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Curling crimefighters

Heard about the Vernon break-in?

There’s a video report here, too.

Some good news, however (although RCMP haven’t caught the thief yet) in that the community has banded together to offer not one but three vehicles by which people can make contributions to the athletes and coaches affected by the crime.

The 2008 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship Host Committee has announced that a trust account has been set up at three local banks to allow the many people who have called asking how they can help the teams affected by the hotel break-ins.

“Our phone lines have been receiving many inquiries from concerned Vernon citizens, event volunteers and curling fans throughout the Okanagan who want to show their support to the teams affected by the hotel break-in on Sunday,” said Rob Pringle, Chair of the 2008 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship.

“This community has invited the world into their homes and residents have been saddened by this unfortunate incident. They have stepped up to demonstrate the true nature of this caring and welcoming community,” Pringle concluded.

Event sponsor National Bank Financial, as well as Vantage One and CIBC Vernon have all set up trust fund accounts under the name 2008 Women’s Curling to allow for contributions from the community.

Contributions will go to replace monies and property the affected teams have lost. All contributions in excess of the amounts lost will be forwarded to the Sandra Schmirler Foundation.

Bank locations are:

National Bank – #101 – 3100 – 30th Avenue

Vantage One, Main Branch – 3108 33rd Avenue, #120, 5301 25th Avenue (Okanagan Landing Rd.) and in Armstrong, #1, 3300 Smith Drive

CIBC, Downtown Vernon on 3201 – 30th Avenue, and in the Village Green Mall

“The teams are overwhelmed by the coming together of the community and the support they have received, and will remember the warmth of our community for a lifetime,” said event coordinator Toby Oswald-Felker.

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Calling U.S. curling fans

VERNON – So, have you heard about WCSN?

They are the new online partner to, and they are webstreaming some of the 2008 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship matches across America, free of charge. They’ll also be doing same for the 2008 World Men’s in Grand Forks, North Dakota, starting in early April.

So click here, and start watching!

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Carmen of Curling II

VERNON – Remember Carmen of Curling?

The “new” third for Swiss skip Mirjam Ott is getting it done at the Ford Worlds. She is tied for first in shooting percentage (81 per cent) with Canada’s Cathy Overton-Clapham heading into big Switzerland/China bout.

Carmen, on the right in this CCA photo (courtesy Michael Burns), had better keep it up, lest she get popped in the kisser by her skip (left). Turns out Ott has one helluva left hook, and could drop the gloves if things don’t go her way.

OK, we’re being silly, but as this story tells, the Swiss skip knows her way around a boxing ring.


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China has arrived

VERNON – Nice freakout pic from CCA shooter Michael Burns.

This is Chinese lead Yan Zhou, with teammate Yin Liu in the background, screaming for the sweep during this morning’s action at the 2008 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship.

Canada’s Jennifer Jones was heavy with her winning draw – right from the get-go – and China stole two to win 9-7.

This is getting interesting.

UPDATE: Now China is kicking the United States – who were 4-1 coming in here – by the score of 8-1. Ouch.

Definitely interesting.

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Get your Jill fill

VERNON – First she ran wild on this here TCN Blog during the Winnipeg Brier. Now she’s ripping it up on the ice for Canada here at the Vernon Multiplex.

Either way, Canadian second Jill Officer clearly ain’t going away. So here’s a magnificent pic of Jill pumping it up last night against Germany (CCA photo by the one and only Michael Burns).

Right now the Jennifer Jones quartet is battling Italy, and the teams just swapped field goals for a 5-4 Canada lead after five. Well, the Italians have been playing well… they’ve just struggled with the last few rocks a couple of times.

Geez. Everyone – and we mean everyone – has been asking about our next blogpost (this one). Even Jill’s teammate, Cathy O, who corralled us after last night’s game.

“You gotta get Jilly off there,” Cathy said with a smile. “She’s been up there for a week. Get someone else on there.”

Sorry O. For now, it’s time to get yer Jill Fill. But at least it’s a new photo, and a new event. The Ford World Women’s in the beautiful Okanagan.

Until we find our sea legs, here’s a catchup of some fun links for you…

Townie Bastard hopes to see an all-Nunavut team at next year’s Canadian Mixed, and we echo his call. And speaking of TB, he wonders if CBC mailed it in on their final big show of the year, the disappointing Brier final …

• AOL Sports’ Fanhouse just loved the fact that Canadian curling broadcasters are willing to let the occasional “F-bomb” onto the air …

Torontoist visited the Leaside CC recently, and took some portrait-style photos of typical curlers. One of them, Jennie Norman, has been a local dynamo trying to inspire a new Toronto curling club, that would rise from the ashes of Avonlea …

• Let’s talk scrapbooking! Cathy O is a fan, and we’ll have to tell her about this

Curling is Canadian! And so there!

• Uh, it’s a year late in celebrating, but… happy 50th, Florenceville!

• Well, this sure looked like strange, bizarre fun

Robyn Roste learned quite a bit about Brier boys Bubba and “Goo” …

• This Detroit Red Wings hockey blog hopped on some comments Brad Gushue made in Winnipeg about second Chris Schille, an Alberta boy, not being accepted on The Rock …

• Sorry, not funny. Not even a nice try…

• We think this U.S. take on the Brier final is interesting …

Check out this kid: he does the Stoughton Spinerama, then he sweeps his own puck into the four-foot. Nice.

This guy hates ‘rock’ tag references…

• And finally, Steve Bain has perspective: Instead of watching the Ford Worlds and “wishing it was more” he is now “looking at it realizing it could be much less” …

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Brier signoff

by Jill Officer

WINNIPEG – As I was down at ice level shooting some pics of the celebration, I noticed a brief grimace on the faces of Ben and Marc after they thought for a second that they had over swept their skipper’s final shot, but then the celebration began.

And so with my first perspective of a national championship through the eyes of the media, here are some of my final thoughts on this week’s Brier at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg…

• First, I loved doing media stuff this week; a totally new perspective for me, but one that I thought was great.

• It’s not easy being a media person at the Brier. Trying to watch four games at a time during the round robin and write blogs and columns and do interviews is more than a handful worth of work.

• So, you thought Alberta’s Ben and Marc were awesome sweepers to watch on TV? You should see them in person.

Johnny Mo proved you can curl with a broken finger… and be really good at it! Morris received the Brier MVP award.

• Women’s curling closed the gap on men’s curling this year… I think the Scotties’ level of play was better than ever in 2007-08, and perhaps even out-curled the Brier this year. And no, I’m not just saying that because my own team was in it, and won the thing.

• Nova Scotia’s Brian Rafuse was oh-so-close to beating a number of the top teams here this week, and sent a message to everyone that their team will be one to watch at the Canadian Seniors in Prince Albert in a couple of weeks.

• Winnipeg’s Brier was the seventh most attended in history with 165,075 people coming out. Yesterday’s final had 9,223 fans in the stands.

• Happy Freakin’ Birthday to Ben Hebert… that’s one heck of a present!

• It was an awesome sight to see… a very long embrace by curling buddies Marc Kennedy, and Newfoundland and Labrador second Chris Schille. Schille was down at ice level after the ceremonies were over and the ice was being torn apart, and he was obviously very happy for his good friend.

So I wrap this up feeling somewhat sad that the excitement is over, glad that the work is done and, of course, congratulations Team Alberta for a well-deserved Brier championship. And thanks to editor gk for letting me run wild on the TCN Blog!

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Alberta goes 13-0

by Jill Officer

WINNIPEG – There was a buzz in the building as people filed in for this Brier finale between the top two teams in the world.

Too bad the game was a stinker.

There will be lots of news in tomorrow’s media on exactly what plagued the player’s skills – and confidence – down at ice level at the MTS Centre.

Soft ice? The melted ring marks left by a stone in the house – well before the 10th end, by the way – would indicate that.

Stuff from the ceiling? Specifically, the air vents, or so the speculation went.

All we know is this was the second time in two years of Brier finals that Ontario’s Glenn Howard was surprised by the ice. His team never latched on to the conditions at the start the 2006 final and Jean-Michel Ménard, the eventual champ, jumped out to a big lead.

This time around, the problems also confounded Howard’s opponent, Alberta’s Kevin Martin. But Martin made a few more shots than the Ontarians did, and that proved to be the difference.

There were some Alberta fans here that were body-painted from the waist up and cheering loudly. Alberta lead Ben Hebert’s brother Chris and his buddies were stirring things up here at the MTS Centre. Chris was hoping brother Ben won the big game today so he might get away with not buying his brother a birthday present. The Brier Tankard would be a gift enough for Ben, who celebrated his 25th b-day today!

It was also a final for CBC today… the broadcaster’s final Brier telecast.

What do Mike Harris and Joan McCusker think about that? Turns out, not a lot. They both said they still feel like there is still so much to do this season – the Ford World Women’s in Vernon, the Players’ Championship in St. John’s in April, and they still get to do all the Grand Slam events next year.

So… in the end, a great shot was made by Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Hebert, with the latter two sweeping Martin’s rock perfectly to the button for the win.

Tune in tomorrow morning for my final thoughts on Brier 2008.

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CBC’s final Brier final

by Jill Officer

WINNIPEG – After missing a runback, Ontario’s Glenn Howard left a hit for three for Saskatchewan’s Pat Simmons in the 8th end.

The green machine took full advantage of the miss from Howard and stuck for three. The funny thing about the shot was that the crowd here at the MTS Centre yelled at the Saskatchewan sweepers to clean the rock! Obviously they were trying to help prevent any mishaps again today.

So, although they tied it up after eight, in the end, Ontario just couldn’t be beat.

You can’t help but to feel badly for Simmons and his team. Although the boys had a chance to put their game away against Alberta’s Kevin Martin last night, they still had a chance to win if it wasn’t for that pick on the last brick.

Even Howard said after today’s game that “Simmons didn’t deserve to be in that game.”

And so, with Saskatchewan being eliminated here, many people are wondering what might have happened had Sask won the game last night.

It also answers the question of whether or not the team would recover from such a disappointing loss last night. There were moments where the team was quite sharp, but although they made a case for themselves from the 8th end on, they really just weren’t quite as precise as they had been during the week.

Simmons had tears in eyes during the post-game media scrum. He also said he didn’t get much sleep last night, but he and his teammates were really proud of the way they came out to play tonight.

And so Ontario’s Howard will meet Alberta’s Martin in the final, pretty much what everyone predicted coming into this 2008 Brier.

After the game, both skips (photo) said that they expect tomorrow’s finale to come down to the last rock. Both skips agreed that their teams have been 50-50 against each other this year, and that each will have to play their best.

And what a great way for CBC to end 60-odd years of Brier TV coverage… bittersweet, to be sure, but this one is sure to go down in history.

Game on!

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Decked out

by Jill Officer

WINNIPEG – The family members of Team Ontario are decked out in the pink cheering today. They said they were nervous, but that’s usually a good sign, isn’t it?

There are many fans cheering for Ontario today, but not to be outdone, Saskatchewan fans have travelled to this neighbouring province to cheer on their boys.

It’s midway through Brier Semifinal Saturday and although the game has been close, it looks like Ontario has more control than Saskatchewan.

The big question on the media bench today was whether the green machine would recover from last night’s game, where skip Pat Simmons had an open hit for the win only to have his rock pick something, causing him to flash. Everybody had something to say about it!

Fifth-end break today featured a couple of presentations, with one to the late CBC commentator Don Wittman’s family, which included a video tribute on the big screen. Witt was a Manitoba boy, you see. TCN’s own Doug Maxwell was also honoured, as was original CBC curling voice Don Chevrier.

Don Duguid, former CBC colour commentator and two-time world champion from Winnipeg, was also given special recognition for his years with CBC.

Okay, the players are just filing back out on the ice for the second half of the game… stay tuned!

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Kisses, Wheelies and Sask agony

by Jill Officer

WINNIPEG – First of all, Savs can relax. No way is editor gk giving up that photo, he says. And I agree. Serious athletes are going for serious peak performances today and tomorrow, and its time for everyone to focus.

Having said that, we just can’t stop talking about the fun stuff!

Emcee Stu Brown has been entertaining fans here all week in the Keith’s Patch, but for the playoff games he has been entertaining fans with his antics in the crowd.

In between the fourth and fifth ends of the 1 vs 2 playoff game, Stu had the in-house camera focusing on couples in the crowd while he commentated. The funniest reaction, by far, occurred when the camera zoomed in on Alberta third John Morris and lead-slash-curling commentator Ben Hebert, who at the time were both at ice level watching the Jumbotron.

Ben proceeded to grab Johnny Mo and show him some love. They pretended to kiss, they hugged and the crowd cheered.

During fifth-end break tonight, the Canadian Curling Association featured an on-ice demonstration from both the Manitoba visually-impaired curling team and the Manitoba Wheelchair curling team (see photo). “The Wheelies” as they call themselves will be competing in the national championships later this month at the West Kildonan Curling Club right here in Winnipeg.

And finally, to the big story. Wasn’t Saskatchewan’s Pat Simmons looking great early on last night, stealing not one, but two deuces from Kevin Martin and Alberta during the 1 vs 2 Page playoff game?

The stunning disaster that followed, culminating in the open hit for the win which picked some debris, left the men in green absolutely shattered, and needing a serious pickup before meeting defending champions Ontario in today’s semi.

More on just how shocking last night’s result was can be found here and here.