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H2H Gong Show: a success

It’s all over in Sudsbury… Team Doug Hong won the trophy, with Team Rob Thomas taking the second event trophy over Neil Harrison; the third event saw T-Bay’s Mike Assad upend Frank McCourt and the “New Lunch Bucket” event was dominated by Terry Odishaw over Louis Biron.

Other highlights were some great music performed by Andrew Mercer, Mark Noseworthy, Tim Wright and… a fiddler! Highly entertaining from 2:00am until “whenever” each morning. Not to be outdone, Mercer and Joanne Taylor edged-out Chris Schille and Cherie-Ann Loder for the distinction of getting their names on a pair of very old raincoats. Whatever that means.

Also, DBZ apparently got a haircut during Harry’s Beach Party. Uh, great. In addition, three very excited people won tickets for the 2008 Men’s Worlds: the top fundraiser (Jimmy), a member of the organizing committee (Darlene) and the DBZ lead, Kari. All are very excited about the possibility of a week at the Worlds and then the 27th H2H in Sudbury!

The spiel raised $16,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and next year’s date is set for April 24-26. Early registrants who sign up before February 15, 2008 will go into a draw for a trip for two to Florida. Not bad.

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Bench skipping

Bench skipping is an end-of-season celebrity-charity-curling-spiel pastime. In this David Rollins photo, New Brunswick’s Terry Odishaw (2007 Canadian Mixed champ) and Alberta junior third Joanne Taylor demonstrate their skills at the 26th annual Heart to Heart fundraiser in Sudbury.

BTW, rumours as of yesterday afternoon had Shorty Jenkins on the fast track to the Lunchpail Event (?) …

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Beans for Bubba… and a new Team Jones

After breaking the news – earlier today – of Cory Naharnie’s dismissal from the Kerry Burtnyk team, The Curling News doth speculate on who might replace “The Doctor” at lead stone.

Apart from conducting a lightning raid on a youthful Winnipeg squad – such as that skipped by Reid Carruthers – Burtnyk’s most likely course of action is to revisit one of two familiar faces, veterans Keith Fenton (1995 Brier and Worlds etc. with Burtnyk) or Don “Beans” Harvey (1988 Brier with Burtnyk).

Fenton has been linked with the knee-plagued Vic Peters, so the leading lead would seem to be Harvey (photo by CurlingZone), who played with Dave “Night Train” Boehmer earlier this decade and recently served as fifth man for Team Jeff Stoughton.

THIS JUST IN: The trend towards non-geographic teams vying for the 2009 Olympic Trials continues. CurlTV has broken the news that Halifax skip Colleen Jones will team up with British Columbia’s Georgina Wheatcroft and Darah Provencal (ex-Kelley Law). The fourth player? Second Kate Hamer… from Ontario (ex-Sherry Middaugh).

Wowza.

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Sudsbury Gong Show

by Tim Wright (using Don Barcome’s PDA doohickey)

SOMEWHERE IN NORTHERN ONTARIO – Here we are, blogging live from the big limousine driving up Highway 69 towards Sudbury. See the photo for proof!

We’re headed to the 26th annual Heart to Heart Bonspiel, the first one to be held outside its traditional home of Thunder Bay, and we are the “Toronto” contingent, the alleged “celebrity skips” who were flown into Hogtown from all kinds of locations.

We’ve got Newfies, Minnesotans, Winnipeggers aka Nurses, North Dakotans and yes, even a Toranna person or two… and we are about halfway through our four-hour jaunt to Sudsbury.

We hear that ice wizard Shorty Jenkins and Quebec celeb spiel legend Louie Biron are already on site.

There’s a second limo, somewhere in our backdraft, but we have bigger problems… we just ran out of beer – argh!!! We are a gong show!

Yes, the season is almost over…

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Serious allegations?

Serious allegations in the April 12 posting on the SWEEP! website, specifically, that:

“We are soon going to hear that the Canadian Curling Association is in dire straits. We are soon going to hear that the CCA is broke, and broken. We are soon going to hear that the organizing body of this beloved sport has been living in part truths. This envy of almost all other amateur sports organizations in Canada is not to be envied at all. Its senior executives and top Board members have been acting Enron-like. Hiding. Covering up.”

Discuss.

Meanwhile, the CCA is rumoured – thank-you Al Cameron – to be plucking Canada’s first Mixed Doubles representatives from this fall’s national Mixed competition, also rumoured to be hosted in Calgary Nov. 10-16. The chosen ones will travel to Vierumäki, Finland in March to compete in the inaugural World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship …

Elsewhere:

• Scotland’s Rhona Martin is now an SIS coach

• Saskatoon’s Hub club officially closed last night, amid bittersweet news that the city will bid to host the Brier in either 2011, 2012 or 2013. Writer Doug McConachie offers, rather abruptly, that “even with the excitement of the Brier announcement, curling is gradually dying.”

Still in Sask, some neighboring municipalities are not supporting Moose Jaw’s multiplex efforts. One excuse may be a good one, as this story reveals: there’s another area curling rink in the planning stages …

• Buzz is that Cory “The Doctor” Naharnie, the flamboyant lead for Team Kerry Burtnyk, was dropped from the lineup yesterday: no word yet on his replacement. My, there seems to be some openings at lead stone these days… Another lead is gone, this time from Jill Mouzar’s Halifax foursome, which is now known as Team Harrison with former third Meredith Harrison (nee Doyle) skipping, Mouzar at third, new face (and former Andrea Kelly teammate) Kristen McDermaid at second, and TCN contributor Teri Lake at lead …

• Speaking of dispatched leads, Jamie Korab – accompanied by women’s skip Heather Strong – will be two of the local VIPs celebrating McDonald’s restaurants’ 15th annual McHappy Day in the St. Johns area on May 9. One dollar from every Big Mac, McMuffin and Happy Meal will go to the St. Johns Boys and Girls Club. The restaurants anticipate raising $25,000 from this and one other fundraiser …

• Have to say we haven’t heard this one before. According to a book on a bygone era, mentioned here, Minnesota’s Duluth Curling Club once played a role in blowing the chances of a new hockey arena for the city …

• Finally, please doff your hat to the memory of Fredericton’s Walter Nason, who passed away last week of brain cancer at age 72.

Nason apparently had the mind of a computer when it came to organizing, scheduling and recording curling matches in his capacity as president of the New Brunswick Curling Association. In a long-ago era he didn’t need a computer to tell which draw would best suit X number of teams; he could crunch the numbers in his mind and come up with the right formula.

Nason eventually hooked up with one of the best New Brunswick curlers in Dave Sullivan, and the two represented the province at numerous national events, including the 1994 Canadian Seniors, where they walked away with the championship title.

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Russ Howard to join TSN?

According to Dave MacLean of the Moncton Times & Transcript, Mr. Hurry Hard himself, Russ Howard,might soon be joining Vic, Ray and Linda in the broadcast booth.

The Moncton-based curling icon (Canadaeast photo above by Cindy Wilson) said he’s intrigued by a career in broadcasting and admitted he’s recently received overtures from at least one member of curling most popular broadcasting trio.

The two-time world champion and reigning Olympic gold medallist made the comments during a wide-ranging interview as he criss-crossed the province recently promoting his book Hurry Hard: The Russ Howard Story, which is reviewed here by CP’s Bill Graveland.

“I’m eyeing broadcasting,” Howard said. “There’s a rumour that TSN will be hiring a second crew, because they’re about to take over (from CBC-TV) and they plan on covering way more curling. Ray Turnbull gave me a ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ a few days ago and said I should be involved in that.

“I’ve enjoyed my previous experiences in television, so I think that would be fun.”

TSN president Phil King told MacLean the network is not actively pursuing talent but should an opening become available or staff expansion occur, Howard would certainly be considered.

Howard, of course, auditioned to replace Don Duguid at CBC around seven years ago. The job eventually went to 1998 Olympic skip Mike Harris.

Another emerging field that has proven lucrative for curlers with impressive resumes is coaching. Since the sport was introduced as a full-medal event at the Olympics, many nations have embraced curling and are taking up the roaring game.

Former rival Ed Lukowich – the 1986 world champion who beat Russ in the Brier final – is now the head of curling development for USA Curling and other Canadians are coaching in countries such as Austria, Russia, Japan, Australia and China.

“The other thing that interests me a lot is teaching,” said Howard, a former golf pro before embarking on his current career in real estate.

“I loved teaching golf and curling, but I’m probably a better curling instructor. I’d love to take on the Chinese team or something like that – a team from one of the nations where curling is just getting started. Something like that intrigues me.”

Elsewhere:

• Lots doing in Saskabush: say farewell, sadly, to the Hub; there’s the annual mayhem that is the SCA; does this news mean that Moose Jaw’s long-discussed new facility will actually get off the ground (we have our doubts); and a Regina team, led by a pastor, has won the 2007 Canadian Aboriginal Curling Championship …

• The eight-end debate is still raging…

• Here’s… Office Curling … ?? …

• U.S. women’s champ Deb McCormick has a season-ending Q&A here

The Curling Show has a pile of great interviews up, including the displaced Jamie Korab, his former skip, Brad Gushue, and politico Paul Boutilier

• And finally, Kansas City’s fourth-annual bonspiel goes this weekend, as promoted by the one and only curling diehard in St. Louis …

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Megasale still going

Just a reminder that Procurler’s MegaSale is still ongoing, check out their stuff and also the button marked funny

Elsewhere, a ton of links for ya –

• The Asham World Curling Tour wants to move, immediately, to eight-end games for all competitions – not just the Grand Slams. This comes after strong TV viewership numbers in the Slam’s first year with CBC-TV, but also after mucho controversy concerning the eight-end game, discussed here, here and here at CZ and also in the April issue of The Curling News

Colleen Jones is pondering, exactly one year after the news broke of her teammate defection; Jan Betker is hanging it up; and Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche will be back in action …

This Newfie writer weighs in on Brad Gushue and company (and ex-company)… Brad, incidentally, appears tomorrow at a Halifax school… and still in Newfoundland, Adrian Power’s idea is grand, but what really caught our attention in this story is the new moniker of the former St. John’s Curling Club …

This guy wants more curling video games (amen brutha)… although we have, in our hot little hands, a rare copy of the Japanese-only Nintendo DS game called Minno No Curling

• Other than the editing boo-boo on John Morrison (?), this quickie spotlight on Ben Hebert asks a good question: who is number one, Kevin Martin or Glenn Howard? TCN has decided it’s Howard, but three out of four Slams – plus more than 200K – is a strong argument for K-Mart…

• Our guess is Jorge & Xivi, who have Pasion Por El Curling, would pick Howard …

• The World Curling Federation’s World Rankings see Canada dominating in both men’s and women’s play, and Glenn Howard says “Hey Now”

• The Esquimalt CC facility in British Columbia is suddenly closing, which has prompted an uproar and also a dissenting editorial… and in Fort Nelson, curling seems to have been wiped out by a natural disaster …

• Here’s an otherwise indecipherable feature on former Italian hero-turned-Swiss Joel Retornaz

• According to the Blind Riverians, Canuck Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an inferior moosehorn user. Hope that won’t cost him any votes in the next election …

• Ever heard of the expression Curling Parents? It’s Swedish – Curlingföräldrar – and it’s now explained here

• Still with Sverige, Team Anette Norberg are back in the Blogosphere, with a new page located here

Paul McLean, the TSN curling producer who died of cancer two years ago, will be posthmously inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame on May 30. The hall already honours curlers Mike Harris, Wayne Middaugh and more …

• Team USA was feted on their return to Mankato, MN …

• Scotland’s golden girl seems set to retire and get into coaching, according to this

• In the latest YouTube roundup, hockey’s St. Louis Blues try curling; this is definitely the happiest skip we’ve seen in a while; Poland’s Eurosport curling commentator needs some excitement in his delivery; Johnny Mo joked it up while in winning the car in Hamilton (anyone got a better camera angle?); Finland’s latest bizarro digihomage to The Mighty Uusis; Canada’s Mr. Cool, Richard Hart, gets teased along with his white-belted teammates; and OK guys, it wasn’t that funny after the first 30 seconds… except for the guy who vaccums his face at about 2:37 …

• Curling on Wordie. Well, there you go.

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TPC: Martin wins; poetic signoff

by Jill Officer

As much as the TCN editor wanted me to wrap up the weekend – and the season – after the men’s final of the Tylenol Players’ Championship, I messed up a bit.

I slept through the game. The entire game.

My boyfriend woke me up twice, but apparently I wasn’t ready to open up my eyes. I was so tired. When I did finally crack open some slits, I saw Sidney Crosby on TV as the Canadian national anthem was being sung… for the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins playoff
game. Oops. Sorry gk.

I did check out the line score and I also asked my boyfriend if there was anything exciting about the game. I see there was a four-ender in the men’s finale as well. It was a little earlier in the game than the one we gave up on Saturday night, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be for Team Kevin Koe to rally back against Team Kevin Martin. And so Martin and his squad win yet
another Slam event on the Asham WCT. Congratulations to Kevin, John, Mark and Ben (photo by CurlingZone).

And so the season ends. Aside from the Curl For a Cure Celebrity Charity bonspiel to take place this coming weekend in Calgary, followed by Sudbury’s famed Heart to Heart, the season is officially over. Anyone else ready for the break? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ll be sitting on the beach in Mexico a week from now, my mind far, far away from the ice or anything to do with our sport.

But that will only last for so long, as we’ll starting planning our bonspiel season, our off season training, and much, much more. Hardly a break when you curl at an elite level, it seems. I’m sure we’re not the only ones that will be planning and such, but it’s definitely important to get away from the game for a while, both physically and mentally.

Before you know it, we’ll be back on the ice… possibly as early as mid-August! That’s only four months away! Jebus!

Until then, here’s a little poem.

The weather is just starting to turn nice and no one wants to think about the ice;

We’ve done our duty for the season, but to be back on the ice now, there’d better be a good reason.

From controversy, to defeat and success, this season is over and I think I’m a mess!

I’m sure I’ll live, although I have nothing left to give.

We’ll see you all in the fall, but until then, farewell, ya’ll.

Have a great summer…