Posted on

The Curling News: 2013 Brier edition

Hurry hard to get the March issue

We haven’t promoted our print edition on the blog in a very long time, and there happens to be a major curling event starting this weekend in Edmonton… so here we go.

You won’t want to miss the March 2013 issue of The Curling News, aka The Brier Issue. The cover story leads with The Bad Boys, aka Brock Virtue’s Saskatchewan foursome, and what on earth really happened at the Sasky provincial. But that’s not all: the story goes on to compare other Brier Bad Boys and their recent misbehaviours at the Big Show, and what the Canadian Curling Association has traditionally done about their trangressions – or not. So unlike what this fun video exemplifies, there might be more than just one team of Brier Bad Boys at Rexall Place.

Our Brier coverage continues with columnist Terry Jones, who points to the significance of the Brier plus Alberta’s Team Kevin Martin as the host hopefuls… and also wonders if this will be the last Brier to feature the Big Three: KMart, Jeff Stoughton and Glenn Howard? There’s also a feature from Senior Columnist Larry Wood on Edmonton curling hero Matt Baldwin, who will be feted live and in person during Friday night’s opening Brier banquet: Baldwin is more than curling’s oldest living Brier champion skip, he was – according to Woody and others – the sport’s first bonafide character, the Guy before Hemmings, so to speak.

There’s also a full-page feature on our official The Curling News Brier Predictions, where no less than four all-star curling legends offer their fearless punditry – who will win, place and show (and not) from March 2-10. Who are they, you wonder? Subscribe today, right away, and we’ll toss your Brier Issue into the mail same day, rushed to you pronto.

Of course, there’s more than The Brier to enjoy in this issue. Newsdesk and They Said It are two of our most popular monthly departments, and this month is no exception. A popular player and pundit – who wields a large digital footprint – weighs in with his love for the sport contrasted with the one thing that really, really bothers him about curling. There’s value for curling facility mangers and decision-makers, too, as this month’s The Dominion Club Corner tells us all about the tiny curling club that just sold its naming rights to a local business for $25,000 a year; that’s a whopping $250,000 in fresh funding over the duration of a 10-year contract.

There’s more, too, including the monthly Curling TV/Web Guide, listing all the televised and online curling coverage you could hope to find and watch, through March and half of April, and across multiple platforms in multiple countries. Not just the Brier, and world women’s and world men’s – how about a replay of last year’s Brier final between Alberta’s Kevin Koe and Ontario’s Howard? How about coverage en francais, via Quebec’s RDS2? How about a provincial championship for Saskatchewan’s Mixed Doubles championship, and another featuring their recreational players, leading to this fall’s The Dominion Club Curling Championship?

That’s right, The March issue of The Curling News has it all. And if you don’t have it yet, check out your subscription options today. We’ll be glad to tuck you in, and we thank you in advance for your support.

[Lineup of March issue contents located here; click on cover image to increase viewing size]

Posted on

Swiss Championships 2013: The Finale

Author’s view from coaching bench

by Brian Chick

GSTAAD, Switzerland – The Swiss Championships wrapped up yesterday and judging from the hangover, Team Tirinzoni either did very poorly or very well.

On the men’s side, Sven Michel’s team from Adelboden continued their dominant week. The surprising thing about their final was that their opponents weren’t Team Peter De Cruz. After losing the 1-2 game, De Cruz struggled in the semi against Bernhard Werthemann of Bern. Werthemann kept the final fairly close, but it was clear Team Michel was in control the whole time.

With the victory, Michel not only advances to the world championship in Victoria, B.C., but he also essentially locks up the spot for Swiss Olympic representation a year from now. The Swiss men’s team, however, are not yet qualified for Sochi 2014, and would have to win a play-in qualifier.

On the women’s side, Silvana Tirinzoni beat Ott in the Page playoff 1 vs 2 game, then waited for them to play Manuela Seigrist in the semifinal. Ott had to draw the button with her last shot to avoid an extra end, and moved on to a rematch with Tirinzoni in the final, their fourth matchup of the week.

Trailing 2-1 in the third end, Tirinzoni made an in-off for two, then stole one in the following end. After that, the teams traded deuces until Tirinzoni made an angle-raise hit for three in the eighth end. Ott, the defending world champion, took two back in the ninth but came up short with her last draw in the final end, giving Team Tirinzoni the Swiss Championship and a trip to the women’s worlds in Riga, Latvia.

Heavy metal, Swiss curling-style

The finalists were piped on to the ice for the awards ceremony and presented with their medals. Yes, even in Switzerland, a kilted pipe-band is still part of the festivities.

A few observations:

• After my first event post here at The Curling News Blog,  the number of high-fives seemed to decline. I’m not sure if teams were self-conscious or if they just lacked enthusiasm for this late in the week. We tried to introduce some into Team Tirinzoni’s routine but that was a catastrophe, so in the future we’ll stick with our standard fist-bumps.

• The event itself was managed brilliantly. The players were well taken care of, the ice was fantastic, the draws and standings were updated and posted frequently. The only complaint I heard was from Canadian fans trying to figure out the Swiss Curling Association website… which oddly, doesn’t feature any English.

Laola1.tv offered live streaming of the three playoff draws, as they’ve done for many of the big European tournaments. Mike Harris, who was in the area for his Champéry coaching gig, offered commentary for the first two playoff games, while Armin Harder provided analysis for the last two draws.

• The Latvian women’s team attended the final. They are schedule to work with Harris this week in Champéry in preparation for the women’s worlds being hosted in their capital city of Riga.

 [Photos by Brian Chick – click on images to increase viewing size]

Posted on

STOH 2013: Kingston in February ie. Curling is Awesome

I know! 9:00 am! Can you believe it?

by Dean Gemmell

KINGSTON, Ont. – Two things left a big impression on my second day at the Canadian women’s national with my nine-year-old daughter. First, it’s really cold. Second, souvenirs for a kid are really tough to find.

What’s up with that second point? There wasn’t even a T-shirt or a hoodie in a kid’s size at the souvenir stand. This isn’t a problem unique to the STOH either – about the best thing I could bring back for my kid from the men’s worlds in Basel was a coffee cup. That went over big.

I realize that business reality dictates you have to sell every bit of merchandise you can at a curling event because a 2013 STOH shirt doesn’t sell so well in 2014. But roll the dice a bit, and stock a few things for kids.

But that’s a small quibble. We had another great day, making it through both draws, right at ice level again. In the afternoon, we watched a great battle between my Continental Cup teammates, with Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones besting Heather Nedohin’s Team Canada. We watched the cool efficiency of Rachel Homan’s Ontario team against Jill Shumay of Saskatchewan. No longer a high wire act, either winning or losing in spectacular fashion, this Homan team is now like an accomplished surgeon, deftly removing the hope of winning from their opponents.

Of course, this morning’s opponent – Jones – won’t lack for confidence. It should be a great game at 9:00am eastern time – seriously? First Nedohin vs Jones at 2:00 pm, then Jones vs Homan at 9:00 am. This really does need to be reviewed.

Dean’s daughter with Laine Peters

I was reminded that curlers are great people, as players from both teams went out of their way to say a few words to my daughter during the game. Team Nedohin/Canada gave her some items from the team gift bag, enough that I’m sure she’ll be begging for Booster Juice on the ride home. I saw competitors take a moment to acknowledge enthusiastic Special Olympians in the stands. And I ran into my skip from the 1988 Brier – a Labatt version, because, yes, I really am that old – and we talked like 25 years hadn’t passed. Good people, these curlers.

Unfortunately, at the evening draw, I also saw more empty seats than is ideal. A 7:00 pm start without the Big Three probably didn’t help, as everyone competing on the ice had at least three losses. I realize draws are tricky, but if I was on the organizing committee I would have been a grumpy bear last night.

Kelly Scott won another game when she was down two playing the ninth end. Why do I feel like she does such things more often than most? Do the CurlingZone stats of Gerry Geurts and Co. back me up on that? Kind of amazing, she is. Almost as amazing as her request, made to her teammates, for a hog-to-hog time of 9.8 seconds. I really think I heard that. After that, I was timing everything – most shots seemed off the requested time by about 0.5 seconds. Amazingly, most shots were still made.

Arrrrrrggg – Rachel Homan – ggghhhhhh

Alberta got in the win column against the Territories. Their reaction at the end of their was tepid but maybe that’s how it goes when you’re 0-6 heading in. Quebec’s Alison Ross let a game get away with a fairly horrible ninth end. The veterans from Nova Scotia also tried to let a game get away but, perhaps because they’re veterans, did not.

I’ll finish with a few more thoughts before I settle in for this epic battle at a 9:00 am draw (it’s been years since I made a 9:00 am draw that didn’t require my presence on the ice) before we hit the road back to New Jersey.

• There are shuttle buses running from the arena to the HeartStop Lounge (aka the Patch). The shuttle routine is always less than ideal but I hope they’re making it work. I didn’t try to find out.

• Considering the average age of many of the patrons, I’m not sure about that HeartStop moniker.

• I dig a restaurant like Morrison’s for breakfast. Even when they forget my toast.

• I like seeing that wind farm from my hotel room. I don’t like the wind in my face.

• I’ll double down on my bet that there’s no way one of the Big Three doesn’t win this thing. The parlay? Nobody from outside the Big Three is in the final.

• Curling is awesome. It really is. Why else would I be in Kingston in February?

Dean Gemmell is a U.S. curling champion (with Team Heath McCormick), a curling author (Fit To Curl with John Morris) and a podcaster at thecurlingshow.com. He also writes occasional columns for The Curling News, the latest appearing in the upcoming March “Brier” issue.

Kruger Products/CCA photos (first and last) by Andrew Klaver

Posted on

Swiss Championships 2013: High-fives for Gstaad

by Brian Chick

Ski here, ski there, ski everywhere

GSTAAD, Switzerland – The 2013 Swiss Championships are being held this week in this gorgeous ski resort town.

Six men’s and six ladies’ teams are competing in a double-round robin that feeds into a three-team playoff. They qualified for this by playing a 10 team round-robin – called the Swiss League – over the course of two weekends in January. You can certainly say one thing; this championship rewards consistency over a hot streak… unless your hot streak can last close to 20 games.

The town itself is beautiful, surrounded by mountains on all sides. Canadians could compare it to Banff or Whistler, but the artificial “villages” at the base of those mountains are just knock-offs of towns like Gstaad. Of all the chalets, hotels and restaurants, there are very few you can’t ski right up to. You could literally ski into the parking lot of the curling club, which is part of a sports complex including tennis courts, a players’ lounge, and an indoor pool.

It’s Wednesday and to any championship curler, that’s “Moving Day.” Based on how your day goes, it can either push you into the playoffs or make certain you get the weekend off. This event is no exception.

Of the six teams on the ladies’ side, five have legitimate hopes to end up in the top three. There is some serious depth in this field as well, considering that four of them are currently in the top 20 of the world rankings – including world champ Mirjam Ott and Silvana Tirinzoni, who is currently sixth on this years World Curling Tour money list. Michelle Jaeggi and Binia Feltcher have each won international events in Europe this year, and qualified in a few Canadian bonspiels as well. These teams have spent the week beating up on each other, and at this point, there is no clear frontrunner.

On the men’s side, however, there are two clear standouts. Sven Michel has been marching through this tournament and Peter De Cruz isn’t far behind. Bernhard Werthemann from Bern has third place locked down, and the battle at this point is for pride – and fourth place.

The ice is nice, too

A few observations:

• There has been an abnormal amount of high-fiving, especially among the ladies. Before shots, after shots, between ends, after the games… it doesn’t end. No word of a lie, I saw a team give up a steal of three to lose the game, and break into team high-fives with all the intensity of a Brier winner. I was confused.

• The Gstaad curling facility is wonderful. There’s a great lounge with temporary stadium seating, a nice restaurant with a view of the mountains, and everything else you need for a great event. The ice has been wonderful; perhaps a hair slow by Grand Slam standards (shucks, only 24.5 seconds for draws) but with lots of late finish, so all the shots are possible.

• Over the course of the week the seats in the lounge have been pretty full, and the bleachers on the ice have been more occupied with each draw. They also have the ice surface mic’d and the sound is pumped into the lounge, which is a nice touch. It gives you a little more of that TV feel.

• The Swiss take their warm-ups seriously. All the teams, men or women, are out in the parking lot, running, kicking balls, playing catch (with an American football, oddly enough) and doing various forms of physical activity before each draw. As someone who has seen both high levels of competitive curling and the lowest form of beer-league club play, I can assure you that 99 per cent of Canadians don’t give anywhere near this much pre-game effort. Might be worth looking into..

Photos by Brian Chick [click on each image to increase viewing size]

Posted on

STOH 2013: A Dad Experience

Nedohin: Little Gemmell backs a winner

by Dean Gemmell

KINGSTON, Ont. – For the first time, I’m at a major curling event with my almost 10-year-old daughter. The two of us arrived at the Tournament of Hearts today, catching half of the afternoon draw and all of the evening games.

My kid likes the sport quite a bit, and will watch it on television or online with me. She has some sweet shoes from BalancePlus with 1/4” hinged teflon. But I don’t push it on her. I once heard Kevin Martin say that you shouldn’t start kids curling before they can really enjoy it — it’s too slow a game and not an especially easy endeavour for a youngster. I tend to agree. So, for now, I just bring her to the club with me when she wants to go, let her slide a mile on those slick shoes and help her enjoy learning how to throw the rock.

I hoped seeing a big-time event in an arena might spark something in her…. but I wasn’t completely convinced. I thought she might find it dull. I figured she might notice that many in the less-than-capacity crowd were five or six decades her senior. I worried that the quiet passages that plague curling at times might make her think the sport was a snoozer.

But it’s working. She wanted to sit in the very first row, about eight feet from the hack on Sheet D. (It was actually kind of odd for me to watch a game from a vantage point that close instead of from a more distant spot in the arena, like the media bench or, say, the Patch.)

So there we were, watching and listening to Heather Nedohin and Kelly Scott, closer than most other sporting events would ever let you get. My Continental Cup teammates were nice enough to say a mid-game hello, which might help me when it comes to imparting a bit of curling wisdom in the future. My daughter was nervous because she was cheering for Team Canada — she loves to back a winner — and the outcome wasn’t decided until the last rock.

We’ll see how things go on Wednesday but so far, so good.

After that, how about a look at the STOH through the eyes of a jaded player and media guy? Let’s start with what looks to be some serious separation between the Big Three — Canada, Manitoba and Ontario — and the rest of the field. Huge separation, in fact. Bob Weeks started a debate on Twitter about where the gap was bigger between the top and the bottom of the standings — at the STOH, or the Brier? Well, it sure looks big here. Ontario’s Rachel Homan and Co. are playing with brutal efficiency, Jennifer Jones is pouring on the offense early and Heather Nedohin has the confidence that comes from being a defending champion. I’ll be shocked if the final includes a team from outside of this group. It’s curling, and you just never know, but this bet seems like Locksville.

Alberta: They’ve gotta believe

Alberta is on a Misery Tour. I hate seeing that, when what should be the highlight of a curling career starts to turn into a nightmare. They have to believe they can salvage the week with some wins down the stretch.

Other thoughts? Well, maybe it’s because I’m here with my nine-year-old and I’m back at the hotel shortly after the last rock was thrown, but I have no idea where the Patch is. I hope that’s because it’s not a priority for me on this trip and not a problem of poor wayfaring.

The media bench isn’t exactly packed, but that’s more of a statement about the media business than it is about curling.

Many in the crowd are kind and friendly, sort of like grandparents, which they inevitably are.

The shotmaking is very good — lots of papered guards and some nice big-weight hits — even if the tactics are, at times, a bit dull.

Even on a night when a few games were over early, it was pretty damn entertaining. I’m pleased that my daughter is engaged and excited about watching elite female athletes compete. I’m glad I made it here. I hope a few more Ontarians decide to do the same.

Dean Gemmell is a U.S. curling champion (with Team Heath McCormick), a curling author (Fit To Curl with John Morris) and a podcaster at thecurlingshow.com. He also writes occasional columns for The Curling News, one of which appears in the upcoming March “Brier” issue.

Kruger Products/CCA photos by Andrew Klaver

Posted on

STOH 2013: Bodogh shoots from the lip

Bodogh on the 2013 STOH field (above)

She has spoken. And we’re passing it on.

Marilyn Bodogh, once known as Marilyn Darte, won two STOH and world titles for Ontario in 1986 and 1996. She also lost an infamous Battle of the Sexes tilt against a modified Ed Werenich team (with Rick Lang at third and Paul Savage as a kilted chef – long story) at a packed arena during the ’86 men’s worlds; a one-off that was televised live to huge ratings, raised tons of money for charity and cemented Bodogh’s legend as a certified Wild Woman of the Roaring Game.

As many rabid curling fans know, Bodogh then moved to Sportsnet as a Grand Slam analyst (with Lukowich) from 2001 through ’06, and has also worked occasional Rogers TV Ontario curling gigs since then.

The Wild Woman of Curling recently gave some 2013 STOH predictions to Tim Baines of the Sun Media/QMI Agency chain, but alas, the story seems to be unavailable online. This is unfortunate, as Bodogh was anything but shy (as usual) in declaring – for starters – that Quebec’s Allison Ross “is not a skip”, that last year’s champions “weren’t ready to wear that maple leaf on their backs (at the worlds)” and that Team Ontario, skipped by Rachel Homan, are her “IT girls, I want them to win so badly.”

Love her or hate her, Marilyn always has something to say. Here, above, is the full account of impressions she passed on to Baines, as published in the February 16 print edition of the Toronto Sun (click on image to increase viewing size)…

Posted on

Vol. 56 Issue 4: February 2013

  • Layout 1
    COVER: BONSPIEL BLITZ

    From Scotland to Casino Rama, from Berne to Penticton, from Blue Jays in Saskatoon to Strathcona Cup competitors across Canada, this was an amazing January to remember

  • STRATEGY: DAVID NEDOHIN

    The famed last rocker for the Ferbey Four reveals how his team turned tradition upside down

  • BAD MATH

    Linda Moore and others take note: this Norwegian competitor declares “the statistics are wrong”

  • THEY SAID IT – ON TWITTER

    Thiessen on hockey… Hebert rides shotgun… Gemmell surprised by Manitoba pessimism… Blue Jay pitcher “brutal” at curling… no love for the OCR…props for a history blog… Con Cup is “just weird”… and more!

  • THE DOMINION CLUB CORNER

    Wausau is open for business, while Haliburton seeks help

  • WOODY THE YFC

    Senior columnist Larry Wood, aka Your Faithful Curmudgeon, plows through 26 items that annoy, delight, amuse or vex him at any given curling moment

  • CONTEST ALERT

    Send in your curling photos and your curling facility could win a visit from Team Kevin Koe, courtesy of Amarula

  • FIVE DAYS ON $250

    Columnist Terry Jones thinks about Vegas and the Roaring Game

  • SOCHI ON WHEELS

    Columnist Eric Eales previews the world wheelchairs, coming soon at the shiny new Olympic venue

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

Curling and mental health

Jim Sullivan (foreground, with a very young Peja Lindholm) at the ’88 Juniors

Today is a big day for mental health awareness and fundraising in Canada.

Bell Canada is one of the country’s biggest telecommunications firms. The company also happens to be a partner of the Canadian Curling Association, and a sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Team heading to Sochi 2014 one year from now.

“Let’s Talk” is Bell’s annual day-long campaign to promote awareness of mental health challenges and to raise hard dollars toward solutions. All day today, any text message sent and received on the Bell communications network will generate five cents in revenue. Similarly, another five cents will be raised by any tweets posted with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, regardless of which platform you use. In addition, there’s a Facebook image bouncing around; share it, and another nickel goes into the coffers.

The Curling News is proud to join the campaign today, and we’ve urged other curling fans – from any country, really – to join in, too. The tweets and retweets have begun, and we hope today proves to be a healthy (and profitable) 24 hours.

Mental illness suffers from far too many social stigmas, and that alone is an enormous barrier to understanding, acceptance and treatment. Mental illness, including depression, is everywhere, and this was proven some 14 months ago when a tragedy stunned the world of curling.

In November of 2011, former world junior champion skip and Brier finalist Jim Sullivan committed suicide. For years the soft-spoken New Brunswick competitor had quietly struggled with depression, until he took his life at age 43.

Here’s what we posted on The Curling News Blog and here, below, is what we published (along with the photo above) in the They Said It department of the December 2012 print issue of The Curling News.

This excerpt originally appeared at the end of our publisher’s weekly curling column in the Toronto Sun, after nary a word of the root cause of Sullivan’s death – the “d” word – had been mentioned by anyone in curling media. As a further shock to curling fans, publisher gk revealed that two other tragedies had struck the curling world over the previous year and a half.

Read on, and please consider a re-think of mental health issues – and support today’s Bell Let’s Talk campaign, any way you can…

 

The shocking death of New Brunswick skip Jim Sullivan at age 43 has rocked the curling world.

Sullivan’s team defeated Ontario’s Wayne Middaugh to win the 1987 Canadian Juniors and one year later took his Saint John foursome to gold at the world juniors. Two years after that, he skipped New Brunswick all the way to the Brier final before losing to Ontario legend Ed “The Wrench” Werenich.

Sullivan’s suicide is the third such incident involving high-profile curling competitors in recent years.

During the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, French curler Solene Coulot took her own life at only age 20. In December 2010, Scottish wheelchair curling champion Frank Duffy ended his in a horrific car fire.

This doesn’t mean that curling is facing a scenario similar to that of NHL hockey. Curling athletes are not paid professionals, and when it comes to physical contact the two ice sports could not be more different.

But what Sullivan and others shared with many people, including some NHL hockey players, was the dark world of depression. It can strike when we least expect it, as witnessed by the sadness that is quietly drifting through the curling world. And the fact that curlers of even the highest ability are real people, with careers and families and pressures and fears, should make us think long and hard about the insidious nature of this disease.

– George Karrys (Toronto Sun)

[Photo courtesy CCA – click on image to increase viewing size]

Posted on

The underdogs of Alberta

Brent Bawel slamming in 2011

By Colin Hodgson

LEDUC, Alta. – A battle of the Kevins is what most experts say. And why not?

With a combined 13 Brier and five world championship appearances and over $160,000 already won this season, it would appear that no one else has a chance.

Only a select few have been crowned Alberta Men’s curling kings in the recent past – Kevin Koe, Kevin Martin and Randy Ferbey – but many others have knocked on the door for quite some time. Wiley veterans grind away year after year and, in some cases, for longer than I’ve been alive. Young gunslingers also litter the field with exciting new talent. Real curling fans shouldn’t be surprised to see many shots of the week fired by lesser-known players.

Let me introduce you, real curling fans, to those other guys on the ice at Alberta’s Boston Pizza Cup.

Team Graham Powell – This is a grizzled foursome from the Peace country, and a squad from another generation. Remnants of the good ol’ days of cigars on the ice, colorful conversations and bright blue cardigans would make Hec Gervais proud. Ultra-aggressive play creates an exciting game against even the best of opponents. Stay tuned for many years of this old-school skip at the Alberta men’s Championship.

Team Charley Thomas – This two-time world junior champion skip – the only other skips to accomplish this feat are John Morris and Paul Gowsell) picked up exactly where he left off in 2007. After a four-year hiatus from the curling world, he fills the role of skip for the front three of last year’s provincial finalists – Matt Ng, Dominic Daemon and J.D. Lind. These guys know team camaraderie and know how to win big games, and they’re chasing one of the last Olympic Pre-Trials berths, too.

Team Wade White – Seniors on a mission. Wade certainly proves that grumpy old men have still got it. Never a dull moment with these guys, as the lead, second and skip will also be competing at next week’s Alberta Seniors provincial. Being young at heart does translate out on the curling ice; look in the patch nightly as these guys definitely lead the way in supporting an event.

Team Kurt Balderston – Crafty, experienced, and fierce. Kurt has seen it all when it comes to the Alberta Men’s; 21 times his name has been called out during the opening ceremonies. Yes, you read that right – 21 times. Vowing this is his last kick at the can, Kurt is geared up to go out with a bang.

Team Aaron Sluchinski – The Sluchinski brothers undoubtedly know each other on the ice and off. Playing with each other practically since they started curling, they display a bright array of fireworks that is occasionally reminiscent of Kevin and Shane Park. Making their second appearance here in as many years, the brothers are not shy to crowds  or good competition. Aaron was awarded the first All-Star skip award at the 2008 Canadian Juniors and Justin just missed the bauble for third place. Fireworks or not, these guys are talented.

Team Brendan Bottcher – A young talent making quite a splash. 2012 world junior champion, 2012 Canadian university champion, and off to represent Canada again at December’s FISU World Universide. He’s stepped up and won everything in the last two years. Regardless of how his first men’s provincials goes, the future of this team is promising.

Team James Pahl – The definition of wiley veterans. 10 provincials appearances in the bag and one Brier appearance in ’95, with Martin. James navigates ways to provincial championships and always gets into the mix of things. Known in Alberta among players as a clutch shotmaker, he takes a less-new-wave approach to curling, avoiding a rigorous tour schedule and peaking for the playdowns. He’s become an event staple since graduating from juniors in the 90’s.

Team Brent Bawel – Bright and flashy. This team has style and you immediately notice them with their vivid colors on the ice. An up and down season with lineup shuffling has now created a Monster; it seems they’ve found a niche that some new teams never do. Lots of talent, too.

Team Matt Blandford – The newfie with something to prove. This team has winners on it; two world junior champions and multiple Canadian junior appearances result in a potentially scary mix of imports and Alberta-grown talent. Young and ready to prove he can make it here, Blandford only needs to put together a few big shots to make it interesting.

Team Jamie King – Your official Dark Horse. Four back-end players mashed up into a golf-loving, pitcher-crushing, tournament-winning and revolving-lineup machine. With Blake MacDonald, Jeff Erickson and Scott Pfeiffer this team could throw any lineup out there and be competitive with anyone. Their carefree desire to sip on a strawberry daiquiri and hit a pitching wedge from 90 yards out makes them a very dangerous squad.

As history shows – with only three surprise winners in the past 30 years – it is unlikely that an underdog will win here in 2013. But who doesn’t love to cheer for an underdog? Maybe this year will make it four for 31… we’ll will have to wait and see…

[Capital One photo ® by Anil Mungal, click on image to increase viewing size]

Posted on

Think Pink: curling against bullies

Take THAT, bullies!

By David Gravelle

BARRIE, Ont. – Tuesday was Pink Shirt Day at the 2013 Dominion Tankard in Ontario.

All the teams suited up for the morning draw in pink shirts designed and created by Fuzion Sportswear, sponsors of Team Howard’s Weed Man apparel and Team Epping’s The Dominion gear.

Following the morning games, the shirts were signed by the players and are now being auctioned off, with proceeds going to the to the Kids Help Phone charity.

You can place a silent auction bid in person at the Barrie Molson Centre (Concourse, by section 114-115) or online via The Dominion Tankard’s Facebook page – how, you ask? Simply use the Message icon to send a direct message to the Auctioneer. Bidding started at $40 and will be accepted in five-dollar increments.

Pink Shirt Day began in 2007 after a male student in Berwick, Nova Scotia was bullied on his first day of school – for wearing a pink shirt. Two anti-bullying advocates responded by purchasing and distributing 50 pink shirts and in 2008, the B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell created an anti-bullying day in his province. Since that time, anti-bullying days have been celebrated in various locations across Canada.

Following the game, Toronto skip John Epping spoke about supporting the Kids Help Phone charity.

“It’s a great idea,” said the Donalda Club captain. “Kids Help Phone is a great cause. Our team wants to work with them if they want to work with us.”

Well… it sounds like Kids Help Phone has a new ambassador!

[The Curling News photo ® by Anil Mungal – click on image to increase size]