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ROCK SHOCK: 15 rival athletes come together to launch 2018 Men of Curling Calendar for charity

Look up… way up… it’s another amazing Men of Curling Calendar – supporting 13 different charitable causes!

October 10, 2017
SPORTS/LIFESTYLE/CHARITY

TORONTO, CANADA – The Men of Curling are back, modelling their high-performance physiques in a new, high-quality 2018 wall calendar featuring 15 athlete models representing five countries.

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

“I was honoured to get the call and I’m thrilled to raise money for two amazing causes,” said Team Kevin Koe third Marc Kennedy, a two-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist whose image adorns the 2018 cover. “This is all about dedication and desire and these are things we all share as athletes; but we are also people who want to help make a difference to the lives of others.”

Kennedy, whose team placed second at a World Curling Tour event in Edmonton yesterday, is raising money for two causes: the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Simply Supper Helps, an Edmonton community outreach group.

The calendars are on sale now at menofcurling.com for CDN $29.95 (U.S. $34.95). Free shipping is also available to curling facilities that wish to sell the product to their members.

No less than seven of the eight featured Canadian athletes will battle in December for the right to represent Canada at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Of the remaining seven international athletes in the calendar, two have been confirmed to represent their nations in Korea (Switzerland and Great Britain); one will compete in his national (U.S.) Olympic trials, and Team Ulsrud – the first full team of athletes to appear together in a curling fundraising calendar – will either be appointed to represent Norway in Korea or will face a domestic playoff series depending on results at next month’s European Championships.

The calendar also features colour-coded event listing mapping the full 2018 year of curling championships, tour events, development camps and other notable occasions.

High-resolution images of the 2018 Men of Curling Calendar cover, and project logo, are available to media upon request.

The 2018 Men of Curling and their charitable causes are:

Brett GallantTeam Brad Gushue – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada – raising funds for KidSport PEI

Braeden MoskowyTeam Reid Carruthers – Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada – raising funds for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation

Tyrel GriffithTeam John Morris – Kelowna/Vernon, British Columbia, Canada – raising funds for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation

Kirk MuyresTeam Steve Laycock – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – raising funds for Mental Health in Agriculture (1-800-667-4442)

Chris PlysTeam Heath McCormick – Blaine, Minnesota, USA – raising funds for Project Joy

Ryan FryTeam Brad Jacobs – Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada – raising funds for the Capital Projects Fund of the Community First Curling Centre

Ryan HarndenTeam Brad Jacobs – Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada – raising funds for the Capital Projects Fund of the Community First Curling Centre

Benoît SchwarzTeam Peter de Cruz – Geneva, Switzerland – raising funds for the Greenhope Foundation

Colin HodgsonTeam Reid Carruthers – Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – raising funds for the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation

Marc KennedyTeam Kevin Koe – Calgary, Alberta, Canada – raising funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Simply Supper Helps

Kyle SmithTeam Kyle Smith – Perth, Scotland – raising funds for Parkinson’s UK

Team Thomas UlsrudThomas Ulsrud, Torger Nergård, Christoffer Svae, Håvard Vad Petersson – Oslo, Norway – raising funds for Right To Play

The 2018 Men of Curling Calendar is a co-production of The Community Fundraiser and this publication, The Curling News. Additional fundraising revenues will be directed to the Curling Canada Foundation.

 

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Curling tours partner for the future

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND AND LONDON, CANADA
JUNE 28, 2017

The World Curling Tour (WCT) and Curling Champions Tour (CCT) have announced a formal merger, creating a truly global tour of some 250 championship curling events.

Based in North America since 1992, the WCT has long been the ultimate competition circuit for all high-performance curling teams. Founded in 2005, the Europe-based CCT has grown rapidly and now boasts all the trademarks of traditional WCT events, attracting larger sponsors and delivering professional webstreamed or televised coverage.

Both tours have also recently expanded into the Pacific region, with high-powered curling championships now hosted in China, Korea and Japan.

“This is a great day for the Roaring Game,” said the WCT’s Gerry Geurts from London, Ontario, Canada. “As we begin another Olympic curling season, the official merger of the WCT and CCT into one organization clearly proves, once again, that curling is one of the fastest-growing winter sports in the world.”

“From the beginning, the CCT and WCT have worked closely together,” said CCT’s Armin Harder from Zurich, Switzerland. “CCT events have been incorporated and counted on the Order Of Merit points list. And the CCT’s beginnings have been largely based on the same ideas and principles as that of its close relative tour in North America.

“To the fans it has always seemed like one Tour, but in terms of operations they have been quite different. CCT has found it necessary to take a new business approach in order to face the challenges of forging into new curling markets. Today both organizations officially share that vision, and curling fans will benefit most.”

The combined Tour will bear the name of the World Curling Tour and feature new branding reminiscent of the Curling Champions Tour. A new website at the URL worldcurl.com will be launched shortly.

The World Curling Tour events will now be divided into two categories, a “WCT Masters Series” and a “WCT Challenger Series.” On top of that a “Champions Series” aka “Majors” will be created over the next few years, outside of Canada, to complement the popular Grand Slam of Curling series.

In the past two seasons a CCT World Mixed Doubles Tour has experienced explosive growth and popularity. Now poised to lead the development of more Mixed Doubles events in North America and Asia, the new World Curling Tour can better manage the fastest growing segment of the sport.

Mixed Doubles will make its Olympic debut as a full-medal sport at February’s 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Korea.

Additional growth is planned for the Asia-Pacific Curling Tour, an expected World Junior Curling Tour and even a global Tour for Wheelchair Curling, an official Paralympic Games medal sport at Korea next year.

“The World Curling Tour now counts some 250 champion events taking place in 2017-18,” said Geurts. “We will work to increase the amount of streaming and TV coverage worldwide to showcase the Tour and its increasing number of events.”

“We will also continue expanding into new regions in hopes of developing new young teams, and providing them with a place to enjoy the sport and hone their skills,” said Harder. “These new athletes will be the engine for the future growth of our sport.”

For inquiries on the WCT scoring system, World Team Ranking (former OOM), draws and other IT-related matters, please contact Gerry Geurts at: gerry-at-curlingzone-dot-com

For inquiries on WCT Tour development, new events, marketing, sponsorship opportunities, television and internet streaming, please contact Armin Harder at: info-at-curlingchampionstour-dot-org

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Curling events a grind for the TV crew, too

The view inside a WCTV truck

By Luke Coley

EDMONTON – The round robin portion is a grind for the players; two games a day and it can take quite the toll both mentally and physically.

For some of us who are involved with the event, we too are having very long days. There are multiple days where many on the TV crew will be working all three draws. My role this week is as a commentator and by the end of the week I will have called 18 of the 22 draws. But I am not complaining… I love it!

There is always a short turnaround between draws but I find it important to stick to a familiar routine. After a quick meal between games, I head up to our booth and put together my notes on the game. For me, it is important to write down key information that I will refer to numerous times throughout the game. I make sure I have team rosters written down in my notepad with their current statistics throughout the championship.

Along with those stats, I put records as well as the other games on the ice and future opponents to be played for quick reference. Sometimes there isn’t time to reference a schedule in the moment and the more information I have at my disposal, the better.

After that I will normally head down to the ice and see if there is any anecdotes from curlers or icemakers. Sometimes it is a note from a coach from their last game or a unique tale of what they have done during their time in Edmonton. It is always nice to add insight from the people closest to the action.

As we get closer to the game, I will go over the start of the show with my partner to determine how we will approach the show and any interesting notes about the game. We also look at any unique information about players, the ice and what we should expect in game coming up. For example, this week Team Canada’s Geoff Walker is the only member of the team to not curl 100% in a game, including alternate Tom Sallows.

Next up, we watch practice and the teams throw their last stone draw challenge to determine hammer in the first end, we will go through a mic check with the truck and then await the opening stone. It is a blast to get to work with great people beside me like Canadian champ Alison Kreviazuk (now in Sweden), Olympians Ann Swisshelm (USA) and Hans Frauenlob (New Zealand) and the very talented broadcaster Alison Walker from Scotland.

As the round robin nears a conclusion, the playoff picture becomes clearer. For many countries, they may not make the playoffs but have qualified their country for the 2018 Olympics. Every outcome has to be calculated and changes every single draw as to how each nation ranks. The final day of round robin is always fun for those very reasons.

I hope you are enjoying the curling and if you have any questions or comments about the event or curling in general, I’d love to hear from you. I’m on Twitter @coleynotes and on Facebook at facebook.com/coleysnotes.

[Click on image to increase viewing size]

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March of time at curling worlds

By Luke Coley

EDMONTON – I always look forward to working at the world championships, but this year is extra special because the event is taking place in Edmonton, where I live.

 
It’s hard to walk into Northlands Coliseum without remembering the atmosphere during the 2005 Brier and 2007 men’s worlds. It still gives me chills as I remember the ovation for Team Randy Ferbey, winning their fourth Brier title at home, as the crowd was on their feet for that final shot by David Nedohin. The entire crowd singing the Canadian anthem while waving the Alberta flag.

Then to see Glenn Howard and Team Canada come out to a packed house wearing cowboy hats to a sea of Maple Leafs on clothes, hats
and flags.

How things have changed for curling and for me, since that world championship in ’07. Back then I was living the single life, working for CurlTV (remember that?) and covering my second world championship. Now I am doing commentary for the World Curling Federation and I have a lovely wife and two amazing children.

It’s been so much fun to bring them in and show them the experience of a world championship that I have now covered more than a dozen times.

Players that were participating at those ’05 and ’07 events are now on the coaching bench, like Peja Lindholm as national team coach for Sweden and Brier champ Marcel Rocque leading the Chinese team – in the same building in which he raised the Tankard for the fourth time. At this championship they are honouring all past champions to win major curling events in Edmonton, which includes Rocque’s part in the Ferbey Four win in 2005.

The World Curling Federation now also has a live YouTube channel – World Curling TV – that allows fans around the world to watch the live coverage throughout the event. There are two full broadcast trucks producing live coverage that is reaching 90 countries on TV and many more via the YouTube channel.

The building that is hosting this event will probably be the last curling event ever here as a new state-of-the-art arena, Rogers Place, has been built in Edmonton. While the Coliseum has seen its share of great curling moments, I am sure there will be new ones created as the championship continues through the week.

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Threepeat Curling in Vegas

Follow #SamInVegas this week, starting Thursday

By Sam Corea

In 2013, I began seeing TV ads showing scenes of curling action cut with the bright lights of Sin City and an announcer asking the question “Curling in Vegas?”  Well, here we are four years later with the third edition of the Continental Cup of Curling in Las Vegas.  And here I go again to take in the Vegas curling experience for the third time, and for your benefit, dear reader.

It seems Las Vegas has become a permanent stop on the international curling event calendar. And it’s Canadian travellers who are supporting curling in Vegas, despite the lower value of the loonie, as they look for any reason to escape the winter cold to enjoy some desert sun and curling.  I am one of those Canadians this year, as the usually mild West Coast winter weather has been anything but balmy with sub-zero temperatures and half a dozen snowfalls in Vancouver since December. So, sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-teens, coupled with watching Team North America battle with Team World will help chase away the January blues.

In 2014, the teams were scouting each other in Vegas as that edition of the Continental Cup was held just weeks before the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Last year’s edition, in my view, suggested that the teams were more focused on friendly competition and fun.

This year, with the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games just 13 months away, organizers tell us the event is a chance for curling fans to get an advance look at many of the teams who will be chasing gold in South Korea (and we’ll have lots to say about that in future editions of The Curling News).

Of course, we’ve got some curlers who’ve been to many Continental Cups and the last two editions in Vegas. But there are many first-timers this year, so I’ll be looking to get their impressions of curling in the desert (along with Elvis and Marylin Monroe impersonators escorting them onto the ice) for my social media posts this week and weekend, which you can follow on two platforms: The Curling News Twitter feed and also on The Curling News Facebook page.

During last year’s Cup in Vegas, the former director of marketing for Tourism Nevada told me that Canadians love Nevada and they love curling, so hosting these events in the land of casinos, big buffets and showgirls is a natural fit. And the slogan adopted by those involved – Las Vegas Rocks – just seems to roll off the tip of the tongue.

Attendance for the 2016 Continental Cup topped 62,000 – the most people to ever watch a curling event in the United States.  Officials are gambling that the success of the 2014, 2016 and 2017 Cup events will result in even more bums in the seats in the spring of 2018, when the Orleans Arena hosts the Men’s World Curling Championship – soon after the PyeongChang Olympic Games.

I don’t think the novelty of being in an arena in Vegas filled with curling fans has worn off yet. In fact, as I tell folks I’m heading to Vegas for a curling competition, some still raise an eyebrow, but admit that it seems like something fun to do in January.

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12 athletes featured in new 2017 Women of Curling Calendar

womenofcurling_coverhighrez

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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Harder leaves SWISSCURLING, ready for new challenges

Armin Harder (left) with National Coach Al Moore and the WWCC Trophy
Armin Harder (left) with National Coach Al Moore and the WWCC Trophy

Armin Harder, the High Performance Director of the Swiss Curling Association, has announced his resignation after eight years of successful involvement with the national association.

“I have enjoyed serving the interests of SWISSCURLING and I know I am leaving with the organization in excellent shape,” said Harder. “The future of Swiss curling is as bright as the present.”

Harder served a total of eight years with SWISSCURLING; two years as a delegate, and six years as Sports Department Chief which included four years as a delegate to the World Curling Federation.

He first made waves by fighting for an open and fair (but challenging) qualification system, thus averting the plan of SWISSCURLING’s then-leaders to embrace a new selection system for the national teams. As the architect of the current system, he completely changed the elite program and introduced a major overhaul of the junior program, which required the hiring of new personnel and budget streamlining to divert more funds to development, coaching and athletes.

The results have been spectacular, as Harder leaves as the most successful High Performance leader in Switzerland’s curling history. Since 2010, a total of 25 medals have been won by SWISSCURLING teams: 14 gold, three silver and eight bronze. Furthermore, gold medals have been won across varied disciplines: Youth Olympic Games, Women’s Worlds, World Mixed Doubles, World Mixed, European Men’s and Women’s, and World Junior Men.

Currently, Swiss Women are ranked No. 1 in the world, only the second time time a country other than Canada has held this position (World Curling Rankings, WCF).

“Armin had a clear vision when he started and six years later we are definitely on a very good path,” said Andreas Schwaller, Head Coach for SWISSCURLING and a 2002 Olympic bronze medallist. “With our system we gave athletes transparency and encouraged them to tour, so they gained experience and became stronger. When Mirjam Ott won the worlds in 2012 and Sven Michel won the 2013 Euros, it was a big message to all Swiss teams, and it made them believe.

“It’s hard to prove, but SCA would never have reached the latest successes without Armin. He will be missed and I wish him nothing but the best.”

“I want to thank the staff at SWISSCURLING for a great eight years,” said Armin Harder. “Also particular thanks to Andi Schwaller, Al Moore and Marco Battilana, as well as my EC members in particular SCA President Louis Moser, whose leadership made all the positive changes even possible. Finally, great thanks to all the athletes, coaches and support staff I have worked with and represented so proudly over the years.”

Harder plans to consider new challenges, but expects to continue his key role with the Curling Champions Tour, which recently announced new championship events taking place in Korea and China.

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2016 Brier: Athletes are people too – Mathers

David Mathers at far left with PEI mates. One of 'em takes looong showers.
David Mathers at far left with his PEI mates. Sadly, none of them resemble Anne. Or Jen.

By Andrew Denny

Hello and welcome to a little piece of fluff we call “Athletes Are People Too”.

Throughout the Brier we’ve gotten to know a lot of the athletes who are competing for their various provinces and instead of treating them like cattle, we want you to get to know them too.

We’ll be tracking down some of these guys and grilling them with a series of extremely challenging questions which they’ll be forced to answer on the fly.

Today’s focus is on PEI third David Mathers, who is competing in his second Brier… and while the boys are having a bit of a tough go in the standings, he was more than willing to offer up his time. Nice guy.

Anyway, enough talk. Let’s dive in:

Favourite food: Buffet. Nothing specific type wise… just anything buffet.

Favourite YouTube Channel: I don’t really watch a lot of devoted youtube channels, but I do watch music videos on there. Can that be my answer? If so, music videos.

Favourite Video Game: Mario Tennis… and it’s a borderline obsession. Our coach has it and I’m constantly playing the damned game. It’s something that has to stop post-Brier because I’m losing way too much time to it.

Favourite Beer: Michelob Ultra. Can’t beat that low calorie taste.

Favourite Celebrity: Anne Hathaway. Next question.

Favourite Curling Club: Ottawa Curling Club. Too easy.

Favourite Twitter Feed: Girls in Yoga Pants. No specific feed but yeah, girls in yoga pants.

Favourite Super Hero: I’m not really in to super heroes… so I’ll say Batman.

Who’s your dream curling team? Oof, that’s a tough one. I’d put Wayne Middaugh at skip, Mark Kennedy at third, myself at second and Scott Bailey throwing lead.

All curlers eh? Very smart. How about an all non-curler curling team? I can do that? Okay here we go: Tiger Woods has to skip because he’s Tiger Woods. Then have Bartolo Colon throwing the heat at third, myself at second again, and for lead… I’m not too sure… how about Wayne Middaugh again?

What’s your dream job: To be a pilot.

How do you kill time in the summer? Golfing. I golf a ton.

Any celebrity crushes? Aside from Anne Hathaway? Jennifer Aniston. Love me some Jen.

What’s your biggest pet peeve? Roommates who take long showers. Like… what are you doing in there? Get in, scrub up, get out already.

Favourite brand of shoes: B-52s because I’m wearing them right now.

Patch or Heartstop Lounge? Patch.

Good or evil? Evil…. NO, NO. Good. I meant to say good.

Sure you did. Morning or night? Morning actually. I may not be saying that after the Brier but for now, morning.

Front end or Back end? Front end.

Blonde or Brunette? Brunette.

That’s a wrap on this edition of “Athletes Are People Too.” Want to see your favourite player profiled and grilled with a series of skill testing questions in our next edition? Let us know on twitter via @curling or @denny_613 and we’ll deliver.

Until next time, good curling and remember… athletes are people too.

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2016 Brier: The war of the proletariat

#godshouse #temple #patch
#godshouse #temple #patch

By Andrew Denny

The Brier is a war.

Don’t let the Canadiana of curling’s crown jewel hinder your perception of the event. The Brier is the ultimate battle of attrition where victims of all forms are swallowed up daily. And while The Patch™ may be the final stand for many of the fans of this year’s event, it’s the players who ultimately have to prepare for all out battle.

Indeed, what was projected to be one of the greatest Brier fields ever assembled has not disappointed after three days of competition. Matches have been hotly contested with few surprises in the standings thus far.

But this is the Brier, and anything is possible. Just ask the Pat Simmons’ Team Canada foursome, who had an abysmal start to last year’s event before ultimately winning in grand fashion.

To predict a winner in a field as tough as this would be a fool’s errand – although no less than six curling wizards did so in our March digital edition – however, many performances stand out in the early going as intriguing.

Impressive have been the efforts of the Glenn Howard’s Ontario team, who have played giant-killer in a field where their competitiveness was hotly debated, taking down both the Alberta and Newfoundland heavyweights. Their only loss comes at the hands of Manitoba’s Mike McEwen, who seems to be handling the rookie jitters extremely well.

While there are a few Brier rookies in the field of competition, another Brier rookie is cutting his teeth in the curling scene.

I caught up with Eric Burant, a non-curler and first time curling event attendee, and shadowed him for the duration of his time at the event. What started out as an innocent pilot project, a scoop if you will, turned in to a complete day of non-stop entertainment.

We started the day where any good Brier fan would: the Patch.

“Everyone here is smiling. They look like they’re having a great time and maybe that’s helped along the amount of beer flowing,” quoted Burant, a young professional from Ottawa. “Angus McStone is giving me some weird vibes though.”

Burant was taken aback by the atmosphere, complimented by the amount of individual provincial pride that was on display.

“I really dig the (provincial) jackets. It’s amazing how much individual culture each province offers.”

We quickly enjoyed a refreshing beverage before making our way to the draw, where the focus of our attention was the Ontario vs Alberta match and the final relegation game of NT vs NS. While the majority of our time was spent laughing and explaining the rules, we were treated to some extremely tight matchups, including a wild finish in the relegation final.

“You could hear a pin drop when Nova Scotia missed their final shot. The crowd’s reaction summed it up perfectly,” said Burant. “I thought that curling would be this relaxed attitude affair but in the end, it was high drama and extremely heartbreaking.”

When asked what he would say to the Nova Scotia squad if he had the chance, he offered some warm words: “You made it to the Brier. You made it to the big stage and that’s better than a lot of teams. You’re capable and you’re going to be back in the future.”

I did my letter best to find the Bluenosers in the Patch post game in an effort to introduce Burant, but had no luck. In the end, the spirit of the game became obvious to the Brier newbie, who quickly fell in love with the camaraderie and sportsmanship that curling offers.

“It really is the game of the proletariat. These are all regular guys with families and lives off the ice. I don’t think anyone curls with the objective of being on a Wheaties box.”

And in a few simple hours, a man who had never set foot in a major curling event had the entire culture and hospitable nature of curling figured out.

That’s the power of the game we all love so much.

As the Brier continues throughout the week, we’ll be bringing you more blog updates. Hit me up on twitter @denny_613 if you want to see or hear anything specific. After all, without the reader, we writers have no purpose.

In the meantime, I need to grab a nap after a weekend of fun and excitement with old friends, and especially new ones. Cheers.