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22 Minutes at 2005 Curling Trials

Raj Binder was there, did that

by George Karrys

Raj Binder at the 2005 ROTR

Burgundy? Shmurgundy.

The curling world is going bonkers over actor/comedian Will Ferrell, who brings Hollywood glitz to Winnipeg tomorrow on day one of the Canadian Olympic Trials.

The Canadian Curling Association has been working on this cross-promotional deal for months. The competitors are thrilled and can’t wait to interact with Ferrell, who has another Anchorman movie to promote and will be in character as oafish talking head Ron Burgundy. It’s all quite the hullaballoo.

But what if we told you that another actor/comedian already “did” curling’s Olympic Trials, back in 2005, and it didn’t cost a thing in promo time or dollars? And that this actor/comedian pretty much killed it?

Raj Binder is the impossibly sweaty sports correspondent for This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Canada’s satirical political comedy airing Tuesday nights on CBC. He made a chaotic appearance at the 2005 Trials in Halifax, stunning both athletes and spectators into various stages of bewilderment.

Unfortunately, no video evidence remained online of this appearance. Until now.

Thanks to the 22 Minutes publicity gang for helping us track down the sketch, below…

And so we ask the question: Who shall go down in history as the funniest actor/comedian at a curling championship? Will it be Ferrell’s Burgundy, super-hyped and carrying big expectations? Or is it Binder, portrayed by proud Newfoundlander Shaun Majumder?

Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below…

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The Curling News December 2013 issue

Watch your feet; shattered dreams below

All killer, no filler

For all the quadrennial excitement of the Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games themselves, and the thrill of representing one’s country on the world’s biggest sporting stage, there is a boatload of misery left behind for so many who came so close.

Journalism legend Terry Jones, an ace columnist at The Curling News, tells that detailed story on the cover of our December issue, which started arriving at subscriber homes late last week.

In our sidebar on the history of Olympic Trials competition – the full listing of all competing teams, win/loss records and Olympic results dating back to 1997 – we ask readers to weigh in on the big question: Which Olympic Trials featured the best of the best?

Check it all out, take some time and tell us your vote on our @curling Twitter feed.

And for heaven’s sake, grab a copy of the killer December issue, for you won’t want to miss any part of it.

Also in this issue:

“THIS STUFF IS B.S.” – Colin Hodgson worked hard as an Olympic Pre-Trials fifth player, but a notorious former Brier fifth says that alternates take themselves too seriously…

DEADLINE: REAL SOON – Here’s the big question: What are YOU planning to deal with February’s Olympic bonanza of interest at your curling club? We’re guessing you haven’t even thought about it…

CURLING TV/WEB GUIDE – Sure, we’ve got Trials coverage, but we also know where to find this month’s new WCF Olympic Qualifying Event… and now you can know as well. That and more in our monthly guide to all things curling on TV and the web…

TENNIS, ANYONE? – Who won the grass court challenge… a holiday shopping list for the curling fan… Hodgy here, Hodgy there… Reaction to Thomas Ulsrud’s howler in Medicine Hat… Where does Team Glenn Howard (and perhaps John Morris) go after 2014 – and more in our monthly Newsdesk section…

WE WANNA BE A PART OF IT – A new $300 million project will feature curling in New York, New York…

SPECIAL OFFER FOR AMERICA – For Yanks only: Subscribe to The Curling News and get a free gift subscription for a friend…

MINORITY REPORT: CURLING IN CHINA, PART I – We’ve got the proof and the on-site correspondent: Robbie Gallaugher says curling has indeed arrived in China…

MIKE FOURNIER – Our Quebec columnist’s idea was adapted and implemented by the Canadian Curling Association… so, um, where’s his cheque?

WOODY WINDS UP – Senior Columnist Larry Wood on Sports Hall of Fame prospects, Canada’s “utterly ridiculous” eligibility rules; Olympic qualifying in the future; the drumbeat of Brad Gushue; Sportsnet’s sad Grand Slam showcase – and more.

Subscribe today via this link

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November special: Men of Curling

Special extended through December 9!

Mike McEwen is “on special” this month!

The success of the first-ever men’s curling charity calendar just keeps on growing.

Recently, The Curling News sold out of the initial press run of 5,000 copies and placed another order to deal with the pre-Christmas shopping rush. This alone is fantastic news.

Now, customers have a new option for purchasing – but the window is short.

If you’ve been following the Twitter feeds and Facebook pages of your favourite men’s curling athletes or teams, you may have noticed recent invitations to buy the red-hot 2014 Men of Curling Calendar from some of the models themselves.

Indeed, each of the 12 athletes has a personal sales webpage now in operation, albeit on a temporary basis. Until the end of November, any purchases made through each athlete’s personal page will a) save the purchaser CDN $5.00 from the regular purchase price and b) direct the revenues directly to that athlete’s charity or cause of choice.

So… if you’re a fan of John Morris, and/or you like his support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, you can choose to make your purchase from his personal page as opposed to the main page – which saves you money and specifically helps his cause.

If you can’t get enough of Jon Mead and his support of curling’s Sandra Schmirler Foundation, you can purchase through his personal page.

If you love Thomas Ulsrud and/or his Crazy Pants and/or his intriguing idea to announce his charitable cause during February’s Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, then look no further than this page here.

Is cover boy Mike McEwen your thing? How about Movember, his hairy-lipped choice for fundraising? Either way, this page is for you.

And it continues, with all 12 models offering a (formerly) secret short link to their own personal pages. Here is a full list of the athletes and those links… click on each one to see which cause or charity each athlete is supporting:

Mr. January – Niklas Edin (Sweden)

Mr. February – Thomas Ulsrud (Norway)

Mr. March – David Murdoch (Scotland)

Mr. April – E.J. Harnden (Sault Ste. Marie, Canada)

Mr. May – Carter Rycroft (Grande Prairie, Canada)

Mr. June – Jon Mead (Winnipeg, Canada)

Mr. July – Paul Flemming (Halifax, Canada)

Mr. August – Craig Savill (Ottawa, Canada)

Mr. September – Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, Canada)

Mr. October – Ben Hebert (Calgary, Canada)

Mr. November – Mike McEwen (Winnipeg, Canada)

Mr. December – John Morris (Calgary and Vernon/Kelowna, Canada)

Why not take advantage of this time-sensitive, targeted offer?

Thanks in advance, folks, for your continued support of this amazing project, these amazing athletes and the charitable causes they represent!

[Winnipeg Free Press photo copyright ® by Melissa Martin – click on image to increase viewing size]

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Vol. 57 Issue 1: November 2013


    Are the Olympics killing the heart of curling? Why would we ever suggest such a thing? Read and decide for yourself…


    The real story of the men’s calendar is not who nor what they’re wearing (or not wearing). There’s another reason this project will blow you away


    How a youthful, enthused and slightly demented curling writer/competitor spent his summer


    A look at what makes John Morris tick as his new squad attempts to score Olympic dreams


    You won’t believe the amount of stuff to watch in November and early December, and only we have the latest accurate listings


    A bar graph helps Terry Jones summarize the latest curling wackiness


    Russ is in, what about Eddie… doping rears its ugly curling head… Sportsnet pulls a boner… and more


    Paris Curling Club chose new lighting and has immediately started earning its investment back


    Our regular Curling in America column spotlights the imminent U.S. Olympic Trials


    What’s next for Johnny Chow and everyone’s favourite Start Curling commercials?

  • All this …and more – don’t delay, subscribe today!
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Road to the Roar 2013: Postscript

One more stop before Sochi

Brad Gushue’s last attempt to stay on the Olympic road

by Sam Corea

KITCHENER, ONTARIO – Four out of the 24 teams that came to Kitchener this week kept their Olympic dreams alive by winning their events in the Road to the Roar qualifier. Now, it’s on to Winnipeg for the December 1 start of the Roar itself, the Canadian Olympic Trials.

At the end of all the sweeping, draws, freezes and takeouts during the six days of competition at the Memorial Auditorium, Team John Morris from BC and Team Brad Jacobs from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario grabbed the final two men’s berths into the Roar of the Rings.

Jacobs, the defending Brier champion, won a tense 7-5 battle last night over 2006 Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador to become the eighth and final men’s Trials qualifier.

On the women’s side, it was all Alberta as Teams Renée Sonnenberg from Grand Prairie and Val Sweeting of Edmonton punched their tickets to Winnipeg for the chance to become Team Canada at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

“It was pretty exciting to have a field with so much talent,” said Host Committee Chair Cynthia Roth, moments after receiving a recognition award from the Canadian Curling Association. “It was great for the fans and the volunteers to rub shoulders with past and possible future Olympians.”

Roth said the committee started recruiting the more than 200 volunteers more than a year ago. They had a variety of roles during the event from shuttle driving, to ice crew, to working in the media centre or taking care of signage.

“We’ve had great crowds and we’ve been impressed with the ticket sales and community support,” added Roth. “The City of Kitchener and the arena staff have been amazing to deal with.”

In offering a big thank you to sponsors and everyone who supported the event, Roth said: “We’re a very tired but pleased group. This event has been a huge success.”

Final attendance over six days and nights at The Aud was 29,617… nearly a 20 per cent increase over the total posted in the inaugural 2009 Road to the Roar at Prince George, B.C.

[The Curling News photo copyright ® by Anil Mungal. Click on image to increase viewing size]

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Road to the Roar 2013: Sunday

Last chance for Olympic Trials

by Sam Corea

Words… it’s all about words…

KITCHENER, ONTARIO – Keeping an eye on the action at the Road to the Roar are the accredited press, photographers and the TSN television crew.

The press work from an area called the tribune. Located on the upper level of the Memorial Auditorium in Kitchener, the tribune (or media bench) provides a bird’s-eye view of five sheets of ice. Reporters scour the media guide for event background, history, facts and athlete bios as they compose stories, blog posts, Facebook posts and tweets. These days, reporters work on multiple devices as they cover the end-to-end action.

In charge of the media’s needs is Al Cameron, the director of communications and media relations for the Canadian Curling Association (CCA).  This is his first year in the role after spending 26 years as a reporter in Calgary. “My job is to ensure the members of the media have what they need for their stories,” said Cameron. “My experience as a reporter gives me the background required to anticipate what the media want. With shrinking numbers in newsrooms, we want to make it as easy as possible for the media write about this sport.”

There are 30 media members accredited for this event, along with a crew of 60 involved in the live TSN broadcasts.

Cameron said the media interest in curling continues to rise as we head towards the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. “We have more requests than space available in the tribune at the Roar of the Rings in Winnipeg next month.”

Cameron also explained that his media list has tripled since he joined the CCA last January. “I get questions from every province in Canada and from around the world. When the media talk curling, Canada is still the gold standard.”

Morris versus Martin? Yes, please

In Saturday afternoon action, the new Team John Morris from Vernon and Kelowna B.C. became the first squad in Kitchener to punch a ticket to Winnipeg with a 5-4 victory over the defending Brier champions from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Team Brad Jacobs.

Morris, who throws third rocks, said he looks forward to playing against his former skip, Kevin Martin in Winnipeg. “Is he in that bonspiel?” joked Morris.

“It’s a grind. Every game in Winnipeg is going to be tough. There’s no pressure like the Olympic trials. I’m sure we’ll have a great match against Kev. I’m sure we’re going to have a barn-burner.”

This morning (9:00am ET on TSN), Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, Newfoudland and Labrador and Team Steve Laycock of Saskatchewan will battle for the chance to play Jacobs tonight (7:00pm on TSN2) to determine the final men’s berth in Winnipeg.

Last night, Team Renée Sonnenberg of Grande Prairie, Alberta scored nine points in three ends for a 12-4 victory over Kelly Scott of Kelowna, B.C. to earn the first of two women’s ticket to the Olympic Trials in Winnipeg.

“I can’t believe it,” said Sonnenberg.  “I love curling in Winnipeg and on arena ice with the huge crowds, it’s going to be great.”

Scott gets another chance at a Trials spot on Sunday afternoon when she plays Team Val Sweeting of Edmonton at 2:00pm ET this afternoon (on CTV2).

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Road to The Roar 2013: Saturday

In search of Olympic dreams

By Sam Corea

KITCHENER, ONTARIO – Twenty-four curling teams came here this week in search of their Olympic dreams and with wins today, two squads will earn spots in the “Roar of the Rings”, ie. the Canadian Olympic Trials in Winnipeg next month.

For the others, it’s back to the World Curling Tour circuit and/or the provincial playdowns… and the end of more than three years of hopes and dreams. More finals take place tomorrow, for the two final berths in Winnipeg.

I attended my first major curling event back in December of 2001 in Regina, where Canada’s teams were chosen for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games. Back then, I was the unofficial curling ambassador for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid. Twelve  years later, I am still working in the sporting event world, this time for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games… and I am also an occasional columnist for The Curling News! So, since Kitchener is just an hour west of Toronto, I made the trip today to take in the finals of the 2013 Road to The Roar, ie. Canadian curling’s Olympic Pre-Trials for Sochi 2014.

Val Sweeting after defeating Bernard

Every time I attend a sporting event, I look for several things: good signage, friendly volunteers and decent facilities for the working press. I was greeted by Andrew, an enthusiastic accreditation volunteer who took my photo with an iPad and printed off my accreditation badge in less than two minutes. He then walked me to the press-viewing area on the upper level of the Memorial Auditorium. After a quick chat with Canadian Curling Association officials, I began wandering around the arena checking out all the back-of-house and spectator areas.

One thing is key with such sport events – the success depends on volunteers. So far, the volunteers – more than 200 of them from a 130km radius – have walked me around the facility, offered me coffee and donuts and provided me with information, all with a smile!

Now to some results…

Edmonton’s Val Sweeting is a win away from the Trials in Winnipeg. Sweeting claimed a berth in Sunday’s 2:00pm ET qualifier after beating 2010 Olympic silver medallist Cheryl Bernard of Calgary 9-7 in the C-C playoff.

“I felt like a cat out there with nine lives,” said Sweeting afterwards.

Sweeting will take on either Kelly Scott of Kelowna, B.C. or Renée Sonnenberg of Grande Prairie, Alta. Those two teams will play in the first Trials qualifying game Saturday at 7:00pm ET, with the winner going to Winnipeg and the loser facing Sweeting on Sunday.

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