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Big curling event to Vegas

Woo-hoo! Is Sweden’s Niklas Edin goin’ to Vegas?

The news has just been revealed: a major curling championship is headed to Las Vegas.

But what’s this? The December 2012 issue of The Curling News is due to arrive this week – it’s in the mail, actually – and you’re telling me that this Vegas news is on the cover? Howzzat?

Oh yeah. It’s Vegas, baby.

Here’s an opening excerpt from our December 2012 cover story, penned by ace columnist Larry Wood:

The gamut of prospects fairly boggles the mind. To say nothing of frying a cranial nerve or two… or even seven.

We’re talking here about curling in glittery, gaudy, downtown Las Vegas.

Make that international curling in glittery, gaudy, downtown Las Vegas. Involving the finest rockchucking dudes and dollies on the planet, don’t you know?

Of course, we have to be kidding, right? Well, now that you mention it, no. This is not a joke. And it’s not just a crazy dream, either. It’s bona fide championship curling in Sin City. Indeed!

Like, close the front door, right? What, in the name of Ken Watson, will they think of next? Mixed doubles in the Galapagos, perhaps?

Leave it to the combine of global curling nabobery – the World Curling Federation, USA Curling and the Canadian Curling Association. It has announced… practically simultaneous to TCN press time, you understand… that the 2014 edition of the World Financial Group Continental Cup will be staged in glittery, gaudy, you-know-where.

To be precise, the 10th edition of curling’s answer to Ryder Cup golf is slated Jan. 16-19 for the swank Orleans Arena, home to hockey’s Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL (formerly East Coast Hockey League), not to mention a couple of NCAA basketball tournaments.

Oh yes! It’ll be the first Continental Cup to hold forth outside the borders of Canada… and isn’t that about time?And the first for a Vegas curling event of practically any magnitude.

What’s that, you inquire?

Will there be casino chaperones for the participants? Also the media hacks who suddenly will find any excuse to cover this particular curling event?

Can you say “Team World Booze Ban Continues”?

Any bets on which men’s team will wake up with hangovers and a tiger in the bathroom? Chickens on the floor? How about that fun bunch with the gaily-coloured trousers?

Verily, it should be quite a rock concert. The Orleans Arena comes adjacent to its own hotel and casino. So the whole shebang will be centered in one just-off-the-strip location – on West Tropicana just a few blocks west of the real biggies, in fact.

The Orleans casino is the second largest in Vegas, and the complex includes 2,000 hotel rooms, 70 lanes of bowling, 18 movie theatres and 12 restaurants.

The horseshoe-shaped arena opened in May, 2003, featuring 5,736 permanent seats plus 1,405 retractable seats on the open end of the horseshoe. There is separate handicapped seating, plus 20 VIP suites seating between 12 and 22 and two larger party suites that will accommodate up to 36 each – likely, in this case, the back-room panjandrums of the curling world.

But there’s still more – a separate club seating section that holds another 248…

Alas folks, that’s all we’re going to leave you with; you’ll just have to grab (ie. subscribe to get) a copy of the December issue to read all the rest… a rest which includes many more details, including not one but two additional tales of of Vegas curling that are contained in our sport’s lore – from both the past and the very current present, in fact.

Don’t delay, subscribe today

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The Masters 2012: Koe, Homan take first Slams

Championship Sunday: Calgary’s Koe, Ottawa’s Homan take first Grand Slam titles

One of us is gonna win their first, eh?

BRANTFORD, Ont. – Calgary’s Kevin Koe and Ottawa’s Rachel Homan scored the first Grand Slam of Curling title victories of their careers by winning The Rogers Masters.

The $200,000 super-event involved 68 international men’s and womens’ teams and was hosted at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, the Brantford Golf and Country Club, the Brant Curling Club and the Paris Curling Club.

Koe and his World Curling Tour money-leading squad of third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen defeated Jim Cotter’s foursome from Kelowna and Vernon, B.C. by a 7-5 score in Sunday’s men’s championship final. Cotter struck first with a deuce in the opening end, but Koe responded with his own deuce and a force in the third end. After a blank in the fourth end, a Cotter misstep opened the door to a Koe three-ender and a 5-3 lead.

Rachel Homan (centre) and Co. celebrate

Koe stole the next end, but Cotter responded with his second pair of the match to cut the lead to 6-5. In the final end, Cotter’s last-ditch come-around touched the four-foot rings and Koe was forced to draw towards the button, which he made perfectly.

“This was my seventh Grand Slam final and my first win,” exulted Koe, who captured the world men’s curling championship in 2010. “it’s been a long time coming.”

“This was my third Slam final and my first win,” said Simmons, with a wide grin.

Team Koe’s $20,000 payday vaulted them even higher on the WCT money list, at over $84,000 in total winnings.

“This feels great, it’s been an outstanding year,” said Koe. “We’ve won the three biggest events we’ve played in, and we’ve got a bit of a monkey off our backs now.”

In the women’s championship final, Homan stole a critical deuce in the third end for a 3-0 lead over Chelsea Carey of Morden, Man. only to see Carey rebound with a deuce of her own. However, the 2011 Ontario champions – which include third Emma Miskew, second Alison Krviazuk and lead Lisa Weagle – came back from the mid-game break with another pair for a 5-2 lead, and after holding the Manitobans to a single, they cracked a huge three-ender on a runback to salt the victory.

Don’t get in the way of these guys

Homan’s perfect 5-0 round-robin record padded her winner’s cheque to $20,500. That vaulted the youthful foursome from second place on the WCT women’s money list into first, with over $52,000 in winnings this season.

“Yeah, we’ve been doing really well on the Slam side of the events, but it’s nice to finally win a final,” said Homan, a curling prodigy since the age of 13. “I think we picked the right one to win, and this is just an amazing feeling.”

Kevin Martin of Edmonton and Steve Laycock of Regina each earned $8,000 for their semifinal finishes. Earlier on Sunday, Martin fell 6-5 to provincial rival Koe while Laycock fell 6-3 to Cotter.

The Saskatchewan squad won an additional $5,500 for reaching the final of a World Curling Tour event hosted concurrently during The Rogers Masters, which elevated them into the Grand Slam playoff round.

In women’s semifinal action, Homan made a storming comeback to defeat Scotland’s Eve Muirhead 5-4, while Carey dismantled Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni by a 7-2 count. Tirinzoni won $8,000 for her efforts while Muirhead took home $7,500.

[Sportsnet photos copyright ® by Anil Mungal. Click on images to increase viewing size]

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The Masters 2012: On a measurement

Will scintillating semis lead to fascinating finals?

Chelsea Carey is back in another TV final

BRANTFORD, Ont.  – Calgary’s Kevin Koe and Jim Cotter of Kelowna, B.C. are through to the men’s championship of The Rogers Masters. Meanwhile, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan and Chelsea Carey of Morden, Man. have clinched berths in the women’s championship.

Both finals of the $200,000 Grand Slam of Curling event are now underway, live from the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre on CBC-TV and also streamed online here (in-Canada only).

Koe’s 2010 world curling champions continued their stellar season with a taut and occasionally thrilling 6-5 semifinal victory over provincial rival Kevin Martin of Edmonton on Sunday morning.

For much of the match, Koe stood alone as the other seven athletes struggled with their game, and Koe led 4-1 after four ends of play. Martin replied with a deuce in the fifth end and held Koe to a single to trail 5-3 coming home.

That’s when Koe third Pat Simmons gassed a takeout, and things got interesting.

Welcome back Kotter! Er, Cotter!

When the smoke cleared, Martin had wriggled another pair and the match went to an extra-end at 5-5.

On Koe’s final shot of the match, he ignored two Martin counters and threw the draw to the button, but his stone hung wide and continued to slide. In the end, neither team could identify the winning stone and an umpire with a measuring stick was called in… and the Calgary squad was declared the winners, and advanced to the final.

The loss continued Team Martin’s recent frustration on the Grand Slam circuit. After winning an unprecedented 17 Grand Slam of Curling titles over his lengthy career, Martin has now competed in five Slams without capturing a title. His last victory in the elite tournament series was the Players’ Championship at Grande Prairie, Alta. in April of 2011.

Cotter, who has jelled nicely with new third Jason Gunnlaugson, defeated Regina’s Steve Laycock 6-3 in the other semifinal. The Saskatchewan foursome was held to three singles during the match, while two early deuces set the tone for the B.C. squad.

OUCH: Eve Muirhead lost a heartbreaker

The Martin and Laycock teams each earned $8,000 for their semifinal finishes. Laycock won an additional $5,500 for reaching the final of a World Curling Tour event hosted concurrently by three area curling facilities, which elevated his squad into the Rogers Masters playoff round.

In women’s semifinal action, Ottawa’s Homan won her seventh Masters match in a row by beating reigning European champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland by a 5-4 scoreline. The result was a horror show for Muirhead, who held leads of 3-1 and 4-2 but dropped a stunning three-count in the eighth and final end for the loss.

It was the second win for Homan in four days over her Scottish rival. On Thursday night, the 2011 Ontario champions scored a big five-ender to beat the Scots 8-2 in a round-robin matchup.

In the other women’s semi, Carey’s Manitoba crew scored a 7-2 victory over Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland. The unusual linescore showed that Tirinzoni scored singles in the opening two ends and then held Carey to a single for a 2-1 lead. But that was it for the Swiss, who dropped three consecutive steals of two.

Tirinzoni won $8,000 during the week and Muirhead took home $7,500.

And there’s mo’ money to be awarded in the next hour + or so…

[Sportsnet photos copyright ® by Anil Mungal. Click on images to increase viewing size]

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The Masters 2012: Sunday’s finale

Rogers Masters playoffs: Koe battles Martin, Homan versus Muirhead – and more

KMart awaits KKoe on Sunday morning

BRANTFORD, Ont. – Edmonton’s Kevin Koe defeated Mark Bice of Toronto 6-4 to advance to Sunday morning’s semifinals of the Rogers Masters at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.

The 2010 world champions qualified for the final four of the Grand Slam of Curling event by grabbing three points in the third end for a 3-2 lead, and upping the ante to a 5-3 advantage after five.

Team Koe is one of the World Curling Tour’s most consistent performers this season, scoring two tournament titles and a runner-up finish in recent weeks. The squad sits in first place on the men’s money list with over $65,000 in winnings, almost $25,000 ahead of Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton (second place) and third-place Kevin Martin of Edmonton.

Also advancing from Saturday night quarterfinal action was Steve Laycock of Regina, who scored a 4-1 win over a frustrated Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The Saskatchewan foursome blanked the first three ends before finally pouncing for a two-count in the fourth, and Jacobs missed a tricky split for two in the fifth, and scored only a single. A second Laycock deuce in the seventh left the writing on the wall.

In women’s play, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan won her sixth match in a row by beating reigning Ontario champion Tracy Horgan of Sudbury 6-2. The previous year’s Ontario titlists, Team Homan took a deuce in the fifth end for a 4-2 lead and stole the sixth end to take command.

In the fourth match of the draw, Chelsea Carey of Morden, Man. dispatched Heather Strong of St. John’s by an odd 4-0 count. Carey led 2-0 in the seventh end of the low-scoring affair before stealing the final two ends.

In earlier quarterfinal action, Martin outlasted rival Stoughton by a 5-3 score. The key blow was struck in the seventh end when Martin, the reigning Olympic champion, stole a point for a 4-3 lead.

Team Cotter added Gunner (above) last summer

Also advancing to the semis was Jim Cotter of Kelowna, B.C. who scored a big three-ender in the sixth frame en route to a 5-3 win over Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen.

Team Cotter is enjoying a strong season, largely due to the growing chemistry between the skip and new third Jason Gunnlaugson. In recent years the well-travelled “Gunner” has bounced from his home province of Manitoba to a brief stint of competition in Russia, before landing on the Left Coast.

“I guess from the outside our combination might look a little weird,” said Gunnlaugson. “Jim and I have spent a fair amount of time talking about curling and all sorts of things, and one thing we learned fast is that we have a lot in common. We probably have the most common ground of anyone on the team, actually.”

In earlier women’s quarterfinals, two European squads moved on. Eve Muirhead of Scotland, the reigning European champion, scored four points in the sixth end to defeat Calgary’s Shannon Kleiberink.

In the fourth match of the draw, Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni scored an upset 6-5 win over Ontario’s Sherry Middaugh, one of the World Curling Tour’s top women’s money winners.

Anna Sloan of Scotland’s Team Muirhead

Sunday morning’s semifinal round airs on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific at 8:00am ET. The Battle of the Kevins will continue as Koe faces Martin, Laycock will clash with Cotter, Carey will face off against Tirinzoni and Homan will tangle with Muirhead.

On Thursday night, Homan scored a massive five-ender in the fifth end to beat Muirhead 8-2 in their round-robin pool matchup.

CBC will televise the men’s and women’s championship finals at 1:00pm ET.

Sixty-eight of the world’s top high-performance men’s and women’s curling teams assembled on Nov. 15 in Brantford to contest the Rogers Masters. The Grand Slam event boasts a $200,000 prize purse, four competition venues and a total of eight live game broadcasts.

For ticket information, draw schedules, the list of competing teams and more, visit The Rogers Masters website.

[Sportsnet photos copyright ® by Anil Mungal. Click on images to increase viewing size]

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New Curling Colours: the art of looking good

Glenn Howard – does he now seek the yellow stones?

By David Gravelle

BRANTFORD, Ont. – Here I sit, high above the ice surface at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in the hometown of “The Great One”. And at this Masters Grand Slam shootout, you realize there is a new look to the ancient sport of curling.

The elite game has gotten younger, with fresh new faces nipping at the heels of the senior cohort of Glenn Howard, Kevin Martin and Jeff Stoughton – sorry guys, but it’s true. The game has also become more fashionable as athletic bodies (on both the men’s and women’s sides) make those uniforms look good.

Team Howard’s bright yellow jackets feature their new sponsor Weed Man, and with green grass growing up from the waistline, it all looks good on Hi-Definition television. Watching yesterday’s tilt against Winnipeg’s Stoughton, who was wearing basic black with white trim, offered a stark comparison. While black may be slimming, it sure doesn’t have the pop of the yellow and green of the new Howard corporate colours.

The apparel worn by Glenn, Wayne, Brent, Craig and Mike is certainly eye-catching. Oh, and who the heck is Mike, you may wonder? Michael Kernaghan is the CEO of Weed Man and he is here, sitting in the stands with fellow staff members from his company’s Mississauga offices, and many of his franchise owners are flying in from around the country to experience the Grand Slam of Curling.

“Who knew we had so many closet curlers?” Kernaghan asked rhetorically, while trying to understand the importance of the hammer and the sport’s scoring system. “I’m a hockey fan. But when we looked at the target audience and the fit with our franchisee businesses, (curling) made perfect sense.”

The Weed Men spent most of Wednesday following Team Howard around with video cameras and photo crews, and then came “Curling 101” as they met with volunteers and fans. Within 36 hours of Kernaghan’s arrival, his initial reaction to hearing of a curling sponsorship opportunity (“You’ve got to be kidding: a company that takes care of lawns… sponsoring a winter sport?”) was long gone.

Now, the ladies have hit the ice here at the arena (Friday at 3:30pm ET, live on Sportsnet) and it’s another barrage of bright colours and patterns… along with some of the same old, same old.

The evolution continues…

David Gravelle is the owner of the HOT SHOTS Curling Camps and a principle in PROCURLINGwear

Sportsnet image is copyright ® by Anil Mungal – click on image to view larger

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$1 Million Bonus for Grand Slam of Curling

Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.

Holy crap.

Somebody finally did it.

The terms “$1 million” and “curling” are finally in the same sentence. For high-performance competitors, that is, not lucky (or unlucky) draw-to-the-button contestants.

Just hours before the first stones were thrown at The Rogers Masters in Brantford, Ontario, Sportsnet dropped the big one. Here’s an excerpt from the newser…

TORONTO (November 14, 2012)  The stakes for the 2012-13 Grand Slam of Curling just got a lot higher as Sportsnet today announced a $1 million bonus will be awarded to a men’s team if they win all four events in the series: The Rogers Masters, The Canadian Open, The National and The Players’ Championship.

If a men’s team does not win all four Grand Slam of Curling events, the top three men’s teams – based on the Grand Slam points system – will split a $100,000 purse. First place will receive $50,000, second place will receive $30,000, and third place will receive $20,000.

“Sportsnet is committed to growing the Grand Slam of Curling like never before, and the addition of the substantial bonus truly delivers on that promise,” said Scott Moore, President, Broadcasting, Rogers Media. “The Grand Slam is a high-performance, world-class series boasting the cream of the crop in international curling, and with these new prizes up for grabs, the competitive rivalry in the series will rise to a whole new level – which is great for curling fans, the athletes, and the sport.”

On the women’s side, two events comprise the 2012-13 Grand Slam of Curling. Taking into account the greater odds of winning two events as opposed to four, if a women’s team wins both The Rogers Masters and The Players’ Championship, they will be awarded a $100,000 bonus.

If a women’s team does not win both events, the top three women’s teams – based on the Grand Slam points system – will split a $25,000 purse.  First place will receive $12,500, second place will receive $7,500, and third place will receive $5,000.

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The Masters 2012: Eight games on TV

It’s green. Like the other Masters. Get it?

Canada’s Sportsnet and CBC have released the broadcast schedule for Sportsnet’s first Grand Slam of Curling event, The Rogers Masters, which starts Wednesday evening in Brantford, Ont.

64 teams – 32 women’s and 32 men’s – from various curling nations will converge on the Telephone City to battle at no less than four different venues for a $200,000 prize purse. And there’s lots of action headed to the airwaves.

Coverage begins on Thursday, Nov. 15 on all four of Sportsnet’s regional channels (East, Ontario, West and Pacific) with round-robin games at 12 noon eastern time (ET) and 3:30pm ET. Two more games are scheduled for those channels on Friday, beginning at 3:30pm ET and 7:00pm ET.

Saturday sees a first quarterfinal match televised on sub-licensee CBC at 3:30pm, and a second QF televised later that evening, on Sportsnet One at 8:30pm ET.

Sunday morning Nov. 18 sees semifinal action airing at 8:00am ET on the four Sportsnet channels, while CBC gets the championship finals at 1:00pm ET.

As first revealed in the November print issue of The Curling News, former CBC curling analysts Mike Harris and Joan McCusker are on board for both Sportsnet and CBC this season, while longtime Sportsnet host Rob Faulds will handle the play-by-play. We also reported that another fresh face has been hired, and that person will work the next two Slams – December in Kelowna, BC and January in Port Hawkesbury, NS – alongside Harris, with McCusker returning to join Harris at the Players’ Championship at Toronto in April.

The November issue of The Curling News features, as always, the mammoth “Curling TV Guide” and while mention of The Masters is included, there were no specific channel and time details available at press time. Today’s news release confirms that a total of eight draws of live action will be televised; a first for any Grand Slam since the series was founded in the fall of 2001.

Visit The Masters website for information on draws, tickets and more. You can also follow the Facebook page and the Twitter feed.

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2013 Skins: war of words

Left to right: Randy Ferbey circa 2007; Ron Jeremy

by Colin Hodgson

Twitter feeds explode with public begging. Facebook groups pop up overnight. Is this the United States presidential election? No, it is bigger than that. This is the vote battle for the recently revamped The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game.

Canadian curling fans can log in to their computers each day and pick the players they want to see curling in the annual TV Skins Game. This is exciting, all-offense curling that boggles the brain of the average curler until it all comes together with a Hail-Mary heater on the last shot of the game for ridiculous amounts of cash. That’s what I call a curling match.

This year’s Skins Game will be a lot spicier than past events. In previous years, four teams were selected to compete, whereas this year fan voting will select four skips, four thirds, four seconds and four leads, and all will then be randomly thrown together to create four teams. Hence, our best-case viewing entertainment scenario: Randy Ferbey is selected as Kevin Martin’s third – and all pandemonium breaks loose.

Voting just started on Monday, and it seems a fire has already started on social media – ignited by curling stars John Morris and David Nedohin. Attacks between their Twitter feeds, @johnnymocurler and @dnedohin, have been raising eyebrows and thus intrigued, I resolved to find out what is going on between these guys.

Colin Hodgson (CH): So John, the comments on Twitter between you and David probably have a lot of people wondering just where all this animosity between the two of you came from?

John Morris (JM): Well, it seemed to really peak in the mid to late 2000’s when every big game we (Team Martin) played seemed to be against Ferbey. David has always been a strong competitor and so have I, so that nature sometimes translates to fire on ice. We are both really intense guys and sometimes that intensity can get the best of us in the moment.

Sass Johnny Mo? Best be careful.

CH: What is your honest opinion of David Nedohin?

JM: He can be a bit of a square. It’s funny, because when we used to battle for provincial titles my boys at the fire hall would tell me to make sure that nerd Nedohin doesn’t beat you, or else there won’t be any dinner for you when you get back to work.

CH: Let me just quote a tweet you sent to David as an example:

Hey @dnedohin, maybe this skins you’ll make more shots now that you don’t have Ron Jeremy calling line for ya #furball #zing

How did you ever come up with that comparison of Randy Ferbey to Ron Jeremy?

JM: It’s pretty easy if you’ve ever watched 1980s porn as well as Randy Ferbey curling in his heyday, when he drank slightly too much beer and rocked an aggressive moustache.

CH: Given the chance that you might end up playing with David in the Skins Game, how many ends do you think you would make it through before chaos broke out on the ice?

JM: It’ll be all good unless he starts making some bonehead strategy decisions. If that’s the case then it may get interesting out there.

CH: Is there anything you’d like to add about the rivalry?

JM: It’s always been a heated rivalry between us. It cooled off a little when Randy retired but this new skins format has definitely refuelled things.

Well. After interviewing John, I thought it would be appropriate to get both sides of the story. So, naturally, I called Nedohin.

CH: I’ve noticed there is a lot of tension between you and John Morris. Having already interviewed him it seems you guys have a lot of issues to work out. What do you have against John?

David Nedohin (DN): John has a hot personality and it’s always been a bit of a detriment to his team. Like, honestly, who snaps a broom over his knee in the middle of a game?

David Nedohin (foreground) pounds it in 2009

CH: What do you have to say about John’s tweet where he compared Randy Ferbey to Ron Jeremy?

DN: I find it interesting that a player in his position would say something about a player that is arguably the greatest ever. He still has a lot to learn.

CH: Over the years the rivalry seemed to be Ferbey versus Martin and Morris versus Nedohin. What do you think would happen if you were teamed with Morris, and your opponents were Randy and Kevin? How long do you think it would take before all hell broke out on the ice?

DN: That is a really good question but I don’t think it would really matter, because Randy and Kevin would happen first.

CH: Is there anything you would like to say about Morris or Team Martin heading into the voting this month?

DN: I think that Team Martin is one of the best teams in the world right now, and also one of the greatest ever. Even so, I guarantee that if I were to play in the Skins Game against John, I feel confident I would win, and would even be willing to put a small wager on it.

Strong words from both players. But who has the advantage?

Although virtually deadlocked in win/loss records over the past 12 years, prior to 2007 the head-to-head score was 15-4 in favor of Nedohin. Post-2007, Morris has a commanding 20-6 record over Nedohin (thanks to CurlingZone for the stats). Either way, if these players are “elected” to compete at Casino Rama, and if certain lineups and matchups are then created, this new Skins Game cannot possibly disappoint.

Remember curling fans, go to TSN.ca/CurlingSkins everyday to vote for the players you want to see squaring off at The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game. The athlete draw takes place live on January 17, 2013 on TSN, and the Skins Game follows on Jan. 19-20. You have the power, now go use it!

[Insight Sports Ferbey photo copyright ® by Dallas Bittle; Ron Jeremy photo copyright ® by Ron de Jeremy (rondejeremy.com); Morris photo copyright ® by Canadian Curling Association; Capital One Nedohin photo copyright ® by Anil Mungal – click on images to view larger]

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Vote now for Skins curling stars

Curling fans in the know really wouldn’t… or would they?

Aren’t they a lucky bunch, those Canadian curling fans?

Beginning today, the biggest names in curling are going head-to-head online, and fans across the country will determine who will compete in The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game – thanks to a brand new qualifying process and a brand new All-Star team format.

Created and operated by TSN Events, The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game (Presented by Pinty’s) takes place live from Casino Rama Jan.19-20, and is perhaps the premiere “special event” on the annual curling calendar – it’s definitely a fan favourite, with some 24 years of equity on The Sports Network.

From November 5 to December 10, fans can visit TSN.ca/CurlingSkins to vote for their favourite Canadian men’s curling stars at each position – skip, third, second, and lead. The All-Star ballot consists of players from the top teams as ranked by last season’s Canadian Curling Association CTRS (Canadian Team Ranking System) and the following competitors are included on the ballot:

 

SKIP

THIRD

SECOND

LEAD

Glenn Howard

BJ Neufeld

Brent Laing

Craig Savill

Mike McEwen

John Morris

Matt Wozniak

Denni Neufeld

Kevin Martin

Pat Simmons

Marc Kennedy

Ben Hebert

Kevin Koe

Scott Bailey

Carter Rycroft

Nolan Thiessen

Jeff Stoughton

Jon Mead

Scott Howard

David Mathers

Brad Gushue

Ryan Fry

Reid Carruthers

Steve Gould

Rob Fowler

Allan Lyburn

Geoff Walker

Adam Casey

David Nedohin

Randy Ferbey

Richard Daneault

Derek Samagalski

Brad Jacobs

E.J. Harnden

Ryan Harnden

Brendan Melnyk

 

The top four players with the most votes in each position will qualify. As part of this year’s new format, the All-Star teams will be chosen by random draw broadcast on TSN on January 17, 2013.

The four All-Star teams will compete for $100,000 in prize money during The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game televised live on TSN, January 19-20. And everything else that is traditional about the skins game still stands – such as the single-elimination format, whereby the winner is decided by total prize money and not total points throughout the two-day TV event.

One thing we are predicting is a healthy battle for voter influence between curling teams that have made a mark on the digital world. The official news release announcing the voting only came out at 12 noon (ET) today, and already players like Brad Gushue and his teammate Geoff Walker have posted on Facebook asking for your vote – same for Kevin Martin lead Ben Hebert, but his request has a twist, in that each Martin team member is pledging to donate 10 per cent of all skins winnings to the fight against prostate cancer.

Team Appelman, among others, has taken to Twitter; this squad has one player in the running for a Skins berth. Another team boasting a decent digital followin is skipped by Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen, and they’ve begun bombarding fans through Twitter and their website, listing the reasons you should vote for their team members.

It stands to reason that teams and players who wield the largest and most dynamic digital footprints might have an advantage at the ballot box. However, it’s fair to note that the contest is also being promoted on TSN itself, which is home to quite a few anti-curling sports fans as well as, ironically, the most traditionally powerful group of curling fans: the blue-hairs! (And we say that affectionately, of course. – Ed)

We also noticed something right off the bat, ie. that last season’s CTRS rankings were used to declare the candidates – and that means ex-Jeff Stoughton lead Steve Gould, who is largely inactive this season, is still on the ballot. Likewise for another notable and quite notorious curling star who announced his retirement during the summer –  Randy Ferbey – so if you want to see The Ferb just one more time in high-profile, televised competition, then you know who to vote for.

And wouldn’t this be an incredible sight to see – imagine if Ferbey won, and by luck of the draw ended up playing third for his 2010-11 skip, Brad Gushue (ouch)… or even, dare we think it, his one-time (fall 1995) teammate, sworn arch-rival and fellow Edmontonian… Kevin Martin?

You have the power, curling fans. Use this power wisely – or not, depending on how much fun you want to have!

Voting closes on Dec. 10. That website, once again, is: TSN.ca/CurlingSkins

Capital One photo of Randy Ferbey (left) and Brad Gushue copyright™® by Anil Mungal – click on image to increase viewing size

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Vol. 56 Issue 1: November 2012

  • Layout 1ON THE COVER

    Team Canada at the Brier? Canadian Mixed Doubles? Sportsnet buys the Slams? Sportswriting legend Terry Jones summarizes a Crazy Curling Summer

  • THE CURLING NEWS TV GUIDE

    Now upsized to include worldwide curling webstreams, the world’s best curling TV and online broadcast details are only available here!

  • WHO’S ON FIRST?

    Wondering who will be commentating on Sportsnet and CBC curling shows this season? The publisher has the exclusive scoop…

  • VOTE FOR YOUR SKINS CURLING STARS

    TCN is first to announce how fans can vote for their favourites, and win great prizes in the process

  • THE CURLING NEWSDESK

    LEGO curling display turns heads in PEI • Sask wrong made right, 63 years later • Kevin Martin goes digital • Nichols drives from The Rock, stops in The Peg • Who’s with whom this curling season • Brier and STOH relegation playoff deemed “quirky”… and more!

  • PLANES, TRAINS AND CURLING

    Scott Arnold saw a tweet, and now he’s crossing the globe for the World Curling Federation

  • THEY SAID IT

    Middaugh, Jones, Gemmell, Laing, Charette, Moore, Nedohin, McEwen, the Pool Commissioner and more: it’s our popular collection of quotable quotes from around the curling world

  • OLYMPIC MAKEOVER

    The Vancouver Curling Club marks 100 years with a fab photo recreation

  • FRESH FAN FORMAT

    The Continental Cup is around the corner, with changes front and centre

  • THE DOMINION CLUB CORNER

    The Dominion Curling Club Championship is back, and ready to roar in late November

  • …and More! Don’t delay, subscribe today!