Posted on

Linda Moore retires to battle neurological disorder

Rauter, Moore and Turnbull at Vancouver 2010 (TSN photo)
Rauter, Moore and Turnbull at Vancouver 2010 (TSN photo)

After a 25-year-career, Linda Moore has retired, effective immediately, from TSN curling broadcasts in Canada.

The network made the announcement today, citing “a chronic health condition.”

However, Linda wants the curling world to know… she’s okay!

“I have what’s called benign fasciculation syndrome,” Moore told The Curling News from her home in Vancouver. “It’s a neurological disorder and the doctors don’t really know what causes it, but it’s probably from a virus, or vaccines, or stress. It’s not Parkinsons, but it involves tiny, tiny twitches.”

Moore first noticed this occasional and involuntary twitching in July of 2013, and it has since travelled from the initial area of her calves and feet to her tongue and, more recently, to her fingers.

However, the other aspect is extreme fatigue, which she says is the main reason she has stepped aside after so many years.

“It’s the crew I’ll miss the most,” said Moore. “Twenty-five years with Vic Rauter… and I made it!” she joked.

TSN has rushed to fill the void left by Moore by announcing a roster of various analysts will join Rauter and Russ Howard on the talent crew. TSN’s first event of the year starts this week, on December 3, with the Canada Cup from Camrose, Alberta [UPDATE: And late Monday night, we learned that 2010 Olympic silver medallist Cheryl Bernard would be the first to fill in for Moore in Camrose].

“Linda is not only an excellent curling analyst, she’s also an excellent broadcaster,” said Scott Higgins, Senior Producer, Curling on TSN. “She has been incredibly well-researched, with a natural ability to tell stories. Her greatest strength is her depth of knowledge, and her insights into the game within the game.”

“I want to thank Vic Rauter for being my guide during those years, as well as Russ Howard and Ray Turnbull for sharing the booth with me,” Linda told TSN public relations. “Thanks as well to Scott Higgins and all our incredible producers; Andy Bouyoukos and the other talented directors; my colleagues Cathy Gauthier and Bryan Mudryk; and everyone involved with TSN curling.  This is a group of talented people who are passionate about sharing the superb skills of curlers with fans, and I have been proud to be a part of the crew for so long. I wish the TSN crew all the best for the coming season.

“As well, thanks to the fantastic curlers, hard-working event host committees, and the fans who have let me into their homes for so many years. You may still see me at your local curling clubs, helping to coach a team at a practice or bonspiel.”

Moore skipped a national and world champion team from British Columbia in the mid-1980s, and also won demonstration gold at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. She has also served the sport as an administrator; as Executive Director of CurlBC for 19 years, promoting the sport and developing curling programs throughout the province, and also as the ED of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation (2005-06).

As a Level 4 certified coach, Moore has been actively involved in coaching for many years. Her husband, Al Moore, also coaches actively, and is currently raking in gold medals as the coach of Switzerland’s national women’s team.

Linda Moore was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in 1991 and the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 as part of the 1985 World Championship team.

You can read the full TSN news release here.

The December 2014 issue of The Curling News is now in circulation, and includes the Canada Cup broadcast schedule as a part of the “Curling TV/Web Guide”. The guide is also expanded with additional listings in the December digital edition, being released tomorrow to subscribers. To purchase a subscription, and with that an extra nine entry ballots into The Curling News‘ Pinty’s All-Star Curling Skins Game contest, click here.

Tell us what you think in the Comments section below – we’ll make sure your best wishes are sent along to Linda!

Posted on

2013 Brier: Players warned after TV equipment trashed

Damaged what? Who, us?

by George Karrys

The Curling News has learned that while no 2013 Brier competitors have been fined for misbehaviour, a member of one team damaged some equipment used by The Sports Network (TSN) earlier in the week – and restitution was paid for said equipment.

[UPDATED: The Canadian Curling Association has confirmed that no restitution was in fact paid; the player and team – and all the teams – were warned that if another incident occurs that results in equipment damage, payment will be required. Paragraph eight of the original story below has been edited to reflect this information.]

As reported in the cover story of our March print issue, Brier competitors can be fined by on-ice officials if their language or behaviour crosses the line, and in the past the Canadian Curling Association has taken action – although neither fines nor other disciplinary actions are usually acknowledged.

The subject of Brier behaviour and discipline made our cover due to the ejection of Saskatchewan second Chris Schille during one of his team’s provincial championship playoff games, plus the subsequent media furor his dismissal created.

The Curling News then created a good-natured video meme of Brock Virtue’s Saskatchewan foursome, based on the theme from the television show COPS – which has turned into a minor sensation.

According to the CCA, no player at this year’s Brier has been fined for any misbehaviour. The CCA has confirmed that warnings have been issued to players throughout the event, and The Curling News has learned that Team Saskatchewan and Kevin Martin’s host squad are among them.

I’ve been good – honest!

In addition, one particular warning was issued to all competitors following an incident involving television equipment.

According to sources, one of the Alberta competitors removed his player microphone and receiver and threw the equipment against a rink board, causing an estimated $4,000 in damage. A subsequent warning was issued to the player and team, and to the entire field, specifying that any future incidents resulting in similar equipment damage would require payment for repair or replacement.

All of this comes to light as the Brier’s final two round robin draws hit the ice today. After a must-win over Newfoundland and Labrador this morning, Alberta has scrambled from a 1-4 start to an impressive 6-4 record, and has the afternoon bye before facing defending champions Ontario tonight.

However, Martin and his Edmonton squad will need help from the field, in addition to a victory over Glenn Howard tonight, to have a chance at a tiebreaker or playoff berth.

For more on past tales of Brier discipline, here’s an excerpt from our cover story:

Manitoba Bad Boy Jeff Stoughton got an initial $1,000 fine back in the 2006 Brier – for accumulating offenses – which was allegedly whittled down to some $250 or so, but no official word was ever acknowledged by the player nor the CCA.

Russ vs Glenn in 2009: First they were smiling, then the older brother in yellow WENT BESERKER

New Brunswick skip Russ Howard, now a TSN curling analyst, tomahawked his brush during his final Brier appearance in 2009, during a loss to his brother Glenn, and was reportedly fined an undetermined amount – this after both Stoughton (again) and Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue had already boom-thwacked their way to some monetary discipline (Gushue was apparently fined $150).

Although our ace reporters wrote about it at that time on The Curling News Blog, no amounts nor the final status of any actions was ever confirmed.

When fines are levied, the payments typically go to the official charity of the CCA, the Sandra Schmirler Foundation.

The Alberta Curling Federation has a code of conduct for its championships, which includes a warning for a first offence of “verbal abuse” or “unacceptable language” and suspension from the current game and the next game for a second offence; a third offence will result in a suspension for the remainder of the championship. Breaking equipment, like a broom or a TV microphone, could also result in disciplinary measures.

As we wrote in our blogpost – and this is for fans on site at Rexall Place – If you think you’ve spotted an offence, keep your eyes peeled to the carpet after the matches, where the officials gather. This is apparently when the notes are compared, and decisions are made.

[The Curling News photos ® by Anil Mungal – click on images to increase viewing size. Subscribe to The Curling News here]

Posted on

Most commented: TSN commentators

Alberta fell to 1-3 after a loss to NONT

by Colin Hodgson

EDMONTON – I’ve been plowing through the archives of The Curling News Blog, and wow – there is a LOT of material here. Great material.
I’ve seen scoops, in-depth features, pop-culture curling highlights and tons of exclusive, behind-the-scenes event reports from various Briers, STOHs, provincial championships, Worlds, Grand Slams, World Curling Tour spiels, World Juniors, Canadian Juniors, charity bonspiels, you name it.
Some of the bloggers who have preceded me are professional journalists, wannabe journalists, photographers, recreational curlers or curling fans and even big-name competitors – like Jennifer Jones’ second, Jill Officer (sample here). This is amazing stuff.
Then I noticed the “Rating” and “Comments” sections below each blogpost, where readers get to “vote” for each posting by choosing a rating, between one and five, and/or leave a comment about the posting. Some posts I’ve seen have lots of “star” ratings while others have none, and I’ve also seen some postings with a few comments, and others with exactly zero.
I began to wonder, what makes a blogpost popular? Obviously the subject matter is important – it has to be something everyone is talking about or thinking about. Another is the share factor: these days it’s all about how many “Likes” your Facebook page gets or how many “Followers” you have on Twitter, et cetera. A popular blogpost here at The Curling News website would obviously need an attractive subject but the blogpost itself would have to make an impact, and need to be something that people want to share with their friends, colleagues and so on.
I asked TCN editor gk if he knew, off-hand, which blogpost was THE most popular one on his site, dating back to when the blog first started in late 2005. He didn’t hesitate with an answer.
Praise for Russ from March 2010 (click to increase size)
“I think it has to be one from back in 2010,” he said. “TSN had just started breaking in Russ Howard as a new TV analyst, and he was going to be working morning draws with Bryan Mudryk. Meanwhile the old gang of Vic Rauter, Linda Moore and Ray Turnbull were working the afternoon and evening draws.
“As we all know, Turnbull retired after the 2010 season and Russ moved up to take his place on the No. 1 crew, but at the time of the blogpost, Russ was still a new voice on the scene. So we called the blogpost ‘Which TSN crew do you prefer?’ or something like that, and invited folks to tell us what they thought.”
I couldn’t believe what he said next.
“To this day, this week in fact, people are still finding that blogpost on the web somehow, and are commenting on the TSN TV curling crew in that Comments section,” said gk. “It’s incredible. The page must rank high on Google when people search for  ‘TSN curling’ or ‘Vic Rauter curling’ or whatever, because Turnbull is long gone and people keep using that page to make comments about curling shows, right up to now.”
Criticism for Russ from February 2013 (click to increase size)
I took a look myself and boom, there it was, from February 4, 2010, just before the start of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. And holy smokes, there are 49 comments to date, with a few of them coming during last week’s STOH and event the start of this week’s Brier!
It’s a blast, reading these comments. I think that everyone who loves curling on TV seems to love the TSN broadcasts the most of all, and the TSN talent crew above all tohers. But all of them get their fair share of criticism – Vic, Russ and Linda – and how!
Later on, I found this TCN blogpost, which republishes excerpts from a book written by an ex-president of CBC Television. This fellow was in charge of CBC during the controversial 2005-06 seasons, when CBC took over all the Season of Champions shows and TSN had nothing, and as the excerpt says, curling fans went absolutely nuts. Like, super-crazy, out-of-their-minds nuts. Just read the excerpts, you won’t believe that gentle curling fans can act worse than wild-eyed, booze-filled hockey freaks. Unbelievable.
And now I’ve realized it: the most popular blogpost I could ever write, here at the online portal of The Curling News, is about curling on television, specifically curling on TSN.
And who knows – maybe I’ve just written it!
Posted on

Curling fans labelled “the worst”

Hardcore fans of televised curling have been declared “the worst” – worse than hockey fans – according to a new book by former CBC executive vice president Richard Stursberg.

The Great TV Curling Debacle began early in 2005, after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had negotiated a new television deal with the Canadian Curling Association. The Sports Network (TSN), which had been first to demand a new all-or-nothing coverage deal, was completely excluded.

Cue the screaming, crying and – as Stursberg writes below – an incredible level of abuse.

Less than a year later, the deal had been broken apart and TSN was back in, sharing power with CBC.

Less than a year after that, the CCA and TSN signed a new deal and the CBC was out.

Stursberg’s time at CBC was certainly controversial and his duties started in the fall of 2004, just as the CBC was planning its exclusive curling coverage. The resulting debacle ranks as one of the most bizarre stories in sport television history in addition to one of curling’s greatest embarrassments, and the timing of this book comes just a few months after another CBC curling embarrassment. Here’s an excerpt from the book, The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC.

Curling fan rage “utter incoherence”

by Richard Stursberg

Two weeks after we lost the Olympic bid, the roof fell in on curling.

We owned many of the most important properties, including the Brier and the Scott Tournament of Hearts. Unfortunately, we could not put all the games on the main channel. There were simply too many scheduling conflicts. In a brainwave of negligible proportions, we thought it might be a good idea to put the games that were being played during the week on Country Canada, a small digital specialty channel we owned.

At that time, Country Canada had only about a million subscribers and was located on a part of the cable dial so remote that finding it required a compass and orienteering equipment. Our plan was to use the curling properties to help sell Country Canada. We would start advertising well in advance of the tournament that if viewers wanted to watch the matches, they needed to phone their cable provider and order Country Canada.

The cable companies loved the idea, and we organized a sales and marketing campaign to support it.

We started three months ahead of the tournament. The cable companies promoted it. Their sales representatives in the call centres were briefed. We put bill-stuffers in the mail. We promoted its availability on our sports shows. We advertised in rinks around the country.

Everyone worked hard to make sure that all the curling fans knew that they had to subscribe to Country Canada. After three months, it was clear the campaign was a flop. Not nearly enough people signed up. There was no possibility that the hardcore curling fans would be able to see all the Brier matches.

With some trepidation, in late February 2005 we launched our coverage. No sooner did people discover that the games were inaccessible except on Country Canada than the shouting and moaning began.

Nobody knew where Country Canada was on their dial.

Nobody knew that they had to pay for it.

Nobody even knew what it was.

A torrent of angry letters, emails and phone calls began pouring into the CBC.

Remember this website?

The problem was compounded by the fact that the regulations governing Country Canada limited the amount of sports we could broadcast on any particular day. As a result, we sometimes switched away from the game before it was over. Thus, even those who managed to find Country Canada and subscribe to it were badly treated. Nobody could believe that we would leave the match before it ended, but we did.

The papers had a field day with the CBC’s bizarre incompetence.

There was much laughing at our expense. Even CBC radio covered the controversy in an aggressive and unpleasant way.

The principal flak-catchers for all the discontent that comes the CBC’s way are a group known as Audience Relations. They inhabit a windowless set of offices in one of the more obscure parts of the Toronto Broadcast Centre. The work is unenviable and their lives brutish.

All day, aggrieved viewers and listeners bombard them with complaints. A certain show is too sexy. Peter Mansbridge‘s tie is hideous. The correspondent in London is a communist. They hate the music on Radio 2.

Whatever. All day long, they sit there being lambasted by tidal waves of grievance and invective.

As the curling controversy mounted, it became clear that the Audience Relations department was imploding. Shell-shocked employees could be seen, trembling and glassy-eyed, stumbling out of their warren. They twitched and spooked like veterans of too many firefights.

Even their leader, normally proud and fearless, seemed tentative and jumpy, uncertain which way to direct his broken troops.

Nancy Lee and I decided to visit the wretches and buck them up with doughnuts and encouragement. They welcomed us with desperate enthusiasm. We listened to their tales. Some were near tears.

The enraged curling fans, it turned out, were the most abusive and unpleasant complainers they had ever had to deal with. One hardened veteran said she could not believe the invective.

“I could tell from her voice that she was old. It croaked and creaked. She called me ‘dearie’ and then described the CBC as a bunch of ‘poisonous toads’ and ‘s**t bags.’

“Another old lady screamed at me for five minutes. She told me to do terrible things to myself with a toilet brush. I have never been so abused by anyone.”

Our 2005 cover story on the patchwork deal

They showed me emails that consisted of strings of curses and maledictions, one expletive after another, brutal and angry. The viewers seemed sometimes in such a rage that they fell into utter incoherence.

“You are a pack of s**t-brained idiots. You cut away before the last end! What a collection of ignorant, stupid, ugly, demented, moronic pieces of crap. Death to the CBC. Death!”

The effect was startling. I had no idea that people could be so rude.

“Is this typical?” I asked. “Is this what happens if we have an outage during a hockey game?”

“Oh, no,” they said, “the curling fans are the worst. Far and away the worst. Hockey fans are never as bad. And the old ladies are the worst, far and away.”

As the firestorm progressed, the advertisers were also getting clobbered by the unhappy fans. Some seemed to feel that Scott paper was responsible – it was, after all, the Scott Tournament of Hearts.

They threatened not to buy any more Scott paper. For its part, Scott was, not surprisingly, quite upset with the whole sorry business. As the fiasco unfolded, they were being towed under with us.

I called the head of Scott’s marketing department to apologize and engage in some mea culpa. Scott was a big and important customer of the CBC. I explained that we were blitzing the country with ads explaining where to find the games, that we would never again leave a game before it is over, that all the really big matches, the finals, would be on the main network, etc., etc., woof, woof.

His response was not warm. He clearly agreed with the curling fans that we were a collection of idiots, although he was too polite to put it that bluntly. Doubtless we would pay for our stupidity in the future.

The Canadian Curling Association, which owns the curling championships, was equally unhappy. They demanded that we turn the property over to TSN. We refused.

They announced that they would unilaterally abrogate our contract with them. We threatened to sue them. They said rude things to us. We turned the whole mess over to the lawyers. Eventually we realized that the relationship was beyond repair and released them.

They signed almost immediately with TSN.

From the book The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC, ©2012. Published in 2012 by Douglas & McIntyre: an imprint of D&M Publishers Inc. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

[Click on images to increase viewing size]

Posted on

2012 TSN Curling Skins – Koe victorious over Stoughton

Team Koe with the cheque they are trying to take as carry-on for their flight home ... seriously!

Words by TSN, Image by Anil Mungal

RAMA, Ont. – Alberta’s Kevin Koe added another victory to his impressive curling resume, as he hurried hard to win the 2012 TSN Curling Skins Game and take home $43,900 in prize money over the course of the two-day invitational at Casino Rama in Rama, ON.

Koe was crowned Skins champion after defeating Manitoba ’s Jeff Stoughton five skins to two in the final earlier this afternoon.

This marks Koe’s first victory at a TSN Skins Game and his prize money this year includes $23,600 from today’s final, plus $10,300 from yesterday’s semifinal and a $10,000 bonus for winning the entire tournament. With today’s win, Koe has now pocketed a total of $51,900 in TSN skins game prize money over the past two years.

Stoughton takes home $8,400 from today’s final for a total of $23,200 in prize money won over the weekend.

Koe was in control early in the game, stealing the first two skins worth $2,000 each and then stealing once again in the fifth following a carry over ($5,600) and in the sixth ($4,000) to take a commanding lead. Stoughton, who scored $2,400 in the third end, came back to take the big $6,000 skin with the hammer in the seventh end to stay in contention for the win heading into the final end.

In the eighth frame, it all came down to the last rock of the match – and Koe made a booming triple takeout to score two points and secure the victory, winning the skin (worth $10,000) and the winner’s bonus, worth an extra $10,000.

The overall money results for the 2012 TSN Curling Skins Game are as follows:

·        Team Koe: $43,900 ($33,900 in skins prize money + $10,000 winner’s bonus)

·        Team Stoughton : $23,200

·        Team Martin: $6,700 ($5,700 in skins prize money + $1,000 draw to the button bonus)

·        Team Howard: $1,200




Posted on

Radical revamp to TSN Skins Curling

Words by George Karrys, Image by Anil Mungal

Vic Rauter, George Cooke and Stewart Johnston (L to R)

RAMA, Ont. – Here’s the official word: The Dominion continues to ramp up its involvement in and support of the Roaring Game, and has been announced as the title sponsor of the “2013 The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game” at Casino Rama.

Chief Executive Officer George Cooke was on hand – along with TSN president Stewart Johnston – for the live announcement during the fourth-end break of the 2012 final between teams Kevin Koe and Jeff Stoughton, and was obviously delighted to reveal the news.

“We at The Dominion are excited to be the title sponsor of the THE DOMINION ALL-STAR CURLING SKINS GAME” said Cooke. “This event will raise the profile of curling in Canada, pushing it upward in the hierarchy of sport – parallel to that of hockey, baseball or basketball which all have All-Star game events.

“Enabling curlers and curling teams to take part in the team selection furthers The Dominion’s commitment to the growth of grassroots curling in Canada.”

And here’s the big twist: you, the curling fan, will be able to vote in advance – online – to decide the competing players.

Interesting stuff.

What’s unknown at this time is what this will mean for teams that have until previously been permitted to wear their own uniforms (atrocious or not). My guess is that each participating team will have to wear a special uniform prepared by the event – similar to CCA championship events – that will feature event logos, such as The Dominion, TSN etc. The alternative would be a cacophony of colours, designs and logos that even the most hardened fan of curling colour might find difficult to stomach.

I’m also guessing that the players wouldn’t be big fans of that – although they are no doubt aware that this is a third-party event which can pick and choose the rules (and the competitors) as they darn well like. A saw-off might see the event sew player sponsor logos onto the provided jerseys, once the players were confirmed.

But if the players were announced just as the All-Star Skins was due to begin – at a media launch the day before, for example – that could mean an all-night sewing session!

There’s no date set for the January 2013 reboot, and the early indication is that The Dominion is on board as sponsor in a multi-year deal, so there are many more details to come.

Johnston’s official quote was also interesting:

“TSN’s partnership with The Dominion extends to the insurance company’s extensive programs and platforms supporting grassroots curling in Canada , including The Dominion Curling Club Championship – the ultimate experience for club curlers”, said Johnston.

“Beginning in December 2012, TSN will air an annual one-hour special on The Dominion Curling Club Championship, as the country’s top men’s and women’s club championship teams are afforded the opportunity to compete not only within their province or territory, but also nationally in the CCA sanctioned event.”

All sounds great. Hearty congrats to the TSN Skins Game and The Dominion, loyal curling supporters… and also advertising partners with us here at The Curling News!

Posted on

Vote for your Skins curling teams

Words by George Karrys

RAMA, Ont. – As learned earlier today by The Curling News, TSN is making a live television announcement – right now – that The Dominion will become the title sponsor of the 2013 Curling Skins Game, and will radically revamp the way the four teams are selected for the competition.

We’ve heard that FAN VOTING will determine the four skips, but that’s not all… there is speculation that those skips will then DRAFT THEIR PLAYERS from another three teams (to be specified, somehow) to fill out their lineups.

The Curling News will confirm and post the details as soon as we receive them, and those details just might be online now, as you’re reading these words. Just click or re-click on the “BLOG” tab near the top of any page…

Posted on

2012 TSN Curling Skins – Stoughton into final

Tough night for Glenn Howard

Words by TSN, Image by Anil Mungal

RAMA, Ont. – Reigning world champion Jeff Stoughton swept up another curling victory, as the Winnipeg native pocketed $14,800 in prize money and secured his spot in Sunday’s final of the 2012 TSN Curling Skins Game. 

Stoughton moves on to the final after defeating Ontario’s Glenn Howard five skins to one in what was a rematch of last year’s Tim Hortons Brier final.

After forcing a carry-over with the hammer in the first end, Stoughton stole the skin in the second end worth $2,000 and never looked back.

Howard managed to pick up one skin early in the game, netting $1,200 with the hammer in the third end.

Stoughton won the skin in the fourth end with a final stone raise double takeout before going on to win the last three skins of the game, including stealing the skin in the seventh end worth $3,000 to secure his decisive victory over the hometown favourite. 

Stoughton now faces Alberta’s Kevin Koe in the final tomorrow at 1:00 pm ET.

(Click on image to increase viewing size)


Posted on

2012 TSN Skins Game – Howard vs Stoughton at the break

Where should we put it?

Words and Image by Anil Mungal

RAMA, Ont. – The first end comes down to a measure, and a resulting carry-over.

The second end has less rocks in play than the first and looks more like a non-skins curling end. Glenn Howard‘s first shot doesn’t curl as much as he anticipated, leaving him with a tough second shot – and results in a Stoughton steal.

The third end sees Howard with an open draw for two, which he makes to take his first skin.

The fourth end sees the runback king, Jeff Stoughton, make a raise double takeout to take the skin and lead $3,300-$1,200 at the fourth end break.

(Click on image to increase size)

Posted on

2012 TSN Curling Skins – Howard vs Stoughton

Team Howard is greeted by the fans at Casino Rama

Words and Image by Anil Mungal

RAMA, Ont. – This evening’s game features a re-match of last year’s Brier final with Team Glenn Howard facing off against Team Jeff Stoughton.

This is Team Stoughton’s first appearance here at Casino Rama, and they are very excited to be here.

Glenn Howard, who lives about 45 minutes away, can perhaps use the local crowd to his advantage.

A full house at the Casino Rama Entertainment Centre awaits some more Skins action.

(Click on image to increase viewing size)