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Live curling: watching on the web

Canada’s TSN posts VOD after live broadcasts have ended

It’s time for another official blog welcome to another official curling season!

This blogpost deals with curling “webstreams”, or live curling coverage you can watch on your computer or mobile device through the internet. This blogpost has been a long time coming, because rabid curling fans have already been watching live curling webstreams for a few years now.

Years ago there was the subscription service CurlTV, which died a sad but inevitable death (The Curling News, March 2012 edition). Recently, Canadian broadcasters have either provided live webstreams in tandem with their live TV coverage (CBC) or they’ve provided video on demand, or VOD, that is posted a few hours after each live broadcast (TSN).

The World Curling Federation now boasts a YouTube channel, and they host live webstreamed game coverage of events that are not otherwise televised – such as the World Mixed Doubles and World Junior Championships, the Winter Universiade (World University Games) and more. One WCF broadcast partner, Eurosport, televises WCF games (from the the European and World Championships) and then also webstreams extra games to its subscribers.

In addition, more and more smaller groups – including volunteers at grass roots curling clubs – have stuck a camera behind the glass and started Do-It-Yourself (DIY) webstreaming, though providers such as Livestream.

Partial sample from the February 2012 Curling TV Guide

It’s tough for even the most rabid fans to discover (and remember) where they can find and watch so much online curling. One solution is to subscribe to The Curling News and also follow us on Twitter and Facebook– why, you ask?

For starters, each print issue features our “Curling TV Guide” section, where we highlight all major television and webstreamed coverage on a monthly basis. There is tons of great coverage available to various regions within Canada, but we also point directly to global coverage in Europe, the United States, Asia, South America and across the interweb.

In addition, our online properties, particularly our Twitter feed, have been highlighting the games to watch for a few years now… and that includes last-minute streaming events that only come to our attention after a press deadline.

But that’s not all. Here in September of 2012, there are three particular online curling streaming providers that have caught our eye – and they should catch yours, too.

The first is LAOLA TV, a Swiss-based online broadcaster now in its third year of hosting events from the Curling Champions Tour , ie. the World Curling Tour of Europe. They use multiple cameras, replays and a graphics package and they also feature game commentary in English (LAOLA also streams various Swiss curling association playdowns, and that game commentary is provided in either Swiss-German or Swiss-French).

A LAOLA view from September’s Baden Masters 2012

It’s a good show, and the CCT fields include the top European teams plus a handful of Canadians – such as Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue two weeks ago, and two Halifax women’s teams today and this weekend (the Mary-Ann Arsenault/Colleen Jones combo and Heather Smith-Dacey).

The CCT event schedule started in late August and runs through the new year, but the highest concentration of events takes place right now – September – through late November. For the LAOLA curling homepage and streaming schedule, plus archived 2010 and 2011 games on demand, click here.

Some CCT events, like this weekend’s Oslo Cup, are also simulcast on another European webcurling portal: Curlingkanalen. This Swedish outfit has been around for some six years, and they also partner with the Swedish curling association for sanctioned domestic playdowns. In the past, Curlingkanalen has also provided the back end for Swedish-based Eurosport curling shows.

They also use multiple cameras and replays, and they provide some of their coverage – like the CCT events – in English. For the Curlingkanalen homepage, click here.

Who was CurlingZone's “Hair” and “Hat” commentators in Oakville? See our Facebook page (Sept 7) for the answer

Our third featured provider is pretty new at this streaming game, and they’ve built a two-headed creation.

Part one is CurlingZone, a good friend of ours and the Canadian super-portal of all things curling. After experimenting at some Grand Slam championships late last season, CurlingZone has jumped into event streaming this fall, and as of today and this weekend, they’re already covering their third event of the new season!

The Zoners have struck a partnership with 12th End Sports Network (TESN), a sophomore U.S. group that streams various U.S. events during the season – some of them are sanctioned playdowns at either the city, state or national level, and others are recreational leagues or funspiels at the club level. Together, Curling Zone and TESN are streaming a bunch of North American tournaments from the World and Ontario Curling Tours.

Thus far it’s an evolving template – the camera placements vary from event to event, and the audio is a mixture of behind-the-glass game commentary and/or player microphones. Adding to the DIY feel is the fact that special guest commentators (from various levels of curling notoriety) can be grabbed from the crowd and plunked down in front of the microphone at any moment!

For the CurlingZone webstream page, click here. For the 12th End Sports Network homepage, click here.

And now… after all that, we’re sure you want to watch some curling this weekend, right?

Here’s a quick rundown of the games that are planned for September 21-23 on LAOLA, Curlingkanalen and CurlingZone/TESN – and keep in mind that any game coverage plans can change at the discretion of the providers…

FRIDAY
Sept 21 – 12 noon ET (18:00 CET) • KW Fall Classic W Sidorova (RUS) vs Farnell (ONT) • CurlingZone/TESN
Sept 21 – 2:45pm ET (20:45 CET) • KW Fall Classic W Nimik (ONT) vs Cadorin (ONT) • CurlingZone/TESN
Sept 21 – 5:00pm ET (23:45 CET) • KW Fall Classic W Hastings (ONT) vs Russell (ONT) • CurlingZone/TESN
Sept 21 – 7:45pm ET (01:45 CET) • KW Fall Classic M Higgs (ONT) vs Kean (ONT) • CurlingZone/TESN

SATURDAY
Sept 22 – 2:00am ET (08:00 CET) • Oslo Cup M Eriksson (SWE) vs Brewster (SCO) • LAOLA/Curlingkanalen
Sept 22 – 4:20am ET (10:20 CET) • Oslo Cup W Middaugh (CAN) vs Githmark (NOR) • LAOLA/Curlingkanalen
Sept 22 – 6:40am ET (12:40 CET) • Oslo Cup M Ulsrud (PANTS) vs Uusipaavalniemi (FIN) • LAOLA/Curlingkanalen
Sept 22 – 8:45am ET (14:45 CET) • KW Fall Classic W Brown (USA) vs Romain (ONT) • CurlingZone/TESN
Sept 22 – 1:45pm ET (19:45 CET) • KW Fall Classic W/M TBA • CurlingZone/TESN
Sept 22 – 4:00pm ET (22:00 CET) • KW Fall Classic W/M TBA – CurlingZone/TESN
Sept 22 – 6:45pm ET (00:45 CET) • KW Fall Classic W Auld (ONT) vs Marshall (ONT) – CurlingZone/TESN
Sept 22 – 9:00pm ET (03:45 CET) • KW Fall Classic W/M TBA – CurlingZone/TESN

SUNDAY
Sept 23 – 2:00am ET (08:00 CET) • Oslo Cup W Quarterfinal (TBA) • LAOLA/Curlingkanalen
Sept 23 – 4:15am ET (10:15 CET) • Oslo Cup M Quarterfinal (TBA) • LAOLA/Curlingkanalen
Sept 23 – 7:00am ET (13:00 CET) • Oslo Cup W/M Semifinal (TBA) • LAOLA/Curlingkanalen
Sept 22 – 9:00am ET (15:00 CET) • KW Fall Classic W/M Quarterfinal • CurlingZone/TESN
Sept 23 – 10:00am ET (16:00 CET) • Oslo Cup W/M Final (TBA) • LAOLA/Curlingkanalen
Sept 23 – 12:30pm ET (18:30 CET) • KW Fall Classic W/M Semifinal • CurlingZone/TESN
Sept 23 – 3:30pm ET (21:30 CET) • KW Fall Classic W/M Final • CurlingZone/TESN

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Contest winner – ID the curling stars

So many curling faces... so little contest time

Hey folks! Thanks to all who tried to identify all the curling superstars shown in our new Twitter background (at left).

You can see the contest entries at the bottom of this previous blog posting.

Okay… some of these “superstars” hold, er, some dubious qualifications in our sport. But it’s safe to say that Ronald McDonald is better known, around the globe, than even the greatest-ever curling athlete – so if he throws a curling stone, we’re gonna show it!

For those interested in the back story, the iconic mascot participated in a charity curling announcement way up in Canada’s arctic territories a year or so ago.

The contest winner is Eric Eales of Kelowna, BC who operates the Wheelchair Curling portal as well as @WheelChairCurl on Twitter. Nice work Eric!

Honourable mention goes to Kelso M! This entry looked like the winner but, ironically, wheelchair curler Darryl Neighbour was missed – he’s the one stabilizing the chair for Women of Curling Calendar athlete/model Sonja Gaudet.

Thanks to all who participated, and stay tuned to our various online properties for more contests this season…

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No hockey, no problem – hello CURLING

Here's the latest, ready for sharing – note the poor Leaf fan, no longer hidden by our logo

So. Here’s what happened.

We needed some new graphics for our social media hubs. The first step was to roust our designer, Gary D, from his summer slumber and command him to draft something new for The Curling News Twitter feed.

Not bad… as you can see, there are lots of competitive players, recreational curlers and even a mascot or two – all of them appearing in one graphic.

Whom do you recognize in there, by the way?

Wait a minute; this question calls for a…

CONTEST ALERT!    CONTEST ALERT!

Eyeball the background graphic, head back to this blogpost, scroll on down to the “Comments” area below and rhyme off as many names as you can… and the reader with the most correct names will win a prize from The Curling News! Let’s give you a deadline of, say, Monday September 17 at 12 noon ET, okay?

Now back to this blogpost.

Next up was The Curling News Facebook page, which needed a new “Cover” photo. And as you can see from that page, the resulting image became a smash hit and started going mini-viral – in a hurry!

This was a great idea, given the rather pathetic NHL hockey lockout, and full credit goes to Mr. D for the concept. He took a recent image of the now-legendary “Sociable” curling fans (whom we first met at the Halifax Brier 2010) dressed in their hockey jerseys at the 2012 Brier, and then replaced the text of their hand-held signs.

The original image, FYI

As we first showed you on page 17 of our April 2012 Digital Edition, those signs originally read What Should They Do? Go For Beers… which is pretty funny by itself. A few (Photoshop) seconds later and hey presto, the signs now read NO HOCKEY NO PROBLEM – WE LOVE CURLING… and the rest is history.

And it’s absolutely true, of course. The death of one sport (via labour woes) need not ruin the fall and winter months for everyone. Curling is also played on ice, and it’s played by folks just like you – large or small, male or female, younger or older, experienced or novice, coordinated or clumsy.

Curling is truly the sport for all – and best of all, it’s not going anywhere. Feel free to share this image, to try and entice your friend or family member into giving the good old Roaring Game a shot!

And do join us, despondent NHL hockey fans! Watch our best teams and players compete on television and online… and we apologize in advance for the lack of a penalty box. But while you’re watching, why not research a curling facility in your area – and try the game yourself?

[Images by Anil Mungal • Click on images to increase size]

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Harris to Switzerland

Mike Harris tried to keep a secret during the weekend's OCT Championships in Oakville

The Curling News learned weeks ago that a big life change was in store for Mike Harris.

Now that the National Post has let the cat out the bag, so shall we.

Harris, the silver-winning skip of Canada’s 1998 Olympic team in Nagano, and a CBC curling analyst for the last decade, is off to Switzerland to lead what he and his Swiss partners are declaring to be Europe’s first designated and independent high-performance training centre for curling.

Located in Champéry, the “Palladium” includes a dedicated curling facility that was recently built, plus an adjacent ice arena that hosted the 2010 European Championships.

Harris resigned as the head golf professional at Toronto’s Donalda Club a week ago. He’s spent 25 years in the golf industry, so this is certainly a different career angle.

“There’s 26 countries that compete at the European championships and only eight of those, or so, end up at the worlds or Olympics,” Harris told the Post. “So there’s 18 other countries that have curling… not your traditional curling countries, that have national team programs, that really don’t have (good) ice conditions or coaching to them on a regular basis.

“(Switzerland) is a neutral base for a lot of these countries to come and learn to improve.”

Harris is correct – however, his initiative does not mark the first independent launch of Euro-based high-performance curling instruction. The country is already host to a few international coaches who work en masse with a variety of curlers and curling teams, and exclusively with others, and that list includes Scottish expatriate Brian Gray (smartCurling) as well as regular TCN columnist Rodger Schmidt (Curling Academy), a Canadian-born former competitor who represented Germany at the world championships.

It’s a new and scenic view for Harris. Can you blame him?

Harris will spend half of each month in Switzerland and the other half at home in Canada. He also has a clause in his contract that will free him up for any TV commentary work, should any materialize.

As TCN Blog readers know, Sportsnet recently scored ownership of the Grand Slam of Curling series, and has sub-licensed some of the coverage to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC has also won the rights to televise the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games in Canada, and is expected to provide host broadcast duties for the global feed.

Harris has been toying with the high-performance coaching world for a while now. He had recently been approached by various teams, and two years ago he finished second for the top HP job in the United States.

“I really don’t know what’s going to happen when I actually have a Saturday and Sunday off in the summer,” Harris joked to the Post. “I’ve never had that in my entire career… I got into the golf business so it would give me free time to curl.

“(Now) I have a chance to do something in sport and that I’m passionate about and looking at growing from the ground up.”

Action photo copyright The Curling News by Anil Mungal • Champéry photo copyright Champéry Tourisme

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