by Erin McLaughlin
OSHAWA, Ontario – “Are you that blogger?”
It was soon-to-be BDO Canadian Open champion skip Mike McEwen who asked me that, as we shared a ride over to the General Motors Centre on Sunday morning.
Uh oh. Uh… yes?
Turns out the team had seen my one-legged “Flippy Cup” Tweet the previous night, and they proceeded to joke that I had a tape recorder handy, and that they had better not say anything bad about Glenn Howard. Fair enough!
While privy to their team talk – pregame strategy and musings about Teri Schiman’s looming decision about her draw to the button – I was a little surprised to find Team McEwen all very relaxed looking despite their impending matchup with Grand Slam heavyweight Howard. When asked if they were amped, third B.J. Neufeld calmly answered, “Yeah, we’re ready.” No big deal.
After ‘outing’ me, I promised the McEwen boys I wouldn’t exploit their transit chatter, and I won’t. I do want to say from what I heard they were super down-to-earth and generous about offering me a lift, although they had a pretty full car already… and they all smell amazing. Now they’re two-time Grand Slam champions who smell amazing! Woohoo!
And were they ever ready – they were on fire during the championship final, broadcast live on CBC. To spare you any eye-rolling jokes about firefighting third John Morris racing in to tend to the flames, if you managed to catch the coverage you probably saw a few examples of their great shotmaking.
Not only did opponent Howard seem impressed afterward by the strong Manitoba rink, but even the president of the World Curling Players Association, Pierre Charette, commented beside me about McEwen, “These guys are relentless today.” With McEwen holding a lead the game moved on with a series of double-takeouts and buried stones by both teams, frozen rocks taking up most of the fourth end for a blank before Howard finally stole one in the fifth.
The big uproar came through Howard’s steal in the eighth end, because it tied the game and forced an extra end that overshadowed pregame coverage of the NHL Hockey All-Star game. A fantastic double by Howard left the Manitoba skip no choice but to fire a brilliant takeout – with no room to roll – that made his team the champions.
Congrats to both teams on a thrilling game! It was one of the most tense and exciting competitions I’ve seen live so far and I told the Grand Slam folks in the production office afterward that I’m pretty certain I literally held my breath on that last shot. Man, good stuff!
As stated by the host of The Curling Show, Dean Gemmell, on his own Twitter account: “Damn that was some BDO Canadian Open.” Couldn’t have said it better!