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Opening Weekend

Aaaaargh. Our eyes!

The 2011 curling season, if you haven’t noticed, is now underway.

In some ways, that glorious 2010 Olympic season never really ended. After the various world championships wrapped up in early May, the European summer spiels took place… followed by various World Curling Federation camps and clinics… then the regular winter season for Australia and New Zealand, as well as various U.S. summer recreation leagues.

Followed by Canadian summer camps, spiels and leagues… the Great Brazilian Curling Adventure™ right here on this blog (of course)… and now, the “official” fall season.

And there’s lots to watch, too. On Thursday night, CurlingZone launched online webstreamed coverage of the Ontario Curling Tour Championships in Oakville, Ontario utilizing the UStream platform. That first recorded game is archived here, and their live channel coverage (including a chat board) can be found here.

Just a few hours later, on Friday morning in Switzerland, the Baden Masters event kicked off Europe’s Curling Champions Tour. And by the time folks on Canada’s west coast had gone to bed, the new Brad Gushue/Randy Ferbey combination had won their first game of the season, 8-7 over Switzerland’s Dominik Maerki (the Swiss held leads of 3-0 and 5-2 early on).

The second round of play sees Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud taking on Russia’s Andrey Drozdov, with the Olympic silver medallists displaying new lime-green pants worthy of their Loudmouth Golf sponsorship (screen shot above). At this time of writing the match was being streamed live on LAOLA1.tv, with the Russians holding a 3-1 lead after five ends of play.

Some 10 matches will be streamed online during the tournament, including all pre-playoff games scheduled on sheet two. So there you go.

Want more curling, all the time? Make sure you follow The Curling News Twitter feed, with daily postings on The Roaring Game. There was no summer vacation there, trust us!

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Casino Rama Curling Skins XI

RAMA, Ontario – For the man from Lockerbie who once played goaltender on the hockey ice (yes, we kid you not) today’s Skins Game success was a brilliant shutout.

David Murdoch and his Great Britain Olympic squad blanked Team Randy Ferbey $57,000 to nil to win the 2010 Casino Rama Curling Skins Game (The Curling News photo by Anil Mungal).

Their total haul? $70,500 for two eight-end games.

For those who are interested, that’s some £42,000 in UK coin. Not at all poor.

And not at all unexpected from a “clever, methodical, calculating, cold-blooded killer.”

Crowds were strong for the event, with the 3,600-capacity Entertainment Centre counting an average of over 3,000 bodies for each of the three draws.

The athletes were, as usual, treated like royalty. Swag bags for each player included a GPS, shirts and sweaters, poker chips (but of course), a travel bag, gift certificates, and more.

Another year, another Skins Game. Thanks for following!

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OTR Curling Recap

Well. That was quite a show, eh?

And that’s quite a photo from yesterday, eh? We like it because John Morris looks funny. Sorry, Johnny (click to zoom in).

You can watch the latest all-curling edition of TSN’s Off The Record on the OTR webpage, located here. Just click on the video player on the right, and you’re off and running.

You can also view the various segments through this page.

It starts with host Michael Landsberg and defending Casino Rama Skins champ Randy Ferbey (Up Front, 4:52). Some highlights:

Ferbey on arch-rival Kevin Martin: “I think he thinks too much of his team and not the sport, and other teams in general… as curlers we’re trying to grow the game and I think Kevin is too much into himself.”

Ferbey on teammate David Nedohin‘s injury: “Dave was working out, doing some squats and popped his S1 in his back, so he’s out indefinitely.”

Middaugh on his new teammate: “Back when I was playing with the Howard family I thought Randy was just another one of those western curlers that all they could do is throw it hard down the ice.”

Middaugh on tomorrow’s battle against Glenn Howard: “It’s been quote a while since (Glenn has) beaten a men’s team at the Skins.”

Randy on his curling future: “I feel I’ve got lots to offer; I’m not gonna quit until I have to.”

The show itself then followed, in two segments (7:31 and 5:21) and there was… much teasing.

Landsberg teased Murdoch about Tom Brewster; about Canada deserving two Olympic curling teams; about hockey; about his accent (eh?) and about winning silver in Vancouver (!!).

Landsberg (and Ferbey) teased Howard and Martin third Johnny Mo about the Brier being tougher to win than a Grand Slam.

And so on.

Anything else? Heck, yes.

Stay tuned to the video player for a highly amusing Next Question segment with Glenn Howard (4:17) and, finally, Really Off The Record boasting a final 4:52 of five-way banter to wrap it up.

As for the questions submitted by our faithful readers? A couple of them wriggled their way onto the show – well done peeps!

The Casino Rama Curling Skins Game gets underway tomorrow at 1:00pm ET in Rama, Ontario… and is televised live on The Sports Network, in High-Definition.

Bonus trivia question: at the very end of Really Off The Record, a specific word was bleeped out. What is interesting is that Landsberg then wondered aloud if, in fact, the word would be bleeped out during the editing process.

What was the word?

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Curling Super Spare

Another exclusive from The Curling News, from us to you: David Nedohin is out of this weekend’s Casino Rama Skins Curling Game, and guess who is in?

The defending champion Randy Ferbey squad will have a new, very temporary fellow throwing last bricks when they take on Team Glenn Howard on Saturday (1:00pm ET, TSN). And this fellow knows Team Glenn Howard, and specifically Cliffy, very well indeed.

This fellow also knows skins curling very well. Indeed.

Recognize the face? Recognize the uniform?

(Put the two together, as our ace photog Anil Mungal has done here, and we suddenly develop a mild headache. This looks so… not right.)

Suffice to say that Ontario curling fans who are upset about missing a certain high-powered matchup at next month’s Tankard in Napanee can now head to Casino Rama on Saturday, for a very special edition of such a missing matchup.

We don’t have the details why, as of yet, but no doubt all will be explained on tonight’s all-curling Off The Record Skins Curling Special, 6:00pm ET on TSN. Hey, perhaps this fellow will even phone in to the show.

Speaking of, have you submitted your question(s) to the curlers for today’s show taping? We’ve got six stellar queries so far, but with the taping scheduled for early afternoon today, this is your last call to contribute

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Curling Skins Questions?

Tomorrow, Thursday January 14, is Curling Skins Day on the TSN talk show Off The Record (OTR).

Once again, the four skips taking part in this weekend’s Casino Rama Skins Game will be in the hotseats for a half-hour of jabbering, laughing, frowning and finger-pointing.

Make that three skips and one third.

Glenn Howard, Randy Ferbey and Scotland’s David Murdoch will be there. But Kevin Martin‘s chair will be taken by third man John Morris, which could make things quite interesting.

Remember, ace TCN blogger Margo Weber declared that Johnny Mo is going to be a star in Vancouver. Does that star begin ascending on Thursday?

Anyway, a question about questions. Specifically: what kinds of questions would you ask any of these curling stars, if TSN happened to invite your contributions?

Not to toot our own horn too much… but if you post your question ideas in the Comment(s) field below, you just might see and hear your question pop up on Thursday’s show.

TOOT!

[Morris photo montage by Anil Mungal]

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A Christmas Curling Carol

Christmas is coming… and TCN publisher George Karrys has this curling take on the Charles Dickens holiday classic, as it appeared Monday in his weekly Sun Media column.

Which do you prefer: Ebenezer Martin, or Kevin Scrooge? (Photoshop job of Kevin Martin by Anil Mungal)

For more curling news, be sure to follow the TCN Twitter feed. We had planned to celebrate our one-thousandth Tweet but, whoops, it looks like we passed that milestone a while ago, and currently sit at more than 1,400 postings (as of Thursday morning).

We hate it when that happens!

Among the awesome curling newsworthys you will find are:

• Team Cheryl Bernard gets their Olympic tattoos

• 130-year-old outdoor curling clubs hits the ice

• CTV Olympics video player allows you to “call the play” from previous Olympic moments, and the CTV guys are huge fans of one such video for the 2006 Olympic men’s curling final

• Men’s, women’s and junior playdown results

• Merry Ho Ho greeting from the Swiss Olympic women

• VANOC Marketplace offers Olympic curling tickets for legal re-sale

• Team Ferbey makes list of Top 10 team sport dynasties of the decade

And more. So much more.

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Playah: Brent Laing

 

by Margo Weber

EDMONTON – What’s up, Playah? My pick for today’s superstar is you, Brent Laing.

You rocked the house against Randy Ferbey this morning. You have Olympic rings in your eyes and you are quickly becoming one of those killer seconds. You were almost perfect in your game today, outcurling Scott Pfeifer by more than 10 per cent, and he threw mid-eighties! You made a seriously sweet long raise double, ouch! And a squeaker hit through a tiny port… I felt that, yowza!

Tonight you play off against Kevin Martin for a spot in the final, you’ll be battling another hot shot second, Marc Kennedy. You’ve got your work cut out for you, but guess what. My husband is a serious Glenn Howard fan and will be wearing a white belt at Rexall Place tonight.

I will mention that Ben Hebert made the tick shot twice, perfectly, for skipper Martin in this morning’s game against Kevin Koe… but, nah. I’m sticking with you, Lainger.

Keep ‘er going, Playah!

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Men keep it simple

 by Margo Weber
EDMONTON – Okay, this is the situation for the dudes.

Tonight, Glenn Howard and Kevin Martin play for a spot in the final. Loser goes directly into the semifinal.

Jeff Stoughton (4-2) and both Kevin Koe and Randy Ferbey (3-3) are still in the mix.
However, if Stoughton beats Pat Simmons tonight, he is in the semi. Everyone else is out. If he loses, then he must play a tiebreaker against the winner of the Ferbey/Koe game.

See? The men keep it simple!

PS: The editor, gk, has asked me to remind you all about the TCN Twitter feed. I just checked it out myself and my gawd, there is so much extra curling stuff on there – including big news from the Euros over in Aberdeen, Scotland – that I think you could use the info to publish an extra edition of The Curling News every month.

So click here and check it out.

[CCA photo of Kevin Martin by Michael Burns]
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No picks! No idea!

by Margo Weber
So… I didn’t make picks, aka predictions, at the beginning of the week. And I’m getting all these emails from people asking me: why not?
In short… because I didn’t fricking know! And still don’t.
This thing is a crapshoot, and I don’t envy anyone who puts their picks into the public forum: just as Jim Armstrong, Sherry Middaugh, Mike Harris and Mary Anne Arsenault did for The Curling News.
I had said in an email earlier in the week that I had good feelings about Kevin Martin and Jeff Stoughton. And on the women’s side… Shannon Kleibrink and Jennifer Jones. Seriously obvious picks so… why bother, right?

And I’m not sure why anyone cares what a self-professed couch curler thinks about the field… but I do tend to shed light on who I WANT to win; so here goes.

On the women’s side… I would love to see my girl Susan O’Connor from Team Cheryl Bernard in Vancouver. And Sasha Carter? Haha, her hilarious hairstyles would totally fit in with the international crowd… although Team Kelly Scott is now in big trouble at 1-4.
I like Team Jones… they have dominated the past few years, although they’ve been all over the place the last month, winning spiels but then failing to qualify. Their current 2-3 record leaves them in trouble, too.  I also like the Kleibrink/Amy Nixon combo and think they might be our best chance at gold, drawing on their previous experiences in Italy in ’06. And Team Stefanie Lawton seems sooooo nice!
So for the women… for me, it’s a draw.

The men? I’d love a new face to win it all. I didn’t go bold and choose Kevin Koe to win (like my friend Al Cameron did for TCN and the Calgary Herald), but I would love that! Young team, would look good for the sport. How about Randy Ferbey? That would be fun! I don’t think it’s gonna happen, but what a comeback that would be!
I’m not into the Martin thing… and as of right now I don’t think it will happen. There seems to be two Kevin Martin zones. The ‘I can do anything’ zone… and the ‘I can complain about exterior factors and let them bother me’ zone. Kevin is in the second zone. So until this changes, he ain’t gonna win.
I’ve covered Alberta… I suppose there are others… like Glenn Howard. And I’d be totally cool with the white belts going to Vancouver.

Those are my two cents. I guess I’m saying I don’t know.  But that’s okay… someone is going to win anyway.
(CCA photo of Jacquie Armstrong, left, and Sasha Carter by Michael Burns)
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The Olympians are coming

EDMONTON – Oh, the stories they’ll tell.

The Olympians are coming. No, not the handful of medallists among the competitors at the Roar of the Rings, which starts Sunday… they will soon be the stars of the show, as we all know.

We’re talking about the members of teams Sandra Schmirler – minus one, sadly,  of course – and Mike Harris (Karuizawa, 1998)… and teams Kevin Martin (incl. the two Dons) and Kelley Law (Ogden, 2002)… and even a couple of bodies from teams Kleibrink and Howard-slash-Gushue, from Pinerolo, 2006.

The Canadian Curling Association is flying them in for the opening weekend, which starts tonight with the Opening Banquet; continues Saturday with opening night At The Patch; and peaks with the start of play on Sunday, with the Opening Ceremonies and appearances in the Keith’s Patch for some interactive “Up Close and Personal” sessions.

Good on the CCA for celebrating its Olympic Trials past, and welcome to The Roaring Game’s heavy medallists.

And the stories they’ll tell!

Missing out on Edmonton? Sure, TSN TV – in High-Definition all week, for free – will help make up for it, but there really is no substitute for watching the games live in person. In our humble opinion.

As for these Olympic stories, rest assured that The Curling News will take care of you… be your fly on the wall… through this here TCN Blog, and/or through the @curling Twitter feed, and/or via the post-Trials January issue, in our popular They Said It department.

And also through the lateral efforts of our commander-in-chief, The Curling Guru, who also writes a weekly Sun Media column.

All we ask in return is for you to subscribe to The Curling News, which is delivered six times per annum to your door in a protective polybag, via first-class mail. Please support us in our quest to provide the ultimate in essential curling news and information, across multiple media platforms.

We guarantee different content in all these deliverables mentioned, and your patronage will help us consolidate our position as number one in the curling media world.

And those who give the gift of The Curling News, aka subscribe a friend or family member over the next couple of weeks – say by December 18 – will see that recipient receive a gift card notice in time for the holidays, explaining your gift.

Tomorrow, later in the day, another TCN expert gives her Trials predictions, in addition to those four who have already seen their fearless forcasts appear in the December issue – world wheelchair champion and six-time Brier skip Jim Armstrong; TCN columnist and Calgary Herald curling wizard Allen Cameron; CBC talkie and Olympian Mike Harris; and four-time bronzed STOH skip Sherry Middaugh.

That’s a fifth expert, tomorrow, right here on the blog.

Sunday, just prior to the opening ceremonies, ace blogstar Margo Weber weighs in  with her first of many Trials postings. You remember Madge, and her partner Dalene Heck, blogging from last March’s Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary, right? (use search box at top left)

We’ll have lots from Margo, and some other surprise blogstars, throughout the week here in Edmonton.

And we do it all for curling. We simply love curling, and we know you do, too. Thanks again for your support, folks.

POSTSCRIPT: Have you been following our tweets? If not, make way and follow, because you have missed the following:

Jennifer Jones, Glenn Howard first to arrive
Randy Ferbey’s alternates anger; Glenn says relax
• Will the Mythbusters blow up a curling stone? Vote for it…
• Trials predictions: what does the math say?
• Another curling calendar gal takes it off (NSFW/age warning)
• Canadian provincial playdowns in high gear this weekend
• Mammoth European championships ready in Aberdeen
• Geez, this guy seriously dislikes The Ferb
Hec Gervais, St. Albert native, would have been proud
• World Curling Tour event results and wrapups
• Ferbey credited with finding new CCA/WCF sponsor
• Curling meets Tailgating in Green Bay Packerland

… and more!