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Bernadette On Deck

Word out of Gatineau, Quebec and the Canadian Curling Association’s annual Congress says that premier Saskatchewan volunteer Bernadette McIntyre (photo) will be acclaimed to the CCA Board of Directors, without a vote.

No surprise there: McIntyre is arguably the best-known event volunteer leader in the country, having chaired the 1998 Regina Scotties, the 2006 Brier, and the 2001 Olympic Trials along with multiple years of great cashspiels in the Queen City.

She is also a founding member the Sandra Schmirler Trust Fund (now Foundation), served on the board of the Saskatchewan Sport Hall of Fame and Museum, and won the CCA’s Ray Kingsmith Executive of the Year Award in 2003. She even volunteered, in a non-executive role, with the 2005 Canada Games.

“I believe if you volunteer and contribute to your community, it makes for a stronger community,” McIntyre said in 2005.

Now, McIntyre is volunteering to contribute to all of Canadian curling, and it says here that she will be a vibrant and valuable addition to the board. And not a moment too soon, as the CCA grapples with office turmoil, financial struggles and an irritable provincial membership.

Also …

• First the Hungarians and the Czechs, now the Slovaks… indeed, “Síri novi Sport!” …

• Oich. The planned world-class curling centre and home of Scottish curling – a £1.5 million facility – might fizzle out, due to complaints of country aesthetics and inherent danger to – wait for it – badgers …

• The Ontario Curling Tour’s 2007-08 event schedule was released this morning …

• Too funny: The Score’s “Tiger Woods of Curling” dons a fabled ice uniform, grabs Mike Harris and heads to “a very unfamiliar place for a nation of brothers” (aka the Toronto Cricket club). Yo, check this

• Finally, more frustrating news coming out of the Fredericton Golf & Curling Club, following the stiff-arm the golfers gave the curlers.

As reported in yesterday’s Daily Gleaner, curling member Ed Haggerty believes he and his fellow rock-tossers were hosed.

Haggerty says the members were told the curling club needed $125,000 to replace the ice plant, condenser and chilling equipment.

“I’m not a mechanical engineer but I’m an electrical engineer and a good deal of that is electric,’” said the retired Haggerty. “Having worked for 37 years at NB Power in construction, I’m aware of a lot of different kind of facilities. I was on the ice committee and I personally don’t believe the plant is in as bad a condition as what’s being told.”

At the Monday meeting which saw the shareholders vote to turf the curlers, a pro engineer “submitted a letter and said much the same thing,” Haggerty said. “Yes, the plant is getting older but, in his experience as a mechanical engineer, he felt with some maintenance it was certainly capable of operating for a good long time.”

But the golfers weren’t willing to give the curlers much time to try to round up the money.

“Who can come up with 125 grand in three weeks?” Haggerty said.

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Fredericton curling club kicked out

Word today that the Fredericton Curling Club has been unceremoniously booted out of the facility it shares with their former golf buddies.

What’s in a name, you ask? Not much, according to the shareholders at the Fredericton Golf and Curling Club, which essentially voted on Monday night to change its name and strike “curling” out of its title.

As the image of Fredericton curling in 1854 indicates, this marks the end of 150-plus years of history. Gone. El toasto.

This typical golf-versus-curling story has been heard often before: the golfers have been subsidizing the curlers for years, curling membership has steadily declined, and a whack of new curling facility equipment ($100,000 or so) is needed and is not forthcoming… so a “business decision” was made.

Some of the discourse is disturbing, however. Curling club past president Gary Wilson feels the curling executive was “misled into believing we were doing better than we were, by the board and by the general manager. I have, on paper, reports from annual general meetings that say we were making money.

“When this came to a head and we were asked to meet with the board, we were told point blank that this was all wrong. We never made money, we were losing money, but out of the goodness of their hearts, they were adjusting the books to make it look better than it was. They said there should have been footnotes put into the profit and loss statements that all expenses were not charged to the curling division that should have been. They didn’t cook the books, but they didn’t report everything accurately on paper. There was nothing fraudulant or whatever in that manner. But things weren’t explained as to what they were in exactness.”

Looking ahead, incoming president Cyndi Greene is talking tough, saying that fundraising toward a new facility will be “well underway” in three to four weeks and they’ll begin scouting potential locations, and that “we’ll get an ice plant and a shed to put (the club) in. The life span of an ice plant is 30 years. So once that’s in, we’re looking at a minimum 30 years.”

We should know better than to infer directly from media accounts, but these quoted steps and solutions all sound far, far too simple. There will be no FCC curling in 2007-08 and it is going to be very, very difficult to make a comeback at all, let alone get “a new venue up and running no later than 2008.”

Given that “neither Greene or Wilson were surprised” by the results of Monday’s vote, and that Greene says the club executive is only now planning “to meet with legal counsel later this week to protect the assets of the club,” one has to ask… what, if anything, was attempted to prevent this disaster?

Was the NBCA ever asked for help or direction in rebuilding what sounds like an abysmal membership count? Was the CCA’s lauded Business of Curling seminar program ever considered or attended?

Who’s on first? Or rather, was on first? Just asking.

Elsewhere:

• Alberta women have joined the men in revamping their provincial format and a pair of Calgary teams are headed directly to next January’s provincial championship.

Defending champ Cheryl Bernard and 2006 Olympian Shannon Kleibrink were the beneficiaries of the Alberta Curling Federation’s expansion of the women’s provincials, a move the ACF ratified at its annual general meeting on the weekend.

As pioneered by the men’s provincials, there’ll be 12 teams chasing the 2008 Alberta women’s title; the traditional eight (three each from the North and South, two from the Peace) as well as the defending champ, the top Alberta team on the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) last season (Kleibrink) and two teams to be decided this fall. One will be the top CTRS team in the stretch from September to late January, and the other will come from an Alberta bonspiel series.

In addition, the ACF announced that both the men’s and women’s provincials will adopt triple-knockout formats, with four qualifiers going to a Page playoff system.

• Meanwhile, the eternal question of provincial qualification rages on in BC… and on, and on, and on …

Congrats to Vermont curlers on a great inaugural season …

• Let’s keep the good news coming: The Curling News has learned the Toronto Curling Association will announce a new sponsor tomorrow in Retirement Residences Group. RRG becomes title sponsor of both the TCA Business Women’s Bonspiel (November 9-11, 2007) and the Toronto & District Ladies Bonspiel (Nov. 13-15).

“We are looking forward to partnering with two great bonspiels,” said Elaine Wood and Pam Starr, Regional Directors of Marketing for Retirement Residences Group. “We support curling all over the GTA and this is a great opportunity to show our support for women’s curling.”

• And finally, RIP to Bob Martin, a curling mover and shaker in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe region …

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Take-Out Weight Curling… v3?

Remember Take-Out Weight Curling?

It was a videogame, circa 2002-03, that scored strong reviews and went through two versions, both of them selling quite well… and notably through standard retail stores, and with little or no promotion or advertising within the curling market.

Developed by Saskatchewan youngster Nathan Sorenson when he was still in high school (!) TOWC and TOWC2 are now out of print and hard to find.

Great news today in that Nate has resurfaced with a revamped website/blog, located here. He’s currently studying computer science at the University of Calgary and while he’s not announcing a TOWC3 or anything like that, his inaugural message indicates that he just might be willing to mail some game copies out to those who cannot find it, and are in desperate need of a fix.

So visit his page and send him a comment, or an e-mail… who knows, maybe if enough people write in, he’ll find the time and inspiration to get back on the curling development trail …

Elsewhere:

• A flurry of news recently concerning Scotland and their high-performance plans aiming toward Vancouver 2010… as usual, The Scottish Curler has the best summary of what it all means …

• In recent news, Northern Ontario has (finally) finished their long-awaited amalgamation… and Hall of Fame legend Vera Pezer is the new chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan …

• DID YOU KNOW: that InTheHack is selling some of their branded curling gloves on eBay… and speaking of merch, it looks like the ProCurler spring sale is still going as we head into summer …

• Congrats to all at the Great Smoky Mountains Curling Club in Knoxville, TN… not only do they have the best club motto – “will curl for jugs!” – but they also hosted a summer spiel on the weekend, with teams from Hamilton, Collingwood and Windsor, Ontario taking part along with U.S. teams from Detroit and Knoxville …

• Just prior to that event, Colorado Springs hosted a tourney, as reported by the fine folks in Kansas City

• They’ve also been curling in California, and SongMonk recently broke down down his delivery… which, of course, prompted more mulling

• Here’s two YouTube glimpses into the magic of outdoor Swiss curling, then and now

• As the Czechs say, Hokej: V Trenãíne hrali hokejisti curling

• And don’t forget the Hungarians (also in English here) …

• And finally… wanna buy some rocks?

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40-degree curling

40 degrees (with humidity) celsius in big, bad Toronto today and who would think there’s curling goin’ on, all for a great cause and with some serious celebrity names to boot.

Of course, there is lots of golf underway for the celebs and sponsors, at some great courses like this one, and this one, plus this one, and of course this one.

There has already been one pub night, which saw world champ Craig Savill challenged by some unknown guy to a 40-yard sprint outside along Eglinton Avenue. We kid you not.

Savill won, like any A-carded national athlete should.

Drop on by the Canlan Ice Sports Centre for a gander this weekend, and/or make a donation here.

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The Blue & Orange

All good things must come to an end, and it looks like the pink gear sported by Team Glenn Howard – the world champions, of course – has moved on… to orange and blue. Or has it?

Team sponsor BalancePlus has announced a limited run of new specialty carbon-fibre tapered brushes are on sale now, with proceeds going to prostate cancer research. That’s $100 from every brush going to this cause, which will be embraced by the team through the coming 2007-08 season.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get pink brushes anymore… indeed, they are also still on sale via the BalancePlus website. But the new campaign should deliver another $10,000 to the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada, and should also deliver a new look for the colourful Howard guys this fall.

Unless the Howards are sticking with pink, meaning that another team would be donning the blue and orange. Hrmm… any thoughts?

What a busy bunch, these world champs are. Fresh off a party at their home club which drew a whack of supporters, the boys are in Sudbury today as part of Tim Hortons Camp Day, visiting no less than 13 Tim Hortons area locations.

“They might serve coffee, pose for pictures, sign autographs, talk about curling, whatever they want to do,” said John McLellan, Tim Hortons’ regional marketing manager for Northern Ontario.

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The Curler

It’s back.

The Curler was a staple of Manitoba curling club reading for about 15 years, but hasn’t been around for a while. Back in late February, publisher Resby Coutts – recently the MR guy of the Manitoba Curling Association, who also hosts a Sunday morning radio program called “Rock Talk” on Winnipeg’s CFRW AM1290 – brought it back to online life and we have watched it become a great little website. Check it out… and with provincial associations all meeting in the lead up to next week’s big annual Canadian Curling Association Congress, there’s lots to digest.

Briefly:

• They’re turning away curling-crazed people in Aukland, New Zealand… check out this Kiwi TV report

• Meanwhile, they went “Turkey Curling” in the Middle East the other day, and these guys hosted “Ferret Curling” in Ottawa yesterday …

Curling Today reports that, amongst other cool stuff, there’s a new Scottish curling forum up and running, and also that world champ Kelly Scott will compete in Scotland in mid-January, at a lucrative new WCT-E event …

• Still with Scotland, did you know they’re planning a new tourist centre overlooking the legendary Ailsa Craig? That would cost some 30 million pounds? Tis true, read on here

• Finally, the new Grand Slam for women, the Sobey’s Slam, will be held on arena ice in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia …

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June curling with Brad Gushue

And you thought curling was over.

The June 9-10 weekend will actually see not one but two curling events in Toronto. There’s the perennial East York Summer Spiel, which you never hear about because the following year’s event is always near-full by the time the current tourney ends. No need to advertise!

But the big news is yet another charity event, this time benefitting the world-famous Hospital for Sick Children, which gives Toronto curling fans a chance to raise money for one of the city’s great causes and rub elbows with some celebs, like Mike Harris and Jenn Hanna.

The big score the fledgling Curl For SickKids event has produced is the participation of Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue, who will be making his first appearance at a celeb-charity event in four years.

There are some spots available but curlers and fans are urged to visit the website, send an email or phone call soon to get in on the action. The top five fundraisers, naturally, get to select their skip …

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Scottish curling online

We at The Curling News are honoured to spotlight The Scottish Curler, a glossy mag that is actually a wee bit older than us (shhhh!) and which is also chock full of great currrrrrling news from Scoootland every month.

The Scottish Curler now has an online weblog, Curling Today, and we are also honoured to have been the first out there to spot it, and post its first comment.

So there you be. Check in often and read up on all things Scoootish and currrrrrling via your desktop.

Elsewhere:

• Great news from the European curling world as Le Gruyère AOC has renewed its title sponsorship of the European Curling Championships for another two-year term …

• The Canadian Curling Association has a selection committee currently out west, checking out sites for the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The choice is down to Kelowna or Victoria in B.C.

Steering said committee are the CCA’s Warren Hansen and Jack Bowman, as well as veteran STOH chief Robin Wilson.

The final decision, which will be announced this fall, will be a tough one. Victoria has a strong event pedigree with the lucrative 2005 Ford World Men’s still fresh in memory. Kelowna, however, is currently the talk of curling in B.C. as it is home to world champion Kelly Scott.

Kelowna has also hosted the Scotties, in 1989, and other Season of Champion events like the World Women’s (1986), the Canadian Juniors (1999), and the World Juniors (2002)… and the mammoth Kelowna Curling Club is a very sleek operation, headed by 2007 provincial Mixed champ Jock Tyre.

As for the two arenas in the running, there appears to be little to choose from between Kelowna’s Prospera Place – built in 1999 – with seating for 6,007, and the Save on Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria – still with some fresh drywall during the 05 Worlds – and its capacity of 7, 400.

Nearby Vernon, of course, is hosting the coming 2008 Ford World Women’s Championship, which just scored a $50,000 grant… and the Vernon Curling Club recently hired Dave Merklinger – he of the criticized Tim Horton’s Brier and very much uncriticized Ford Worlds in Edmonton – as ice technician and general manager, who makes the move from Vancouver’s Royal City CC.

• Still in British Columbia, 2006 Paralympic wheelchair champion team member Sonja Gaudet is in the running for Vernon Business Woman of the Year award. The gala takes place tomorrow at the Best Western Vernon Lodge.

Gaudet’s bio reads as follows:

Sonja Gaudet is a dedicated wife and mother, as well as a volunteer, ambassador, motivational speaker and highly accomplished athlete. She was a key member of the Canadian Paralympic Curling Team that won gold at the 2006 Torino Paralympic Games. Her life is an example of grace and achievement as well as selfless determination to make her community a better place. She has used her life experience to inspire others, always with a sense of humor and her signature smile.

• A wee bit further to the southwest, B.C. curling coach Sharon Delver paid a curling visit to New Zealand and Australia this month. And nice to hear more about concrete plans for Oz’ first real curling facility …

• The Sports Network picked up our exclusive on Brad Gushue’s newest addition. But of course …

• Finally, a YouTube curling roundup shows excerpts from Sweden’s 2007 mens final (check out the huge backswing on Per Carlsen)… the women’s final, and also the mens juniors (note switch of Van Halen backing track to Survivor), plus a cool vid summarizing the 2007 World Juniors in Eveleth. Finally, someone has finally posted Brit comedienne Catherine Tate’s amusing – if predicable – sketch, which features Rhona Martin

• Okay, finally here’s the last item, and it’s a warning. Do NOT, under ANY circumstances, click on this link. Just don’t do it …

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Gushue picks Noftall

There’s a big story in the Wednesday edition of the St. John’s Telegram, but The Curling News has it first: the search for Brad Gushue’s new lead is over, and the winner is… Dave Noftall of St. John’s (photo).

Noftall recently played lead for Mark Noseworthy, including the 2005 season which saw Noseworthy surprise the field to qualify for the playoffs at the Players’ Championship in St. John’s. Gushue also thrilled the hometown fans by making it to the final that year, eventually losing to Edmonton’s Kevin Martin.

Gushue spoke exclusively to The Curling News:

“Dave will bring a hard working, positive attitude to our team,” Gushue said. “He is a very calm, mature guy who will fit into the chemistry we are trying to develop.

“It was a long process trying to find the right fit, but we have. We had interest from all over the country; it came down to choosing who would be the best fit on the team, no matter where they were from.

“We are all extremely happy about having Dave as part of the team and we are looking forward to hitting the ice next season.”

Unconfirmed reports say the final choice came down to Noftall and an athlete from British Columbia.

Noftall was also a key player behind the scenes during the run of Grand Slam events at Mile One Stadium in St. John’s (2004, ’05 and ’06). He works for Destination St. John’s as Manager of Event Tourism, charged with attracting and booking big events such as the the Scotties Tournament of Hearts (2005), the Memorial Cup, the Juno Awards, and so on.

Perhaps another major curling event is in the offing, Dave? Looks like your upcoming season is destined to be a “major” as well…

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Rocking the Vic

Harry is back home, the golf clubs are swinging, and there yet another musician front and center on The Curling News Blog.

Why, you may ask?

Simple… it turns out one of the best-kept west-coast-Canadian secrets in the world of music venues is in Victoria, BC… and specifically, the Victoria Curling Club.

Ever since one of our favourite bands – the Pixies – played VCC on their enormously successful 2004 reunion tour – this VCC concert photo shows lead singer Black Francis – we’ve noted more and more live shows booked for this curling club. After the ice goes out in April, of course.

But the legacy is much older… we found word of a Ben Harper show at the VCC dating back to May of 1997. That’s at least 10 years, folks.

Last Sunday saw a popular Finger Eleven gig – some clips can be seen on YouTube, but we’re not linking to them because, well, they suck – and this Saturday it’s another TCN fave, alt-rock heroes Metric. In July, there’s more in store with geezers, and bagpipe punks, a skafest, and so on and so forth.

The only time we’ve personally seen the club floor covered with something other than ice was during the 2005 Ford Worlds: the club became the Keith’s Patch and we could definitely see how it would also serve as a good live venue. Of course, that week the musical acts were the usual gang of cover bands we see at many Season of Champions events. The mighty Pixies, however… they’re simply at another level. Sigh.

Elsewhere:

This Norwegian blog tells us that there were no spectator turnout for the recent Norwegian Mixed Championship. The local club president also wonders if its label as a “championship” scares away people, ie. players, who are more interested in having a good time – which is important to Norwegians at all times, naturally!

The last bit turns to some positives: that the event was played in the “western territories” – we assume Norwegian events aren’t typically hosted there – and while it’s sad that they still have to play in a hockey rink, says NCA general secretary Sverre Myran, a new rink will probably be built soon in Stavanger. Nice …

• DID YOU KNOW: that former Mark Dacey third Bruce Lohnes has an award named after him? Truro Curling Club juniors Adam Berry and Megan Annand are the 2007 winners of the Bruce Lohnes Award (which was presented by Lohnes’ father Ted) to the Truro CC juniors curlers who demonstrate participation, co-operation and sportsmanship through the season …

• Speaking of award winners, the inaugural recipients of Newfoundland’s “Team Gushue Scholarship Awards”, worth $5,000 each, were recently announced, among many others …

• Meanwhile, Canadian Press has hopped on the story about Jamie Korab’s new team, and the result is something like thirty stories running all across the country, some with wild headlines like Curler fuels feud on rock (Edmonton Sun) and the Globe’s hysterical Hell hath no fury like a curler scorned.

Congratulations Jamie: you have to be the first front-end player to get more ink than over half the skips on the World Curling Tour! …

TCN honcho George Karrys tries to wrap up a wild season over at The Curling Show

• Word is that New York Rangers assistant coach Perry Pearn and curling ace Kevin Martin have both entered their alma mater’s fundraising golf tourney on June 1 at Edmonton’s Coloniale Club. The annual event attracts up to 120 players and sends proceeds to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s fund for athletic scholarships …

• Looks like YouTube curling wizard sterlingwes got a boost from TCN Blog as his viewer numbers have jumped this week. If you haven’t started clicking on his collection of highlight-reel shots, we invite you to do so. Resistance is futile …