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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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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 Corn Maze

Guess what?
Kevin Martin’s Corn Maze has been open since August 1.

Yup… a curling corn maze. Now you too can get lost inside Kevin Martin, which is precisely what so many curling fans were doing, quite loudly, back in April at the Ford Worlds in Moncton.

Incidentally, if you’ve never seen KMart’s exclusive sit down-and-telestrate-what-the-heck-he-was-thinking, head over to the curling page and click on “April 19: Kevin Martin Explains What Happened at the Worlds”.

Meanwhile, the official Corn Maze website is located here, and you can also follow the official Edmonton Corn Maze Twitter account, which features such gems as this one from August 8: “Never before have I been outwitted by a vegetable.”

Naturally, this is all part of the advance promo for the Olympic Trials – er, sorry, the 2009 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings – which gets underway in Edmonton on December 6, and which has a website conveniently located here.

Thanks to make-it-known for the email notice. We had previously spotted your blogpost, but had filed it away for a rainy day. And we’ve had a few of those this summer…

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Dario Franchitti Curling

The Rexall Edmonton Indy goes today, with racing star Dario Franchitti attempting to win both Canadian stops on the Indy circuit.

On Friday afternoon, the Scottish speedster wanted to try the “other sport invented by the Scots”… so he showed up at Edmonton’s Saville Centre curling facility, with TV crew in tow, to meet up with Team Randy Ferbey.
Dario Goes Curling – that’s our guess for the title – will air for just a couple of minutes today on Versa, as well as TSN2, as part of the Rexall Indy pre-race show. Here’s the inside scoop, according to Team Ferb second Scott Pfeifer:

• Franchitti has watched the sport before, but had never been on the ice.

• He noted many similarities noted between the two sports – including ice conditions and track conditions, and the role of support staff (sweepers and pit crew).

• He was fascinated by the skill and precision required. His first two attempts bounced off the far boards, his third finished just over the hogline, and his fourth made it to the 12-foot rings, with sweeping.

• For a beginner, Pfeif remarked that Franchitti, whom he describes as a “super nice guy and very down to Earth” actually displayed “a terrific slide, although I may be biased because he is left-handed.”

• The speed demon seemed “very tentative and careful not to fall, which seemed kind of odd for a guy who speeds around pavement at hundreds of miles per hour.”

• Sadly, Franchitti’s movie star wife – Ashley Judd – failed to show up.

Thanks to Pfeif, who also submitted the above photo of Franchitti and The Ferb. You can see another pic, this one including Pfeif, on The Curling News Facebook group page.

Meanwhile, there was more racing/curling crossover as a local Twitter contest entrant used the classic phrase “hurry hard” to win a trip around the track in a race car.

And let’s not forget the original “Curling Indy” posting here at The Curling News Blog… featuring our very own race car design!

Vroom. Dario, start your engine …

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Olympic Trials tickets

As promoted yesterday by Kevin Martin, Jennifer Jones and a really big stone, tickets for the 2009 Canadian Olympic Trials – the Roar of the Rings – go on sale this Saturday morning. Ticketmaster shall be the place.

Same for tickets for the pre-Trials Qualifier in Prince George, B.C. Those ducats are also on sale as of Saturday.

And in other quickee news…

• Vote for curling here, if you please …

• The next women’s Slam starts in Nova Scotia tomorrow, with the legendary Colleen Jones pinch-hitting for Kelowna skip Kelly Scott. Results should be available here or here

• Speaking of the word Olympic, the 2010 Olympic Torch is coming to a town near you – like Regina, fer example – and you can check out the torch route and your area on this page, via the interactive map …

• Canuck curling coach Paul Webster, who was featured in our March 2008 issue, is the latest on The Curling Show

Duffbert has a review of Curling Etcetera posted here

• It seems that Swedish curling for novices involves helmets… and more helmets. Probably a good idea, actually …

• And finally… the next time your third is getting mouthy over your shot calling, we suggest you drop this pearl of wisdom:

“(W) = (.75)(ax + b(1-z) + cy + c(1-y)) + (.25)(ex + fy + g(1-y)).”

Yes indeed, Kevin Palmer’s brain-bending Curling With Math blog has a new story posted, as well as this recently archived piece