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Big change for Jennifer Jones

Jones (left) and Overton-Clapham in Korea

If you shut down your computer early last night, preferring to attempt – once again – to engage Season 3 of Lost, then you missed the big news.

Jennifer Jones has shaken up her curling team, again, this time dumping third stone Cathy Overton-Clapham. The official team news release is published here; the Canwest story can be seen here; and Canwest author Al Cameron blogs his thoughts here (internet mouth-breathers: HA!).

Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Sun was the first out of the gate with Overton-Clapham’s thoughts, which you can read here, closely followed by the Free Press, which called up former curling beat writer Paul Wiecek for the job.

So, what’s our view? And whom do we think will be the new third?

One can be both surprised and yet unsurprised by this development. Yes, this is the first time Jones has made such a move as current (three-time) defending Canadian champion, and there’s more than just next year’s STOH national on tap… the squad will also compete in the Canada Cup and Continental Cup competitions.

“Who we gonna get?” “Dunno, but let's keep reading...”

And yet, one wonders how things could have stayed the same. Overton-Clapham is 41 while the others are younger; she has struggled with a chronic knee injury; and the next Olympic Winter Games are four long years away.

Then there’s the uncomfortable reality of recent Team Jones performances. They are a gritty, never-say-die bunch but they can’t be too happy with their world playoff record in recent years. And forget Glenn Howard’s continuing disappointment over losing the men’s Olympic Trials final: how do you think the Jones gang has felt all season, being one of the first women’s teams to be eliminated from Olympic contention in Edmonton?

However, Overton-Clapham – the most decorated curler in Manitoba women’s history – did play like gangbusters at both the Scotties  and the Ford Worlds in Swift Current. She put in magnificent performances.

In the end, all we’re left with is the team’s final event, the Grey Power Players’ Championship in Dawson Creek, which wound up last weekend – yet another thing we need to catch up on here at ye olde TCN Blog.

Team Jones went 2-0 to start their Players’ title defense and then lost 6-2 in six ends to rival Kelly Scott. The came a crushing 9-1 loss to Stefanie Lawton in just three ends, where Jones dropped a three-ender to start the match and then a whopping six-count in the third.

Jones left the ice long before the six-end minimum game requirement, prompting a letter from the World Curling Players’ Association to be hand-delivered to her before her next match (any additional disciplinary action that may have been taken is unknown).

Could it be... Kaitlyn?

The squad then dropped a steal of two to open their C-qualifier against Winnipeg’s Kerri Flett, scored one in the second and then stole a huge three in the third end, en route to an 8-4 win.

Their quarterfinal loss (6-3) to eventual champion – and professional scoreboard manager – Cheryl Bernard proved to be their last game together.

Our view is that something had to happen – fire the coach(es), even? – but the skip-plus-two decided on making a move a third position. So, who will Team Jones welcome into the fold?

Manitoba curling veteran Resby Coutts can see only three (local) replacement candidates. We think he’s missing someone fairly obvious, although to be fair she has been hanging out in Edmonton recently.

We’re talking about Kaitlyn Lawes (WCF photo at left by Andrew Klaver). The 2008 and 2009 Canadian Junior champion skip – who took bronze and then silver at the world juniors – has been playing with veteran Cathy King. With King and Raylene Rocque now retired, Lawes has been quietly looking at team options in both Edmonton and Winnipeg, and is reportedly willing to skip or play third.

First Ferbey and Gushue (yes, another thing we need to comment on) and now this. What an interesting April this has been.

Here’s a quick rundown of Team Jennifer Jones – World Curling Tour only – for the 2009-10 season:

WINNINGS: $55,078
WCT RANKING: 1
GAMES: 59
RECORD: 45-14
EXTRA ENDS: 4W, 5L
ONE-POINT GAMES: 12W, 8L
POINTS FOR/GAME: 8.63
POINTS AGAINST/GAME: 5.82
HAMMER EFFICIENCY: 0.47
STEAL DEFENSE: 0.18
FORCE EFFICIENCY: 0.66
STEAL EFFICIENCY: 0.27

(22-6 won/loss record in CCA/WCF events)

[First two WCF photos by Lee Young Gyu]

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World Mixed Doubles and Seniors in Chelyabinsk

Northern lights in faraway Chelyabinsk, Russia

Did you think it was over?

Nope, this wild 2010 Olympic season is not yet done, as there are many stones being thrown in faraway Chelyabinsk, Russia, the site of the combined World Mixed Doubles and World Seniors Championships.

The venue is a mammoth winter sport training facility, the Ural Lightning Ice Palace, and no less than 11 sheets of curling ice (!!) have been created, with an enormous long-track speed skating ring wrapped around them.

Wow.

The photos of the opening ceremonies are, as we have shown you here, quite spectacular. Head to this page for more superb images, and you can click on the ones republished here to increase size.

For the World Curling Federation and the Russian Curling Federation, this is a landmark event as it is the first time that the Russian Federation has hosted a World Curling Championships. It also paves the way to the country organizing the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014.

The event has been, sadly, kicked around by a few things. First off is the Icelandic volcano. The effects of the Europe-wide airspace freeze prevented some nations from competing in the Mixed Doubles, such as Scotland, Sweden, Norway, and Korea. On the Seniors side of things, Wales, Netherlands, and Estonia are missing and the Netherlands were forced to withdraw as they had only a partial team.

In fact, it sounds like there would have been 14 sheets of ice created (!!) if all teams had been able to make it to Siberia.

The blimp! The blimp!

There is one other team, of note, that failed to arrive in Russia for the Mixed Doubles… and that is Canada’s husband and wife team of Mark Dacey and Heather Smith-Dacey of Halifax.

Their tale is a wild one. According to this Winnipeg Sun story, the couple were sightseeing in London and arrived at Heathrow airport to head to Russia just 90 minutes after the shutdown. D’oh!

“The WCF gave us a deadline of Monday to try and make it there, and they were going to try and re-schedule missed games,” said Smith-Dacey in an e-mail. “That night we watched the news and surfed online for other ways to get from London to Moscow. The train was showing it would take about three days, so we decided not to do that thinking the ash cloud would only interrupt our travels for one or two days max.”

As it turns out, that was another oopsie.

With the airport still closed, they spent two hours on hold with Rail Europe Friday afternoon before going to their office in downtown London.

The girls! The girls!

“When we turned up at their office, it was lined up out the door, down the street, around the corner and down the other street, about 1,000 people in line,” said Smith-Dacey, who noted the line was about the same length at the train station they went to after. “Obviously we were not the only ones trying to get out of London.”

After finding out that Eurostar railway was adding trains leaving from London, the Daceys booked tickets to Brussels (Belgium) since it was on the train route to Moscow. They got there Sunday afternoon, waited two hours to speak to an agent, and by then the train they could have got on to in Cologne (Germany) would have arrived too late to catch the overnight train to Moscow.

“Our final hope was for the airspace to get clearance on Monday and we would attempt to fly from Brussels to Moscow to Chelyabinsk,” Smith-Dacey said. “But Sunday night around 9:00 pm it was announced that the airspace would be closed until at least 7:00 pm Monday night and with that we would not be able to go.”

Incidentally, do you recognize the name of the Sun writer? It’s none other than Sean Grassie, who partnered with Allison Nimik of Calgary last year to represent Canada at the World Mixed Doubles in Cortina, Italy, the site of the recent 2010 World Men’s. Grassie and Nimik won bronze. Hoe about that?

Anyway, back to those battling Daceys and their travel week-plus from hell. An earlier report out of Halifax had the couple travelling by train to Paris in hopes of finding a flight home, with planes booked out of Barcelona and London in hopes that one would work out.

“We’re fine, other than we’d rather be in Russia curling,” Smith-Dacey said Monday.

That is one big arena

Dacey said he hopes the Canadian Curling Association will consider appointing the couple to a future world mixed event. The couple are expected to arrive in Halifax today.

The second thing affecting this event is substandard internet connectivity. Email and phone contact has been a problem, which of course is a problem for the media, but the event website has found a way to update results fairly quickly, via PDF downloads. Sometimes the standings page is updated, too.

As such, we are aware that Canada’s two Seniors teams are into the playoffs with undefeated records, and the Swiss men have also qualified.

In Mixed Doubles, Russia have qualifed for the playoffs with an impressive 6-0 mark, while Russia and China are engaged in a Pacific battle in that group. In the second of three WMD groups Switzerland are undefeated at 2-0, and that’s not too surprising given that the squad of Toni Mueller and Irene Schori are the two-time defending world champions, and in fact have never lost a game at the Worlds. Yeesh.

In the third and final group, all eyes are on Spain as the pint-sized cousin combination of  Irantzu Garcia and Sergio Vez are at 3-1 and gunning for a playoff spot.

Only 13 and 15 years of age when they first debuted at the inaugural WMD championship two years ago, they lost last year’s Spanish final to Sergio’s parents, who managed to win a game at last year’s event, garnering a flurry of Spanish media coverage in the process.

Now, The Kids Are Alright in Chelyabinsk, and we wish them good luck the rest of the way.

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Armstrong arrested on drug smuggling charges

Jim Armstrong (left) and Darryl Neighbour vs Germany

Jim Armstrong, the six-time Brier competitor who won Paralympic gold for Canada at the recent Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games is facing charges in Seattle, WA on allegations he tried to smuggle thousands of counterfeit erectile dysfunction pills into British Columbia.

A story published late Tuesday in seattlepi details the U.S. federal criminal complaint, in which authorities say customs agents intercepted a package of counterfeit pills meant for of Richmond, B.C. resident Armstrong on April 7. Armstrong was arrested a week later retrieving a package from a Blaine, WA post office box.

Charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods, Armstrong is accused of helping to distribute the Chinese-made pills labeled as Viagra and Cialis.

Writing the court, a Food and Drug Administration special agent based in Seattle said customs officers intercepted a box containing 2,544 tablets of fake Viagra and 260 pills of knockoff Cialis. The package was to be delivered to a private mailbox business in Blaine, located just south of the Canadian border.

The agent noted in court documents that the package had been shipped from Hyyuan, China. The drugs and packaging appeared nearly identical to the genuine article.

“Viagra and Cialis are also some of the most common drugs targeted by counterfeiters,” the agent told the court. “Many, if not most, counterfeited drugs are made in the People’s Republic of China.”

Speaking with staff at the mailbox business, investigators were told Armstrong arrived weekly to pick up boxes shipped to the address. The FDA agent concluded that Armstrong received “a very large number of parcels or boxes arriving… from various foreign countries including China and India.”

Armstrong is a retired dentist, whose debilitating knee injuries forced him to leave his practice, and his accomplished curling career. Over the past three years, he has gone from a wheelchair curling rookie to world champion (2009) and eventual 2010 Paralympic champion.

Speaking with investigators, Armstrong allegedly admitted to bringing multiple shipments of the drugs into Canada. He is alleged to have claimed he provided the drugs to another man, who in turn sold them at clubs in the Vancouver area.

Jailed following his arrest, Armstrong was released after posting bond on $20,000 bail. He is expected to return to U.S. District Court on April 30 for a preliminary hearing.

Ryan Durham is a fundraising chair for the Canadian Spinal Research Organization’s Shoot For A Cure campaign, which aims to raise awareness of wheelchair curling and find a cure for spinal paralysis. Durham’s The Dominion Spinal Tap Charity Mixed Bonspiel has raised over $350,000 over the past 19 years.

“These drugs add a quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries that they otherwise would not have,” said Durham. “Previous treatments for erectile dysfunction were quite dangerous and invasive, and the ability to feel like a normal person, to put it bluntly, cannot be understated.”

“However, it sounds like there may have been an eventual intent to traffic to able-bodied people, in bars and clubs. If that’s true, and he wasn’t duped or something, then I for one would be quite disappointed.”

[CCA photo by John Sims]

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Last political curling chapter

New boss Kate Caithness (WCF photo)

by Rodger Schmidt

After having quite a lot to say for most of last week about the World Curling Federation and their activities – I don’t have much to say about it today.

The World of Curling is probably going to be surprised that this organization took out their President in a well-orchestrated fix, but to anyone who has been watching this group operate over the past years what happened on that Wednesday in Cortina was not such a surprise.

It has been clear since the planes landed at the beginning of the competition that enough delegates had managed to get their knives through security. What has been less clear is why this nasty business – that quite frankly should not have been necessary – was, in fact, necessary.

One would think that an organization such as the WCF would require more than just a strong President, but also a strong Executive Committee to function effectively. The only knock on Les Harrison that has come out in discussions (in which I was present) is that he was too close to Canadian interests, and not particularly good at dealing with the IOC. Who really knows, and what this really means, is an unknown… to me, anyway.

Also sketchy in my world is the direction that the new team powered by president Kate Caithness and vice president Patrick Huerlimann intend to steer the good ship WCF, although these quotes here would indicate a new focus on bricks and mortar, ie. actual curling facilities…? A collision course with North America – and particularly Canada – in respect to marketing and the distribution of the next millions is rumored by some, but only time will tell.

My editor points me to the only quotes Harrison has given on the situation, from his home town newspaper in Moncton.

I had her (Caithness) support in December but a couple of months later she decided to run for president. It’s politics … they banded together and it was all about more European control.

More surprising in those WCF happenings was what didn’t happen. Remember all those wacky rule changes that the WCF had been proposing and pitching to their delegates over the past two years? The vote on this hefty list took place and… nothing happened. “Just kidding”, they seemed to say, “it wasn’t really as important as we thought, maybe we didn’t think is all through to the extent that is required. Sorry about all that time we wasted, we’ll try to waste less time next time”.

Of course, that was me editorializing.

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Cortina and Vancouver 2010

Canada's Koe (crouching) vs Norway's Nergard

It was a very special world men’s curling championship in 2010. And in this Olympic year, we found some comparisons to February’s curling Games in Vancouver.

The magnificent mountain town of Cortina d’Ampezzo was the setting, high up in the Italian alps, about a two hour drive (most of it vertical) from Venice. Physical comparisons to another popular ski destination – Vancouver’s twin, Whistler – would prompt endless debate, so we won’t bother with that one.

As our correspondent Rodger Schmidt told us, the opening day of the worlds met with disaster, as a performer fell some 50 feet to the ground, and was hospitalized. As all are well aware by now, the Olympics started off on a terrible note with the death of a Georgian luger.

As in Vancouver, however, Cortina rose above the shaky start and hosted a tremendous event.

Canadian national team coach, Jim Waite, has been accompanying and advising since the early 1990s. In this QMI story by Terry Jones, Waite declares “… this has been 10 out of 10.”

“This one has been terrific. There’s nothing to complain about,” said Waite. “And it’s just gorgeous. It couldn’t get any better than this. We’ve been to the top of two mountains and we were having lunch on one of them when one of the guys said, ‘Where would you rather be? Here or Regina?’ ”

And now to the most obvious comparison.

CAN, incl. Jamie King (left) and Nolan Thiessen (right)

Edmonton’s Kevin Koe won gold in Cortina, after city rival Kevin Martin grabbed his long-awaited gold in Vancouver. Koe lost two games in the round-robin and finished second overall but, as happened in the Brier playoff round, he and his mates excelled when they had to deliver.

Blake MacDonald’s perfect corner-freeze, around a corner-guard in the very first end, set up a 3-0 lead for the Canadians, and they never looked back. It was a magnificent shot from a player who would go on to shoot in the 90s, a dominant performance that was in face equalled by his skipper.

The fact that Norwegian skip Torger Nergard struggled with his weight was almost irrelevant. The match might have been much closer, but no one was going to beat the Canadians that day.

Scotland’s David Smith – the 1991 world champion – stole the bronze medal from Pete Fenson of the United States. It was a good result for the Scots, who played only so-so overall (with the exception of Warwick Smith) and it had to be a disappointment for the Yanks, despite their need of a six-game win streak just to make the playoffs.

There are other comparisons, too. The crowds in Cortina were far less zealous than those in Vancouver – of course! – and they were smaller, too… but not poor, by any means.

“Everybody is quite shocked. It’s quite loud and exciting,” said second man Carter Rycroft.

"Come down mountain, cheer curling. Urgh."

And a few of these fans dared to dress up, with an approach not seen anywhere near Vancouver… or possibly at any Olympic Games, save for fans of Mongolia (WCF photo at left by Urs Raeber).

Canadian fans watching from overseas were treated to an excellent final show from TSN’s venerable broadcast crew of Vic, Ray and Linda. As many are aware, this was Ray Turnbull’s retirement show, and this QMI column from TCN boss gk paints a nice picture.

The game, incidentally, is available for viewing on the TSN website, through Video-On-Demand (VOD). Be sure to indulge, before it disappears from view.

There are three major events left to play, by the way. The World Mixed Doubles and World Seniors are underway this weekend in Chelyabinsk, Russia, and the final Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event, the Grey Power Players’ Championship, starts tonight – yes, tonight – in Dawson Creek, BC, and wraps up on Sunday.

The latter event is available online via CBC.ca – every draw! – with the men’s and women’s playoff draws also appearing on CBC-TV.

[First two WCF photos by Mario Facchini/Newspower.it]

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Playoff curling in Cortina

Japan and Italy: young hopes for the future

by Rodger Schmidt

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy – From today onward, most spectators will not recall that 12 teams started in this competition, for all eyes and commentary will be on the top four.

With no tiebreakers, there was only one game today, the Norway-Canada Page playoff battle,  to determine who advances straight to  Sunday’s championship final.

Scotland and the United States will wait until Saturday morning to see who will drop directly to the bronze medal game, and who will move on to the semi-final later the same day.

The big question of yesterday’s final round-robin draw was twofold: if the U.S. could hold on to fourth spot, and this they did by defeating Sweden in six ends, and to see if Norway or Scotland would challenge Canada in today’s 1 vs 2 match.

Norway cleared that up by beating Canada to finish number one, and securing last stone advantage in their next two games, and Scotland made it less dramatic by losing their last game to Switzerland, thus handing last stone advantage in the 3 vs 4 playoff to the Americans. Given the way Scotland manages a game, this could be an important factor.

With 12 teams in this competition a lot of games were been played to get to this point. In this system of play, everyone meets everyone else one time to distribute an equal number of victories and defeats. The trick for all is to not collect four or more defeats within the 11 games.

Fans, fans, in the stands...

The team “on the bubble” was Denmark. The Danes had a solid week, defeating pretty much everyone that they should have, but in their head-to-head matchups against the eventual top four, they could only defeat the USA – holding on to an early lead thanks to a score of five on the second end. However, they lost to Canada, Norway, Germany and Scotland, and all were top four contenders at the time that these battles were contested.

One more win against these big boys was required to be ensured, at minimum, a shot at a tiebreaker. Close, but no cigar for Ulrik Schmidt and company, but a much better showing here than at the Vancouver Olympics.

No team in the rest of the field was able to post a winning record, and the biggest surprise within this not-so-magnificent-seven was Germany. Andy Kapp called and executed a terrific game against Canada on Tuesday night, handing Canada their first defeat, and then the next morning the German jet fighters ruled the skies again against Denmark.

But sadly, it was all Hindenburg after that. Germany crashed three straight times to finish with six losses.

Italy has not competed well in world men’s competitions since a solid showing at the Torino Olympics in 2006, and with Joel Retornaz back at the helm – but with very young teammates – they managed only three victories. However, the hosts were very competitive in most of their games and obviously more experience is required in order to manage pressure in key moments. This group has some real talent.

Switzerland had an older and more experienced team in this competition, led by Stefan Karnusian, and at times their style of play looked old. From game to game and from end to end, rarely was an outcome clear. They made brilliant shots to score or to subvert an enemy position… and moments later they would miss when you would least expect it.

On the final day they lost 9-7 in the morning to Japan – the sole victory for the Japanese – and then won 9-7 over playoff-bound Scotland. That, folks, sums it all up.

France: time for a rest, boys

The records of Sweden and France – four wins and three wins for Per Carlsen and Thomas Dufour, respectively – were much more predictable. The French are probably ready to take a break after a long, long Olympic preparation run, and this Swedish team – which  upset the impressive Niklas Edin in the Swedish final – was simply too inconsistent to put a string of victories together.

Both Asian teams – China’s Fengchun Wang/Rui Liu combo and Japan’s Makoto Tsuruga – closed out the bottom of the leader board this week. This may be a surprise to many, following strong showings by Japanese and particularly Chinese teams in the past half-decade… but I am not so surprised. It is easier to climb near the top than it is to stay there.

For all teams: the work you do and the skills you learn, both strategically and technically, need to be adjusted and upgraded all the time. How you won games yesterday will not be the same as how you are going to have to win today, and certainly not tomorrow. Asia will be back on top again, but not until they reinvent themselves and redevelop their systems.

Quick trivia question: without Googling, name the historic international curling event at which Japan’s Tsuruga competed, over a decade ago… and how did he do (generally)?

As I write this, we’re less than an hour away from the start of the second NOR-CAN tilt. Stay tuned to the blog for more later.

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Australian curling wants YOU

Very spiffy, this grouse view... you reckon?

Ever wanted to live in Australia?

Ever wanted to curl with a bunch of larrikins, who like to rage on?

Looking for an IT job, and perhaps a mate?

Think we’re having a lend of you? Think we’ve got kangaroos loose in the top paddock?

Think again, this is actually quite bonzer. Holy dooley!

It hasn’t been the best of times for Aussie Curling. The men’s team missed out on a berth at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games by a half-point… and then came word, if you recall, of the theft of one-third of the nation’s curling stones.

But the Aussies have shrugged off these disappointments and are steamrolling ahead with plans to grow the sport Down Under.

And they wants talented curlers to join them. That’s right… we helping them announce an Australian High-Performance Curling Recruitment drive!

“We’re getting curling going in Melbourne with a new ice rink, and curling is running in Brisbane through the chilly Queensland winters,” says Steve Johns, a mainstay of the Australian men’s front end.

“We’re putting a case together for curling in Sydney.

“We’ve got a junior team, a women’s team, a senior men’s team and mixed doubles team.”

But the hunt is on for more curlers. Not only for recreation rookies to show interest, but for some talented players to sign up to compete for the green and gold… in Australia, mate!

“We’re looking for quality curlers to join the Australian team,” says Johns. “Dave Nedohin or Scott Pfeifer are welcome, of course, but so is anyone who knows the sport pretty well.

“Even better if you work in Information Technology, we’ll find you a job. Even better if you’re single, we’ll find you a partner!”

This is a serious offer. Want the details?

Contact either: Steveajohns@hotmail.com or:  HMillikin@indigopacific.com

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What a curling season

Celebrate an amazing Olympic curling season with us

The April 2010 issue of The Curling News (click cover to view larger) has been out and about for well over a week now, and continues the in-depth look at Vancouver 2010 following the March publication. Plus a whole bunch more.

Did you know that most of our back issues are available for purchase? Simply head to our Issue Archives area, locate the issue you want, and click on “Order Back Issue” at the bottom of each issue description to send us an email with your request.

You can also subscribe here and hey, if you do so in the next couple of weeks and if you send us a note after doing so, you just might find us mailing you those issues as a comp. Now is that a deal, or what?

Just say you read about this deal at The Curling News Blog!

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • What A Season: we wrap up the 2009-2010 season, in worlds and pictures

  • Vancouver 2010: Curling’s Finest Hours: A remarkable wheelchair curling competition closed the Paralympic Games, and the Vancouver chapter

  • The Dominion Club Corner: Playdowns are already underway in advance of Canada’s second recreational championship

  • The Curling News TV Guide: Think TV curling is over? There’s lots more on the tube and your computer in the month ahead

  • Cortina d’Ampezzo and Dawson Creek: Two huge events cap the month of April, in the Italian alps and the Gateway to Alaska

  • The Halifax Brier: Larry Wood was there for one of the greatest championship games in Brier history

  • Team Koe and the future: They are supposed to split up. But will Team Kevin Koe stick around and take advantage of all that awaits the Brier champions?

  • Czech This Out: Another Canadian visitor gets caught up in Brier curling fever

  • Grey Power Players’ Championship: Stellar field of 32 men’s and women’s teams battle for some $270,000 in total prize money

  • So Long Senior: Michael Burns Sr. passes away, but his legendary curling imagery will live forever

  • So Long Ray: TSN and a grateful nation say farewell to Ray Turnbull, who is leaving the TV airwaves after 25 years

  • Start Curling Campaign Hits Peak: Post-Olympic interest booming as curling tries to corner a new market

  • World Curling Kerfuffle: Canada and the world are headed for a showdown in Cortina over critical event marketing rights

  • TCN Book Sale: You’re still buying, so we’re still selling these two classic titles

  • and MORE!
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ESPN writer on curling tour

Now, Paul Lukas, do you believe in God's Own Sport?

There have been, literally, hundreds of “journalist goes curling” stories in circulation this season, thanks to the Vancouver Olympics. And we have linked to almost all of them, all year, through our Twitter feed.

We linked another one today, from ESPN.com, called “Curling proves to be the sweep science”.

We’re going to go a step further, and highlight the link, right here on the blog.

The writer – Paul Lucas (in the cool sweater above) – not only went curling within an hour of his home (in New Jersey) but then boarded a plane for a second curling effort, at one helluva bonspiel in Minnesota called the House of Hearts.

Yes, we’ve mentioned this charity funfest before. More than once, actually.

(BTW – you can see a photo of this year’s “Nurses” in the April print edition of The Curling News)

Once again, here’s the link. Enjoy.

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WCF dumps Canadian president; bails on rule changes

Caithness (left) and Harrison

In a stunning political curling drama, Canada’s Les Harrison, a former board member of the Canadian Curling Association who has been president of the World Curling Federation since 2006, was voted out of office today at the WCF Annual General Assembly held during the Capital One World Men’s Curling Championship in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Scotland has once again returned to the president’s chair, as former vice-president Kate Caithness becomes the first-ever female WCF president.

As TCN correspondent Rodger Schmidt noted yesterday, this marks a rare occasion in which a sitting president has been ousted by a sitting vice-president.

Board member “At Large” Patrick Huerlimann, the 1998 Olympic champion from Switzerland who heads the WCF’s powerful Marketing and Communications Committee, moves into Caithness’ former VP role.

Yet another American, Andy Anderson, becomes Director of Finance – the third in a row, in fact.

In addition, the much-ballyhooed rules changes speeding like a freight train toward the sport – such as the adopting of eight-end games and the removal of round-robin tiebreakers and extra-ends – failed to materialize, and all remains as it was.

The official WCF news release follows.

_____________________________________________

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, ITALY

7 April 2010

The World Curling Federation has elected Kate Caithness from Scotland as president. Caithness, who has been serving as Vice-President since 2006, was elected to the post, gathering more votes than Les Harrison who was seeking re-election, at the annual general meeting of the Federation in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Kate Caithness becomes the first female president of the Olympic winter sport Federation of curling. She has been involved with curling since the early 1980s. From being President of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club Ladies Branch (1997-1998), she moved on to get involved with the World Curling Federation.

Since 2000 she has been the driving force behind the World Curling Federation’s development of Wheelchair Curling and was instrumental in obtaining the admission of the sport into the Paralympic Winter Games programme in Turin in 2006.

Switzerland’s Patrick Hürlimann was appointed Vice-President, taking the role that Caithness has vacated. Canadian, Les Harrison, steps down as president.

Executive Board:

President: Kate Caithness (Scotland)
Vice-President: Patrick Hürlimann (Switzerland)
Director of Finance: Andy Anderson (USA)

Members at Large:
Graham Prouse (Canada)
Young C. Kim (Korea)
Leif Öhman (Sweden)
Niels Larsen (Denmark)

Among the other decisions made at the annual general meeting held during the Capital One World Men’s Curling Championship WCF Member Associations also voted to:
–    Not reduce the game from 10 ends to 8 ends
–    Maintain tiebreaker games to determine playoff teams
–    Keep extra ends
–    Reduce time outs to one 60 second coach interaction with the time clock running
–    Allow electric wheelchairs at WCF wheelchair curling events
–    Prohibit communications between the coach bench and anyone who is not sitting in that designated area.
–    Move the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship and World Senior Curling Championships from April to the month of November, starting from November 2012

These decisions will be reflected in the new WCF rule book which will be issued on the 1st of June 2010.

In other business, Slovenia was accepted as the 46th member association of the World Curling Federation.

A presentation of a silver salver was made to former European Curling Federation President Malcolm Richardson – winner of the 2010 Elmer Freytag Award.

The next WCF General Assembly will take place on Thursday 9th December 2010 in Champery Switzerland.

[CCA photos by Michael Burns]