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The Curling News: November 2009 issue

Here we go!

The first issue of the 2010 Olympic curling season is now arriving at subscriber’s doors, and in extremely limited supply at curling clubs.

Got yours?

We’ve updated our website with the latest TCN Top 15 Men and Women (hello there, new #1 Thomas Ulsrud!) and with selected contents of this issue… plus, we have not one but two Web Specials just for you.

Click here and read all about it!

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Russ roars and so much more

Russ Howard roared, particularly on this stone (a missed draw for two in the seventh end) but to no avail, as he lost yesterday’s Bern Open finale to Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud by a 7-5 score.

The 2006 Olympic and two-time world curling champion had a 4-1 lead but watched the Norwegian 2010 Olympic hopefuls take two in the fourth end plus a big three in the sixth to assume control.

Howard previously won the event in 2007, beating Ulsrud 4-3 in the semifinal with a steal in an extra-end.

Of course, if you are following The Curling News Twitter page (aka Tweets) then you would be aware of these results, and more (check it out now for Barrie results, wheelchair curling results in Norway, and stuff about broken toes).

And on the TCN Twitpic page you can see – yes, actually see – a blow-by-blow account of the conclusion to the Bern Open semifinal between Ulsrud and Scotland’s Peter Loudon, in which Ulsrud took two in the eighth before producing the hit and roll of the tournament, in the extra-end, for the 6-4 win.

Meanwhile, in nearby Kuesnacht, a battle of 2010 Olympic women’s hopefuls took place at the Grasshopper Women’s Masters. When the smoke cleared, Germany’s Andrea Schoepp had stolen a 7-6, extra-end win over Debbie McCormick of the United States.

In London, more Olympic internationals are through to today’s playoffs of the Southwestern Ontario Women’s Cashspiel (SWOWC) along with two-time defending champion Rachel Homan of Ottawa, Sherry Middaugh, Alison Goring and others.

At Medicine Hat, the Meyers Norris Penny Charity Classic also wraps up today – for both men and women – and the first big U.S. Tour stop of the season took place in St. Paul, MN, with Thunder Bay’s Mike Pozihun bringing the title back to Canada.

[Thanks to Switzerland’s LAOLA TV curling channel and Europe’s Curling Champions Tour for the visuals]

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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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Holland takes Schmirler; Oslo measure

Barely five months after being named Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Curing Association, Regina’s Amber Holland scored a big on-ice win at the Sandra Schmirler Charity Classic.
Holland beat out 2007 world champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna 6-3 in the finale, claiming she kept things “simple” during an 8-0 undefeated run.

As for the pic above… what’s that all about?

Sunday we told you of Oskar Eriksson’s upset victory at the Oslo Cup, and predicted a team blog update on Monday. Team Eriksson did not disappoint, and posted a huge dissertation of their playoff run along with a headline we suggested – perhaps they read The Curling News Blog?

The screen capture shows the very end of the game: a thrilling, last-stone measurement for the championship win. It could have gone either way, but hometown hero Thomas Ulsrud got another silver and the young guns came away with the big prize.

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Jones, Gushue rolling early

This busy weekend of curling continues with Monday’s finals of the Sandra Schmirler Charity Classic in Regina.
Among the quarterfinalists are Calgary’s Heather Rankin (photo above) who takes on 2007 world champion Kelly Scott on Monday morning.

Our friend Pal Trulsen kept his time warp going all the way to the semifinals in Oslo, where he finally lost to heir apparent Thomas Ulsrud. In the final, Sweden’s youthful Oskar Eriksson – second and fourth at the last two world junior championships – upset Ulsrud for the men’s victory.

We’re expecting the Swedes to update their team blog sometime on Monday… probably with a headline like Vi vann! or perhaps Helige Gud! Vi slog dem alla!

The women’s crown went to Canada’s Jennifer Jones, who took out a variety of strong teams including defending Olympic champion Anette Norberg in the final. Both Oslo Cup finales ended in 5-4 scorelines.

Elsewhere in Canada, the big story is that Brad Gushue won his third tournament in a row, beating Ian Fitzner-Leblanc in the final of the Appleton Cashspiel in Halifax. The Gushues took out Canada’s 2009 world junior rep Brett Gallant in one semi, while Fitzner-Leblanc defeated 2004 Brier champ Mark Dacey in the other.

KW Fall Classic in Kitchener saw Toronto’s Julie Hastings defeat Stoney Creek’s Karen Bell 4-2 while Bradford’s Dale Matchett beat Jake Higgs of Harriston 8-7 to win the men’s crown.

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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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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

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Curling Zombies on the road

Remember those loveable Curling Zombies?

They took to the streets, which is what zombies do.

They hung out at The Beer Store, which was something new.

They infatuated the Rogers TV folks during last February’s Ontario Tankard.

And believe it or not, they are still groaning their way around the country.

Fresh off this past Saturday’s screening at the CFC’s Worldwide Short Film Festival in Toronto, our favourite undead curlers are off to St. John’s in Newfoundland. Deadspiel will make its Eastern Canadian premier at the Nickel Independent Film Festival (June 23-27) with a show date of Thursday June 25, part of the 10:00pm Late Night Horror Show.

The film is also appearing at this week’s Detroit Windsor Film Fest, on Friday, June 26, and then in west-end Toronto at the Mississauga Independent Film Festival in early July.

Another showing will take place at Montreal’s famed Fantasia Festival next month.

We’ve got a recent feature from Independent Scene right here, and a brief trailer teaser was also recently released, which you can see here.

For more on the film, consult the Deadspiel website.

Other stuff…

• Some news from Norway. First, the country has produced its first DVD on curling, a 29-minute how-to which features Pal Trulsen and Thomas Ulsrud. Second, coach Thoralf Hognestad is stepping down from the Norwegian wheelchair curling team, which he guided to two world championships in 2007 and 2008 …

• Sweden has confirmed Team Anette Norberg as their women’s Olympic rep for Vancouver 2010. Meanwhile, young hopeful Niklas Edin is still in limbo, but feels his men’s team will get the nod sometime during or after December. You can see the formal announcements here

• According to the Vernon Morning Star, the B.C. town will host a Capital One Grand Slam of Curling men’s event in December of 2010

• Saskatchewan curling legends Sam Richardson and Jan Betker both make appearances in this short (1:23) video promoting Saskatchewan curling, part of the federal government’s Travel Canada promotion …

• For those of you who are suspicious of clicking on game links that we provide here – and we don’t necessarily blame you for your caution – the developers of the infamous “Brown Cow Curing” videogame (a web-based freebie) have posted some video of their effort …

• And finally, 2008 world champion Jennifer Jones teamed with new Edmonton Oliers hockey coach Pat Quinn for a recent appearance in Thunder Bay, Ontario

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Ford World Curling: Farewell

MONCTON – The Moncton Coliseum was full to the rafters Sunday night, and I was able to witness a rather amazing 50th anniversary men’s world championship final.

From my part, I’d like to thank gk for the opportunity to blog from this event. It was a blast!

Kudos for Moncton for the organization: everyone here ensured that the event is a success. Even the nightlife of a relatively small city offered plenty of entertainment throughout the week and I must tell you, those long nights are starting to show.

To quote the three-year-old daughter of a Finnish curling legend: “Mommy… Daddy smells like curling again!”

Thankfully, I’ve got no spouse nor kids waiting at home.

In addition to sleep deprivation and liver poisoning, I will go home with plenty of memories and new friends. After seeing a major curling event in Canada, I’m definitely tempted to come and check out another… perhaps next year’s Tim Hortons Brier in Halifax?

While I was disappointed for my brother Kalle (with me in the photo) and the Finnish team, I know they enjoyed themselves, from the moment they started their training camp in nearby Amherst, Nova Scotia to the final round of drink tokens in Sunday night’s Keith’s Patch.

And now that the week is over, it is also time to announce the winner of our “Hottest Player of Worlds 2009” vote.

Although I felt like an utter and complete bimbo for organizing it, the people in Moncton seemed to enjoy a bit of cheeky fun… and even the local media was happy to feature it to emphasize a different aspect of these big curling events.

When choosing my list of candidates, I consulted the media guys who were happy to help, once they had gotten the “I’m not gay, don’t ask me!” out of their system.

In addition to the voting possibility here at the blog – check out the first six candidates (and comments) here, and the final six candidates here – there was a paper vote available at the arena, and hundreds of ballots were cast.

For starters, all 12 nominated players received votes so there truly is an abundance of hot men in this game!

Also, three other gentlemen outside of our vote had caught the eye of the female spectators, and are nited for the record: Switzerland’s Markus Eggler, French front-ender Jan Ducroz and Scottish third Ewan MacDonald.

The result of the balloting went down to the wire. The difference between the winner and the player who came second was only two votes and our top two hotties hogged more than half of all the votes for themselves.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is your Top 5:

1. Thomas Ulsrud (Norway)
2. John Morris (Canada)
3. David Murdoch (Scotland)
4. Andreas Lang (Germany)
5. Tied: Thomas Dufour (France), Jan Hauser (Switzerand) and Jiri Snitil (Czech Republic).

Thank you Moncton… and farewell!