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Murdoch blasts “scared” Grand Match decision

GUELPH, Ontario – Defending world curling champion skip David Murdoch of Lockerbie blasted Scottish authorities for today’s decision to cancel the Grand Match, the massive outdoor bonspiel which had excited curling’s home country.

“Quite frankly, it’s ridiculous,” Murdoch told The Curling News from Canada, where his 2010 Great Britain Olympic team is competing at The Swiss Chalet National, a Grand Slam of Curling event.

“The world’s turning into a strange place, isn’t it? You can’t do anything without someone saying you can’t do something.”

The coldest winter in decades had fed Scottish excitement over the possibility of the first Grand Match – featuring thousands of curlers playing outdoors on a Scottish loch – to take place since 1979. Mild winter weather had killed 30 years of previous effort to organize the Match.

Friday afternoon, officials announced the cancellation of the event, based on health and safety  – and insurance – concerns.

“The ice is thick enough, it would probably take a truck to go over the top of it to crack,” said Murdoch, whose team had a 2-2 win/loss record heading into their final pool match on Friday night.

“It’s just disappointing. It’s a great opportunity for curling, the Olympics are coming, curling is in the headlines, and it’s the Grand Match… what a spectacle. It’s just one of the best things people could ever see.

“The chance is there, but obviously some people are too scared to let it happen.”

The Friday announcement from the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC) said “Following extensive discussions with a wide variety of interested parties including Central Scotland Police, The Fire and Rescue Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service, and Stirling Council it has not proved possible to address all health and safety concerns and receive the full backing of the Emergency Services within the timescales involved.”

Team Murdoch will also compete the following weekend at a made-for-television “skins” curling tournament in a large casino just north of Toronto, before heading home to compete in his Scottish men’s championships. Then it’s back to Canada for a training camp just prior to Vancouver 2010.

“I know they’re scared of what might happen but 30 years ago there weren’t any disasters,” said Murdoch.

“It will probably be another 30 years before we get another chance, now.”

[Capital One photo by Anil Mungal]

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World Cup: Team Runback

By Matt Hames
Capital One photo by Anil Mungal

MISSISSAUGA – Holy smokes, they like runbacks.

Now, we’re all for runbacks, but team Koe seems to hit first and ask questions later. This isn’t a criticism, because it’s hard to argue with the success. They make run backs like most teams make guards. There isn’t a rock they can’t or won’t run back.

25 foot double? Let it roll.

In the 7th end, Howard is laying one on the wing with a center guard and he draws open. He knows that if he goes behind the guard, Koe will play the runback nut.

So he goes open. Koe beaks it, leaving Howard a simple nose hit to take the first lead of the game.

With one end to play, we’ll say this: Koe deserves to win this game. They deserve a deuce and their first Grand Slam trophy. But deserving isn’t enough. They have to come out and manufacture a deuce.

Our guess? They’ll run back a few guards trying.

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World Cup of Curling: At the Half

by Matt Hames
Capital One photo by Anil Mungal

MISSISSAUGA – So here’s the skinny.

Team Koe dominates the first half of the game. We posted on Twitter that Koe was all over Howard like a cheap suit.

We don’t care what the numbers say, there was never a point in this game where Koe had discomfort until Blake MacDonald’s last rock in the fourth end.

Howard was down to manufacturing a deuce in the rings with three shots to come. At this level, the way these guys can throw it, that’s not something that often happens. But alas, Blake MacDonald jams and gifts Howard a deuce and life.

Forget the score, the job of Koe will be to bounce back. Yes, I know. I just said bounce back. But I just watched almost four ends of domination. Howard had to throw a peel on his first rock in one and two. He has those shots, but he doesn’t want to be throwing them.

Then, out of the blue, Howard gets his gimme deuce and a tie at the half.

They must be thinking that if they can come after Koe in this end, they could rattle team Koe. The history of this head to head has to be in team Koe’s head.

This, ladies and gentlemen, will be the pivotal end of the game. How this end goes will go the game. Howard is going to start the second half of the this game with a halfway guard, something we talked about a couple of posts ago.

And we should be in for a cracker of a second half.

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Million Dollar Button 2010

For the second consecutive season, Canadian curling fans from coast to coast have the opportunity to register for their chance to cover the button for CDN $1 million, live on CBC Television, through the Capital One Million Dollar Button contest.

And the website that is open to one and all to register at went live this morning.

This year’s finals will take place during the championship game of the BDO Classic Canadian Open, the third leg of the men’s 2009-10 Capital One Grand Slam of Curling series, on Sunday, January 24, 2010 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

During each of the first three events of the men’s 2009-10 Capital One Grand Slam of Curling series, six lucky fans who filled out a ballot on-site will be randomly selected to compete in an on-site playoff. The on-site playoff will take place during the finals of the Grey Power World Cup of Curling and The National as well as during the quarterfinals of the BDO Classic Canadian Open. During each on-site playoff, the fan who is closest to the button will win the right to compete in the semi-finals of the Capital One Million Dollar Button.

A total of six Canadian curling fans will qualify for the semi-finals of the Capital One Million Dollar Button including one representative from the Grey Power World Cup of Curling, The National and the BDO Classic Canadian Open along with three randomly selected online entrants.

The six semi-finalists will subsequently compete against each other following the semi-finals of the BDO Classic Canadian Open on Saturday, January 23. The semi-finalist who throws the rock closest to the button will earn the right to compete for $1 million in the finals of the Capital One Million Dollar Button.

The Capital One Million Dollar Button is the first curling-based contest in Canada with a grand prize of $1 million available to be won.

Last year, Ron Trottier of Osoyoos, B.C. came within 35 inches of winning $1 million after his shot slid just past the button. Trottier’s shot was good enough to earn him $10,000 (CDN) as the inaugural finalist of the Capital One Million Dollar Button.

“We’re getting fans off their seats and right onto the ice with their favourite players,” said Ian Cunningham, Chief Marketing Officer, Capital One Canada. “It’s a once in a lifetime chance to shoot for $1 million and experience the excitement and pressure that the pros feel every time they play a Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event.”

In order to win the Capital One Million Dollar Button’s grand prize of a one-time payment of CDN $1 million, the contest finalist must successfully deliver a rock from the hack and have it cover the hole in the centre of the button on a regulation curling sheet. The contest finalist will have just one opportunity to execute the shot.

Should the finalist’s rock miss covering the hole in the centre of the button, but be touching a part of the button, the individual will receive CDN $100,000. Alternatively, CDN $25,000 will be awarded if the rock is touching the four-foot circle. A prize of CDN $10,000 will be awarded if the rock is touching the eight-foot circle while a rock that touches the 12-foot circle will earn CDN $5,000. Should the finalist’s rock not touch any of the circles, the individual will receive $1,000 (CDN).

Full contest details are available at the website.

To enter the Capital One Million Dollar Button contest, individuals can register online at capitalone.ca/button or on-site during the opening days of the first three men’s 2009-10 Capital One Grand Slam of Curling events.

On-site registration dates include October 22-24, 2009 during the Grey Power World Cup of Curling at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont., January 7-9, 2010 during The National at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, Ont. and January 21-22, 2010 during the BDO Classic Canadian Open.

Online registration began today, and ends at 11:59pm ET on January 10, 2010.


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Dawson Creek gets Players’ Championship

Dawson Creek in British Columbia has been awarded the hosting rights to the 2010 Grey Power Players’ Championship.
The season’s final Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event is scheduled for the EnCana Events Centre in Dawson Creek from April 13-18.

The Capital One Grand Slam of Curling, the World Curling Tour and iSport Media and Management also announced that Grande Prairie, Alberta has secured the hosting rights to the 2011 championship.

After hosting the six-day event in 2009, which attracted 40,125 spectators and featured championship wins by Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones, the 2011 Grey Power Players’ Championship will return to the Crystal Centre in Grande Prairie on April 12-17.

Dawson Creek and Grande Prairie are just 133 kilometres apart.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing the 2010 Grey Power Players’ Championship to Dawson Creek as well as returning the event to Grande Prairie in 2011,” said Wendy Kane, Executive Director of the Capital One Grand Slam of Curling.

“Last year’s tournament in Grande Prairie was a great success and we’re looking forward to putting on an even bigger show in the next two years.”

The 2010 Grey Power Players’ Championship will feature a separate men’s and women’s draw consisting of the world’s top 13 ranked teams from the 2009-10 season as well as curling’s gold, silver and bronze medallists from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

“We’re elated that Dawson Creek was selected to host a premier international sporting event such as the Grey Power Players’ Championship,” said Dawson Creek Mayor Mike Bernier. “This is another great opportunity for Dawson Creek to showcase our great city to the rest of Canada. This world class event will have significant positive social and economic impacts to the community and is a real win-win for Dawson Creek.”

Ticket packages for the 2010 Grey Power Players’ Championship are scheduled to go on sale on November 6.

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Three Nations Cup curling

There’s more bang for the curling buck available at the Grey Power World Cup of Curling, coming to the Greater Toronto Area in just a few weeks.
The women’s Three Nations Cup has been added to the opening men’s Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event of the season, October 21-25 at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre.

A total of four women’s Olympic qualifiers and hopefuls will compete in the inaugural Three Nations Cup including reigning Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary (in photo at right), 2009 Roar of the Rings direct qualifier Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon (bottom left), reigning World Champion Bingyu Wang of China (left) and 2010 Olympic Winter Games entrant Eve Muirhead of Scotland (main image), who will represent Great Britain in Vancouver.

“We’re thrilled to be adding this elite, international women’s event as part of the festivities surrounding the Grey Power World Cup of Curling,” said Kevin Albrecht, Chief Executive Officer of iSport Media and Management. “Featuring four of the top women’s teams in the world, the Three Nations Cup will provide fans with a snapshot of the competition heading into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.”

This latest curling Cup begins October 22 and concludes with the championship game on October 25.

“Curling fans in the GTA have been waiting more than 20 years for an elite international event to take place in our region, and now we have two outstanding tournaments joined together,” said Elizabeth Woolnough, President of the Toronto Curling Association.

“The Three Nations Cup will provide even more excitement for the GTA’s passionate curling fans.”

Tickets – both for packages and single draws – are now on sale from Ticketmaster and at the Hershey Centre box office.

For more on the impressive, Olympic men’s field at the Grey Power World Cup, check out this previous blogpost.

Got your tickets yet?

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Scots aim for Olympic splash

You’re the world champion. You’re expected to get a medal.

This was one of the first questions directed to Vancouver 2010 golden hopeful David Murdoch, during his recent radio interview with BBC Radio 5.

We note that this wasn’t really a question. But “Muddy” handled it with his typical media smoothness.

The interview highlights his team’s training schedule, and Murdoch makes particular mention of his appearance at the Capital One Grand Slam at Mississauga (Toronto) in October.

The two-time world champion also points to his summer training, in which both the men’s and women’s UK Olympic teams cross-trained at a camp in Cyprus.

Sure, the weather was lovely… but the training was somewhat rocky, as this video of the women’s team shows.

The Murdoch interview is posted here.

NOTE: the GB women, skipped by Eve Muirhead, are in Canada far earlier than the men… this week, in fact. They start Thursday at the Ontario Curling Tour Championships in Oakville, with a match against Lynne Middaugh of Orillia.

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Curling Zombies on the road

Remember those loveable Curling Zombies?

They took to the streets, which is what zombies do.

They hung out at The Beer Store, which was something new.

They infatuated the Rogers TV folks during last February’s Ontario Tankard.

And believe it or not, they are still groaning their way around the country.

Fresh off this past Saturday’s screening at the CFC’s Worldwide Short Film Festival in Toronto, our favourite undead curlers are off to St. John’s in Newfoundland. Deadspiel will make its Eastern Canadian premier at the Nickel Independent Film Festival (June 23-27) with a show date of Thursday June 25, part of the 10:00pm Late Night Horror Show.

The film is also appearing at this week’s Detroit Windsor Film Fest, on Friday, June 26, and then in west-end Toronto at the Mississauga Independent Film Festival in early July.

Another showing will take place at Montreal’s famed Fantasia Festival next month.

We’ve got a recent feature from Independent Scene right here, and a brief trailer teaser was also recently released, which you can see here.

For more on the film, consult the Deadspiel website.

Other stuff…

• Some news from Norway. First, the country has produced its first DVD on curling, a 29-minute how-to which features Pal Trulsen and Thomas Ulsrud. Second, coach Thoralf Hognestad is stepping down from the Norwegian wheelchair curling team, which he guided to two world championships in 2007 and 2008 …

• Sweden has confirmed Team Anette Norberg as their women’s Olympic rep for Vancouver 2010. Meanwhile, young hopeful Niklas Edin is still in limbo, but feels his men’s team will get the nod sometime during or after December. You can see the formal announcements here

• According to the Vernon Morning Star, the B.C. town will host a Capital One Grand Slam of Curling men’s event in December of 2010

• Saskatchewan curling legends Sam Richardson and Jan Betker both make appearances in this short (1:23) video promoting Saskatchewan curling, part of the federal government’s Travel Canada promotion …

• For those of you who are suspicious of clicking on game links that we provide here – and we don’t necessarily blame you for your caution – the developers of the infamous “Brown Cow Curing” videogame (a web-based freebie) have posted some video of their effort …

• And finally, 2008 world champion Jennifer Jones teamed with new Edmonton Oliers hockey coach Pat Quinn for a recent appearance in Thunder Bay, Ontario

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A Curling Soap Opera

Here’s Glenn Howard in action at the Grey Power Players’ Championship in Grande Prairie, whihc wraps up this weekend on CBC Sports (Capital One photo by Anil Mungal).

What is Glenn indicating…?

a) Uh, Richie… you left something here in the hack
b) Follow my finger. This is the Grand Slam, people
c) Hi there, excuse me. Remember me? I’m Glenn Howard. That means I’m not Kevin Martin.

True dat, Cliffy.

KMart’s boondoggle in the 10th end of Sunday’s Ford Worlds finale is still being talked about. Again and again.

It may end up being the most talked-about world final since that memorable hoof by Boots Labonte.

Here’s a rundown of some of the stuff that is out there:

This awesome CurlingZone thread has discussion galore, including image graphics of the 10th end scenario with Martin’s teammates’ telestrated thoughts of what they would have preferred to throw! Coolio.

• 42 comments posted to this Glob & Flail story

• TCN’s own Matt Hames, from his own blog

Comments from Martin himself, and more from some of his peers currently competing in Grande Prairie.

Finally, why not join the hundreds of thousands who have watched the replay of the 10th end on TSN’s Video On Demand Player? Click here and join in the speculation.

You can also check out the highlights here

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February 2009 issue: all killer, no filler

We have lots of newslinks for you today, but first, the February 2009 issue of The Curling News is now in the mail.

Inside you will find a plethora of curling goodies not seen on this blog, which you would do well to seek out. All killer, no filler.

Stuff like:

The Curling News TV Guide: only TCN gives you all the regional and national curling TV listings in one shot: provincials, Scotties, Super Leagues, you name it!

The Wrench Speaks: in the first of a multi-part TCN exclusive, living legend Ed Werenich speaks to The Curling News about absolutely everything… growing up in small-town Manitoba, the problems with women’s curling, the Olympic weight fiasco, Marilyn Bodogh, his crowning achievements (and regrets), his brief stint in the TV booth, Sandra Schmirler… and more!

• Our humungous cover story on the race for berths into Canadian Olympic Trials – who has the inside track in qualifying; how the CTRS system works; and which curlers are sick and tired of the whole thing …

Larry Wood opines that the previous Olympic qualifying system was just fine as it was, thank-you-very-much …

Letters: readers spout off on the TSN commentators, the number of curlers in Scotland and why women can’t beat men …

Battle of the Sexes Redux: inspired by a powerful Letter to the Editor, we examine criticism of the Casino Rama Skins experiment and explore the history of the Battle, which now sees the men tied with women at three wins apiece – yes, believe it or not – dating back to the first Battle in November 1973 …

• What’s in his wallet? Kevin Martin stars in a new Capital One TV commercial …

The Dominion Club Corner: a tale of Trillium grant dollars in Mitchell, Ontario and a golden 50th anniversary in Comox, BC …

• Capital One Grand Slam Stars of the Future: Craig Savill is in the spotlight, although he’s pretty much a star right now …

• The Ultimate Curling Rankings Primer: not only do we list all the men’s and women’s Gold Trail, CTRS, AWCT and Order of Merit standings, we try and explain just what the heck it all means …

And more!

Trust us, you don’t want to miss this one, folks. Make sure you subscribe today.

What else is happening? Geez, what isn’t?

Marla Mallett is the surprise 2009 B.C. STOH champion

• It was standing-room only at the Nova Scotia Scotties as Nancy McConnery became the surprise Nova Scotia champion, upsetting TCN’s own Mary-Anne Arsenault in the final. TCN’s own Teri Lake lost the tiebreaker with Team Jill Mouzar.

• Newfoundland is no surprise as Heather Strong has captured another title, her fifth in a row …

• Also advancing to the Scotties in Victoria is Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche, who beat arch-rival Eve Belisle in the Quebec final

• On Prince Edward Island, Kim Dolan is through to tonight’s final

Sherry Middaugh and Ontario – including calendar girl Chrissy Cadorinare underway today through Sunday, as are a whack of other provincial Scotties championships this week …

• In men’s play, Glenn Howard beat Kevin Martin in a very interesting Canadian Open Slam finale yesterday. It was a game of great shots and stupefying misses – though not as stupefying as those in last year’s Brier final – which helped make it a thoroughly entertaining affair.

Capital One contest winner Ron Trottier almost won a million bucks, but 10 grand ain’t too shabby.

Almost as entertaining – not really – has been the major-league whingeing over foul language dished out by the athletes.

What-ever.

Don Bartlett is back in the Alberta provincials, as is former two-time provincial finalist Jamie King. So is a fellow named Mike Hutchings, after winning the C-berth yesterday. As the story tells, the Peace district will be repped by Jeff Ginter and Kurt Balderston.

• In the south part of the province, Steve Petryk grabbed the A-berth, Rob Armitage took the B and the C-side finale goes tonight …

• In New Brunwick, names like Odishaw and Kennedy have made it through to the upcoming provincial finale …

• In nothern Sask, three pretty big names from the past are into the Tankard, while here’s the southern qualifiers

• CurlBC is looking for a Team Leader for their squad at the Wheelchair nationals in late March. Deadline for applications is January 30 …

• Question of the day: is Idaho Statesman writer Bethann Stewart disdainful toward curling, or just a rookie? His story, located here, starts with the zinger “curling, a sport that requires little or no athletic ability. And that’s just part of the charm.”

• And finally, what have our pals at The Curling Show podcast been up to? Well, they’ve recently posted Q7As with Dave Nedohin and John Morris, that’s what …