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Wonderfully Appalling

What are they wearing now, we wondered?

So there we were, logging in to catch the end of the Thomas of Norway challenge match – Olympic silver medallist Thomas Ulsrud versus former teammate Thomas Due – as the Oslo Cup got underway. The media vehicle was trusty LAOLA1 TV, which is webstreaming curling matches all through this weekend’s event, but our first thought was: Geez, It’s Hard To See What Kind Of Pants The Ulsruds Are Wearing, With All That Advertising In The Background.

Then came a closeup… and we couldn’t believe our painful, bleeding eyes.

These pants are two shades of pink, with a touch of green.

How wonderfully, perfectly appalling. Feel free to click on the image (below left) and increase your own level of sweet, visual agony.

This event will also feature a few new team debuts, such as Canada’s Jennifer Jones (now with Kaitlyn Lawes, as first predicted by The Curling News) and Sweden’s new Team Anette Norberg. And the return of a curling titan… M-15, otherwise known as Finland’s 2006 Olympic hero Markku Uusipaavalniemi. Uusis – who is Still Quite Mighty – also appeared at the Baden Masters in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago, so he just might be back on the ice lanes for more than a brief vacation. Stay tuned.

Pain! Wonderful, appalling pain!

We’ve received some notes from fans who miss the more regular postings here at The Curling News Blog. To those who pine for the days of multiple daily postings and lengthy links provided, we share your wistfulness. On one hand, we are still providing a mammoth tonnage of curling links for your enjoyment – nearly 4,000 since last September, in fact – via our Twitter account, and if you aren’t following that vehicle, you are definitely missing out.

On the other hand, it has been quite frustrating to see subscription revenues for The Curling News, our core print product, actually stagnate during and after an otherwise successful Olympic curling season. Sure, of course, the print medium is in decline around the globe. But we are a specialty publisher, with 54 years of branded history behind us, and we feel that all curlers and curling fans should subscribe to the only hardcore, independent, Canadian curling publication that exists.

Call us crazy, call us obstinate… but this is what we believe.

And we would like to think that websurfers, aka rabid consumers of free content, would understand this frustration. If you do, dear reader, then please understand how we have stepped back from the TCN Blog, somewhat, to focus on our core product, which is due to relaunch for year number 55 next month.

If you happen to agree with us, and/or you don’t want to miss all this content we’re talking about, head to our online subscription page. And if you act quickly, you’ll dodge the price increase we are anticipating in the coming days.

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Opening Weekend

Aaaaargh. Our eyes!

The 2011 curling season, if you haven’t noticed, is now underway.

In some ways, that glorious 2010 Olympic season never really ended. After the various world championships wrapped up in early May, the European summer spiels took place… followed by various World Curling Federation camps and clinics… then the regular winter season for Australia and New Zealand, as well as various U.S. summer recreation leagues.

Followed by Canadian summer camps, spiels and leagues… the Great Brazilian Curling Adventure™ right here on this blog (of course)… and now, the “official” fall season.

And there’s lots to watch, too. On Thursday night, CurlingZone launched online webstreamed coverage of the Ontario Curling Tour Championships in Oakville, Ontario utilizing the UStream platform. That first recorded game is archived here, and their live channel coverage (including a chat board) can be found here.

Just a few hours later, on Friday morning in Switzerland, the Baden Masters event kicked off Europe’s Curling Champions Tour. And by the time folks on Canada’s west coast had gone to bed, the new Brad Gushue/Randy Ferbey combination had won their first game of the season, 8-7 over Switzerland’s Dominik Maerki (the Swiss held leads of 3-0 and 5-2 early on).

The second round of play sees Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud taking on Russia’s Andrey Drozdov, with the Olympic silver medallists displaying new lime-green pants worthy of their Loudmouth Golf sponsorship (screen shot above). At this time of writing the match was being streamed live on LAOLA1.tv, with the Russians holding a 3-1 lead after five ends of play.

Some 10 matches will be streamed online during the tournament, including all pre-playoff games scheduled on sheet two. So there you go.

Want more curling, all the time? Make sure you follow The Curling News Twitter feed, with daily postings on The Roaring Game. There was no summer vacation there, trust us!

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Classic Corngate Curling Video

Kevin Martin, circa 1991. We kid you not.

Huzzahs to our friend Bob Cowan at Skip Cottage Curling, the authority on all things Scottish in curling.

First, he recently launched a new blog design… and now, in recent months, he has begun transferring and posting all kinds of ancient videotaped curling footage onto the interweb. Oh joy.

In this posting today, Bob has showcased nearly 10 minutes of VHS footage from the 1991 Safeway World Men’s Curling Championship, featuring a young David Smith of Scotland and a remarkably young – and full-haired and moustached – Kevin Martin, the recent Olympic champion at Vancouver 2010.

As many curling fans are aware, this marked Martin’s adult debut on the world stage and, quite frankly, the peak of his unpopularity. This was mostly due to what we shall dub “Corngate”… and which we shall now explain.

In their round robin match, Martin trailed the Scottish team by a few points at the halfway mark, whereupon he and teammate Kevin Park pulled out corn brooms – the classic, original curling sweeping device – to give the ice surface some more, er, character. A move that was fully within the rules (at that time) but which was considered unethical by many… including the pro-Canadian crowd.

The expected rematch took place in the final, and once again the Scots took the early advantage and… again… the Edmonton squad pulled out the straw. The Winnipeg crowd was not appreciative of this move.

“Listen to the crowd booing and jeering. Quite right, too,” offers BBC commentator Richard Harding.

But the Scots had learned from this strategy, and with some help from some Canadian compatriots, they were prepared to counteract the sticky corn with hog hair brushes purchased from a local curling shop. Scotland went on to prevail, and captured their first world men’s championship in 24 years.

Fantastic stuff.

Click here for the Skip Cottage Curling story page, which will lead you to the video.