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Movember moustaches

BalancePlus is supporting the month of “Movember”, which is a new campaign to battle prostate cancer, by inviting male curlers to grow a moustache – starting tomorrow – through the entire month of “Movember”.

And if they have one already, the ask is to shave it off tomorrow, and start regrowing. They even hope to see some Grand Slam athletes sporting their stache on CBC, live from Quebec City, at the end of “Movember”.

BP has already raised $10,000 in the fight, courtesy of their new blue and orange carbon-fibre brush handles, in which a whopping $100 from each handle goes directly to the charity. In the CurlingZone photo above, Toronto’s Mike Harris shows off the new brush at this month’s Tour stop in Vancouver.

Check out this YouTube clip to learn more about the prostate cancer threat, and the “Movember” campaign.

And let’s hope to see some facial foliage crop up on Tour and at local curling clubs over the next few weeks. Right, boys?

Elsewhere …

Cliffy’s second straight win in Portage keeps his squad in first place on The Curling News Top 15 men’s ranking (right-hand margin). Meanwhile, Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton climbed to fourth on the TCN Top 15 women’s list after yesterday’s hometown Tour victory

• Yeah, that Korbel NYC ice was definitely heavy… and here’s the promo for December’s broadcast, too …

• So this is where a good chunk of Victoria 2005’s 225K profit went… cool …

The Curling Show raps with KMart third Johnny Mo

• Guess what: Wayden women’s Slam has a blog

• And speaking of women, Al Cameron rather bluntly begs you to “suck it up ladies… fire away at each other.” Well, why not! …

• Duluth has put out a call for videos

• Here’s pseudo-curling at a Japanese game centre

• And, still with Japan, you Go! Go! Girls!!!, indeed ….

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Sharp Dressed Men

As the New Gushues jet home from Portage today, they are near the end of their two-week run as cover boys for The Current, the street mag of their home city in St. John’s.

The story, plus more great photos by Sara Rostotski, can be downloaded via PDF (about 6mb) from the mag website… but only until November 1.

’Course, every girl’s crazy ’bout a

Meanwhile, across this grand world of curling:

• JHCurl has his blogopinions up – and some photos – on NYC’s Korbel gig …

• Manitoba curling maven Resby Coutts not only produces the online journal The Curler, he also hosts the long-running Rock Talk radio show on Winnipeg’s CFRW 1290. The show moves from a dullish Sunday morning to Monday nights at 7:00pm (that’s 8:00pm ET), effective tonight, and one and all can tune in via the internet here. Also, selected show excerpts can be dowloaded as mp3 files here

According to Jet Boots, Winnipeg’s upcoming Tim Hortons Brier will release two ticket packages for sale on Friday, the “Early Riser” and “Late Show.” Jet Boots also asks Ticketmaster users to quote his club code …

• This is, of course, the formal launch of Winnipeg 08’s ticket campaign, and the pressure is intense. As Freep scribe Paul Wiecek stated bluntly last week, “the public’s response to (this) campaign will decide possibly once and for all whether this city still has what it takes to be considered the centre of the curling world” …

• We like a sports editor who gets out there and actually writes stuff. Doug McConachie did a fine job on the weekend in Regina, and kicked things off by looking at junior efforts at the adult level …

Here’s a nice feature on the one-year-old Nutmeg, the newest curling club in Connecticut. Of course, a pile of determined Nutmeggers helped out in New Yawk this past weekend …

• More from Mendacious D

• More curling for hockey’s San Jose Sharks – remember this? – as they took to the “other” ice once again in Banff, Alberta

Is this the last hurrah for Bas? Well, it will be if they don’t get the darned ice in already! …

• Finally, Detroit CC had an open house yesterday

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Goodbye New York

ROCKEFELLER PLAZA, NYC – We’re outta here, folks.

The Korbel Challenge was indeed moved up to the AM, as the rain is now picking up in the late afternoon. Good call, producers. Hope this didn’t mess up The Chicks, though it probably did.

Here’s a photo taken by a Plainfield CC member after the taping wrapped up this morning.

There was another hit during the morning Today Show, too, which you can see right now on the show website (look for “Curling on the Rockefeller rink”) … hey, that looks like Maria Menounos… it is! It was! But I shan’t comment further, as I think the sport could have been presented in a better light. Don’t you?

What’s the takeaway? Not really sure, to be honest… we’ll just have to tune in Dec. 23 on NBC to find out. I’m still trying to figure out how Al Roker got shipped to Scranton on a day when he could have been learning how to curl.

Thanks, TCN… it’s been a blast…

Dean Gemmell
The Curling Show

(No, thank you Dean… take a bow [see May 04] – Ed.)

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Manhattan – the night before

by Anonymous (for just a bit longer)

ROCKEFELLER PLAZA, NYC – After the tent turned into a kite earlier in the day and the weather forecast turned more ominous, Mark Shurek and his ice crew started working earlier than originally scheduled — 5:00 in the afternoon to 10:00 at night. Now the plan is to play and tape the game in the morning — at about 10:30am, I think — and then perhaps play again in the evening.

They have done wonders with the ice despite all that is working against the cause. No idea how it will end up running but the darned thing was a giant puddle just a couple of nights ago.

If the sheet looks a bit short, that’s because it most definitely is. Remember, this is Manhattan. Put a hot plate and a mini-fridge in the rings and we’d call it an apartment. Even curlers have to get used to living in smaller spaces. Just don’t blink during peels!

The Today Show bobbleheads will take their brand of hard-nosed journalism to the ice on Friday morning. Not sure what they’ll be doing. Perhaps Al Roker will slip and much hilarity will ensue. How about 3-1 odds that Matt Lauer is needled about his housekeeping abilities when Team Fenson’s Joe Polo shows him how to sweep? Let’s just hope Ann Curry doesn’t get a stone in the rings and set the sport back about 25 years.

Speaking of Team Pete Fenson, they stopped by to have a look at the setting after a dinner with the Swedes and the Korbel folks. Team Peja Lindholm figured there were better things to do in Manhattan on a Thursday night than watch water freeze.

I probably won’t be back in Manhattan until Friday evening. If the Nor’Easter really does hit, I doubt I’ll see any curling. If it doesn’t, I’ll watch the game along with Prometheus …

•• MORNING UPDATE ••

AHA… the editor reports that curling just made its first TV appearance, Friday morning at 8:31 am ET.

In no particular order, Fenson threw a rock (and the tent is down!); Lauer was crowned with a curling “rock hat”; and Roker seems to be in Scranton, PA.

We’re up and running, folks!

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Shurek’s biggest Challenge

Tomorrow afternoon is the big game – Fenson vs Lindholm at the Korbel Elite Challenge at New York’s outdoor Rockefeller Plaza – and there are two bloggers onsite: JHcurl and also a secret blogger – oooohhh! – whose words appear below, right here on The Curling News Blog.

Tune in tomorrow as he posts directly from the event, whereupon we shall also reveal his identity.

Oh… and don’t forget Team Fenson’s appearance on tomorrow morning’s edition of NBC’s Today Show

This photo (above) shows the state of affairs at Rockefeller Centre on Wednesday night, at about 11:00pm. I’d say this is Mark Shurek’s biggest icemaking challenge to date – even tougher than trying to please Grand Slam players.

Yes, those are skaters. And there are skaters out there again today.

What you can’t see is the rain. A steady drizzle which sometimes escalates to a shower. It was also about 80ºF the night before.

You also can’t see four young women from Texas and Oklahoma inquiring about our efforts. They were fairly amazed that someone – Mark – would come all the way from Canada to make curling ice. I reminded them that Canada wasn’t actually all that far. Perhaps Texas folks don’t get out much (except for Dan and and mates – Ed).

The crew behind this affair decided to put up a row of tents on the ice. That’s where Shurek is prepping his very important sheet – under a very long catering tent.

Until tomorrow… fingers crossed…

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Rock-efeller Curling

First they curled in Central Park. Now the sport is set for another promotional boost in New York City as curling hits the ice at the famed Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan.
Yep, the Korbel Elite Curling Challenge is back, and filming goes this Friday, for any interested passers-by. The USA Curling affair will be filmed and run as a 90-minute TV special on NBC on December 23.

Last year’s Challenge featured teams Pete Fenson and Deb McCormick in a battle of the sexes at Whistler, B.C. which included celebrity non-curlers Dan Jansen, a four-time Olympian and speed skating gold medallist, and Picabo Street, two-time Olympic medallist and arguably the greatest downhill skier in U.S. history.

This Saturday, Fenson talkes on charismatic Swedish champion Peja Lindholm in the outdoor match, which is sure to cause more than a few double-takes. Both teams are stopping in New Yawk en route to an AWCT stop in Brooks, Alberta.

Meanwhile, Team Fenson is scheduled as guests on NBC’s Today Show this Friday morning (exact time not set). Well, this should be their long-overdue post-Torino appearance, but we shall not whinge, shall we?

Wow. Rockefeller Plaza. The very place made famous by this legendary show and, more recently, this smash hit show, too. Hey… wonder if Alec will swing by between takes. He’s curled once himself, ya know. Ask him.

Elsewhere:

• The top four Swiss men’s and women’s teams begin a Trials event today for the right to represent Switzerland at the European Championships in Füssen in December. The Trials wrap up on the weekend.

The big news here is that the top-ranked Ralph Stöckli team is ravaged by injuries – literally. Lead Simon Strübin missed most of the Bern Open and third Jan Hauser has blown out his leg – he is insured, incidentally, following a history of soccer injuries. Shocklingly, Hauser may have to compete and call the game today, and throughout the qualifier. The team will also miss the Pheasant Classic in Brooks the following weekend …

• Scotland is also playing down this weekend to announce their Füssen reps, and ice whiz Hans Wuthrich is on the scene …

Did we really disclose something? Where? When? People are actually reading this thing? Geez …

• The ConMan is back in action, boasting about Alberta teams (of course) and trying to help us understand the Canadian Olympic Trials qualification process. In this earlier story, he summarizes Bonnyville …

• Talk about trying to understand things: we don’t like math – sorry, Kevin – and it sure sounds like Saskatchewan could use a mathematician – hey, get over there, Kevin …

• There’s yet more talk about a new Scottish facility to replace the Aviemore …

• PEI’s new Curling Hall of Fame starts things off with a Nov. 15 induction ceremony

• Calling all ice techs: Axel is asking for advice on weird happenings in Guelph …

• Ah yes, those Ashams really do live forever …

• And finally, attention Toronto winos… er, singles…

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Young and restless

You can’t blame a western-Canadian curling writer for describing a young (average years 18.5) junior curling team as “unheralded”. So what if Ontarians know the names of (left to right in photo) Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew, Alison Kreviazuk and Nikki Johnston… what’s an “outside” beat writer to do?
Indeed, the triumphant junior women’s team that knocked off a pile of big-name teams in London last weekend is only well-known to Ontarians, and that in itself is unusual. But, this is an unusual team.

Briefly:

– they’ve been together for six years
– they terrorized Ont. Bantam curling, winning three straight unprecedented titles from 03-05
– they won back-to-back Ontario Curling Tour championships (adult) in both 05 and 06
– they were Canada Winter Games gold medallists last year
– they regularly beat up on world junior men’s teams, and adult men’s and women’s teams

In London, they were assisted by pinch-hitter Erin Morrissey after Kreviazuk pulled a leg muscle. They beat mighty Jennifer Jones twice, talented Julie Reddick twice, former world women’s champ Deb McCormick of the U.S. 10-1 and they also crushed Quebec’s Eve Bélisle 9-1 in the final.

You can read Jill Officer’s first-hand thoughts on these young guns in the upcoming November issue of The Curling News. Subscribe today.

Ladies, welcome to the club. Even the western guys will know you now.

Elsewhere:

• Remember Kelly Scott’s nomination for the Women’s Sports Foundation’s “Sportswoman of the Year” award? U.S. softball player Monica Abbott claimed the honour in New York this week

• B.C. curling fans can check out the men’s and women’s finals of the AWCT’s Strauss Crown of Curling this Sunday, at 3:00pm and 7:00pm local time on Shaw Cable …

Here’s a trailer for the new Viatravia Swiss Curling Tour, which The Curling News attended in person on Monday. That opening game is now online

• Two curlers are part of a £36,000 bronze monument to Scotland’s Badenoch and Strathspey Olympians, unveiled recently by Brit running legend Sebastian Coe in Aviemore …

• NEAR MISS: the tiny Manitoba town of Cartwright almost lost its curling club, which was damaged in a fire that destroyed the adjacent hockey arena …

• Meanwhile, the homeless Windsor CC members are itching to rebuild

• Another sad closure occurred in Saskatoon at season’s end, but at least there is some good news coming out of the death of the Hub City …

• Did you know: the Yukon Curling Association will receive a $7,500 grant from the territorial government’s Yukon Sport for Life fund? Eleven other Yukon sport governing bodies will share in the fund pot of $124,000 …

• Fresh off a huge win at the Don Bartlett Classic, Shawn Adams and company will be in the field for the BDO Classic Canadian Open in Quebec City …

Murray McCormick reports on the latest event ticket campaign in Regina (Scotties) and the third men’s Grand Slam of the year, the Masters, will be visiting Saskatoon …

Speculation abounds regarding Winnipeg as host site for Canada’s “Pre-Trials Qualifier”, the 16-team tussle in 2009 that will send eight teams to the December 09 Tim Hortons Canadian Curling (Olympic) Trials…

• Attention, world of curling… we’d like you to meet James. He is a novice curler in Houston, Texas, and he’s bravely airing his thoughts – and newbie advice – on the blogosphere. Kudos and welcome… and good luck on the ice, of course!

• Finally: got a Palm? Then go get this curling game

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Swiss Tour debut

BADEN, Switzerland – Canadians have seen some of it before.

No takeouts, at all, on lead stones (the original Moncton Rule). Skips wearing microphones and earpieces, answering media questions during the flow of the game (Rogers Sportsnet’s Rock Talk). Tight curling quarters, with the fans right next to the action (the TSN Skins Game).

But this was also something very new. Six ends only, in a live 90-minute television package. Additional rule changes, such as an alternating hammer, and a maximum available score per end of only two. Thunder sticks in the crowd adding to the din.

And when the dust settled, Ralph Stöckli and company had defeated former Olympic teammate Claudio Pescia 6-4, and game one of the new Viatravia Swiss Curling Tour was over (TCN photo by Urs Räber).

Half an hour after the live broadcast ended, the athletes were all on the ice in their street clothes, taking part in the tear-down. This is a truly hands-on endeavour, steered by top skips Stöckli and Andi Schwaller, along with broadcast partner Teleclub (a pay-per-view subscription network) and new curling sponsor Viatravia.

“Here we go,” said a visibly pleased Schwaller after the match. “We are finally on the air. It’s good to get the show up and running.”

“We didn’t have our best day,” said Pescia. “But there were a lot of great shots. This format is quite exciting for the fans, I think, but it’s also exciting for the players.”

The 10-week Tour will feature six teams, including Stöckli, Schwaller, Pescia, Urs Beglinger, Patrick Vuille and junior champion Florian Meister, with SF 35,000 available in winnings. Each team has already received a SF 10,000 starting bonus, with SF 1,000 available for each game “point” scored during the event.

An edited version of each game will be available soon after the broadcast on the Teleclub website, which can be routed through the Swiss Curling Tour site.

More on this fascinating new venture in the soon-to-be-released November issue of The Curling News

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Re/Max Women’s Masters

ARLESHEIM, Switzerland – Sweden’s Anette Norberg finished tearing through one of the top international women’s fields here this afternoon, but got a real scare in the process.
Norberg defeated Scotland’s Edith Loudon 6-5 in the final of the Re/Max Women’s Masters, played at Basel’s Curlingzentrum, the same venue of last week’s men’s Swiss Cup and last December’s B-Pool of the European Championships.

It marked the the first spiel win of the year – and the second straight masters title – for the Golden Girls, who are without third Eva Lund, who recently gave birth to her second child. Local Asa Hägmann filled in and got the job done.

The Norbergs also edged the only Swiss team to qualify for the playoffs, old friend Mirjam Ott, now of Davos. In the rematch of the 2006 Olympic final, the Swedes won another tight one by a 6-5 count, but this time they had to steal the final end to do it.

In the TCN photo by Urs Räber, Ott third Carmen Schäfer, new on the team this year, hollers for the brushes. Remember her now?

Another Scottish team skipped by Claire Milne made it to the semis, losing to Loudon.

One of the pinnacle women’s events on the World Curling Tour Europe, the Women’s Masters was devoid of any Canadian teams. Scheduling seemed to be the big issue, with the proximity of the first women’s Grand Slam in Calgary the previous weekend – and its pile of available CTRS points – making it tough for teams to make the trip across the pond.

Here’s an idea for the stellar organizing committee, led by Manuela Kormann: play travel agent, to give distant teams a more robust itinerary. The Masters starts on a Friday, so offer a Thursday of exhibition games between travellers and local teams; perhaps even an evening of social fun, too.

The last Canadian team to play in the event, Edmonton’s Cathy King, arranged exactly that for her own team, in 2006. But if the committee were to offer this as an incentive, more long-distance trekkers might once again make the jump across the Atlantic.

They certainly don’t need to find any better ice conditions, hospitality, or organizational prowess. That is already top-notch.

Back to the WCT-E… did you know you can watch archived games from the Tour’s exclusive U1 TV coverage directly from the WCT-E website? Simply click on the box in the left-hand menu, and watch the show.

Finally, speaking of TV curling, tomorrow night in Baden marks a brave new era in Swiss curling, and The Curling News Blog will be there. Of course.

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Olympic curling ticket info

Remember going hogwild for The Gushues as they won gold two years ago in Turin?

Ever imagined what it would be like to actually be there (photo)?

One year from today – October 11, 2008 – curling tickets for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will go on sale.

That’s the word today from VANOC, and here’s the scoop, according to this new page (prices in Canadian dollars):

Description Category Price

Men’s and Women’s – Qualification – A – $65
Men’s and Women’s Semifinal – A – $100
Men’s and Women’s Bronze Medal – A – $100
Men’s and Women’s Gold Medal – A – $125
Men’s and Women’s Tie Breakers – A – $65

Nope, unlike other sports there are no other curling ticket categories: it’s “A” for one and all.

Yesterday, pundits were predicting the best tickets to the 2010 curling event would be the highest ever charged for the sport in the Olympics. Considering these are single ticket prices for single (non-packaged) draws, we’d have to agree.

Maybe not. Take a good look, and imagine the frenzy for curling tickets that will ensue. VANOC could have jacked the prices higher, folks, and they didn’t. Kudos, say we.

FYI, sports like figure skating and hockey top out at around $420 (each), while others like Cross-Country Ski and Bobsleigh peak at about $80 (each).

Priciest ducat? The Opening Ceremonies, at a whopping $1,100 (although the cheapest seats are $175).

There’s more on tickets, in general, located here

Elsewhere:

• It’s almost official: tomorrow the Canadian Curling Association will announce Calgary as the host of the 2009 Tim Hortons Brier …

• British Curling has launched its website, located here

• Meanwhile, Scotland’s popular Perth Masters tournament has the draw posted online. Once again again a strong contingent of vistors will descend on the town, including three Canadian squads: Glenn Howard, Kerry Burtnyk, and living legend Eddie Werenich

Scott Taylor of Team Glenn Howard (and BalancePlus) fame has won a coaching award

• Is the sky falling? Maybe, because PattyMac is on The Curling Show

• Congrats to Quebec’s Magog Curling Club, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this Saturday …

Joe sez that two of the final failed candidates for the CCA CEO job hail from Ottawa: one was Rachel Homan’s team coach, Doug Kreviazuk, and the other has requested anonimity …

• Here’s a call to curling arms – er, brooms – in the Boston area …

• And finally, Mendacious D offers a fine ode to curling here