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Volume 60 Issue 1: November 2016

  • THEY’RE BACK: THE WOMEN OF CURLING

    12 athlete models from four nations have teamed up to raise much-needed funds for 14 different charitable causes – DIGITAL EDITION FEAT. EXCLUSIVE IMAGES NOT SEEN IN THE CALENDAR (SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)

  • FROM BROOMGATE TO… NYLON OXFORD 420D?

    “The Guy Who Ruined Curling” is back with an investigation of all post-Broomhaha decisions and, well, he’s not sure the war is over – DIGITAL EDITION FEAT. IMAGE GALLERY (SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)

  • WORLD MIXED MAYHEM IN RUSSIA

    Thirty-seven nations battled for the second-ever World Mixed Championship title –DIGITAL EDITION EXCLUSIVE (SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)

  • CURLING TV/WEB GUIDE

    You simply won’t believe the amount of curling to watch in November, and only we have the most in-depth and accurate listings – DIGITAL EDITION FEAT. EXPANDED LISTINGS (SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)

  • THE CURLING NEWS TOP 15

    Updated regularly online and appearing for the first time in print, The Curling News Top 15 ranks the best curling team performances as they occur around the world, for both men and women, and utilizes savvy curling knowledge, complex mathematical theorems, and plain old subjectivity. So there… – DIGITAL EDITION FEAT. UPDATED PHOTO INFO (SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)

  • OUT OF RETIREMENT?

    2010 Olympic heroine Cheryl Bernard hit the ice not once, not twice, but four times between September and the end of October… what is going on? – DIGITAL EDITION FEAT. IMAGE GALLERY (SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)

  • LET’S TALK EIGHT ENDS… AGAIN

    Warren Hansen says national and word curling needs to go to eight-end games, and here’s why…

  • CURLING PODCASTS: GAINING POPULARITY

    Matt Brouwer explains podcasting and spotlights some of the shows available for audio bliss – DIGITAL EDITION FEAT. DIRECT CONTENT LINKS (SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)

  • WHERE PRAIRIE CURLING LIFE MIRRORS THE RIDERS

    “On The Road” Columnist Guy Scholz went home – almost – for the 112th Saskatoon Men’s Bonspiel and experienced prairie family, faith and vocations – DIGITAL EDITION FEAT. IMAGE GALLERY (SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)

  • NOVEMBER NEWSDESK

    A new face of Russian curling masks deep problems with the country’s sport administrators… new expanded “pool” formats for Canada’s major championships… In two provinces, Sportsnet is out and Shaw and Title Sports Live are in… and we say farewell to an old friend from Grande Prairie

  • BRUSHING BADASSERY ON THE RISE

    “Curling In America” columnist Dean Gemmell is super busy these days as his Badass Brushing machine continues to roll

  • And more… subscribe today!

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12 athletes featured in new 2017 Women of Curling Calendar

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Three years after a men’s curling calendar broke recent sales records, the Women of Curling are back with a new, high-quality 2017 wall calendar featuring 12 athlete models from four countries.

Each athlete’s photography was designed and shot according to her specifications, in conjunction with a volunteer photographer from her community. In addition, each athlete will be selling units to raise funds for a charity or cause she has personally selected.

“I didn’t hesitate to join this project, not for a second,” said Scotland’s Eve Muirhead, whose 2014 Olympic bronze medal-winning squad captured the top prize at the Curling Champions Tour event in Basel, Switzerland on Sunday. “This is all about strong women, dedicated to training, competition and accomplishment in today’s world. And it’s also about fundraising for causes that are near and dear to each of us.”

Muirhead, who has won every medal colour at the World and European Championships, is raising money for Mindspace, a mental health counselling and recovery centre in Perth, Scotland.

The calendars are on sale now at womenofcurling.com for CDN $29.95 (U.S. $34.95).

Free shipping is also available to curling facilities that wish to sell product to their members.

Muirhead threw down the gauntlet to the men’s calendar athletes, and to her fellow 2017 athlete models.

“I understand the men’s calendar in 2014 sold extremely well,” said Muirhead. “Congratulations to them, but now it’s our turn. I think the ladies will have the last word on sales figures, because we’re going to bring it.”

2014 Olympic champion Dawn McEwen watched her husband, Mike McEwen, appear on the cover of the men’s calendar. Now, the lead for Winnipeg’s legendary Team Jennifer Jones has made her own appearance, and looks forward to a friendly rivalry within her home.

“I might have an advantage because I can draw sales from the city I grew up in,” laughed the Ottawa-born Olympic and world champion, whose team finished second at a World Curling Tour event in Calgary on Monday night. “We’ll see how it goes. I look forward to my husband pushing for sales as he’s competing on tour as well.”

The 2017 Women of Curling are:

Emma Miskew – Team Rachel Homan – Ottawa, Canada – raising funds for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation

Taylor McDonald – Team Kelsey Rocque – Edmonton, Canada – raising funds for the Mental Health Foundation

Sofia Mabergs – Team Anna Hasselborg – Härnösand, Sweden – raising funds for the Swedish Curling Academy

Eve Muirhead – Team Muirhead – Stirling, Scotland – raising funds for Mindspace

Dawn McEwen – Team Jennifer Jones – Winnipeg, Canada – raising funds for Manitoba UNDERDOGS Rescue

Rachel Brown – Team Val Sweeting – Edmonton, Canada – raising funds for Boarding for Brant

Daniela Jentsch – Team Jentsch – Füssen, Germany – raising funds for Right To Play

Jocelyn Peterman – Team Chelsea Carey – Calgary, Canada – raising funds for the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation

Anna Sidorova – Team Sidorova – Moscow, Russia – raising funds for the Konstantin Khabensky Charitable Foundation

Jamie Sinclair – Team Sinclair – Minnesota, USA – raising funds for youth development at the Charlotte Curling Association

Joanne Courtney – Team Rachel Homan – Ottawa/Edmonton, Canada – raising funds for the Kidney Foundation

Chelsea Carey – Team Carey – Calgary/Winnipeg, Canada – raising funds for KidSport Calgary and Vic’s Little VIPs Memorial Fund

The 2017 Women of Curling Calendar is a co-production of The Community Fundraiser and The Curling News. Additional fundraising revenues will be directed to the Curling Canada Foundation.

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Edwin Encarnacion has the right curling stuff

The Curling News is just two weeks away from publishing the November 2016 issue, the first release of this pre-Olympic 2016-17 season. But first, given the excitement in Canada surrounding the sport of baseball, here is Jim Corrigan’s “love-letter” column republished from our last (April) issue. And yes, provided his insurance gave him excellent coverage, of course we’d love to see Edwin on the ice…

Edwin hit a boomer this week. Will there be more?
Edwin hit a boomer this week. Will there be more?

By Jim Corrigan

What attributes of a professional athlete could turn a cynical old curling writer into an obsessed fan?

Edwin Encarnacion, first baseman and designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays, is my favorite baseball player of all time. For me, “all time” goes back to watching the New York Yankees in the early 1960s. Some pretty fair ballplayers have come down the pike in the past 55 years, so you might be wondering…why pick Edwin?

The seeds of obsession are sown when a fan identifies an athlete’s potential for greatness in its embryonic stages. Going into the last week of the 2010 season, third baseman Edwin Encarnacion had a modest 16 home runs. It was his first full year with the Jays organization. Mid-season, he had been sent down to Triple A. He was on the cusp, being a power-hitting prospect who could not seem to field a defensive position at the major league level.

Edwin wanted to hit 20 home runs. Every ballplayer wants to do that, but Edwin turned wishes into reality by clobbering five homers in the last week of the season. That got my attention. Great athletes perform at their best in the toughest moments. These are the “pressure situations” that shape the trajectory of their careers. Edwin had the right stuff.

The Jays weren’t so sure, putting him on waivers after the 2010 season. The Oakland Athletics claimed and released him. Edwin re-signed a one-year contract with Toronto as a free agent. Things got worse. After getting virtually no work at third base through spring training, Encarnacion started 2011 at the hot corner. He struggled defensively and took his troubles to the plate. Now he was seen as a defensive liability who was not contributing much offense. The window of opportunity was closing on his major league career.

This is a classic “down-and-out” story, and it illustrates the fundamental challenge of sport: Get better or go home. Through all of his tough times, Edwin continued to work hard and to “have a strong mind” (a quote from the excellent profile done on Encarnacion by Sportsnet’s Stephen Brunt in 2015).  He ended up with 17 home runs and 55 runs batted in (RBI). These are marginal numbers for a power hitter, but the Jays picked up their option on him for 2012.

edwin-2I first took notice of the exceptional nature of Edwin’s at-bats midway through the 2011 season. His teammate Jose Bautista was tearing up the American League. Edwin had “made some adjustments” and was putting together equally good plate appearances. Both were ultra-disciplined yet aggressive. With power.

The next step in fan obsession is prognostication. Before the 2012 season, I told friends that Edwin would hit 30 home runs. In my heart I felt that he could hit 40, but I played it safe. Edwin hit 42 and knocked in 110 RBI. That’s a big year folks, and I had called it!

The Jays and Edwin saw the potential in each other, and Encarnacion was locked into a nice four-year contract. In one of his rare interviews, Edwin sincerely thanked the organization for helping him take care of his family. As Brunt’s profile revealed, Edwin has been as good as his word on that front. Edwin loves children. He has a great smile. He appears to be a genuinely nice human being. I have become an obsessed fan.

Edwin Encarnacion may be the most controlled, cerebral and effective hitter in the game. He has averaged 37 home runs and 105 RBI per season over the past four years. He has not struck out 100 times in any of those seasons. That’s nearly unheard of from one of the top five power hitters in baseball. Although not in Bautista-land, Edwin takes about 76 walks per year. He attained these numbers despite being injured for significant portions of each of the last three seasons. This past summer, Jays TV announcer Pat Tabler confirmed something that I suspected for several years.

Tabler quoted a statistic showing that Edwin hit the ball hard two times more often than the next best major league hitter. In 2014, he tied a record set by Mickey Mantle for the most home runs in May (16). Edwin had the longest hitting streak in the American League in 2015, at 26 games.

To me, he stands at the pinnacle of those facing the toughest challenge in sport – the ability to square up a ball thrown by a major league pitcher.

The essentials of hitting are reviewed daily by announcers and analysts. You must know what you want to hit, be ready, don’t swing at balls. In a nutshell, this is Edwin’s approach. I probably have watched two-thirds of his at-bats in each of the past four seasons. He is the most disciplined, consistent power hitter that I’ve ever seen.

By now you might be wondering what any of this has to do with curling? In a word, everything.

A combination of will and skill is essential for any successful athlete, but these attributes only get you to the door. The truly great athletes are those who can deliver their best when the stabbing light of great consequence is shining into their eyes. It requires a delicate balance of intensity and management of intensity to perform well in these situations. It demands that the athlete have a rigorously consistent approach to every opportunity given to them. Their approach “normalizes” what otherwise would be a mind-boggling jumble of excitement, nerves, speed and confusion.

Baseball pitchers and hitters share one critical thing with every curler. There are moments when game, season and career literally must flow through our hands. These are the pitch, the at-bat, and the shot. The game cannot go on until we have taken our turn. In terms of consequences, not all of these opportunities are created equal. In terms of approach, they must be.

From television, we take for granted that today’s curling “lead” player will make both tick shots in the last end, that the second will double-peel their team out of trouble, that the third will pin the 15-foot runback and that the skip will draw the side of the pot for the win. Let’s not forget the training, control and discipline it takes to even make a good pass at these shots.

Just watch any of the successful curling athletes on TV these days. Or Edwin’s at-bats this season. You’ll see the role mental and physical approach play in championship performance.

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