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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 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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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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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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Time Warp Trulsen

It’s the early part of this weekend’s Tour action, but indications are that week three could prove to be quite… eventful.
First, France’s Thomas Dufour beats defending world champion David Murdoch and is now 3-0 in his pool at the Oslo Cup.

Second, the U.S. Olympic women’s team loses to 10-0 to Sherry Middaugh in opening draw action at the Sandra Schmirler Charity Curling Classic in Regina. In two ends. Take three, steal seven.

Finally, Norway’s Pal Trulsen (with Rocky Horror friends above) has reunited his now-retired 2002 Olympic champion squad for the Oslo Cup… and they are also undefeated at 3-0.

Wow. Talk about a Time Warp!

[Photoshop by Anil Mungal. Apologies from TCN.]

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Grey Power World Cup of Curling

The big news today concerns the “Toronto Slam” as the event has been re-branded as the Grey Power World Cup of Curling.

Formerly known as the Masters of Curling, the Grey Power World Cup of Curling runs October 21-25 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, just minutes from Toronto’s main airport.

As the first tournament in the new Capital One Grand Slam of Curling season, the event would normally be big enough on its own. However, as The Curling News has previously reported, this one is worthy of it’s new World Cup name.

No less than 10 of the international teams headed to February’s Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games will take part, challenged by four of the top dogs headed to December’s Canadian Olympic Trials: Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard, Randy Ferbey and Kevin Koe.

A fifth Canadian team will also take part. Brad Gushue’s foursome, fresh off their victory at the first World Curling Tour stop of the season, will compete at the Hershey Centre. The Gushues are looking to win a spot into the Trials at the last-gasp qualification event at Prince George, B.C. in November.

As The Curling News reported last winter, Grey Power first jumped into the Slam sponsorship world by taking title rights to the season-ending Players’ Championship in Grande Prairie.

“We’re thrilled to be increasing our involvement with one of Canada’s favourite sports through our partnership with the World Cup of Curling,” said Catherine Smola, President of Grey Power Insurance Brokers Inc.

“We are hugely impressed by the passion Canadians have towards curling and we believe these world class events represent a tremendous opportunity for us to further connect with our customers.”

Today’s announcement comes from the Slam, the Tour and also from an organization called iSport Media and Management. This is the new home of Kevin Albrecht, the man who first built the Grand Slam property at IMG Canada and took it to Insight Sports some three years ago.

“The ability to extend our partnership with Grey Power to include two of curling’s biggest international tournaments reinforces the growth and popularity of the Capital One Grand Slam of Curling series,” said Albrecht.

“Grey Power’s brand and services have proven to be an ideal fit for curling’s passionate fan base and we are looking forward to building on the success of last year’s Grey Power Players’ Championship.”

Among the international Olympic teams headed to Hershey are reigning World champions David Murdoch of Scotland, reigning World bronze medallist Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, 2007 World silver medallist Andreas Kapp of Germany, 2006 Olympic bronze medallist John Shuster of the United States, 2008 World fourth-place finisher Fengchun Wang of China, defending World University Games champion Niklas Edin of Sweden, France’s Thomas Dufour and Denmark’s Ulrik Schmidt.

The final nation to compete in the Grey Power World Cup is Switzerland. A best-of-seven series between Ralph Stoeckli and Stefan Karnusian will declare their Olympic rep, who will then appear in Mississauga.

Ticket packages for the Grey Power World Cup of Curling are currently on sale, with seats available through Ticketmaster or by visiting the Hershey Centre box office.

The 2009 Grey Power World Cup of Curling is being lauded as the first major international curling event to be held in the Greater Toronto Area since 1986, when Toronto hosted the World Men’s Curling Championship.

The Toronto Curling Association has been a strong partner of the Grey Power World Cup of Curling with strong support from all of the TCA’s 23 member curling clubs.

Following the Grey Power World Cup, the 2009-10 men’s Capital One Grand Slam of Curling series continues with The National, taking place at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, Ont. from January 6-10, 2010; the BDO Classic Canadian Open, from January 20-24, 2010 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg; and concludes with the Grey Power Players’ Championship, an event featuring separate men’s and women’s draws, to be hosted in April (dates and location TBA).

Two additional women’s Grand Slam events get underway next month, with the Calgary’s Trail Appliances Classic on October 9-12 and the Manitoba Lotteries Women’s Curling Classic scheduled for Winnipeg on October 23-26.

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Gushue scores Swiss opener

BADEN, Switzerland – Brad Gushue, sporting some playoff scruff, won his second Baden Masters tour victory of the past three years with a 6-3 victory over Norway’s three-time world bronze medallist Thomas Ulsrud in the 2009 championship final.
The 2006 Olympic championship squad, which now features former Winnipegger Ryan Fry at second position, stole the third end and added a deuce in the fifth to hold a 4-2 lead after five ends.

The St. John’s foursome added a final steal in the eighth for the victory, which was worth 10,000 Swiss francs to start the 2009-2010 Olympic curling season.

Ulsrud was consoled with SF 5,000 for second place.

In the semifinals, the Gushues took out defending world champion David Murdoch from Scotland by an 8-2 count. In the other semi, Canada’s resurgent Randy Ferbey fell victim to a stunning five-ender in the second frame against Ulsrud, who went on to win the match by a 9-4 scoreline.

In the second round of the tournament, the Ferbey Four had dropped a fiver in the first end against France’s Thomas Dufour, but made a stirring comeback – stealing five points over the final three ends – to win by a 10-6 count.

In the third-place game, Ferbey defeated Murdoch 5-2.

Murdoch and Ulsrud are confirmed to represent their countries (Murdoch will represent Great Britain) at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Ferbey is confirmed for the Tim Hortons Canadian Curling (Olympic) Trials at Edmonton in early December, while Gushue will need to advance from a special domestic pre-Trials competition at Prince George, B.C. in November.

[Photo by Urs Raeber]

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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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2010 Olympic curling schedule

The World Curling Federation has released the draw for the Curling Competition at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The draw is available via direct download at the WCF homepage, within the posting dated July 28.

Competition begins February 16 with three draws scheduled daily – alternating between men’s and women’s play – up to February 23.

Canada’s women’s team, which will be determined on December 12 in Edmonton, opens at 14:00 against Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott, the only curling athlete in history with two Olympic medals (silver in both 2002 and 2006).

Canada continues with matches against Japan on Feb. 17, Germany on Feb. 18 and Denmark’s Angelina Jensen, the 2007 world finalist, on Feb. 19.

Canada’s major crunch comes on the final three days of the round robin.

On Feb. 21, Canada battles 2003 world champion Debbie McCormick of the United States and, later, defending world champion Bingyu Wang of China.

On Feb. 22, their opponent is the defending Olympic champion and two-time world champion Anette Norberg of Sweden.

On Feb. 23, the Canadian women face another two matches, against Great Britain – most likely skipped by three-time world junior champion Eve Muirhead – followed by the round robin finale against 2006 European champions Russia.

The Canadian women do not compete on Saturday, February 20.

Canada’s men’s team, which will be determined on December 13 in Edmonton, opens with two matches on Feb. 16, against Norway (most likely 2008 and 2009 world bronze medallist Thomas Ulsrud) and Germany’s Andy Kapp, a two-time Olympian and multiple world finalist.

Following a full day off on February 17, the Canadians face two next-day opponents: Sweden (most likely the defending world university champions skipped by Niklas Edin) and then France’s Thomas Dufour.

On Feb. 19, Canada challenges Denmark’s Ulrik Schmidt.

On Feb. 20, Canada faces Great Britain’s David Murdoch, the two-time and defending world champion, in the evening draw. Murdoch defeated Canada’s Kevin Martin three consecutive times to win last April’s 2009 Ford World Men’s Championship in Moncton, and as reported by The Curling News, has been training specifically to defeat Canada for Olympic gold at Vancouver.

Canada then battles Switzerland on Feb. 21. The Swiss defeated Canada for Olympic gold at Nagano in 1998 and captured bronze at Salt Lake in 2002, and also scored demonstration gold at the 1992 Games in Albertville.

On Feb. 22 the Canadians meet John Shuster of the United States. Shuster was a member of the 2006 U.S. Olympic curling team, skipped by Pete Fenson, which scored the bronze medal.

On Feb. 23, Canada concludes the round robin with an afternoon match against China’s Fengchun Wang, the surprise fourth-place finisher at the 2008 world championship. This will mark the fourth consecutive day in which the Canadian men’s team competes only once.

February 24 is reserved for tiebreakers with the semifinals scheduled for February 25.

The Women’s Final takes place February 26 and the Men’s Final on February 27.

Canada has never missed the podium in Olympic medal-status competition, winning gold in 1998 (women’s) and 2006 (men’s) while scoring two silver medals in men’s play and two bronze medals in women’s play.

Venue photo by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation