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2011 Women of Curling

Yes, it’s true. She said she’d never, ever do it.

But she did.

Vancouver Olympic silver medallist and curling heroine Cheryl Bernard is one of 13 female athlete models unveiled today in the new 2011 Women of Curling Calendar, an all-Canadian product now on sale for charity.

The glossy wall calendar features Calgary’s Bernard, Winnipeg’s four-time and defending Canadian champion Jill Officer (left, from Team Jennifer Jones) and even the legendary Colleen Jones, the five-time national women’s champion from Halifax, who has returned to competition this fall after a brief hiatus from the sport.

The 2011 Women of Curling Calendar, which features curling ladies from coast to coast, also includes national-level athletes, former junior champions and even a novice recently attracted to the sport following the excitement of Vancouver 2010.

“I know I said definitely not, no posing in a calendar,” laughed Bernard. “I think I said never, actually. But this one is not so much risqué, at least not in my case. At least I don’t think so!

“My image promotes fitness and health for all women. That’s what I want to project and that’s what this project offered.”

The first “Fire On Ice” women’s curling calendar debuted in the fall of 2005 and was an international media and pop culture sensation right through the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

That calendar, and more recent efforts, have all featured a majority of European curing stars. The 2011 edition, produced by The Curling News and aimed as a charitable fundraising project, features an all-Canadian cast of strong, confident and beautiful female athletes.

“These girls designed their own photo shoots, found their own photographers, and everyone contributed to it for charity,” said George Karrys, publisher of The Curling News.

“Some of these ladies went all out in terms of the creative concept, and things like wardrobe, makeup, you name it. The commitment they made is unbelievable.”

The calendar costs $29.95 each and is available online at womenofcurlingcalendar.com. It is also available through thecurlingnews.com and will also be available through other curling websites, such as teamjenniferjones.com.

Curling clubs, in addition to the athlete models, can access product at a discounted rate, which also makes the calendar a fundraiser for their local communities.

“We’ll be promoting this wherever we go in the curling world,” said Kari MacLean. who is one of two members of Team Krista McCarville – the Ontario champions and third-place finishers at the 2009 Olympic Trials – to appear in the calendar.

“Maybe Ashley (Miharija) and I will have a team contest,” said MacLean. “Who can sell more, the blonde or the brunette?”

Proceeds will go to Shoot For A Cure Curling, the sport-focussed fundraising and awareness campaign of the Canadian and American Spinal Research Organizations (CSRO/ASRO).

Shoot For A Cure, which is also supported by the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) is committed to finding a cure for spinal paralysis. The campaign also strives to increase awareness of the Paralympic sport of Wheelchair Curling.

The Curling News is the global media authority on the sport of curling. Founded in Canada in 1957, The Curling News publishes six issues during the annual curling season and also leverages itself via multiple online platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

The 2011 Women of Curling are:

December 2010: Colleen Jones, Nova Scotia
January 2011: Ashley Miharija, Ontario
February: Cheryl Bernard, Alberta
March: Chelsea Carey, Manitoba
April: Jill Officer, Manitoba
May: Kari MacLean, Ontario
June: Sarah Wark, British Columbia
July: Andrea Leganchuk, Ontario
August: Trica Affleck, Prince Edward Island
October: Kristy Jenion, Manitoba
November: Teri Lake, Nova Scotia
December: Darah Provencal, British Columbia

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Dude is gonna be a star

by Margo Weber

Okay, so I didn’t go to the final game, and watched it at my in-law’s house. They had a pre-Christmas dinner. We do more than one Christmas on that side of the family.
As soon as the game was over and last rock was thrown… the TV was turned off. Sigh. My favourite part… and I missed it.

I don’t have much to say about the game, except for the obvious: the Kevin Martin squad was the team to beat. They played better, they were just plain better. They will be our best representatives from a skill standpoint… not that I’m in love with his international record but hey, let’s not beat a dead horse here.
I still see some shiny medals coming home to Alberta. I suspect gold in colour, but who knows.

I look forward to seeing how outrageous the John Morris campaigns will be. I’d imagine we’re going to be seeing him rake in some serious cash for advertisements etc. Especially if he helps bring home the gold. Right now, every curling fan in Canada knows who he is. The Olympics are a whole different animal. Dude is gonna be a star.

I like to think of opportunities for curlers at a time like this. The Martin and Cheryl Bernard team members are funded to the tune of $1,500 each a month, tax-exempt, for 30 months. And if they win gold, it will be even more profitable to stick it out and curl and curl and curl and curl and in some cases, treat it like a job.
Don’t get me wrong, nobody’s getting rich curling. But things like getting cash for Olympic medals (is it still $20,000 for gold?) certainly help out the wallet.
Just don’t blow it all on souvenirs.
Photo caption:
KMART: Geez young fellah, you are so gonna overshadow me in Vancouver!
JMO (contemplatively): Yes. I know.
[CCA photo by Michael Burns]
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These girls are Olympians

by Margo Weber
Hurry HARD! Go BerNARD!

I write this blogpost still excited about last night (and very tired, that was my latest night in the Patch for sure.) You see, I have a confession. Susan O’Connor (photo left) from Team Cheryl Bernard is one of my best friends (me at photo right). We’ve been friends since we were early teens and I had the pleasure of being her Maid of Honour this summer at her wedding to Todd Brick (now there’s a curling name, eh?).

I would have been really happy with a Shannon Kleibrink win yesterday too, and I admit I’m a closet Amy Nixon fan. But I most of all was sick to my stomach nervous for a win for my friend. And I got it. When that rock stopped I jumped and jumped with my arms in the air. I sat with that crazy crowd of striped scarves and cheered and screamed and didn’t care who heard.

Susan deserves to go to the Olympics more than anyone I know, she played great all week. She plays with class. She never says anything bad about anyone. She loves her team. She has faith in her skip. And now she is an Olympian and I’m so proud.

I went to the winners banquet last night and it was so neat to talk to her family and the families of the rest of the players. They are so excited, as most of them didn’t dare to think about what would happen the next couple months. They are all going to try their best to find a way to go to Vancouver and see their loved ones play for Canada.

No matter what happens, these girls are Olympians. That can never be taken away. They are now part of a fraternity of brothers and sisters forever. Last night legendary Olympic rower Marnie McBean came up and introduced herself to Susan and said ‘Congratulations, you are now one of us.’ It was very cool. Russ Howard gave Sue the advice that she would have to ‘learn to say no.’ Haha! What a ride my friend will be on.

Way to go Cheryl, Susan, Carolyn and Cori!

Cute tidbits from last night:

Each player had to pee 90ML into a cup, sternly watched. This apparently took at least a half an hour each person, and one player (I’m not gonna say who!) had to go back again after the party.

When I went up to the Patch bar to buy some drinks with Sue’s hubby, Todd, he said to the bartender ‘My wife is going to the Olympics!’ and the bartender said ‘What sport?’  It was hilarious.

Looking forward to the men’s final, just now underway. Will it be another close one? Can’t wait.

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Curling immortality

by Margo Weber
EDMONTON – Oh, what a night.
Here’s a pic I snapped from last night’s women’s final at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, aka the Olympic Curling Trials.
This is the quick scrum they do for media with immediate deadlines – this used to be just the print guys, but now everybody wants everything they can get right NOW – right after the last rock, and before the march down the ice to the podiums, and the TV finale.
There’s more media scrumming afterwards, of course, and you can see the interviews with champion Cheryl Bernard and finalist Shannon Kleibrink here.
Awesome to see Bernard family members, including Cheryl’s husband Terry Meek in the foreground (in the Bernard jacket), watching her take that big step into curling immortality.
I’ve got another post regarding the women’s match before the men’s final today, so stay tuned… but for much, much more on all this great stuff (including another one of my pics from last night) make sure you subscribe to/follow/whatever the TCN Twitter feed, located here.
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Night at the Patch

by Margo Weber
EDMONTON – Last night was a good one for those that like a party, but the gist amongst the crowd was that tonight, the final night, will be the big one. Can’t wait!
Here’s some fun things you would have heard and seen if you were at the Patch last night…
• TSN talkie Ray Turnbull confirmed his departure from TV after this year, to much resounding boos from the audience. He also confirmed his homosexual relationship with Tiger Woods.
Kari MacLean from Team Krista McCarville had a steady line-up of males waiting to talk to her.
Kevin Koe’s wife, Carla, walked up to Wayne Middaugh and said “Wayne, I could have made those two shots with my hiking boots on.”
Susan O’Connor of Team Cheryl Bernard promised to be the ‘drunkest girl in the patch’ after their final game tonight, regardless of outcome.

• The rest of Jason Gunnlaugson’s team wanting to get in on autographing some boobs (heavily censored photo above).

• A re-cap on the big screen from the night before when Middaugh third Jonathan Mead danced around in undershorts (his) and a black bra (some else’s).
Patch it up, folks! It’s always a party!
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Not a fashion show?

by Margo Weber
EDMONTON – There comes a time when we have to put the actual curling skills aside, and state the obvious.
As we have mentioned before, this is not a fashion show… but at these 2009 Roar of the Rings Olympic Trials, it seems the women in particular have been preparing in a big way.
There’s the TV time. There’s the big crowds. Let us ponder, for one moment, what it would cost to come and look your best while competing at such an event. A few hundred dollars, in some cases?
I’m pretty sure some entire teams got makeovers within the last week or two. There’s some serious French manicures out there. There is not one natural strand of hair in sight when the women take the ice (except perhaps on Amber Holland).

But they’re looking good! As a whole, this sport has come a long way. Gone are the days of Cathy King’s huge plastic earrings. Good job, ladies. And good on Mondetta for the attire the players are sporting. I’d say the outfits are flattering on most.

Let’s talk about the earrings. I think Kelly Scott has more piercings in her little ears than my entire six person family. Kim Schneider, from Holland’s squad (CCA photo by Michael Burns) has some seriously huge hearts dangling from her lobes.

Regarding the hair. I’ve been waiting for some of the skips to tie back their hair a bit, I got it Wednesday morning when both Crystal Webster and Cheryl Bernard ponytailed it up. Previous to that, I was thinking about leaving a little bag of ponytails behind each sheet.
I realize that although most skips don’t partake in sweeping duties… I think it’s their duty as players… possible future Olympic athletes… to look like athletes….to convince people that this is indeed a sport. Maybe we could start with a bobby pin or two… just put the frickin’ hair back so you can see where you’re going!

I’ll leave the men alone… for now. I see no harm in the crazy white belts the Glenn Howard team insists on wearing. As for the hair, I do applaud the Kevin Koes and Jonathan Meads for not fighting with nature and just shaving it all off. Nice work, boys.
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This is where it gets fun

by Margo Weber
EDMONTON – Okay, so with one round robin game left, this is how it shakes down today on the women’s side.

Cheryl Bernard has a bye to the final by virtue of her 6-0 record. Shannon Kleibrink has a bye to the semi.

This is where it gets fun. Amber Holland, Krista McCarville and Stephanie Lawton are all at 3-3. They all play different teams and if they all LOSE – they bring in Crystal Webster and possibly Jennifer Jones, both at 2-4… Webster in this scenario would win her game, and Jones would then have to win hers as well in order to be included in the mix. 

Let me paint the picture for you. This is very unlikely.

You see with all three of the 3-3 teams needing to lose in order for this scenario to work, Lawton needs to beat the wrecking ball that is Cheryl Bernard. Then Holland has to lose to Kelly Scott, and McCarville has to lose to Webster. Then we are looking at tiebreakers. 

And if Jones beats Kleibrink that then brings them into the mix too. So Jennifer Jones has to hope for every single sheet to go her way in order to have a chance at some tiebreakers and the Olympic Winter Games.

So we will watch here at 1:00pm and see what happens. The Bernard and Kleibrink squads likely have no interest in showing any mercy, so it should be fun to see the other teams scramble for what is still technically possible. The only team out of contention at this point is Kelly Scott.

I would like to take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief at not making predictions this week. And I shall point out that on this here TCN blog,  Mary Anne Arsenault picked Kelly Scott to win… and Cheryl Bernard to come in last. 

This is how close this field is.
[CCA photo of Jennifer Jones by Michael Burns]
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Playah: Cheryl Bernard

 by Margo Weber
Okay Cheryl Bernard, the day isn’t even over and you know you’re my girl.
You are the leading lady of the story that is unfolding before our eyes. You are having a great week, and just seem to be in the zone. You know how to squeak out these wins, and now you just need one more to guarantee a bye into Saturday’s final.
Now, the whole Playah of the Day concept allows me to only pick people who are easy on the eyes, and Ms. Bernard, you’ve got it covered.  You make me want to drop that last 30 pounds that have been nagging me, whiten my teeth and run to the nearest tanning salon. I also have to give a shout out to the ponytail you rocked this morning… super cute.

So… you’ve gone from perennial contender to now, possibly, a favourite to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games and wear the red and white. You made two awesome shots in your first game against Krista McCarville, won a very iffy measure against Amber Holland, had a solid win over Crystal Webster, wowed us against Kelly Scott and made a great little run back to beat Shannon Kleibrink in a wild game this morning. Now you’re all alone at the top of the standings at 5-0. Everyone else has at least two losses.

Girl, you go have a glass of red. You deserve it.
[Edmonton Journal photo by Chris Schwarz]
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Brewster, Ulsrud score gold

Scotland’s Tom Brewster went to Prague and came away from Saturday’s outdoor podium ceremony with the European Mixed Championship crown, plus trophy (Brewster photo above by Mr. Volfik). His squad defeated Denmark 5-1 in the final, while England grabbed the bronze. It is the second such trophy in three years for the oft-runner-up Scottish men’s finalist.
Moments ago at the Swiss Cup in Basel, Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud stopped his own recent run of silver and bronze by beating Sweden’s Niklas Edin 8-7 in the final. It was a wild affair which saw Usrud hold leads of 2-0 and 4-2 before Edin grabbed a deuce in the fifth and a big three-count in the seventh to tie the score 7-7. Ulsrud managed to end it in the eighth.

The Swedes had upset world champ David Murdoch in the quarterfinals, while the two Swiss Olympic contenders, Ralph Stoeckli and Stefan Karnusian, lost the semis. Danish Olympic squad leader Ulrik Schmidt and German veteran Andy Kapp both lost in the quarters. All in all, that’s an awful lot of Vancouver 2010 Olympic teams that qualified for the playoffs.

In Canada, Japan’s Moe Meguro – another squad headed to Vancouver – came from behind to beat 2007 world champion Kelly Scott 5-4 in a semi and then whomped Cheryl Bernard 6-1 in the final of the Twin Harbours Invitational in Vernon. On the men’s side, Kelowna’s Bob Ursel almost scored the threepeat but lost the final 7-5 on an extra-end steal of two to Edmonton’s Kevin Koe. Legends Kerry Burtnyk and Rick Folk lost in the semis, and Glenn Howard made it to the quarters before losing to Burtnyk.

In Regina, Pat Simmons won his first tourney of the season with a 7-1 shellacking of Brennan Jones in the final.

Of course, those of you who follow The Curling News on Twitter knew about most of these results yesterday.

Come, and follow

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Season of Champions TV

It’s no surprise that the Canadian Curling Association has made another leap into the digital world.
Season of Champions TV was announced today and premiers live, online, on Wednesday, October 7 at 7:00 pm MT/9:00 pm ET.

It’s the latest innovation by the CCA to use Internet technology to bring the curling community closer to its championship events and the competitors. The strategy includes the on-going development of the curling.ca website, which underwent a dramatic facelift in July 2008, the seasonofchampions.ca website, with comprehensive information on all of the Season of Champions events, plus live scoring from each championship or event utilizing the CCA’s CurlCast program.

It all starts October 7 with a two-hour live webcast from Edmonton – home to December’s Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, aka the Olympic Curling Trials.

Edmonton media personalities Jim Jerome (a famous Patch host) and Jackie-Rae Greening (she of many Edmonton host committees) will host seven of the eight skips who have qualified for the Roar: namely Kevin Martin, Kevin Koe, Randy Ferbey, Jennifer Jones, Shannon Kleibrink, Cheryl Bernard and Stefanie Lawton.

Ontario’s Glenn Howard is unavailable due to work commitments.

The athletes will appear in a live forum, when curling fans will have the opportunity to submit questions online, by simply by logging on to the Season of Champions website. CCA is strongly recommended that fans pre-register their questions.

“The Canadian Curling Association continues to want to reach out to our fans and showcase our events the best way possible,” explained Greg Stremlaw, CEO of the Canadian Curling Association.

“We have made it a priority to not only embrace information technology as a very important tool within our business, but also to use it to help bring curling enthusiasts closer to the best curling events and athletes in Canada.”

Another innovation for the 2009-10 season will be the introduction of AtThePatch.ca, a website dedicated to capturing all the fun and excitement of the infamous Keith’s Patch. This site, which will launch in early November, will feature entertainment information, Up Close and Personal interview sessions and everything else that makes Keith’s Patch the legendary party central for Season of Champions events.