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Curling tours partner for the future

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND AND LONDON, CANADA
JUNE 28, 2017

The World Curling Tour (WCT) and Curling Champions Tour (CCT) have announced a formal merger, creating a truly global tour of some 250 championship curling events.

Based in North America since 1992, the WCT has long been the ultimate competition circuit for all high-performance curling teams. Founded in 2005, the Europe-based CCT has grown rapidly and now boasts all the trademarks of traditional WCT events, attracting larger sponsors and delivering professional webstreamed or televised coverage.

Both tours have also recently expanded into the Pacific region, with high-powered curling championships now hosted in China, Korea and Japan.

“This is a great day for the Roaring Game,” said the WCT’s Gerry Geurts from London, Ontario, Canada. “As we begin another Olympic curling season, the official merger of the WCT and CCT into one organization clearly proves, once again, that curling is one of the fastest-growing winter sports in the world.”

“From the beginning, the CCT and WCT have worked closely together,” said CCT’s Armin Harder from Zurich, Switzerland. “CCT events have been incorporated and counted on the Order Of Merit points list. And the CCT’s beginnings have been largely based on the same ideas and principles as that of its close relative tour in North America.

“To the fans it has always seemed like one Tour, but in terms of operations they have been quite different. CCT has found it necessary to take a new business approach in order to face the challenges of forging into new curling markets. Today both organizations officially share that vision, and curling fans will benefit most.”

The combined Tour will bear the name of the World Curling Tour and feature new branding reminiscent of the Curling Champions Tour. A new website at the URL worldcurl.com will be launched shortly.

The World Curling Tour events will now be divided into two categories, a “WCT Masters Series” and a “WCT Challenger Series.” On top of that a “Champions Series” aka “Majors” will be created over the next few years, outside of Canada, to complement the popular Grand Slam of Curling series.

In the past two seasons a CCT World Mixed Doubles Tour has experienced explosive growth and popularity. Now poised to lead the development of more Mixed Doubles events in North America and Asia, the new World Curling Tour can better manage the fastest growing segment of the sport.

Mixed Doubles will make its Olympic debut as a full-medal sport at February’s 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Korea.

Additional growth is planned for the Asia-Pacific Curling Tour, an expected World Junior Curling Tour and even a global Tour for Wheelchair Curling, an official Paralympic Games medal sport at Korea next year.

“The World Curling Tour now counts some 250 champion events taking place in 2017-18,” said Geurts. “We will work to increase the amount of streaming and TV coverage worldwide to showcase the Tour and its increasing number of events.”

“We will also continue expanding into new regions in hopes of developing new young teams, and providing them with a place to enjoy the sport and hone their skills,” said Harder. “These new athletes will be the engine for the future growth of our sport.”

For inquiries on the WCT scoring system, World Team Ranking (former OOM), draws and other IT-related matters, please contact Gerry Geurts at: gerry-at-curlingzone-dot-com

For inquiries on WCT Tour development, new events, marketing, sponsorship opportunities, television and internet streaming, please contact Armin Harder at: info-at-curlingchampionstour-dot-org

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Rock Report V: Hebert blows a tire

by Dean Gemmell

ST. JOHN’S – Loads of great shotmaking across all four sheets even as two games failed to go the distance.

Team Wayne Middaugh, down two playing the third against Team Pat Simmons, caught a bad break when Wayne’s last-rock hit for three seemed to pick and was suddenly transformed into a steal of one. By the time Middaugh managed a deuce, they were down 5-0. Maybe it was the curling gods finally smiling on Pat after the dose of misfortune they meted out at the Tim Horton’s Brier in Winnipeg.

Team Glenn Howard’s win over Team Greg McAulay was clinical. If they weren’t such nice guys, it would have felt downright mean. Howard (Insight Sports photo by Anil Mungal) basically ended it in the first when he scored four, using one of his patented down-weight taps to do it.

Team Kevin Koe dismantled Team Kerry Burtnyk who, despite my earlier ramblings about their seeming malaise, found a way to qualify. Good for them. After a rough early outing against Kevin Martin, Team Koe appears to have its mojo back.

And any time Martin and Randy Ferbey play, it’s good for curling. So much great shooting and all that back story. It was no different tonight. Martin was comfortably in control until the seventh when Ben Hebert blew a tire – his gripper came flying off in a way you might see at your club’s fall Open House – and burned a Marc Kennedy runback as he hit the deck. Eventually, Ferb third David Nedohin drew about three-quarters buried in the top four and Martin failed to tap it far enough, surrendering a steal of one.

Hebert made amends by starting the eighth with two ticks, the second one leaving the Ferbey stone just a breath away from the side boards. Nedohin hung around to sweep it but one had to think that if he had been joined by Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque – instead of Ferbey – they might have been able to get it those last couple of inches. After that, things went according to plan and Martin needed only a draw to the eight-foot with his last rock to win the game.

Team Ferbey probably didn’t need one more defeat against Martin to chew on over the summer but they have it nonetheless.

Watching the play tonight brought the differences among the men’s teams into even sharper focus. Martin and Howard, possibly the two greatest skips the game has seen, are leading extraordinary teams and have created some definite distance between themselves and the field. Koe is awfully close. Simmons is narrowing the gap. For now, Ferbey and Middaugh come up just behind them. After that, everyone is chasing.

The good news is that there are some very good young guns in the mix. It may take a few years but eventually the tides will turn. Take the advice Ben Hebert offered in a recent issue of The Curling News and enjoy the forty-something superstars while you can.

Finally, Amber Holland was next door in the CurlTV booth for the last couple of ends of Ferbey-Martin. Team Krista McCarville was in the pub overlooking the ice. I’m not sure who wins and who loses on that one.

Since there’s only one direct flight each day between St. John’s and Newark and I have to be in New Jersey on Monday, I’ll miss the games today. With Martin, Howard, Koe and Simmons on the last big day of the season, I definitely lose on that one.

Later.

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Rock Report IV

by Dean Gemmell

ST. JOHN’S – The ice, swingier than it was earlier in the weekend, definitely had both teams vexed. For most of the first seven ends, the story was about crashes, half-shots and opportunities missed. But the game redeemed itself somewhat in the final end, as Amber Holland made a double to count two for the 2008 Tylenol Players’ Championship victory (Insight Sports photo by Anil Mungal).

Not the hardest double you’ll see but one of those shots that gets tough when it’s for a win. And, in this case, for a Pre-Olympics Trials spot. And nine grand. And 10 more CTRS points. And maybe a shot at Sport Canada funding.

It wasn’t the crowd I’m sure organizers were hoping to see. Unfortunately, I’m guessing the arena won’t fill up a whole lot more for a Brad Gushue-free quarterfinal draw on a night of nasty weather and playoff hockey on the tube.

The curlers who have played here in the past tell me there’s been a steady ebb in attendance at events in St. John’s since the heady days of the Gushue Olympic run. I know there won’t be a Capital One Grand Slam here next year and while it seems a shame – George Street being a big reason for that sentiment – you can’t bring an event to cities that don’t turn out for it.

But enough about that. A great night of curling is ahead of us, including a Randy FerbeyKevin Martin matchup. The men are stretching things out but not jogging on the spot. No jumping jacks either.

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World curling warmup

by Resby Coutts

WINNIPEG – Put competitive people on the ice and you’ll have great curling action… even if the original intent was a bit of fun, and for a good cause.

Tuesday at Winnipeg’s Pembina Curling Club, three international curling teams en route to Grand Forks for the 2008 World Men’s Championship played three local teams as a fundraiser-slash-awareness-generator for the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

Denmark’s Johnny Frederiksen took on Pembina’s Lionel Walz, a former Manitoba Senior Men’s champion; Czech Republic’s Jiri Snitil played Norm Magnusson’s Senior Men’s team (skipped by Lorne Hamblin, who coached the 2002 World Junior Champions) and Scotland’s David Murdoch took on some guy named Jeff Stoughton.

A full house crowd, including a pair of Japanese junior teams in town for the Optimist International Under-18 Championship, turned out to watch the fun and were treated to some great shotmaking in all three games.

Stoughton cobbled together a team that included Scotland’s Peter Loudon… a fellow who actually beat Stoughton in the final of the 1999 Ford Worlds in Moncton. Playing like high-stakes gamblers for much of the session, Stoughton came up short against a Murdoch team that is obviously set for a serious run starting this Saturday in Grand Forks.

Walz was forced to add Denmark’s new consultant-coach John Helston, a former Canadian champion for Mike Riley’s Brier-winning 1984 team, to his lineup. Walz was the gracious host. Facing a hit for two to tie coming home, Walz rolled out to give the Danes a one point victory.

Hamblin and his veteran team rose to the challenge of their first (and most likely only) game in international competition. Snitil and his young team showed they’re ready for their World debut with a solid display of shotmaking and strategy that impressed the Winnipeg onlookers. Tied coming home with the hammer, Hamblin’s third Don Newbury made the shot of his season, sinking an out-turn draw into the four foot behind cover to set up the final victory point.

As mentioned, the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation was the big winner as some $400 was raised through a silver collection.

Resby Coutts has a fine weekly radio show in Winnipeg and is also the publisher of the equally fine webzine The Curler. Come back anytime, Res…

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On The Rocks

There’s a new blog in this here curling town, pardner, and we know the author very, very well.

Al Cameron has been the ace curling scribe for the Calgary Herald for quite a while now, and he is also a valuable member of the editorial staff of this here omnipresent curling operation, better known as The Curling News.

Now the Herald has AC on blogduty, starting with this past weekend’s opening Grand Slam of the women’s season, held right there in Cowtown.

It is already (and will continue to be) a darned fine read, so be sure you bookmark it. If you don’t you can be sure we’ll spotlight some of Al’s ramblings from time to time.

And don’t miss Al’s scrutiny of – and strong recommendations to – new CCA bossman Greg Stremlaw in the first fall issue of TCN, which is coming very soon. In fact, why don’t you just mosey on over here and subscribe today?

Speaking of the Slam, Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones won her second straight tournament with a 6-3 win over Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink.

Other weekend winners were Kevin Koe in New Westminster, Michelle Englot and junior-aged Garrett Vey in Regina, Allan Lyburn and Barb Spencer in Winnipeg, J.M. Menard and M.F. Larouche in Ottawa (and a couple of lucky lucky-draw winners, we note), and the pride of Scotland, David Murdoch, over in Switzerland.

A sidelight to Basel’s Swiss Cup event was the A, B, C-ya later from Team Randy Ferbey: can anyone recall the last time they lost three consecutive games in one day, let alone outside of Canada?

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The B.C. Curling Tour

B.C. is in the news today in a big way.

First off is a big hello to the brand new British Columbia Curling Tour.

After a summer of enthused discussions, the CurlingZone troops have teamed with some B.C. curling talent to build the latest regional tour organization. It launched last night and is now in full swing as the Westcoast Classic hits the ice in New West.

Of course, there was also Wednesday’s confirmation of the 2009 STOH in Victoria.

Meanwhile, there’s more good news concerning a new format – and new sponsors – for governing provincial body CurlBC.

There’s also this report on Bob Ursel’s comfortable win in Vernon last weekend, not to to forget Heather Rankin’s first cash win in years.

And finally, say hello to an honourary BC-er, Colleen Jones … or perhaps her new teammates should be known as honourary Haligonians? We’ll let someone else decide.

Elsewhere:

• Regina’s DirectWest Rocktoberfest cashspiel will see the men’s and women’s finals live on Access Communications TV on Monday afternoon …

sisterhall says that one of the arsonists in the Windsor CC disaster is “a former investigator of the church” ? …

• AWCT and WCPA prez Paul Boutilier pumps The National in this Cape Breton Post story

• The Lucky Monkeys have a new website, and its the first we’ve seen with the .us format …

• And finally, who has been curling lately?

There’s Pam in the Territories, Ted in Alaska, Adam who is visiting Scotland, our good friend Bob in Prague, and two from B.C., Rev. Dave in Surrey and this writer in Nanaimo …

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The Weakerthans

While various rock acts have been known to play at large curling events – say hello Randy Bachman, Ashley MacIsaac, David Wilcox and Danko Jones – Canadian folk-rockers The Weakerthans are the latest musical act to follow in the footsteps of Hammerfall, Gob, The Tragically Hip and The Constantines in crafting real curling themes into their music.
The new song Tournament of Hearts – which can be heard on the band’s MySpace page – is hard core curling, with its references to “championship banners going yellow on the wall” and “peeling off the (beer) label as they peel the corner guard.” It is, however, a love song… just as Men With Brooms is really a love story.

Frontman John K. Samson – throwing a rock with a cool hat above – speaks about curling in this video mobisode, and in fact quotes from a legendary curling book (anyone recognize the cover? We do).

There are also stories available from CP and Canuck music mag Exclaim!, while our good friends at Chart have a mostly negative CD review here.

Will the 2008 Tim Hortons Brier committee draft these proud Winnipeggers into playing a gig at the Keith’s Patch in March?

• Police have already arrested three people following yesterday afternoon’s suspected arson job on the Windsor Curling Club …

• Yorkton’s popular stop on the Asham World Curling Tour has been cancelled for 2007.

“On behalf of the Yorkton Curling Club and the Curling Classic committee, we unfortunately have to announce a one year leave of absence from the PharmaChoice Curling Classic for 2007 due to team scheduling conflicts and other extenuating circumstances that are beyond our control,” committee chair and 1999 Brier semi-finalist Gerald Shymko told the Yorkton This Week & Enterprise.

“We will be working hard to alleviate any conflicts for 2008 and will be putting our efforts into making next year’s spiel bigger and better than ever.”

The good news is while the eight-year event will be on hiatus, chief sponsor PharmaChoice Western will continue supporting the local curling club.

“We’re not just laying down and letting this go,” Shymko added.

“We’re hoping the scheduling works better where the teams can travel and come back to Yorkton next year. And, we’ll be going all out to get the spiel back into this community.”

• Speaking of Men With Brooms, here’s what writer/actor/director Paul Gross is up to these days

• Got a suggestion for a podcast guest on The Curling Show? Just mosey on over to the Zone and name your name …

Joe Pavia spoke with KMart over the weekend …

• Finally, the European Mixed Championships are underway in the Spanish city of Madrid, and local voices are are starting to noice (here and also here) … plus, Bob Cowan is actually there

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Windsor club destroyed

As Nova Scotia’s Windsor Curling Club burned to the ground yesterday, defending provincial Brier skip Mark Kehoe took this picture (above). Thanks to TCN correspondent Teri Lake for forwarding it.

Kehoe is quoted in today’s Daily News while his club manager offers comments to the Canadian Press regarding the latest curling facility to be destroyed.

A club fundraiser was planned for this weekend.

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Yes indeed, curlers are whiners

Well, well… what have we here?

Winnipeg is in an uproar today as the internal news of Asham’s cancellation of that city’s major Asham World Curling Tour event has now exploded into the public forum (also located here).

The Curling Show was quick to get Arnold Asham himself on the horn, and while there are varying reasons why the event has been cancelled, there is one idea percolating which The Curling News must sadly agree with: curlers – in particular the competitive breed – are indeed among the biggest whiners in the world of sports.

This phenomenon has actually been discussed in some major boardrooms of the sport, and many believe it’s a simple consequence of the very nature of curling as a self-managed and self-policed sport.

Think about it. Opposite to most other amateur or professional sports, curlers are somehow permitted to:

• “hire” and “fire” their own team members
• operate with or without a coach or alternate, if they so choose
• police their own game, except at various provincial, national and world championships

This is so ingrained into the sport of curling – and so alien a concept to so many other sports – that curlers reading this are probably getting hot under the collar at the phrase “permitted to.”

In many other sports, even the equivalent of a top curling skip is told – by various sport coaches, managers, owners and/or bureaucrats – what to do and when to do it. And what’s more, you’ll darned well like it, mister!

Even the nature of the curling governance structure lends credence to this concept. Some other sport leaders would shake their heads if told that Canada’s national curling association is merely an umbrella organization, with limited to non-existent power to actually direct the strategy and activities of the provincial associations.

And you can rest assured their jaws are still lying on the floor, two years later, over the public spectacle of irate curling fans forcing that governing body to tear up a multi-year television contract and redo the entire thing… by unleashing a torrent of bad press and even going so far as to threaten sponsors.

From an outside-the-sport perspective, you’ve gotta be kidding!

In this context, curlers get away with murder when compared to other athletes in other sports and will obviously not hesitate to bray loudly if something irks them.

What is tragic is the curler’s tendency to bray the loudest when his or her competitive team is adversely affected by a given situation. It’s hard to ignore the level of selfishness that often ingrains itself into such a self-governed sport.

Then again, curlers still aren’t “paid” very much for their services, are they?

Or aren’t they?

And is that not an entirely different kettle of fish?

Or not?

Elsewhere:

The Curling Show also has a segment with icemaking madman Shorty Jenkins

• In Brockville, Glenn Howard beat Brad Gushue to win the Shorty Jenkins Classic, in a repeat of the Brier final result from last March. Reigning champ Kevin Martin lost the semi to Howard, while Wayne Middaugh’s super-team with Jon Mead and Graeme McCarreland Ian Tetley and Scott Bailey – lost the quarterfinal to Howard. Russ who?

On the women’s side, Debbie McCormick most enjoyed the vibrant Canadian dollar, as her Team USA upended Quebec’s Eve Bélisle in the final match …

• In Galt/Cambridge, the BDO Galt Classic was a big hit in the shopping mall and on Rogers Television… at least the men’s final, as Darryl Prebble surprised Mike Harris with a 6-5 victory for the championship, which was also The Battle For Scarborough (Prebble represents Scarborough Golf Club, while Harris appears to be back at neighboring Tam Heather).

The women’s final was a dud as Julie Reddick made it two spiels in a row with a 13-5 bombing of Colleen Madonia, but Hollie Nicol’s junior team from Kitchener-Waterloo impressed by losing the semi-final to Reddick by a 7-6 count.

“After losing, we said give us five minutes and we’ll be happy with the weekend,” Nicole told The Record. “Our goal was to make the playoffs, and we did that.”

• Over in Edmonton, the locals must be smarting over the fact that a couple of visiting teams waltzed into their town, kicked everyone’s butt and left with the big cash. Bingyu Wang of China crushed Glenys Bakker of Calgary 8-1 in the Boston Pizza women’s final, while Saskatchewan’s Pat Simmons beat Kelly Row, Randy Ferbey and then Brent MacDonald to win the men’s cheque

• The same thing happened over in Norway, as Canadian invaders took out their European opposition at the Radisson SAS Oslo Cup. Edmonton’s Kevin Koe took out the perhaps-not-so-retired Pål Trulsen 7-2 to win the men’s crown, while Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones defeated Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson 7-6 in an all-Canuck women’s final. A couple of Scottish teams, skipped by Kelly Wood and Claire Milne, made the semis.

• The second Grand Slam of Curling event has been announced, and once again the small Cape Breton city of Port Hawkesbury will play host to The National, this time running Dec. 20-23.

“Having the Grand Slam of Curling returning to Port Hawkesbury for a third consecutive year is a tribute to the local community, businesses, volunteers and organizers as each group has been instrumental in making The National such a success,” said Port Hawkesbury Mayor Billy Joe MacLean. “We’re looking forward to hosting the top curling teams from Canada, the United States and Europe in late December and this prestigious world class event will serve as a welcomed early holiday gift for the residents of Port Hawkesbury.”

The Grand Slam events feature a pile of Canada’s top men’s squads including Martin, The National’s defending champion, along with Ferbey, Gushue, Glenn Howard and 2003 Tylenol Players’ Champion Jeff Stoughton.

The top 15 Canadian men’s teams, along with two European squads and one entry from the United States of America, will compete in The National. A complete list of participating teams will be announced in November …

BalancePlus has sent out a cool notice summarizing the “Battle of the Brushes” this past weekend; ie. they’ve just announced the teams wielding their new tapered blue and orange BalancePlus brushes this season: Teams Harris and Peter Corner (semi-finalist in Brockville) and also Team Sherry Middaugh (lost semis at Galt).

These teams will help BalancePlus raise funds for Prostate Cancer Research via an end-of-year auction of each brushe, which will be covered in autographs. The funds raised from the auction will be split between Prostate Cancer Research and the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

BP’s pink brushes, now widely available, will continue as a fundraiser for Breast Cancer. You can add to the support by purchasing one of these charity-connected items today …

• Finally, a sad occurrence in Japan over the weekend …

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Curling superstars in Moncton

Lots of pickup of the WCF announcement of the 2009 Ford Worlds in Moncton, including Bill Graveland’s story featuring local hero Russ Howard.

Russ was there for the announcement, of course, alongside a series of curling legends (see photo)… in fact, can anyone name these past heroes? Post to our blog’s Comments section below this story, and you just might win something.

We fully expect Bacon to be among the first respondents… will someone else top him to win?

Still with Moncton, Lorne Mitton – the curling mayor – has announced he will not run for another term… so, will Mitton take a volunteer role with the Ford Worlds organizing committee?

• Finally, Russ Howard will help hockey’s Moncton Wildcats offer a $10,000 prize to a spectator during an on-ice curling challenge. The fun takes place on September 23 …

Elsewhere:

• There are multiple events on tap this weekend – Shorty, Galt, Oslo, Edmonton etc. – and all results are available on CurlingZone’s Gameday Scoreboard, right here in the middle of your page when you log in. Boom. There’s nowhere else you need to go!

• Ontario curling fans can tune in this weekend and see the Galt finales on local TV

• The International Olympic Committee and the seven Olympic Winter Sport Federations recently met in Vancouver to discuss the progress of the 2010 Games, and the World Curling Federation has posted an update

Kelly Scott’s defending world champions are in Regina tomorrow and Sunday, promoting the 2008 Scotties in the Queen City, where they will represent Team Canada. Also on the agenda is a challenge match against Joel Jordison’s men’s team …

• The Manitoba Curling Tour finally has a good date for their championships, plus a new website, too …

• Denver has won the right to host the U.S. Nats/Trials in 2009… and perhaps this angry bird might even attend. Meanwhile, there’s almost as much media coverage of Bismark’s loss

• Finally, it seems these guys have discovered the Norberg/Hammerfall video… nearly two years after the fact. We thought the internet worked faster than that …?