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Big page for Women of Curling calendar

We were right smack in the middle of December’s Continental Cup coverage, and there it was. Another feature on the 2009 Women of Curling calendar, this time from the Edmonton Sun.

The story – and cover pic – dominated an entire page on curling of the Sun, above… and oh, how we wish other media markets were as curling-committed as those in Alberta.

You can click on the image and squint to read the story (at bottom), or you can just click here.

Some U.S. journos were reading, too. TCN publisher George Karrys has a zowie quote in there – about athlete/model Christine Keshen and her, er, hat – and the quip was picked up in the Seattle Times, and then by the Connecticut Post, and then in California’s Modesto Bee before finally making it to the big time: USA Today.

Looks like the calendar media melee may never end.

You can, of course, purchase the calendar and support the Women of Curling in their fundraising efforts by clicking here, and visiting the pages which follow.

You can also dial 1-800-605-CURL, or for anyone outside of North America, call +1 905 887 1261.

Anything else before we leave 2008?

• Check out our next blogpost for a preview of the January 2009 issue of The Curling News, now in the mail and available via subscription

• DID YOU KNOW: that Glenn Howard lost first game of the Ontario zone playdowns – no pre-qualification systems exist in that province, folks – and had to scramble through the B-side to make it to round two? Well, now you know.

And by the way, two of Ontario’s four regional playdowns (Jan. 3-4) will see the following first round games: Howard versus Peter Corner (in Elmira) and Wayne Middaugh versus Mike Harris, at St. George’s in Toronto …

Bob Weeks liked our Eye on the Ice hockey story and he’s suggesting that somebody should host one for curling, too. Weeksy has also volunteered his top 10 curling stories for 2007-08: agree?

• The “friendliest” curling event in the area (of Sept-Iles, Quebec) wraps up today …

• And speaking of Quebec, who says that province’s regional curling coverage is dead? Le Quotidien has always covered the local scene, as shown here

• Four-time Brier competitor Pat Simmons is a co-winner of Moose Jaw’s Male Athlete of the Year award …

• Do you read Romanian? Here’s a curling feature for you …

• Lots of U.S. curling stuff to pass along. First there’s this curling feature from the Phoenix Business Journal, which is available in full only to subscribers (sob)… Vermont Public radio has a neat story here… the Canucks in Bawston had a merry time… and this humourist (“satirical witmeister”) from the American Reporter claims to have moved from typical curling ignoramus (“typical curling ignoramus”) to obsessive fanboy without yet throwing a stone.

Well, the next chance for him – and other Indianians – to do so takes place in Indianapolis on Jan. 6 and 8 …

• And finally, we almost forgot about those Rutabaga Curling guys… so here you go again

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Curling Eye on Hockey’s Winter Classic

The NHL pro hockey league will be using curling’s famed Eye on the Ice system for the annual outdoor Winter Classic at famed Wrigley Field on New Year’s day.

You can see the field of play being finalized here, also captured above, via web-cam.

The electronic system was created by curling ice maestro Hans Wuthrich, and despite the go-slow approach of NHL facilities guy Dan Craig, it’s only a matter of time – and money – before the system makes its way into each NHL building.

As it should.

The story itself is located here.

Shortly after Chicago, Wuthrich will jet to Ontario for round two of the Casino Rama Curling Skins Game, a TV extravaganza we covered last year a) rather b) extensively (and in many blogposts in between) …

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Curling Christmas

After the sad news from Saskatoon (see previous blogpost) we simply must get the holiday spirit rolling again.

As such, check out these Christmas curling fans.

These are actually competitors… the French men’s team skipped by Thomas Dufour, along with some of their women’s counterparts, watching championship action at the recent Le Gruyère European Championships in O’vik.

These guys are developing quite a reputation for unusual wardrobe choices. At the last men’s worlds in Grand Forks, they all sported crazy Caribbean-style straw hats. It looked even funnier when Dufour was called out to the ice – hat and all – to receive the Collie Campbell Award, as the athlete who best combined sportsmanship with playing ability.

So what could be planned for the 2009 Ford Worlds in Moncton, we wondered?

“We already know,” said second Richard Ducroz, whose face is exposed – !! – in the photo.

“But we are not telling anyone. It’s a good one!”

And in other Christmas Curling News:

• The infamous video from the inaugural Santa Curling Championships in Kent, England is rapidly making the rounds across the world. But only The Curling News can show you each incarnation.

First, there’s this report, but there is also a second report, from ITN, featuring different interviews. Finally, there’s some of the source video with natural sound, located here.

Bob Cowan and company offer a Merry Merry from Scotland, and we echo his call!

• So does the gang in Virden, Manitoba

• Here’s a nifty Christmas Curling T-shirt

• These guys held a recent Christmas Curling Extravaganza

• This Christmas curling videogame WAS quite cool, but is no longer available (sob) …

This looked to be quite the event, too …

• And what happens when the ice gives way? Why, we have Santa polar bears, of course …

• Finally, don’t forget to rent Santa’s Slay, a rather hideous film which explains the true story of Santa Claus; how he is really the son of Satan, who used to go on a killing spree every Christmas until an angel took on human form and challenged him to… a curling match.

Seriously. We are not making this up.

The angel in disguise won the match, and by the terms of their agreement, Santa was forced to spread joy on Christmas instead of death for a thousand years. And wouldn’t you know it, a thousand years is up … today!

Unbelievable, we know.

Merry Ho Ho, everyone!

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RIP Ron Mills

The former third man for Rick Folk in 1980, Brier and World Curling Champion Ron Mills passed away Monday at age 65, of cancer.

In 1980 Folk, Mills, and the dominant corn-sweeping Wilson brothers, Tom and Jim, brought Canada its first world curling championship since 1972. The squad were the ones to finally break “The Curse of Labonte” which had been delivered that fateful year (’72) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

This was also Saskatchewan’s last Brier championship title.

In later years Mills was giving back to curling in a big way. He was one of Canada’s few Level Four coaches, and he was also the head statistician for the first five Continental Cup of Curling events. He was sorely missed at the sixth edition this past week in Camrose, as word of his poor health made the rounds.

An obit story from his hometown of Saskatoon can be found here.

Photo courtesy Saskcurl. Ron Mills is second from left.

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Continental Curling: Team World Wins

CAMROSE – Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud lost the final skins matchup to Kevin Martin 40-15 but all he had to do was win two skins to clinch the sixth Continental Cup for Team World.

And he did just that in the fourth end on his last stone, a somewhat gentle double-raise takeout for two and the championship skin. The whooping set off a chain reaction and the Norwegians ran to their player’s bench, where they were mobbed by their teammates.

This S&L Photography pic by Sean Mascaluk (above) captured Ulsrud with his game face on.

Much will be written about this event – possibly the last ever held – which was alternately dullish, thrilling and controversial, too. This is a good place to start, but we’ll point to more in the days to come.

But that’s for later. To the championship reception we go! (Ssh, we’re crashing…)

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Explosive Curling

CAMROSE – The Edgeworth Centre blew its roof off this morning.

As The Fed explains, bystanders like Kevin Martin were positively giddy.

“Sport doesn’t get any better than that,” Martin raved.

“I don’t care what sport you’re talking about. That was great shooting. It’s amazing shit.”

The photo above was taken by Sean Mascaluk, of S&L Photography right here in Camrose. Sean captured John Morris seconds after he became the fifth curler out of eight to nail the pinhole in a wild all-team sudden-death shootout series.

Following singles play this afternoon, the World now leads North America 119 to 81, and here comes skins curling: men’s, women’s and mixed again tonight, and the big enchilada finale tomorrow.

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Here’s a pic of Team Toth, the Austrian national women’s team.

And we now direct you to, and ask you to click on, their team website.

Much like our recent women’s calendar regurgitation, we are trying to boost hits for the Austrian girls in the hopes of burying their old team website URL, which still gets empty traffic hits at this time of year.

The ladies are lovely, even if one Toth sister (Claudia) is no longer on the team (sister Karina Toth now skips). And when websurfers seek them out – probably using the search terms “nude” and “calendar” along with “Toth” – they are directed to their old, conked-out website address.

The problem here is that they lost their old address, and it is now owned by some unscrupulous character.

That’s right… the girls were robbed!

“The old one does not work anymore,” said second Constanze “Stanzi” Hummelt.

“Someone else stole our address and won’t give it back to us. So we have a new one now, and we hope people can find us.”

What a scuzzball this someone else is! A pox on thee, vermin!

So with the power of The Curling News Blog and its faithful readers, please give a click or three to the ladies…

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Con Cup Curling Dude in Camrose

CAMROSE – It’s almost 30 below outside, and we’re staying here inside, thank-you-very-much.

The Continental Cup’s “four days of mayhem” are now into Day Two, and the whole thing is as controversial as ever.

And this guy thinks he’s funny.

Meanwhile, North America’s Ben Hebert, above (CCA photo by Michael Burns) thinks he’s cool. We might ask his teammates if he is, in fact, cool. And we might even report back to you on what they said!

Maybe we’ll ask Johnny Mo. He is definitely cool. And bad-ass.

We happen to think Heebz is cool. He wrote an opinion piece for us last year, and we liked it. So did many of you.

He also threw a brush into the stands – unintentionally – at a Slam last season. That was cool. Whoopsie-cool.

Benny also took Al Cameron’s digicam into the Brier locker room last spring. That one could’ve been better… we think he should do that again.

Speaking of Cameron, what’s up with the blog, man? Football is long over. Let’s get rolling here. We can’t remain the most emphatically awesome curling blog without a fight… can we?

Remember our original Curling Dude? He’s still high up there in dudeism.

Anyway, you can read some good reports on the Continental Cup at the Fed website. That’s the World Curling Federation, but “The Fed” sounds cool. You can also read more stuff, and check live scoring, over here.

All for now. More later.

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Champ Curling

You may have noticed a particular ticket package available at various major Canadian curling championship events: The Champ.

You can get The Champ at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Victoria, February 21 to March 1; the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary, March 7-15 and also at the Ford World Men’s Championship in Moncton, April 4-12.

What you might not have noticed is some pretty cool branding aimed at tempting you to grab these ducats, and get your butt out to some tremendous live curling.

World champ Jennifer Jones was shipped to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club back in September for an outdoor shoot, filled with sunshine and bright blue water backgrounds.

World champ John Morris, meanwhile, was hauled out to Trilogy Studios in Calgary in October for a grimy, sweaty, indoor boxing shoot that suggests you don’t want to mess with the Mo.

You can check out more of Morris’ Champlike efforts online at the Tim Hortons Brier website while Jones’ seafaring ways are located at the Scotties TOH site.

To hear what both athletes said about the photo shoot, well, you’ll just have to grab a copy of the imminent January edition of The Curling News, which you can purchase via subscription right here. Johnny Mo, in particular, is quite funny.

Canadian Curling Association CEO Greg Stremlaw commented that both Morris and Jones were more than merely accommodating.

“Both athletes were true to form of the characteristics that set elite curlers apart from those in other sports,” said Stremlaw.

“I mean, they were totally co-operative to the point they were thanking us for the opportunity to be a part of it.”

There is also a branded campaign underway for the super-big 50th anniversary Ford World Men’s in Moncton, and it is more lighthearted: local hero Russ Howard and curling funnyman Guy Hemmings can be seen clowning around with various props and headgear on the Ford Worlds website.

The Champ is essentially two specially-priced ticket packages that allow you to get the maximum enjoyment out of the final weekend playoff action at these big events.

For all three majors – the Scotties, Brier and Worlds – The Evening Champ consists of three weeknight draws – the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – plus the entire playoff round on Friday, Saturday and Championship Sunday.

The Weekend Champ goes hard on the Thursday – with all three climactic round-robin draws that day – right through the full playoff draws.

There are, of course, other packages available… from full Event Passes to Rocks In Your Socks, a “stocking stuffer” package sold only in pairs for either the full opening weekend or any of the first three weekdays (Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday) of morning and afternoon action.

The Champ Scotties photographer was Al Harvey of Vancouver. Art Director was Rob Glennie of Winnipeg. Concept development by Rod Palson (In House Strategies) and Rob Glennie.

The Champ Brier photographer was Grant Waddell, with art direction from Brad Bell of Calgary. Concept development by IHS and Brad Bell.

Anything else?

• Did you see this National Post feature on Russ?

Well, guess what. The old wheezer did indeed beat ex-teammate Wayne Middaugh in the quarterfinals yesterday before losing to Bob Ursel in the semis, and suddenly the guy with zero points now has a 2010 Olympic dream… and with his son at second stone, no less.

Ursel, by the way, went on to beat Kevin Martin in the final…

Marie-France Larouche won the big dealio in Ottawa and has now won five of six tournaments this season …

• And Mike McEwan is also on a roll, and has knocked fellow ’Pegger Jeff Stoughton out of the Canada Cup. Stoughton, who almost beat Brad Gushue in the 2005 Olympic Trials final, may now miss next year’s Trials entirely …

• DID YOU KNOW: that the CCA is paying for Sean Grassie and Allison Nimik, one-half of the Canadian Mixed championship team, to go to Camrose this week? The appointees will take the opportunity to learn more about Mixed Doubles before they compete in April’s world championship in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy …

• And finally, some enterprising Germans have modified Reebok’s popular training shoe for curling

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More New York Curling

In our four years-plus of blogging – and another 48 years of print publishing – New Yawk City has been the site of not one but in fact two outdoor curling exhibition events.

Now there’s a third… and the focus is on you, the innocent bystander, as you get a chance to strut your stuff and win big.

Organized by the Canadian Tourism Commission, curling at Bryant Park is a one-day affair taking place tomorrow, December 17.

Give curling a try and get entered into a draw for a chance to win a new car – a Honda Fit – plus a full-fledged driving trip to Canada, including a gas card for the drive and seven nights’ accommodation.

Come between 12-2pm or 6-8pm in the evening, give curling a try and then curl up at Celsius, a very cool Canadian lounge.

This is all part of a slew of Canadiana that has been taking place at Bryant Park since late October. Much of the interactive hands-on stuff finishes next week, but Celsius stays open through much of January.

“The Pond” at Bryant Park has attracted over three million visitors each of the last three years.

You can see a list of the Events, including Curling (with a video) at this website.