change your name to the single-word nickname that makes Brazilian athletes famous.

The four-time world curling champion would like this, we think. The translation is roughly “Big Ferb” and moreover, his team checked out a Real Madrid game, live at The Bernabéu, a couple of years ago. Of course, that’s in Spain where they speak Spanish, whereas Brazillians, who are located on another continent, speak Portuguese.

But we digress.

Ferbey might also like the fact that arch-rival Kevin Martin’s Brazilian name is the same as Brazil’s greatest female footy athlete, whose team lost the women’s World Cup final yesterday.

We plugged in some other famous curling labels, and got multiple options when we doubled up on first or last names. A sampling:

Guy Hemmings – Hemmão or Hemminho
Colleen Jones – Collealdo Santos or Colleson Pau
Jennifer Jones – Jonisco or Jennifaldo
Wayne/Sherry Middaugh – Middacos or Middaaldo
Wes Richardson – Wa or Werto
Bob “Pee Wee” Pickering – Pee Weandro or Bildo
Vera Pezer – Verito or Pezildo
Andy Kapp – Io or Kio Santos
Elisabet Gustafson – Gustafsimo or Elisaba
Ed Werenich – Ildo or Werenaldo
Paul Savage – Paildo or Savagaça
Neil Harrison – Neundo or Neimo
Brad Gushue – Brildo or Gushuson
Jamie Korab – Jamildo or Korildo
Pål Trulsen – Pildo or Trulsimo Peres
Kelly Scott – Kildo or Scildo
Glenn Howard – Gla or Howinhosa
Richard Hart – Hisco Da Costa or Hinho

Even the famous flying Finn – Markku Uusipavaalniemi – gained a few letters, as his monikers came up as “Uusipaavalniemico” or “Uusipaavalnieminho” (M-17 or M-18).

Okay, okay… back to curling.

• Speaking of M-15, his appearance in this story on “former Finnish sporting legends” just two years after Turin may or may not stick in his craw, depending on his intentions for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Suffice to say it would be great to see Uusis back on the ice in Vancouver, and also on the podium, if only to push the word “former” aside. For another year or two, anyway …

Predictions are that Wednesday will see Victoria, BC named as the host city for the 2009 STOH …

• The latest on the Windsor CC sees one of the punks make a court appearance; items like championship banners and the Tankard are lost forever; and now two levels of government – one federal – have pledged to help rebuild the club, inspiring this vow from the club president.

Hmph… it would have been nice to see that kind of commitment from politicians in north Toronto (Avonlea closure), Winnipeg (Thistle arson job) and other cities. Right?

Some good news, however: as it turns out, an ancient inter-club curling trophy was saved, although writer Monty Mosher tells The Curling News that one aspect of the tale has since proved inaccurate: the trophy was actually in a safe elsewhere in Windsor; the prized record books were in New Brunswick …

• Speaking of ancient awards, the Yester CC in Scotland embarked on a missing trophy search that dated back to 1879, and found success …

• The Welsh Dragons won a shocker yesterday to defeat Denmark in the final of the European Mixed, and kudos to Curling Today for some great day-by-day coverage. This local observer even labelled the Scottish outfit the “semiofficial” blog of the tournament!

One of the teams – the Dutch – also kept a fairly active blog, but there was also a bit of media coverage of this event, from AP photographers to media in the host city of Madrid; in Hungary (here and here); in Slovakia (here and here); and even in Estonia.

As for the locals, there were many blogposts expressing curiosity – ¿Qué es el Curling? – and we’ve spotlighted some of them, located here… and here… and here… and here… and yet another here… and and even this short vidclip, too …

• Congrats to Thunder Bay’s Bill Charlebois on his induction into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame last Friday night. In his present role as the Dutch national curling coach, he was unable to attend …

• This past weekend’s tour stop in Vernon saw Bob Ursel win the men’s crown while Calgary’s Heather Rankin upset city rival Shannon Kleibrink in the women’s final. Kleibrink had upset Kelly Scott in the semis. No B.C. teams made the playoffs, which also saw teams from the U.S. and Switzerland qualify …

• In Selkirk, eight teams are into tonight’s semis at the McMillan Insurance Classic

• How would you, as a spiel organizer, like to have a field like this confirmed a full six months prior to your event? We bet you would …

• Meanwhile, this coming weekend will see some decent names duke it out in New Westminster …

• The new Pheasant Classic field is also quite good, but they’ve booked CanRock legends Prizm to play the Saturday night. Now you’re talkin’ …

• This bitter and twisted rant against curling is a couple of years old, but just came to our attention now. Of course, it’s not funny, which is the biggest sin the writer actually made …

• See, now this is actually funny. That’s how you do it …

• Brampton, Ontario’s growing junior spiel now has 48 teams (including Quebeckers and Americans), a prize purse of $12,000, and some new sponsors to boot …

The Chicks won’t be in Brampton, but they were in nearby Oakville over the weekend …

• A couple of ex-Junior stars have joined forces in Thunder Bay …

• Look at this… it’s a rare bird, otherwise knows as a promotional curling media story from Quebec! Hopefully there will be more of these as the first Grand Chelem draws closer

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Yes indeed, curlers are whiners

Well, well… what have we here?

Winnipeg is in an uproar today as the internal news of Asham’s cancellation of that city’s major Asham World Curling Tour event has now exploded into the public forum (also located here).

The Curling Show was quick to get Arnold Asham himself on the horn, and while there are varying reasons why the event has been cancelled, there is one idea percolating which The Curling News must sadly agree with: curlers – in particular the competitive breed – are indeed among the biggest whiners in the world of sports.

This phenomenon has actually been discussed in some major boardrooms of the sport, and many believe it’s a simple consequence of the very nature of curling as a self-managed and self-policed sport.

Think about it. Opposite to most other amateur or professional sports, curlers are somehow permitted to:

• “hire” and “fire” their own team members
• operate with or without a coach or alternate, if they so choose
• police their own game, except at various provincial, national and world championships

This is so ingrained into the sport of curling – and so alien a concept to so many other sports – that curlers reading this are probably getting hot under the collar at the phrase “permitted to.”

In many other sports, even the equivalent of a top curling skip is told – by various sport coaches, managers, owners and/or bureaucrats – what to do and when to do it. And what’s more, you’ll darned well like it, mister!

Even the nature of the curling governance structure lends credence to this concept. Some other sport leaders would shake their heads if told that Canada’s national curling association is merely an umbrella organization, with limited to non-existent power to actually direct the strategy and activities of the provincial associations.

And you can rest assured their jaws are still lying on the floor, two years later, over the public spectacle of irate curling fans forcing that governing body to tear up a multi-year television contract and redo the entire thing… by unleashing a torrent of bad press and even going so far as to threaten sponsors.

From an outside-the-sport perspective, you’ve gotta be kidding!

In this context, curlers get away with murder when compared to other athletes in other sports and will obviously not hesitate to bray loudly if something irks them.

What is tragic is the curler’s tendency to bray the loudest when his or her competitive team is adversely affected by a given situation. It’s hard to ignore the level of selfishness that often ingrains itself into such a self-governed sport.

Then again, curlers still aren’t “paid” very much for their services, are they?

Or aren’t they?

And is that not an entirely different kettle of fish?

Or not?

Elsewhere:

The Curling Show also has a segment with icemaking madman Shorty Jenkins

• In Brockville, Glenn Howard beat Brad Gushue to win the Shorty Jenkins Classic, in a repeat of the Brier final result from last March. Reigning champ Kevin Martin lost the semi to Howard, while Wayne Middaugh’s super-team with Jon Mead and Graeme McCarreland Ian Tetley and Scott Bailey – lost the quarterfinal to Howard. Russ who?

On the women’s side, Debbie McCormick most enjoyed the vibrant Canadian dollar, as her Team USA upended Quebec’s Eve Bélisle in the final match …

• In Galt/Cambridge, the BDO Galt Classic was a big hit in the shopping mall and on Rogers Television… at least the men’s final, as Darryl Prebble surprised Mike Harris with a 6-5 victory for the championship, which was also The Battle For Scarborough (Prebble represents Scarborough Golf Club, while Harris appears to be back at neighboring Tam Heather).

The women’s final was a dud as Julie Reddick made it two spiels in a row with a 13-5 bombing of Colleen Madonia, but Hollie Nicol’s junior team from Kitchener-Waterloo impressed by losing the semi-final to Reddick by a 7-6 count.

“After losing, we said give us five minutes and we’ll be happy with the weekend,” Nicole told The Record. “Our goal was to make the playoffs, and we did that.”

• Over in Edmonton, the locals must be smarting over the fact that a couple of visiting teams waltzed into their town, kicked everyone’s butt and left with the big cash. Bingyu Wang of China crushed Glenys Bakker of Calgary 8-1 in the Boston Pizza women’s final, while Saskatchewan’s Pat Simmons beat Kelly Row, Randy Ferbey and then Brent MacDonald to win the men’s cheque

• The same thing happened over in Norway, as Canadian invaders took out their European opposition at the Radisson SAS Oslo Cup. Edmonton’s Kevin Koe took out the perhaps-not-so-retired Pål Trulsen 7-2 to win the men’s crown, while Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones defeated Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson 7-6 in an all-Canuck women’s final. A couple of Scottish teams, skipped by Kelly Wood and Claire Milne, made the semis.

• The second Grand Slam of Curling event has been announced, and once again the small Cape Breton city of Port Hawkesbury will play host to The National, this time running Dec. 20-23.

“Having the Grand Slam of Curling returning to Port Hawkesbury for a third consecutive year is a tribute to the local community, businesses, volunteers and organizers as each group has been instrumental in making The National such a success,” said Port Hawkesbury Mayor Billy Joe MacLean. “We’re looking forward to hosting the top curling teams from Canada, the United States and Europe in late December and this prestigious world class event will serve as a welcomed early holiday gift for the residents of Port Hawkesbury.”

The Grand Slam events feature a pile of Canada’s top men’s squads including Martin, The National’s defending champion, along with Ferbey, Gushue, Glenn Howard and 2003 Tylenol Players’ Champion Jeff Stoughton.

The top 15 Canadian men’s teams, along with two European squads and one entry from the United States of America, will compete in The National. A complete list of participating teams will be announced in November …

BalancePlus has sent out a cool notice summarizing the “Battle of the Brushes” this past weekend; ie. they’ve just announced the teams wielding their new tapered blue and orange BalancePlus brushes this season: Teams Harris and Peter Corner (semi-finalist in Brockville) and also Team Sherry Middaugh (lost semis at Galt).

These teams will help BalancePlus raise funds for Prostate Cancer Research via an end-of-year auction of each brushe, which will be covered in autographs. The funds raised from the auction will be split between Prostate Cancer Research and the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

BP’s pink brushes, now widely available, will continue as a fundraiser for Breast Cancer. You can add to the support by purchasing one of these charity-connected items today …

• Finally, a sad occurrence in Japan over the weekend …

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Scottish Washer Tossing weekend

Scotland is in the news today on a few fronts.

First, September’s massive national Curlathon fundraiser has been boosted by a big-name challenge match.

Secondly, there’s a pile of neat stuff posted at Curling Today, from the steady progress of a new Gogar Park facility to a very cool look at the coolest place to curl at – and not once but twice, in back-to-back weeks next month – Madrid, in Spain.

Speaking of that blog, The Scottish Curler’s Bob Cowan will celebrate his 60th birthday this Saturday evening at Greenacres, and it’s a shame TCN must decline its invitation. According to the agenda, the evening looks promising:

7:00pm – Guests arrive
7:15pm – Scottish Washer Toss Championship and other assorted nonsense
8:00pm – Buffet
8:30pm – Scottish Washer Toss Final
8:45pm – Awards
9:00pm – ABBAMANIA
11:59pm – Carriages

Happy Birthday, Bob!

Finally, the following weekend sees a special golf junket – På tur med Curlinggutta (Part II) – featuring a pile of Norwegian curlers (led by Pål Trulsen) and of course the host Scot of choice (noted curler and hotelier Hammy McMillan). Also along for the ride last year was the sole North American invitee, jolly Tim Wright of Duluth, Minnesota.

Here, deep from the unpublished archives of The Curling News, is Wright’s heavily edited report from last year’s event (photo shows Hammy, Pål and Tim a year ago). It’s fair to guess that this month’s edition should be equally amusing …

The Team Trulsen golf outing took place at the North West Castle in Stranraer, one of several first-class hotels owned and operated by the McMillan family. Hammy was our host for the weekend, and defied his reputation and spent most of the weekend working, although he was able to sneak away for a pint after hours.

The golf outing itself was designed for the Norwegian Olympians to offer a weekend of thanks for their sponsors and supporters – Hammy and Pål set it up on their plane ride back from Duluth last March, after surviving a weekend as House of Hearts celebrities. Apparently they needed a token American so I was invited. I hesitated a bit when, four days before my flight was to leave the UK, a terrorist plot was foiled… but Pål assured me flying was much safer than golfing with 20 drunk Norwegians. I couldn’t argue that logic.

I entered the tourney knowing one Norwegian word – Skol – which I used frequently. I told my fellow golfers the only English word they needed to learn was “gimme.”

When we arrived for the first match, I was assigned the honorary first shot in the first flight, so I went in to pay for my golf cart (or buggies as they call them in Skotland) and drove up to the first tee. 20 Norwegians looked at me in astonishment as most had never heard of golfing with a limo. Once I explained that the cart wasn’t necessarily to avoid walking or carrying the clubs, but was in fact equipped with four slots to carry your beverages – there was a mad rush for the clubhouse and every group thus had a buggy.

Other North American golfing customs were quickly enjoyed as I taught them how to save steps and bend the rules to one’s advantage. If you haven’t figured it out yet, we were better curlers than golfers. 36 holes later the organizing committee determined the winners. I still haven’t figured out how they score over there – some combination of the Stapleford System with handicaps built in – but it didnt matter, it was a blast. Skol!

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