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Threepeat Curling in Vegas

Follow #SamInVegas this week, starting Thursday

By Sam Corea

In 2013, I began seeing TV ads showing scenes of curling action cut with the bright lights of Sin City and an announcer asking the question “Curling in Vegas?”  Well, here we are four years later with the third edition of the Continental Cup of Curling in Las Vegas.  And here I go again to take in the Vegas curling experience for the third time, and for your benefit, dear reader.

It seems Las Vegas has become a permanent stop on the international curling event calendar. And it’s Canadian travellers who are supporting curling in Vegas, despite the lower value of the loonie, as they look for any reason to escape the winter cold to enjoy some desert sun and curling.  I am one of those Canadians this year, as the usually mild West Coast winter weather has been anything but balmy with sub-zero temperatures and half a dozen snowfalls in Vancouver since December. So, sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-teens, coupled with watching Team North America battle with Team World will help chase away the January blues.

In 2014, the teams were scouting each other in Vegas as that edition of the Continental Cup was held just weeks before the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Last year’s edition, in my view, suggested that the teams were more focused on friendly competition and fun.

This year, with the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games just 13 months away, organizers tell us the event is a chance for curling fans to get an advance look at many of the teams who will be chasing gold in South Korea (and we’ll have lots to say about that in future editions of The Curling News).

Of course, we’ve got some curlers who’ve been to many Continental Cups and the last two editions in Vegas. But there are many first-timers this year, so I’ll be looking to get their impressions of curling in the desert (along with Elvis and Marylin Monroe impersonators escorting them onto the ice) for my social media posts this week and weekend, which you can follow on two platforms: The Curling News Twitter feed and also on The Curling News Facebook page.

During last year’s Cup in Vegas, the former director of marketing for Tourism Nevada told me that Canadians love Nevada and they love curling, so hosting these events in the land of casinos, big buffets and showgirls is a natural fit. And the slogan adopted by those involved – Las Vegas Rocks – just seems to roll off the tip of the tongue.

Attendance for the 2016 Continental Cup topped 62,000 – the most people to ever watch a curling event in the United States.  Officials are gambling that the success of the 2014, 2016 and 2017 Cup events will result in even more bums in the seats in the spring of 2018, when the Orleans Arena hosts the Men’s World Curling Championship – soon after the PyeongChang Olympic Games.

I don’t think the novelty of being in an arena in Vegas filled with curling fans has worn off yet. In fact, as I tell folks I’m heading to Vegas for a curling competition, some still raise an eyebrow, but admit that it seems like something fun to do in January.

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Olympic Curling 2018

Curling fans are slowly going bonkers over the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games – don’t forget, tickets are on sale in early October – and of course we then have Sochi, Russia in 2014.

In fact, it was one year ago today that Sochi got the nod from the International Olympic Committee, shocking many observers (including us).

What comes next, in 2018?

Well, PyeongChang, South Korea is bidding again, having lost to both Vancouver and Sochi. In fact, it says here the Koreans will bid over and over and over until they win it. Simple as that.

Munich, Germany will be bidding, and despite the proximity of Sochi to Europe, the Germans are a major threat to win.

Tromso, Norway, is going to bid and 2002 Olympic curling champion skip Pal Trulsen has thrown his support behind the bid. They are first out of the hack with a website; a Facebook page, located here (you must be a Facebook member to view it)… and here’s a cool promotional videolove the big rings located on the mountain facing the main stadium!

And in a clear acknowledgment that a bid will go forward, there is even an official opposition group already online. But of course.

The Americans are interested, but if Chicago wins the race to host the 2014 Summer Games, any Yankee winter hopes – probably centered on Denver, Colorado – are gone.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarians and Serbians are reportedly combining on a joint bid; the French are infighting over bidding on summer or winter; the Swiss (in Geneva) need a referendum to proceed, the Swedes are exploring their options, and even some southern hemisphere locales (like New Zealand) are thinking about it. But not Durban, South Africa, as some had recently believed.

All formal bids are due in January, 2009.

Anything else?

• Once again, the glorious sport of curling was included in many a news outlet’s annual Canada Day Quiz… such as this one here. However, the answer featured a horrendous inaccuracy – can you spot it?

• It was, of course, Canada Day on July 1… and today, on this fourth of July, we say Happy Birthday to our American friends. There is, by the way, lots of curling action going on down south these days:

Texas Dan recently celebrated 50 years of Frisco curling and also illustrates another 50-year anniversary, in Green Bay, Wisconsin – and you’re telling us curling is located right across the street from this iconic shrine? Are you kidding?!

– San Jose has not one but two open house days scheduled for next week, and at two different locations to boot;

– curling maniac Richard Maskel won a new summer spiel in Port Huron, Michigan… with extra photos located here. The photographer was Keith, by the way;

– New York’s Coach Heidt, a hockey and lacrosse buff, was recently intrigued with curling;

– there are curling stones rarin’ to be tossed at the new Chaparral Ice rink in Austin, Texas;

– how about Indianapolis? Yep, here’s the story (plus video);

– Team Debbie McCormick second Nicole Joraanstad – a 2007 calendar girl – was recently voted Madison Sportswoman of the Year for 2008;

– the Pittsburgh Tropical is going on, like, right now;

– and those loveable tinseltowners in Los Angeles are making news, again… first they were somehow part of a Dodger Stadium pre-game award presentation to pro baseball player Russell Martin; and now CurlTV has finally drawn a bead on them. Their latest funspiel goes tomorrow …

This silly hockey story caught our eye: specifically the reference to past disputes between Canada’s CBC-TV Sports and the world of curling. We simply love the line “… sparked hundreds of thousands of angry curling fans to threaten a march on CBC headquarters with lit brooms and pitchforks” …

• Here’s an odd little curling cartoon, from Italy:

• Here’s a curling league software package for $79.95; someone tell us if it’s any good …

Peter dropped by Naseby, New Zealand, and checked out the only dedicated curling facility located in the southern hemisphere of planet Earth. Soon to come is a luge ride (just scroll down a bit) …

• The Winnipeg Brier has raked in a half-million dollars in profit

• And finally, the Canadian Curling Association was in Prince George, site of the 2000 STOH, for a venue inspection for the 2009 Pre-Trials Qualifier. Story plus photo here, and video here

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Sochi shocker

Indeed, the IOC delivered another eye-bulger yesterday by voting in the Russian city of Sochi as 2014 Olympic host. Read some of the punditry here.

The World Curling Federation has spoken, congratulating Sochi as such:

“Just as Russian curling surprised the world last December, Sochi has now surprised the Olympic world with this tremendous hosting victory,” said WCF President Les Harrison.

“We look forward to showcasing the world’s fastest-growing winter ice sport at its sixth official Olympic appearance in Sochi.”

Last December, of course, Russia’s national women’s curling team, skipped by youthful Ludmila Privivkova of Moscow, shocked the field to win the 2006 Le Gruyere European Championships in Basel, Switzerland. Privivkova will lead her team into competition as a member of Team Europe at the 2007 Continental Cup, announced yesterday.

Sochi defeated Pyeongchang, South Korea and Salzburg, Austria in voting at an International Olympic Committee meeting in Guatemala yesterday.

Olympic curling in 2014 is expected to take place at a new national curling complex which will be constructed for the competition.

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Olympic Curling: Decision 2014

The fourth of July is more than just an American holiday: it’s the day the world finds out the host city of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The choices to follow Vancouver 2010 and host curling’s sixth official Olympiad are South Korea’s PyeongChang, the Austrian city of Salzburg in central Europe, and Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

The vote takes place at International Olympic Committee meetings set to begin shortly in Guatemala, with July 4 the magic day of reckoning.

Pundits have recently put the Russians squarely in third place, with PyeongChang and Salzburg running one-two in the race to host. The Koreans should be the favourites, however, given that they very nearly scooped the 2010 Games from Vancouver at the last minute. Remember that?

Curling would take place in the nearby city of Gangneung, along with all other ice sports. The existing facility is already pegged to host the 2009 World Women’s Curling Championship, following next year’s 2008 Ford Women’s Worlds in Vernon, British Columbia.

Salzburg, which has a rich winter sport history, would put curling in the new (2004) Salzburg Arena, city centre, with some 5,000 seats.

Sochi would have to build a new facility, dubbed the Imeretinaskaya Exhibition Center, which would seat 3,000 and also serve as the new national curling centre. Sochi, by the way, is a truly odd place, serving as both a sea and ski resort. That’s right… snow on the tops of plam trees, people. Wouldn’t mind getting weird with that.

Who will win and who should win are often two very different concepts… particularly to IOC votemakers. Suffice to say that four years after Vancouver, curling’s big show will take place in a comparitively exotic locale.

Elsewhere:

• The Canadian Curling Association has announced the sites and dates for the 2008 Canadian Mixed and Seniors competitions: it’s the Calgary Curling Club for the Mixed on Nov. 10-16, and Prince Albert in Saskatchewan for the Canadian Seniors, taking place March 22-30 …

• So where, pray tell, is the Brier on this otherwise engaging list of 101 Great Sporting Events One Must Visit Before One Dies? Nowhere to be found. Is this ignorance or purely a diss? We suspect the latter, given the inclusion of ridiculous things like #64, inspiring things like #60, very Canadian things like #59, and hatchet jobs like the one found at the end of #57 …

• Here’s a well-done kid’s feature on curling, originating from PBS’ DragonflyTV …

• Finally, a YouTube look at Houston’s recent Texas Open Bonspiel… hey, where’s Dan?