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Olympic curling roadsign

Our friend Terry Jones is back on the curling beat, and not a moment too soon.

The veteran Sun Media sports scribe, who also authored the 2007 book The Ferbey Four, was at a “32 days out” ceremony for the massive Roar of the Rings event coming to Edmonton December 6-13.

Otherwise known as the Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials, the event is basically the “Olympic Trials” which will declare Canada’s representatives for Vancouver 2010.

As Jones tells us here, many of the late week draw matchups were revealed as part of the news conference.

The much-anticipated and possibly crucial all-Edmonton battle between Kevin Martin and Randy Ferbey will be on the Wednesday afternoon draw, which also features Edmonton’s Kevin Koe versus the other pre-qualified team skipped by Ontario’s Glenn Howard.

Thursday morning features Ferbey-Howard and Martin-Koe, and Thursday night will feature Ferbey-Koe and Martin-Howard.

Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones, Calgarian Cheryl Bernard, Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton and Calgary’s 2006 Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink have their feature games against each other Wednesday morning, Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon.

As any curling fan worth his or her salt knows, the remaining squads will be known after the Road to the Roar in Prince George, B.C., which starts up pretty darned soon.

Jonesy also tells us that ticket sales are already at 134,844 for the eight-day event, and single draw tickets go on sale this Saturday.

Tickets are $50 a pop for the women’s final (Dec. 12) and the men’s final (Dec. 13), while the semifinals are $40 each. The early round-robin draws are $30 each.

For heaven’s sake, this has got to be one of the last wakeup calls for curling fans to get their butt to Edmonton, for this showdown of the ages.

“We can’t believe this event is only a month away,” said host committee woman Jackie-Rae Greening. “Probably in our lifetime we won’t have the opportunity again to watch a trials where the winners get to represent Canada on their home turf at the Olympic Games. Now it’s getting so close, it’s getting so exciting.”

The last word goes to K-Mart, who unveiled some kind of countdown road sign, along with Kleibrink, at yesterday’s newser (photo by inews880AM, click to zoom in).

“I think the level of curling has increased significantly, the curlers have been training harder and have all become better than we were four years ago,” said Martin.

“That’s going to make this event even better and hopefully is going to make Canada even better at the Olympics.”

NOTE: have you signed up to follow The Curling News Twitter account?

If not, you’ve already missed today’s info on New Brunswick’s mixed team; Stoughton and Burtnyk on their Road to the Roar (and McEwen and Gunnlaugson, too); the husband of Sandra Schmirler and his honour at carrying the Olympic Torch; and Brad Gushue as an “interesting choice” to publicize the Tim Hortons Brier… considering that he hopes to not compete in it!

Head to the page and click on “Follow” to get tuned in to the digital curling world!

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Curling Camps: the HOT SHOTS

Our second posting in a series on summer curling camps focusses on the original “Fantasy” camp which has since dropped the moniker: the HOT SHOTS.

Now in it’s 15th year, the HOT SHOTS Curling Camp was the first camp to pioneer the “fantasy” concept of pairing high-performance elite competitors with the participants, who of course range anwhere from brand-new rookie to pretty accomplished competitive player (and all points in between).

The subtle name change has, in the words of veteran camp director David Gravelle, come about because “you the curlers, have demanded more from us. And, we’ve delivered.

“We’ve moved away from the celebrity participation to bring you more intense curriculum with highly qualified instructors and some of the top national and international coaches.

“This transformation has been a natural and gradual evolution of our sport with increased participation in the game but the lack of qualified instruction to keep our new curlers progressing on the path to increased enjoyment of this great game.”

There are three HOT SHOTS Curling Camps running this summer-slash-fall, and there are limited spaces available at all three.

First up is the traditional home of the HOT SHOTS, the Oakville Curling Club in Oakville, Ontario (one half-hour west of Toronto) on August 28-20. The second camp is on Ottawa, Ontario at the RA Centre on October 2-4, and the final camp is in the United States for the second consecutive year. The Utica Curling Club in Utica, New York is one of the oldest curling clubs in the USA and it hosts the HOT SHOTS from October 16-18.

Click here for the camp website and here for the registration page.

Anything else going on? But… of course…

• Those crazy Kiwis are working to launch another season of outdoor curling at Naseby, following a $200,000 rink upgrade

• Here’s a report on the recent Rocky Top Bonspiel held in Knoxville, Tenessee …

Joel Retournaz – that Italian Olympic hero from three-plus years ago – is back with a new youthful team, ie. an “ambitious project: …

• PEI’s world junior runner-up Brett Gallant has picked up two local awards

• CTV News says the Banff curling rink is being torn down and a new facility is scheduled to open in late 2010 …

• Can you guess the name of the influential curling coach who dropped this zinger on us recently…?

“I must talk far too much. Dean Gemmel put my interview into two parts.”

It’s Quebec’s Dan Rafael, of course, who is the head coach of the Chinese national curling team program. Indeed, he has a two-part show posted to The Curling Show and the occasionally blunt Canadian is always a good interview. You can listen to part one here, and we can direct you to part two here.

Rafael, by the way, has been in China for a couple of weeks already, as this is officially the start of the 2010 competitive season (say what?). Fresh from Beijing and then Harbin, Rafael is now in Qinhuangdao and will train with the teams until the inaugural New Zealand Winter Games in August. After that, Teams China head to Canada for September, October and part of November until the Pacific Curing Championships in Karuizawa, Japan …

• And finally, there is movement within the foundations of the World Curling Players’ Association. At last.

Nominations for new board positions have closed and several new board members have been acclaimed. Now representing women on the WCPA are Calgary’s Heather Rankin and Ontario’s Sherry Middaugh, while Europe’s single position has gone to Switzerland’s Simon Struebin, who throws lead pucks for front-running Olympic hopeful Ralph Stoeckli.

Voting will decide the men’s reps. Vying for a seat at the table are the following:

• Quebec’s Pierre Charette (currently Interim President)
• Vancouver’s Brent Pierce (a former WCPA regional rep)
Scott Pfeifer, second man for Team Randy Ferbey
Craig Savill, the Team Glenn Howard lead
Garth Smith, who is Kerry Burtnyk’s opening rocker
Nolan Thiessen, yet another leadman who plays for Kevin Koe.

The United States’ position features a pair of nominees, with John Benton taking on Bill Todhunter.

The new WCPA Board will consist of eight elected members, with a minimum five positions reserved for Canadian representatives. The group of five Canadian representatives will feature three male and two female members.

Read all about the nominees, their positions and the URL to go to to vote at this link

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Brier: Brotherly Love

By Dalene Heck

CALGARY – In a joint interview with Peyton and Eli Manning after Eli’s historic Super Bowl win, Peyton had the following to say when asked if he would like to face his brother in the Super Bowl someday:

“Yeah, I’d love to kick his ass in the Super bowl next year. And win the MVP – league and Super Bowl – the world needs to know who the best Manning is.”

Peyton aptly ducked when Eli playfully took a swing at his head.

The only NFL contest between these two brothers saw Eli win against his older sibling in a close match. If all of the Brier predictions about Ontario’s Glenn Howard hold true, then we will also see the younger Howard beat up on his older brother, New Brunswick’s Russ Howard, Tuesday morning in a truly historic athletic contest between brothers.

Will an Ontario win over New Brunswick show the world who the best Howard is? Will Russ take his loss gracefully as opposed to vowing vengeance? Can we count on fists flying at the end of tomorrow’s match?

No.

Probably.

Probably not. But you never know with brothers.

This battle has been talked about. The media here in Calgary have gone to great lengths to point out that the last time two brothers faced off as skips at the Brier was way back in 1942.

But The Curling News – a dandy little newspaper if I’ve ever seen one – has scooped everybody with a couple of key points, as published in the March Brier issue that came out last week, and which is in some supply – but dwindling fast – here at the Saddledome.

The first is that the last time brothers faced off at the Brier – including non-skips – the year was 1995, the place, Halifax. Jeff Ryan played third for the victorious Manitoba team skipped by Kerry Burtnyk. Pat Ryan, now country music superstar, played third for Rick Folk’s defending champions from Kelowna. Burtnyk finished with a 12-2 record while Folk was 6-5. In their 11th-draw collision, Burtnyk shaded Folk 7-6 in 11 ends.

The second TCN scoop is that the only other known Brier brotherly debate – apart from them Campbells, Gordon of Hamilton and Don of Vancouver, in ’42 – transpired at the 1970 Brier in Winnipeg. Hap Mabey of Moncton skipped the New Brunswick entry and brother Roger played lead for Les Bowering’s Newfoundland squad. Neither team was a title threat.

The third and final TCN chapter actually researches the various head to head battles that Russ and Glenn have had in the past decade or so. Thanks to this, additional context is available for those of you making picks on whom will whack whom. That makes this stuff gold!

And it’s not even a finite science, as curling record-keeping tends to falter out of the CCA domain. The TCN editor tells me Glenn Howard and Richard Hart were both sourced for info on these recent tilts… and that they both imagined a game against Russ – at a Slam in Port Hawkesbury – that never actually happened. I kid you not.

So here’s the excerpt from the story in the March 2009 issue The Curling News concerning recent Howard battles, some of which also made its way into Sunday’s daily Tankard Times.

And good luck with your picks…

For the record, there have been seven “recent” battles between the brothers since 2001.

Three occurred at the Players’ Championship (Russ winning twice in 2001 and Glenn winning in 2005 (photo above by Ted Richards, click to zoom in) and two took place at the former Gander, NL stop on the Asham World Curling Tour, the Don Bartlett Classic, in ’02 and ’04 (split results).

There was also a battle at the 2002 TSN Skins Game in Grande Prairie, and an instance in 2007 where Russ jetted to a spiel in Portage to spare for Randy Ferbey (both won by Glenn).

So the youngster holds a 4-3 advantage heading into the Saddledome.

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Manitoba, Mississauga Masters and more

This photo (above) comes from a Breakfast Television appearance – Winnipeg version – back in January, to promote the then-imminent BDO Canadian Open Grand Slam.

The pic shows youthful Manitoba curling skips Reid Carruthers (standing left) and Mike McEwen (right) and the BT hosts messing about with the same kind of indoor school stones that are featured in the Capital One Rocks and Rings program.

Why do we show you this now?

First of all, we only received these pics fairly recently, so… :-p !

And secondly, these two hopefuls are in action today in Selkirk, as the Manitoba provincial men’s championship, the Safeway Select, finally gets underway.

As such, there is some media to examine, including this piece in which Edmonton import Kevin Park admits that he’s “getting a bit of a hazing… dual citizenship and all.” Meanwhile, in this other Freep story, we find that someone has abducted and replaced Jeff Stoughton – well yeah, did you see this photo? – and that Allan Lyburn has the early start on quote of the week honours:

“We’re here to drink a lot of beer and have a good time. Because, let’s face it, I don’t generally play very well at this thing.”

Meanwhile, the rival Sun is picking Kerry Burtnyk to win it all, and former Manitoba competitor (ooooh!) Jon Mead is on the air with this week’s Shaw TV coverage

Meanwhile …

• It seems the Masters of Curling Grand Slam scheduled for Toronto’s Air Canada Centre in October is moving to nearby Mississauga and the Hershey Centre. Brian McAndrew of the Toronto Star has this story posted, while Donald Duench of the Toronto Sun has a piece here and the local Mississauga News is understandably pumped.

Our opinion? Well, while it would have been cool to see the Roaring Game at the ACC, the current economic climate makes the move unsurprising… and perhaps GTA curling fans should be pleased that a) the event is still running; b) it’s still in the GTA and c) it’s still got the same dates and amazing international field.

For more on this, check out the upcoming March issue of The Curling News for some quotes from Mr. Insight Sports himself, Kevin Albrecht

• The Edmonton Journal asks: should Canada select a team for the Olympic Games, as opposed to hosting a Trials shootout?

Cheryl Bernard can be heard on The Curling Show, and we hear that Mr. Blunt himself, Ben Hebert, will be on the air shortly …

• There be a roaring argument going on in Scotland …

• More Brazilians are on the curling ice – er, glass – this time in High River, Alberta

• And finally, the fun folks at the Blind River CC have a quick story on the Emo Curling Club, which was built out of a 100-year-old schoolhouse. Very cool!

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Spinal Tap Curling


Glenn Howard. Jennifer Jones. Pat Ryan. HartLaingSavill. Ed Werenich. Joan McCusker. Sherry Middaugh. Mike Harris. Cathy Overton-Clapham.
Not a bad list of celebrity curling stars, who arrive in Thornhill, Ontario tonight for Saturday’s 18th annual Dominion of Canada Spinal Tap Mixed Bonspiel.

The little bonspiel that could has very quietly raised $250,000 for spinal injury research – until now, entirely without celebrities – since 1991, the year after a young curler named Ryan Durham broke his neck in a swimming accident and became confined to a wheelchair.

Nearly two decades later, Durham is still a fundraising dynamo for the Canadian Spinal Research Organization and its impressive Shoot For A Cure fundraising campaign, which has become very big in pro hockey (it’s also got a curling division, located here). And Durham is also the Business Development Director for The Curling News (ahem)… and, of course, he’s still running the Spinal Tap.

Last July, Thornhill Golf & Country Club hosted the Sandra Schmirler Golf Classic. You may even recall a great series of pics, shot by Anil Mungal, which showed Jennifer Jones agonizing over a missed putt.

Ryan Durham showed up later for cocktails, and did a whole bunch of convincing.

He convinced Glenn Howard to allow himself to be auctioned off as a celebrity skip some seven months later, at the Spinal Tap.

He convinced tournament sponsor The Dominion of Canada to allow a live auction item to suddenly join the proceedings, in fact as the last item of a long dinner/presentation agenda.

He convinced tournament host and emcee Mike Harris to be the auctioneer.

And some 45 minutes later, much Durham’s surprise and glee, no less than nine superstar curlers had been auctioned off for many thousands of dollars, with Capital One curling impresario Ian Cunningham agreeing to fly in the out-of-towners and put everybody up at nearby hotels.

The big day is tomorrow, with the celebs hitting the ice with their various teams at 10:45 am and again at 4:00pm. In between, at 12:30pm, they will gather for a four-end Skins Game rematch – Howard versus Jones – with a few twists thrown in, namely:

• two of the ends will be played from wheelchairs, with the official rules of Paralympic and world wheelchair curling in effect;

• Howard will play for Shoot For A Cure and Jones will play for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, with a $4,000 pot up for grabs.

The details of this new celebfest have come together nicely. Thornhill is setting up bleacher seating to accommodate extra fans (no jeans, please). There’s a mammoth silent auction table ready to go, and special menu items are available in the adjacent cafe.

When Overton-Clapham had a cortisone shot earlier this week – she’s now been knocked off the ice, although she’s still attending – the combination of Pat Ryan and Peter Steski quickly stepped in. Rogers Sportsnet broadcaster – and ace Oshawa curlerRob Faulds will emcee the dinner.

And there’s also some teams chock full of celebrity-worthy status, like the squad featuring recently-departed Alison Goring third Cathy Auld, Team Wayne Middaugh second John Epping and Team Julie Reddick member Leigh Armstrong… not that we would ever mention the name of the skip who blatantly stacked this formidable squad… right, mister President-of-The DominionGeorge Cooke?

Congrats and thanks to the celebs, the participating teams, Thornhill G & CC and the sponsors for what will no doubt be a memorable day.

Oh…. and congrats and thanks to Ryan Durham, too.

It’s Friday, folks. And that means there’s still more going on in the wonderful world of curling…

• As of Friday morning Russ Howard was 1-1 in his drive to get back to Brier and, following that, his hometown worlds in Moncton

• Last night’s anticipated Alberta A-side matchup of Kevin Martin versus Randy Ferbey was, um, rather forgettable. Here’s the view from Calgary and another story from Edmonton.

Speaking of these two, is it possible that Martin and Ferbey are becoming buddies? Heavens, we should hope not.

And in our last bit on Alberta, did you know that ex-Martin lead Don Bartlett is back, with a great new back, and competing in the provincial?

• It was Mark Dacey over Shawn Adams in Nova Scotia last night; and here’s some more on the Bluenoser provincial

• In Quebec, Martin Ferland has qualified for the big A1 vs B1 game, while famed comeback kid Guy Hemmings is also at 7-1 …

Sean Geall is in contention out in British Columbia

• And let’s not forget the Moose Callers up in Northern Ontario

Kerry Burtnyk is the top seed at next week’s Manitoba Safeway Select, and here’s a look back at his fateful win in 2001

• DID YOU KNOW: that the 2009 Swiss Championships start Saturday? Here’s a brief preview ….

• Here’s a feature on curling in Brookline, MA, starring some high school students …

• Students from francophone schools across Saskatchewan recently descended on Nipawin for some curling fun …

• DID YOU KNOW II: that Saskatchewan’s Players’ Championship is underway?

Paul Weicek says: extend the curling season

• Hmm… according to the Burlington Post, the lead for Team Peter Corner is Paul Moffatt. We actually thought it’s Brad Savage

• Speaking of errant writing: did you say… Furbey?

• That’s right, Charles and Ken… the joke is on you!

• Will Eugene Hritzuk’s last-minute Ashams do the job of 16-year-old Dacks?

• Curlers and officials in BC are both saying they would support the idea of a BC Curling Tour. But wasn’t something like that attempted last season?

• Brantford’s 63-year-old Johnson Wax bonspiel is fading, with only 16 teams entered this year…

• We have a science-curling crisis, folks. Apparently, outgoing Washington climatologist Phil Mote has “picked on curling” as an analogy for planet Earth’s climate sensitivity …

• DID YOU KNOW III: that tre curlinghåp til ungdoms-OL? Er… now you do!

• This Brit skiier thinks curling is brill, man …

• And finally, the winner of USA Curling’s eBay auction – where the winning bidder’s photo-of-their choice will cover the on-ice buttons at the upcoming U.S. Olympic Team Trials championship – has apparently gone to the dogs

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Another Slam, the Bender Cam and more

There’s lots going on as we put the finishing touches on the February issue of The Curling News – have you subscribed yet? – so here’s a linkfest to keep you going. Crack knuckles… now…

Jeff Stoughton (above) is on home ice as the third Capital One Grand Slam, the BDO Classic Canadian Open, gets underway tonight at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. The event website is located here.

Local blatster Jim Bender sets up the CTRS chase and also talks to Kerry Burtnyk about the recent Brier memories, while Freepman Chris Cariou spotlights young gun Mike McEwen.

Three playoff games will be televised on CBC this weekend, and don’t forget the Capital One “Million Dollar Button” contest, which will be a part of the TV package. They’re jetting in from across Canada for this one – like this gal from Fergus, Ontario – and two people were also selected from 3,300 online entries submitted over the last few months… like this fellow from B.C.

Didn’t know about this? Quit whining; we showed you the link weeks ago …

• The Manitoba men’s field looks to be almost complete and… but… good lord… Sun Media has given Bender a videocamera, and told him to get out there and file moving pictures, in addition to words. What is this world coming to?

• Meanwhile, the manitoba gals are all set, as are the Ontario men’s and women’s provincial fields (that was a news story, here’s the OCA draw page) …

• The Nova Scotia women’s Scotties are already underway, and here’s a quick preview

• The Ontario Seniors are over and done, with Bruce Delaney and Cheryl McBain taking the 2009 titles. What this summary story fails to tell you is that multiple Canadian and World senior champion Anne Dunn lost the women’s final. Of course, Joe Pavia has that tidbit in his latest column… meanwhile, over on PEI, the 2009 Senior champs are Mel Bernard and Shirley Berry

• Here’s a southern Alberta update, leading off with men’s playdowns this coming weekend …

• Speaking of Burtnyk, he will be speaking about his past cancer battles at a luncheon in April, which is affiliated with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team …

• Former Brier skip Jim Armstrong won his second straight B.C. wheelchair curling championship last weekend, but has already been named skip of Team Canada at next month’s 2009 World Wheelchair Championship in Vancouver. 2006 Paralympic champion Sonja Gaudet, who was on Gerry Austgarden’s runner-up team, was named as the alternate. There’s a recent feature on Gaudet located here

• Back in Ontario, the city of Kingston beat out 2008 hosts Collingwood to win the bid to host the 2010 Ontario ParaSport Winter Games, which will include wheelchair curling at the Royal Kingston Curling Club …

• And Napanee, which is only some 40 kilometres west of Kingston, will be hosting the 2010 Ontario men’s provincial Tankard …

• The Toronto Curling Association has a new sponsor (top news story) for the venerable men’s bonspiel …

• DID YOU KNOW: that both of Canada’s teams in the upcoming 2009 Winter Universiade (World University Games) in China are from Wildfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario?

• Finally, Cold-FX has joined the Vancouver Olympic sponsor family. And those of you who remember just how bad 1998 Canadian Olympic men’s skip Mike Harris had it in the gold-medal final will note the company’s opening tagline:

Colds and flu were a big problem for Canada at the Nagano 1998 Winter Games. Thirty-six Canadian athletes, coaches and trainers, including figure skater Elvis Stojko, long track speed skater Neal Marshall, as well as the curling team, came down with colds or flu.

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Russ Howard: Swiss curling coach

After reading this here chat thread about Canadian curling coaches, Russ Howard flew his star pupils – Switzerland’s Team Ralph Stöckli – over to Moncton and then into Toronto yesterday.

Okay, we’re kidding, this Canadian Tour has been planned for a while.

Following a week of training in Moncton, with the Stöcklis bunking in at Russ’ house, the squad made a pinch-hit appearance for Team Steski in the Toronto Major League last night at St. George’s. They lost a close one to defending provincial Silver Tankard champ Bill Duck, the club manager.

In the TCN photo taken by Anil Mungal, that’s skip Stöckli at left, followed by third Jan Hauser, The Olympic Champion Yelling Guy, second Markus Eggler (who himself skipped Switzerland to the 1992 world championship) and lead Simon Strübin.

Today the Swiss hit the 401 for the short drive to Waterloo for the first Capital One Grand Slam of the year, the Masters of Curling.

More on Russ and his charges in the December issue of The Curling News, which goes to press next week. Are you a subscriber?

Lots to say about Slam number one:

• There’s a CBC Slam season preview located here;

Glenn Howard, who has a new interview posted over at The Curling Show, comes in ranked number one, ahead of Kevin Martin (according to us, anyway);

• As Brian Belfry writes, this could be Ontario’s last chance to see the once-previously-retired Kerry Burtnyk throw a live stone;

• Did you catch the announcement of the brand-new $170,000 Capital One Cup …?

• And the one regarding world’s first Curling Rewards credit card – click on the ad banner atop this fine website (and this one, too) …?

• How about the Million Dollar Button contest, now underway and which climaxes at the third men’s Slam at Winnipeg in January?

• What about the not-yet-publicized reveal that next fall’s mammoth Toronto 2009 event – hosted at the Air Canada Centre – has been rebranded as the Masters of Curling Toronto 2009?

That reveal also shows that a secret All-Star men’s team will round out the field – that’s the good news – and that a new $14.00 facility fee has been applied to ticket purchases. That is most certainly the bad news.

What of last fall’s club ticket drive? Those ducats didn’t have a facility fee applied to them at the time…

“TCA will pick up the cost of the facility fee for the package offered last year,” said Toronto Curling Association president Elizabeth Woolnough. “That cost will not be passed down to the clubs, nor to the ticket holders.”

Finally, don’t forget the webcast and television coverage: CBC Sports Online has live streaming of the weekend playoff round (action starts tonight) and both CBC-TV and BOLD will combine to cover those playoff games – three of them – on television.

Anything else, you ask?

• At the Canadian Mixed, the wheat chaffers were undefeated at 7-0 as of Tuesday night and Manitoba skip Sean Grassie even wrote this introductory column for the Winnipeg Sun.

Meanwhile our friend townie bastard is working behind the scenes as a member of the organizing committee… and despite his previous fretting, his photos are just fine!

• You heard about the 2010 Tim Hortons Brier heading to Halifax, right? if not, read this and this

• Guess what: Rainy River will survive

• It’s just a guess, but it looks like the Toronto Curling Association might be behind this Vaughan Today feature. The participation message is strong among three different sources …

• Here’s a cool idea: check out Hamilton, Ontario’s “Club 64” league for juniors …

• 2006 Olympic wheelchair curling champion Chris Daw is in a Newfoundland hospital recovering from a broken hip …

Stefanie Lawton is taking a year off work to chase her Vancouver Olympic dream

• Wisconsin curling hero Bob simply did a great job

• We’ve got just one more Midland, Michigan TV story for you …

• Crash! They’ve had their first injury at the new club in Columbus, Ohio; and congratulations, by the way …

• DID YOU KNOW: that the venerable Wall Street Journal gave us a call today? Nope, we don’t know why either. We’re playing voicemail tag right now …

• Napanee, Ontario is gunning to host either the 2010 or 2011 Ontario Men’s TSC Tankard at their newish $9.8 million Strathcona Paper Centre …

• More madness in Moose Jaw as local politicians are threatened over the proposed $61.3 million sportsplex, which would include a new home for the local Hillcrest Curling Club …

• Finally, Bob Weeks has been dishing on an interesting webstrategy quoted by the Canadian Curling Association (follow-up located here) …

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Limousines in Whitby

We were scanning the various provincial Tour websites this morning, and something in Ontario caught our eye.

Early November’s Mount Lawn Gord Carroll Classic is named after local legend Gord Carroll, who was inducted into the local sports hall of fame last year. Curling dinosaurs (like us) may recall the first few years of print advertisements which announced the new sponsor of Ontario’s Nokia Cup provincial back in the day: the ad showed a dashing fellow wearing a poor boy hat sliding out of the hack without a broom, but with a mobile phone held up to his ear. That was Gordie!

Anyway, this year’s event has 24 men’s and 12 women’s teams, plays a triple knockout and has a $30,000 prize purse.

The men’s champions get $7,000 but qualifying money is a hefty $2,000.

And all this for a $525 entry fee.

Then we discovered that all teams are all being chauffeured around town in limousines.

Hmmmm.

Something very good is happening in Whitby, which hosted the Ontario men’s provincial a few years ago. Right now the event attracts strong southern Ontario teams, but at this rate of growth perhaps the Gordie’s spiel is on its way to eventually attracting some big guns from out of town.

Curling dinosaurs (like us) may remember a major Whitby cashspiel years ago called the Sun Life. Paul Savage, Ed Werenich, Bob Charlebois, Jim Sharples and so many more made that event a regular stop in their annual Tour schedule.

They’re going back to the future in Whitby!

• There’s lots of competition this weekend on the various tours, but Manitoba is hosting two biggees; Ray Turnbull’s annual women’s Grand Slam stop in Winnipeg and the men’s WCT stop in Portage …

• DID YOU KNOW: that Kerry Burtnyk’s imported third, Don Walchuk, has followed the Park/Stoughton script and is officially a Manitoban?

They’re getting pumped in Swift Current, Sask. for an appearance by world champ Jennifer Jones

• Burtnyk was at yesterday’s news conference launching today’s early bird ticket sales for the January Grand Slam stop in Winnipeg, the BDO Classic Canadian Open

• Well, aren’t we darned. Youth sensation Rachel Homan did it again, winning in London for the second year in a row, this time with a final-game victory over world silver medallist Bingyu Wang of China …

Wayne Middaugh and Glenn Howard stopped by four Kitchener-Waterloo area curling clubs yesterday to promote the first Capital One Grand Slam: the Masters of Curling, which hits that area in mid-November. Here’s a peek at Howard’s appearance in Elmira, and here’s a peek at Middaugh’s bizarre headgear in Guelph

• Hey, nice new look for the Charlottetown CC …

• By the way, does your club have real hogs at the lines?

• The 2010 Canadian Juniors are off to Quebec

• DID YOU KNOW II: that the Gibsons Curling Club in B.C. is offering a $1,000 bursary for a 2009 high school graduate interested in learning the ice making ropes?

• Actually, curling isn’t just for Italian nerds… we welcome nerds of all nationalities 😉

• Speaking of Italy, here’s not one but two Italian wheelchair curling stories …

• We agree: this curling joke is Impressively Unimpressive …

• A different Becker will make his world curling debut for New Zealand in April …

C’est un bon début pour L’equipe Belisle …

• Today’s U.S. curling spotlights are on South Plainfield in New Jersey, and in Pittsburgh, and also in Boston, where they just started up last Monday …

Happy 70th anniversary to Scotland’s Falkirk ladies …

• 2006 Paralympic wheelchair gold medallist Sonja Gaudet is one of three athletes profiled in a new Vancouver 2010 campaign involving vehicle license plates …

• Speaking of Savage and The Wrench, it looks like most of the old 1983 world champion team are supporting Ontario’s 2009 provincial Tankard. Notice the golf shoes and gloves, however …

• Here’s a thoroughly strange curling featurette, in Danish …

• Here’s our curling team website of the week: Team Niklas Edin of Sweden …

• Sick of all those sick zombie curling blogposts? Well, we’re not: Renerd has reviewed the film Deadspiel right here

• We’re not sure this fellow is supporting curling as much as he is dissing NASCAR racing …

• Now on to the bad news: Northern Ontario’s Rainy River Curling Club is in trouble, with the town looking to help out, but things sound gloomy. Today, Friday, is doomsday

• Finally, club manager Ellery Robichaud of Curling Beausejour in Moncton says it best in this CCA Business of Curling blogpost:

Our number one secret is we changed what we were selling before. We stopped doing things the same way we did them before. With that philosophy you only get the people you’ve already got. If you only ask your members what they want, you’ll get what you’ve already got. But if you want new people, you have to ask people who aren’t curling why they aren’t curling.

We had to change the product. Curling clubs that want to sell the same thing they sold in the ’70s just won’t be successful.

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2009 Women of Curling Calendar

They’re back.

The gorgeous Women of Curling have returned, lensed by photographer/curler Ana Arce of Spain and produced by The Curling News in conjunction with MiCalendar.ca.

Read all about it in today’s Vancouver Sun… and the same story appears in today’s Calgary Herald, in Saskatoon and in Edmonton, and so on. You can find the full text reproduced below.

This 2008-09 16-month bonanza is more of a traditional calendar, in both size and design. Each month also offers event listings of major curling tournaments in both Canada and around the world – even for the summer months.

As the story indicates, there is some debate on the risque factor of this year’s “Curling Club” edition. We invite you to be the judge by clicking here.

Remember the calendar’s heydays of hysteria? The second edition reached a peak during the 2006 Olympics in Turin (note video story too) which also coincided with an endorsement from… Playboy magazine!

As usual, every athlete model shares in the proceeds to fund their on-ice efforts, and some in turn are continuing to support their favourite charitable cause.

Here’s the story, written by Allen Cameron:

Curling’s version of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is making a comeback.

After taking a year off, the 2009 Women of Curling Calendar, featuring 13 female curlers from around the world, is now on sale. Like past editions of the calendar, it features nude or near-nude curlers posing with props related to the sport.

“It’s not for everyone, but it’s a lot tamer than previous calendars,” said Ryan Durham, director of business development for The Curling News, which is marketing the calendar.

Two Canadians are among the 13 models featured – Christine Keshen, who won an Olympic bronze medal throwing lead rocks for Shannon Kleibrink at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin and now lives in Invermere, and Ontarios Chrissy Cadorin, who plays third for Toronto’s Colleen Madonia.

Keshen also posed in the 2007 edition of the calendar.

“I think this one is more risque, in my opinion,” said a laughing Keshen. “But my boyfriend (Mike DuBois) thinks it’s great. He’s the boy, he’s the expert.”

Also posing for the calendar are Denmark’s Camilla Jensen, the Toth sisters, Claudia and Karina, of Austria, Giorgia Apollonio and Sonia Dibona of Itala, Germany’s Anna Hartelt and Daniela Jentsch, Fabienne Fuerbringer of Switzerland, Kasia Selwant of Poland, Kim Brewster of Scotland and former world junior champ Linn Githmark of Norway.

The pictures were shot by professional photographer Ana Arce of Spain, a competitive curler herself. She put out the first edition in 2006 to rave reviews. It was intended to be a fundraiser for women’s curling teams, and models receive a share of the proceeds.

Cadorin will be sharing her cut of the money with the Canadian Spinal Research Organization, while Keshen, who’s taking a year off from curling, has plans to donate to youth curling groups in her hometown.

The focus of the calendar now is more on the sport than on the models, insisted Durham, noting that the calendar features a listing of major curling events around the world. “That’s another step toward producing a pure curling calendar, with action shots of the athletes,” said Durham. “We’re aiming to produce that for the 2010 Olympic year.”

The calendar retails for $34.95, including taxes and shipping and handling, and is available at www.thecurlingnews.com

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the curling world:

• Goodbyes were sadly given to Ontario curling legend Earle Hushagen over the weekend, and the Winnipeg Sun ran this obituary

Ted Appelman was the surprise winner of the Shootout in Edmonton while Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott defeated China’s Bingyu Wang in the women’s final. Down Brockville way, Richard Hart led his Howardless squad to victory over Kerry Burtnyk, with Marie-France Larouche defeating Eve Belisle in an all-Quebec women’s final. And in Moncton, Terry Odishaw took the Early Bird title over Russ Howard.

Action this weekend takes place in Oslo (with online streaming available through Curlingkanalen), and also in Regina

• Recplex curlers in Corner Brook, NL were awaiting word on their options for 2008-09, and the good news is now in

Glenn Howard, who is out of the lineup as he recovers from hernia surgery, will be inducted into the Midland Sports Hall of Fame

• This bizarre little story in the Leduc Representative tells us a bit about Chinese curling teams training in Canada …

• World champion skip Jennifer Jones has been busy, doing a 2009 Scottie promo-thing in Victoria (click here and here) and she’s on tap for an October KidSport appearance in Swift Current, Sask

• The Stabilizer has a nifty new updated website

• Well, at least Jamie didn’t get hurt

• Stirling had a decent curling turnout the other day …

Heather Rankin’s first zinger is already in the lead for quote of the year

• This B.C. story takes the reader through the icemaker’s tasks in installing arena ice… and we note the ice techs who frequented the late InTheHack have fully migrated over to CurlingZone

Wally is the latest on The Curling Show

Tellurian has a few things to display on curling history …

• Former CCA prez and competitor Jerry Muzika was inducted into the PEI Sports Hall of Fame over the weekend

Whistler Outdoors has this feature on wheelchair curling …

• The wheelchair curling group in Elgin, Scotland is looking for sponsor help

• And finally, the Edzell CC in Angus, Scotland is now online, and christened itself with this memory of their first – and only – Grand Match championship performance …

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That Curling Movie Star

Curling’s favourite movie star, Paul Gross, is back.

This time, the Canadian star of Due South and Slings and Arrows and, of course, Men With Brooms is now a WWI soldier, in a grandiose film with elements loosely based on stories told by Gross’ own grandfather. Passchendaele has some MWB echoes, too: instead of the challenges of slippery ice, the filmmaker created a slippery, multi-acre mudbowl on a reserve near Calgary. And PG also repeated his multitasking effort in this new film, once again getting his hands filthy as director, star, co-writer, co-producer, editing watchdog, finance-wrangler, and so on.

TCN honcho George Karrys was recently quoted on Gross’ surprisingly good curling skill-set, while film critic Jay Stone – who accompanied the MWB cast on that wild week-long cross-Canada press tour seven years ago – has a write-up here.

The film kicked off the reknowned Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last night; info via the Hollywood Reporter and U.S. Daily while the red-carpet photo of Gross (above) comes from Empire Movies.

Meanwhile…

• The curling season is definitely in full swing. Switzerland’s Baden Masters is underway as of this morning, but worries over rising costs of air travel and how this may affect the curling season are already coming home to roost.

Three Canadian teams, including Randy Ferbey, pulled out of the Masters citing cost factors, and one wonders just how difficult a season this will be for many Tour events, in any country.

For example, will world champ Jennifer Jones maintain her committment to fly three hours within Canada and then across the Atlantic ocean to compete in a three-day event in Scotland?

Of course, we hope so. In fact, given that Team Canada is arguably one of the top-funded squads around and has no local playdowns to contest in January, we anticipate so. But we worry nontheless, and if not about the Glynhill, other events across the curling landscape …

• The CUETS Schmirler Classic has a new date this year – this month in fact – and it seems to have paid off …

• DID YOU KNOW: that an access road in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland has a new name? It has been officially renamed “Jamie’s Way” in honour of Jamie Korab, member of Team Gushue, the 2006 Olympic Champions in men’s curling. An August 18 lunchtime doodah saw the local mayor and provincial transportation minister join Korab for the induction …

• DID YOU KNOW II: that Korab’s skip, Brad Gushue, was named by the Telegraph as Newfoundland’s second-greatest athlete of all time… ?

• Seems there may be some potential hardware problems in Iqualuit, leading into this fall’s Canadian Mixed …

• Cynthtic recently gave us an inside peek at BC’s recent Four Foot Curling Camp …

• Here’s a fun video report on the Bay Area CC’s Crushspiel …

• Speaking of fun videos, remember Raj Binder at the 2005 Canadian Olympic Trials? Oh yes, it is a classic

• Manitoba’s latest Sports Hall of Fame inductions include the 1928-29 Brier champion Gordon Hudson squad, plus curling builders Stan Oleson and Reid Lumbard

• Canadian Junior men’s skip William Dion and many other amateur athletes are up for a Quebec award

• Former Gushuer Chris Schille stars at The Curling Show

Glenn Howard is vowing to support his friend and ex-teammate Wayne Middaugh in his upcoming tax fight with the Canadian government …

• Edmonton’s Mark Johnson is off the United States

• Manitoba curling has unveiled its new administrators, here and here

• Globetrotting curling coach Dick Henderson is back on the ice, and in his hometown …

How’s this for a celebrity curling team? Yourself and none other than Kerry Burtnyk, Jeff Stoughton and Vic Peters?

• Speaking of, Peters will not attempt to defend his provincial Seniors title; seems he’s having too much fun beating up on younger competitors …

• And finally, we’ve told you about the Australian men’s team and their effective use of Microsoft Office Live software. The story is out again, courtesy of MarketWatch, but the latest is this muy cool video showing them using the tool in action …