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Sochi 2014: CAN vs GBR women’s semi

 More event blogstreaming – PLAYOFFS!

Might as well jump – JUMP!

by Mike McEwen in Sochi, Russia

• Pep talk this morning with Dawn… she’s ready! √
• Avoid the instant coffee and down a couple quick presses √
• Jam-packed and sweaty 25-minute bus ride to Olympic park √
• Despite the “hot-box” bus ride, it’s a cooler but still sunny day. Ice-maker should like! √
• Brisk two kilometre walk to COH √
• Couple of quick “nerve calming” barley sandwiches √
• Make it slightly early for the game 🙂 √
• Big break in first end – and a gimme deuce! √
• One more thing on the checklist today – WIN!

• I see the mother-in-law has brought out a high-pitched cowbell today. I think I’ll still be hearing it for weeks…! #earsringing #hearingloss

• Skipper has her weight early. 3-0 after two ends!
• Gave Team GBR one of those “unforced-error” deuces back. 3-2 CAN after three ends…

• Interesting watching GBR use their stopwatches to time everything – even hits for both teams. I’m not a huge fan of stopwatch reliance; I prefer players to “see it and feel it.”

• Make your second shot. Skipper, Jen, does just that in fourth. I liked the in-turn draw… she made the out-turn hit perfectly! 4-2 CAN after four…
• Good force in fifth! Nice first half CAN ladies! Straightforward curling and nothing too complicated (as has the SWE-SUI semifinal through five ends). Four to three for CAN at the half.

• Leaned over to Jill’s hubby, Devlin, and asked how he’s enjoying this. We both agreed “this sucks” and we’re looking forward to some post-game relief!

• Jen makes good draw to the four-foot for a single point. 5-3 CAN through six ends.
• Noticing a few of us fans with “Olympic colds”. Crossing my fingers, but in all likelihood I’ll be bringing one home!
• Error on GBR’s lead stones (hit and rolled out of play). Blank end in the seventh.
• Dawn setting up start of the ends great! Ask for four-foot, ask for 12 foot, and ye shall receive. This is contributing to Team Canada’s ability to reduce any clutter so far.
• I think we are over-icing some of those “inside out” hits – those eight-foot tracks can get pretty straight late in games on arena ice.

• Two good doubles, one by Kaitlyn and one by JJ and out of trouble! Blank in eighth strategically a big benefit. 5-3 CAN after eight ends.
• Dawn sets up ninth perfectly! 🙂 Peel, peel, peel, ladies! Blank is good, force GBR to one even better, or worst case giving up two – not that bad.
• Kaitlyn with another good double! Looks like another blank coming our way… but wait, we get a light freeze attempt from Eve and force them to take a point! One up coming home with the brick! 5-4 CAN after nine ends…

Where’s Mike? Oh, there. Calm as a cucumber…

• Parents are nervous… I can feel it too! Get me to the Patch (COH)!
• Okay Dawn… the order up is for two ticks! Plated and served!!!!
• One of the parents mentioned Dawn is eight for eight on tick shots this tournament! Phhh, I mean I knew that already, LOL! Impressive!
Jilly makes two nice double peels. Skipper should have no worse than open draw to the four-foot for Velcro time! I like that!
• Eeee… I like the easy double-peel on Kaitlyn’s. Have a feeling it’s still going to be a draw to four-foot for the win, but against the loss and with no hit option on GBR stones!
• I need to take a breather… hands getting a little shaky typing!

• Devlin tells me to be quiet… I’m talking and he’s internalizing. We handle stress differently!
• This is one way to check if you’re alive! Can feel the pressure!
WOOOO! Great throw, judging, and sweeping! It’s medal time Team Canada women… time to go golden! 6-4 CAN final score!

• BTW , I think this semifinal in this playoff structure is more stressful than the final coming up tomorrow (will confirm that soon enough)!
• Okay, watching last few shots of SWE/SUI game. Wow, pretty straightforward split for two and the win for Ott and she gasses it! Swedes were lucky to win that one. Let’s hope their luck has run out, or better yet, luck won’t be enough to beat Team Canada!

• Great chat with Trevor Wall. He noted the team aspect of Jen’s final shot. The cleaning of the rock for half of the shot, no panic, and then sweeping to place it the final one-third of the sheet. Impressed by not just Jen, but the whole team’s handle on pressure; great focus by all! Let’s finish this this ladies… you deserve it, now go and earn it!

• Peace out… It’s #molsontime…

[Photos are copyright The Curling News ® by Anil Mungal – click on images to increase viewing size]

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Sochi 2014: Playoffs in sight

The amazing culture of curling

by Mike McEwen

Missed the hockey guys. Oh well.

SOCHI, RUSSIA – I’ve had a few comments mentioning it’s great to see that Brent Laing and I can tolerate each other and cheer on Team Canada Women’s Curling at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Haha! Maybe I shouldn’t have used “tolerate” as the descriptive word!

As many of you are aware, our spouses are the bookends (skip and lead) of Team Jennifer Jones. And yes, it’s also very true that on the World Curling Tour and Grand Slam circuit, I usually loathe Brent and his Team Glenn Howard performances against us.

However, off the ice it’s a different story and believe it folks, that’s the case most of the time and with most of the teams on tour. Chalk it up to the amazing culture of curling. Curlers like curlers, and Brent and I are no exception. Maybe that’s why our other halves like us too (please let there be other reasons – LOL!).

So, with mutual respect like that between us it makes our job easier in the stands… Job? Yep, we’re more than just the average fan. We park our butts in some uncomfortable seats for hours on end supporting our girls just like everyone else, but with each game, every end, and every shot we are constantly analyzing (and sometimes agonizing) like only a competitive curling spouse can!

Skype session with infant – cuuuute!

When needed we are only a quick meeting, phone call, or text away. It could be just to reassure, boost confidence, or provide feedback… strategy, ice conditions, slow rock? Or how about a quick Skype session on a gondola with daughter, Isabella, back home? Very cool!

It’s a tough gig, but rewarding, and I give full credit to all the friends and family who have been doing this for much longer than I. Having the best fans… is anyone else thinking: Advantage to Team Canada?

With all the watching I’m doing, now is as good as any to weigh in with only a few round-robin games left in the schedule for the women. Although, I keep getting bugged that the camera catches me on my phone too much… it’s Twitter’s fault! (Plus: distraction is a stress relief)

No surprises in my opinion of Team Canada. With a 6-0 record and three round-robin games left our ladies look good, confident, comfortable, and the playoffs are in sight. Tonight would seal that position with a win against Russia.

It’s going to be loud… really loud in there tonight. The most simple shots from Team Russia, whether made really well or not-so-much, are going to be cheered with incredibly loud chants of “Russ-cee-ya” all night! The atmosphere is actually quite entertaining and I would imagine the big screen is going to pop up with “SHHHHHH” or “TCCCCCC” (in Russian) all night long. These screens often showcase “crowd educating” messages during the matches. However, if the girls stay on course, look for them to silence the Russian fans with their game play on the ice, and on the scoreboard.

This 3D moving billboard thing is… really weird

The other teams at the top of the standings are pretty much who I thought they would be. Great Britain, Sweden, China, and Switzerland are all in the playoff picture, but at the moment I’m not seeing enough complete performances (strategy and/or shotmaking) from this group. The next three days will better indicate who will push their play to a higher level. I’m leaning towards the defending world champs, Eve Muirhead and Team Great Britain, to do just that.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to watch a great deal of the men’s curling competition. I don’t think anyone would have put the Swiss out of playoff contention this early! On the other side of the coin, I am not surprised to see the men’s Chinese team doing so well with Canadian coach Marcel Rocque on board. I had a hunch these boys would handle the ice and atmosphere, and be in the mix the final days.

Well, from counting the empty water bottles beside me I am plenty rehydrated. Perfect, I’m in the right establishment to remedy that… Canada Olympic House! Time to pre-game and get ready to take on the boisterous Russian crowd tonight!

[Hockey Boyz photo by Anil Mungal/The Curling News – other pics by Mike McEwen]

[Click on images to increase viewing size]

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Winnipeg 2013: Randy Ferbey’s Olympic picks

The Ferb speaks (of course)

Randy Ferbey at his final roar, in 2009

If there’s one thing that might be considered to be missing from our December 2013 issue, it would be celebrity picks for the 2013 Canadian Olympic Trials, underway in just over an hour in Winnipeg.

We’ve published picks for the Trials and occasional Briers in recent issues. Folks like Al Hackner, Mark Dacey, Cheryl Bernard and Sherry Middaugh have bravely guessed the winners amongst the fields, putting themselves on the record.

There’s no picks in our latest issue, but we do have an entry for you right now, courtesy of another of our superstar regulars – Mr. Randy Ferbey.

Take it away Ferb!

MEN

1. Glenn Howard (5-2) – Obvious choice to finish first
2. Kevin Martin (5-2) – Some question marks still?
3. Kevin Koe (5-2) – Hottest  team coming in
4. Jeff Stoughton (4-3) – If Jeff plays well he could win this by himself
5. Mike McEwen (3-4) – Could and should be better
6. Brad Jacobs (3-4) – These guys just might surprise again
7. John Morris (2-5) – Too much to ask for a new team
8. John Epping (1-6) – Sorry John, just too tough a field

MEN’S PLAYOFFS

Semifinal: Stoughton over Martin
Final: Howard over Stoughton

WOMEN
1. Jennifer Jones (5-2) – Best skip in the field
2. Rachel Homan (5-2) – Peaking at the right time?
3. Stefanie Lawton (4-3) – Might be time for her to finally win the big one
4. Renée Sonnenberg (4-3) – Surprise of the field
5. Heather Nedohin (4-3) – Kind of an up and down season
6. Chelsea Carey (3-4) – Too inconsistent
7. Val Sweeting (2-5) – Maybe four years from now
8. Sherry Middaugh (1-6) – Sorry, time has passed her by

WOMEN’S PLAYOFFS

Tiebreaker: Lawton over Sonnenberg
Semifinal: Jones over Lawton

Final: Jones over Homan

[Canadian Curling Association photo copyright ® by Michael Burns – click on image to increase viewing size]

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The best Canadian rep won

by Margo Weber

Wow, that game was CRAZY… right?

I have some thoughts. First, I re-watched it on my PVR because I was curling in a bonspiel in Airdrie where I had to observe some of it from the ice. I’m not going to lie, I may have been paying more attention to the Scotties than my own sheet. Might explain our eventual extra-end loss.

It’s a good thing we don’t have to listen to the commentators for very long after the game, because you know what they would say over and over again. PEI is so young… what a great week… they’ll have so many chances….

All true. Erin Carmody and Geri-Lynn Ramsay will be back at the Scotties so many times their little necklaces will be full of diamonds. What do they do, move on to bracelets? Earrings? And then what… gem-encrusted headbands? Then they’ll start bedazzling little diamonds on their coats. If they keep it up and can get past a handful of good teams in PEI – or keep snapping up the best players from those teams – they will be at the STOH for a long, long time.

As for Jennifer Jones and team, you cannot take anything away. After Team Canada stole that point in the eighth end, I told my husband they are going to win this game. And he agreed. It’s Jennifer Jones, things just HAPPEN and they capitalize. When she crouched down to throw that last stone in the extra end there was zero doubt in my mind that it was as good as made. With Cathy O calling the line and Jill Officer and Dawn Askin sweeping, THEY were not going to miss. It was a team shot, and a great way to win.

Okay, back to PEI.

I liked their calls this week. Carmody was calm, everyone on that team was focused. I was amazed and seriously impressed. But that guard in the extra end on Carmody’s first rock… hmm. I didn’t love it. (Keep in mind, this is coming from the skip of the A-semi-losing team of the Airdrie Ladies Bonspiel. Haha!)

The guard made that end so much harder for Team PEI. I can only assume that they thought Jones would peel it. Linda Moore of the TSN TV crew thought so, too. But Team Canada knew that would shift the momentum straight to PEI. Jones made a great draw, and Carmody actually followed up with a nice, and difficult, shot. Whatever it was, it left Team Canada a relatively easy out.

Had PEI played a little tap on Carmody’s first rock, they would have been lying three. Jones would be looking at making a couple of doubles… and we might be looking at PEI’s first Canadian women’s champions.

I realize fans are split on who they wanted to win. Sure. However, the best team in Canada ended up victorious. Have they won every Worlds they’ve been to? No, but they are previous global champs and they will be playing in a Ford Worlds where most of the other teams will be poopered from the Olympics. I’m seeing a gold medal in Swift Current through my little crystal ball.

And for fans that have a problem with Jennifer Jones, I will mention that I believe she is a great rep for Canada. Media and sponsors rave about her cooperation and she is widely known for being the last person left, still signing autographs after a game. I’m pleased with this result.

However, I must admit, I was looking forward to seeing some Erin Carmody Scotties commercials. Gonna have to wait I guess.

On a final note, I’m giddy with excitement about the Brier. I went to curling camp with Jeff Richard, who won his first BC men’s provincial yesterday, stealing not one but two massive playoff games, in extra ends, and against top-notch competition.

And I’m stoked for Team Kevin Koe who beat Randy Ferbey for the right to represent Alberta in Halifax. Wooooottt…  if I wasn’t pregnant I would be ON A PLANE to Halifax next month.

Alas, The Patch ain’t no fun when you’re pregnant. So I will be addicted from my couch.

And I WON’T be curling in any bonspiels that week.

PHOTO: Margo Weber sees Swift Current gold in her crystal ball – CCA photo by Michael Burns [click image to increase size]

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What was this? Bravo’s “Athletes in Motion”

Congrats to blogreader ALBERTA, who weighed in on our What is this? Clue no. 2 posting on Thursday.

ALBERTA was the first to guess, correctly, that these interesting Colin Smith images were shot at Alberta’s High River Curling Club as part of a Bravo! series of Vancouver Olympic film shorts entitled Athletes in Motion.

This was hinted at way back on September 30 right here on the blog, as we put out a Curling Casting Call for the Calgary area, inviting you to participate in a film shoot involving Jennifer Jones (another JJ Bravo! image at left, click to increase size).

True, we didn’t mention the name of the series nor precisely what was being shot, but ALBERTA managed to put the pieces together.

Anyway, you can see the finished curling short, entitled Hardcore Bonspiel – which was directed by John Kerr and written by famed Canadian novellist Douglas Coupland – twice this weekend on Canadian television.

Saturday, Feb. 6 will see the hour-long collection of shorts kick off a six-hour block of Olympic-themed programming on CTV. Athletes in Motion starts it off at 4:00pm ET.

Then on Sunday, Feb. 7 the Bravo! channel itself showcases Athletes in Motion at 7:00pm ET.

Athletes in Motion is a series of 11 original Canadian short films combining the brightest homegrown directors, actors, musicians, cinematographers, animators, and choreographers with world-class Canadian athletes. The series recently won the Best Drama/Fiction award at the 2010 European Video and Mobile TV Forum in Paris.

Athletes in Motion includes commentary and introductions by both filmmakers and athletes, as cameras go behind-the-scenes to capture athletes and artists collaborating in action. Here is the full list of 11 films:

BRING IT HOME: Directed by Michael Maxxis; featuring biathletes and 2010 Olympians Rosanna Crawford (Canmore, AB) and Megan Imrie (Falcon Lake, MB).

HOCKEY T’NITE: Directed by Mark Adam; featuring Wayne Gretzky (Brantford, ON) and The Nepean Raiders (Nepean, ON)

HARDCORE BONSPIEL: Directed by John Kerr and written by Douglas Coupland; featuring Canadian and World curling champion Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg)

SIT ON IT: Directed by Murray Siple; featuring Paralympic sit-skier Josh Dueck (Vernon, BC)

JUST BEAT IT: Directed by Jason Priestley; featuring World Championship silver medallist and Olympic alpine skier Jan Hudec (Calgary)

FIGHT FOR FLIGHT: Co-directed by Nicole Mion and Cam Christiansen (animator); featuring ski jumper Katie Willis (Calgary)

IN THE GROOVE: Directed by Clarence Ford; featuring four-time World and Canadian National Champion figure skater and choreographer Kurt Browning (Caroline, AB)

LET YOURSELF SLIDE: Directed by Clarence Ford; featuring skeleton racer Sarah Reid (Calgary)

STAND TALL, WATCH THE JUMP: Directed by Srinivas Krishna; World Championship bronze medallist and Olympic aerialist Warren Shouldice (Calgary)

FIGURES: Directed by Miryam Bouchard; featuring Olympic silver medallist Elizabeth Manley (Ottawa)

SLIDE SHOW: Directed by Clarence Ford; featuring Olympians Heather Moyse (bobsleigh, Summerside, PEI), Regan Lauscher (luge, Red Deer, AB), and Michelle Kelly (skeleton, Fort St. John, BC)

Musical artists contributing scores/soundtracks include Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip, Jay Malinowski of Bedouin Soundclash, Deadmau5, and JUNO award-winning bass guitarist/music producer Orin Isaacs. Additionally, one of the shorts features CTV’s The Hockey Theme while another features fashions from Canadian designer Paul Hardy.

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Trials All-Star Hotties

by Margo Weber
EDMONTON – Come on. You read the blog mayhem from the Calgary Brier, right?
You know I had to “go there” eventually, right?
Okay, here they are… the long awaited All Star Hottie Teams at these here Tim Hortons Canadian (Olympic) Curling Trials.
I give no explanation for my picks, except for sheer hotness. There is a serious Alberta flavour here, but I did try not to be biased. Remember, there were six Alberta teams in the field…

I caught a lot of heck – Dalene Heck? – for my Brier picks, but I think these choices are, for the most part, obvious. Whatever.

MEN

Fourth – David Nedohin
Third – John Morris
Second – Carter Rycroft
Lead – The farmer from the Dekalb TV commercials. Note: there are two farmers, I’m talking about the scruffy cute one.

WOMEN

Skip – Crystal Webster
Third – Jeanna Schrader
Second – Sheri Singler
Lead – Chelsey Bell

** My husband wants a disclaimer here that his picks are Jennifer Jones, Kim Schneider and Kari MacLean and he thinks I should be playing lead on one of these teams. To THAT I say I’d have to start going to the gym.

Agree with my picks? Disagree? Feel free to discuss!

[CCA photo of Morris by Michael Burns]
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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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Margo Weber: The Olympic Dream

[Welcome back Margo Weber; blogstar from the 2009 Tim Hortons Brier, she is back to pontificate on the Tim Hortons Canadian (Olympic) Trials. Here’s her big-picture portrait of this amazing Olympic canvas…]
by Margo Weber

It all comes down to this, folks… because it’s finally here, what everyone has been talking about. The Roar of the Rings.

We’ve been waiting for this for years and it promises to be the best display of curling… possibly ever. This is an event with the best men’s and women’s curlers in Canada. Two teams will be crowned Olympians and go on to represent our country at home in Vancouver in February.

This is huge.

The last Olympic Trials I saw in person was in Brandon in 1997. I held my breath when Sandra Schmirler made ‘the shot’, and I sat right behind the sheet when Mike Harris casually walked away to get a drink of water, and walked back an Olympian.

I have very clear memories of sitting down with Shannon Kleibrink after her eventual loss to Team Schmirler, and with tears in her eyes she said she wasn’t upset at that moment because she’d lost the game… she just missed her kids.

This is a big deal. People put their lives on hold for this. Some wait just a few more years to start a family. Some set their careers aside, and even let them slip. Certainly most players sacrifice every vacation day they have just to prepare themselves for what might be. The Olympic Dream is a costly one.

Schmirler famously burst into tears after her final rock in that game. She was barely able to shake hands. She later explained that she simply did not know how she was going to leave her babies.

Some teams have been a threat for years. Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard, Jennifer Jones… they all qualified two seasons ago. They’ve been waiting, planning and preparing. Jason Gunnlaugson and Crystal Webster were pleasant surprises… perhaps they have less pressure on them. Maybe they will carry less on their shoulders as they march into Rexall Place. Someone like Jeff Stoughton knows he should be there… and will just take it one game at a time.

For us spectators, we sit… and wait… and, now, finally, we get to watch. And be glad we aren’t the parent of someone out there on the ice.

But we all know there are curling superstars in the making out there. Regardless of what happens, at least some of the athletes on the eventual Olympic teams will be brand new, frst-time Olympians.

They likely have no idea how their lives will change.

[CCA photo of Cheryl Bernard (nice shaaawwwt!) by Michael Burns]
• Behind-the-scenes pics of Opening Ceremonies and gab session
• Winner of our Glenn Howard curling condom trivia contest (say what?!)
… and more!
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mrnn Trials Predictions

As promised, here is yet another fearless Canadian Olympic Trials prediction from one of The Curling News‘ prognosticators.
As mentioned yesterday, no less than four TCN experts have made their calls in the current December issue, available via subscription now.
Today’s picks come from Halifax, and were calculated back in late November, when “it was 15C on my deck this afternoon and the thought of Winter Olympics seems sooo far away.” The author? Mary Anne Arsenault, skip and former second for Colleen Jones.

 WOMEN

1. Scott – if Schraeder is on I think they’ll pull out the win.
2. Jones – scrappy enough to be among the leaders; they find the wins.
3. Lawton – if they’ve developed their draw game, they’ll be tough to beat.
4. McCarville – my darkhorse pick; well coached; depends on Tara George.
5. Kleibrink – not seeing it for them again.
6. Holland – inexperienced but seem to have great team dynamics.
7. Webster – lacking in ‘big game’ experience; hard to know how they’ll respond.
8. Bernard – not seeing the consistency needed to win an event of this calibre.

MEN
1/2. Martin – proven best shooters around.
1/2. Howard – next to best shooters with better team dynamics.
3. Koe – should be near the top if they can stay in the moment.
4. Stoughton – oh so close once again.
5. Ferbey – still have plenty of talent but will the drive be there?
6. Gunner – they’ll turn a few heads but lack the experience to finish.
7. Middaugh – appear to be a team of individuals.
8. Simmons – could be a frustrating tourney.

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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!