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2015 Worlds: Did Ping-Pong rocks squish Canada?

A three-timage sequence showing the attempted "Squish"
A three-image sequence on the attempted “Squish”

[Click on image sequence to increase viewing size]

Exciting stuff at the world men’s championship in Halifax.

USA, skipped by John Shuster, scored their first winning record (6-5) since Pete Fenson went 8-3 back at Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, in 2010, but lost in a playoff tiebreaker to colourful Finland. Then, Norway beat Canada for the second time this week, pushing The Pants into Sunday’s final for the second year in a row and dropping Canada down to tonight’s semifinal, where they will lock horns with the winner of Finland versus Sweden.

Earlier this week, guest blogstar Dean Gemmell was in Halifax… and he mentioned something called The Squish.

Here’s another reference to The Squish, and it comes from last night’s NOR vs CAN page playoff tilt. In the 10th end, CAN skip Pat Simmons tried a tricky hit for two that involved “squishing” the first of two red stones in the combo at left (see image sequence) into the back of the rings, for two points and the win. A single point would score only the tie.

As we all know, the shooter stuck for the tying point but that elusive second red point squished through the back of the house and out of play. It wasn’t even close, actually, and Norway went on to score their winning point in the extra end.

Would that elusive “squished” stone have stuck around in the back if Simmons had struck the first stone off centre, and rolled his shooter across (but not out) of the rings?

Here’s another question: Are the rocks these athletes are throwing and sweeping any different than stones from the past – even the near past – and would those old-school curling stones have reacted differently, as per the wishes of Team Canada?

Ask around, and you might find some past legends of the game who might say something between “maybe” and “definitely.”

We recall a lengthy, three-part interview series we published with the legendary Ed Werenich back in 2009 (Feb/Mar/April issues, Vol. 52, Issues 4/5/6). Eddie was lamenting recent differences in curling stone quality, pointing to what he believed are unnatural stone tendencies these days, which includes takeout results… and said The Wrench:

I would like to see them get rid of the magic mushroom rocks that go down the sheet and break four feet from the hogline in. It takes a person that can read ice and then call ice… it takes that stuff right out of the game. It’s just too easy, with the sweeping instruments of today, to flop one around.

We gotta get rid of the inserts and the sandpaper to get back to the way where the rocks curled on a consistent basis all the way down. Because of the rocks it’s too easy to make double, triple peels. The rocks are like ping-pong balls. I see five or six rocks in motion from throwing just one shot. We always used to talk about the quality of the granite.

So there you go. Did these “magic mushroom” or “ping-pong ball” curling stones befuddle Team Canada’s attempt to win the 1 vs 2 playoff game?

[Image sequence from WCTV coverage – click here to watch the video highlight at the 2:05 mark]


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Werenich and the corner guard

Some great memories today coming from the Toronto Sun curling column penned by TCN publisher George Karrys.

The occasion was the induction of the Dream Team, Eddie Werenich’s legendary 1983 world champion squad – including Paul Savage, John Kawaja and Neil Harrison – into the Ontario Sports Legends Hall of Fame (photo above taken at the famed Molson Classic cashspiel at Toronto’s downtown Royal Canadian Curling Club).

The induction ceremony went down Saturday at the final Toronto Argonaut football game of the season.

The column explains how The Wrench led a number of curling revolutions: the first successful team of four skips; a history of antagonizing curling officials; the first to throw a corner guard.

One of Eddie’s favourite tales made it into the story: the time a first-rock corner guard against Jim Sharples prompted a Sharples team meeting… and when the guard was peeled and then replaced, it was followed by yet another on-ice team meeting.

Karrys heard from Sharples this morning.

“I read your article in the Sun this morning with interest and just a bit of nostalgia,” said Sharples.

“As you probably know, Eddie and I had a large number of tilts against each other. He was always trying to get me into a draw game and I was always trying to avoid it for obvious reasons. No one could outdraw the Wrench, and the sweeping he had was second to none. Besides, I had enough pressure at work and therefore tried to avoid it on the ice.”

The “Eagle” went on to point out that while Werenich probably was the first curler to throw the corner guard in the very first end of a game, “The first person I saw using it was Alf Phillips Jr. in 1967.

“He had a secret signal and I watched him deliberately drop a corner short of an opponent’s stone (Terry Patton) in the provincial at Orillia – we had seen the signal at an interclub game at the old Parkway Club. Alfie probably wouldn’t have won the Provincial and Brier that year if he hadn’t done that.

Keith Jewett tells me that a couple of the Unionville teams were using the corner guard a year or so before that and that is probably where Alfie got the idea.”

Phillips Jr., of course, was Toronto’s 1967 Brier champion skip.

The Sharples point is duly noted by the author, and, in fact, Werenich himself did pay homage to Phillips Jr., but the quote was edited from the final story. Here’s the missing excerpt:

“But I got all that (corner guard strategy) from Alfie Phillips Jr.,” said Werenich.
“Back then the ice didnt curl, and there was no free guard zone rule.
“If nothing else you got rocks in play, and then you found out if you could play, at least the way the game is meant to be played.”

Sharples, a conservative “hitter” through much of his career, goes on to good-naturedly point out that it wasn’t that his squad “didn’t know what to do” when faced with the opening-stone corner guard (Yeah, we know, Eagle… that’s Eddie for ya!).

And The Curling News echoes Sharples’ recognition of his improved draw game, which was displayed in recent years.

“The ironic part of all of this was that in my later years my draw game became better than my hit game and allowed me to win (two Seniors and a Masters Canadian championship),” said Sharples.

“Maybe I should have been drawing against the Wrench. Great memories!”

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2011 Brier to London

The last time the Brier appeared in London, Ontario was the year 1974.

Eddie Werenich, The Wrench, was there, playing second for his future third, Paul Savage. Another legend, Bernie Sparkes, was there… playing third for his future third – and the 2009 world wheelchair champion skip – Jim Armstrong.

Quebec’s Jim Ursel was there; he would win the Brier on home ice three years later.

And, of course, the eventual champions from Alberta were there (screen capture above), skipped by the Friendly Giant: Hec Gervais.

Thirty-five years later, Gervais’ second – the CCA’s Warren Hansen – is no doubt jetting to London for tomorrow’s news conference to announce the return of the Tim Hortons Brier to that city, in March of 2011.

Local media has the advance story here.

The 2010 Tim Hortons Brier returns to Halifax, just a few days following the conclusion of the Vancouver 210 Olympic Winter Games.

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Schmirler Golf 2009

THORNHILL, Ontario – The Sandra Schmirler Foundation was the big winner as another $30,000 was raised from a day of golf at Thornhill Golf & Country Club.
The seventh annual Sandra Schmirler Golf Classic, sponsored by curling boosters The Dominion and Capital One and convened by CBC curling talkie Mike Harris, saw 34 foursomes gather on what proved to be a day of spectacular (ie. rain-free) golf.

In the Anil Mungal photo at left, three-time world champion Glenn Howard takes a whack (click image to increase size).

Other celebrity golfers taking part included Wayne and Sherry Middaugh, the rest of Team Howard, Eddie “The Wrench” Werenich and long-time teammate Neil Harrison, and Marnie McBean, the four-time Olympic rowing medallist and Canadian sport legend.

McBean found herself on the winning foursome, teamed with curling’s Al Hanks, the Dominion marketing whiz; John Shea (whose firm delivers The Dominion’s comprehensive insurance program specifically tailored to curling venues) and David Beesley, the longtime sponsorship salesman for the Canadian Curling Association.

The event came four days after a Schmirler Foundation fundraising tournament in Winnipeg. Future Schmirler golf events are scheduled for Edmonton (August 6), Regina (August 13), and Halifax (September 17 & 18).

The Dominion and Capital One both sponsor dozens of curling events and teams. Major properties include The Dominion Curling Club Championship and the Capital One Grand Slam of Curling.

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The Curling News: March 2009 Brier issue

The Brier.

It’s a curling tradition. And we at The Curling News have a Brier tradition: the careful, loving production of this essential issue, with all the reportage, speculation, photos, TV info and well, stuff that one could ever ask for.

Feast your eyes on this one, folks. In this issue…

• Here We Go Again: will anyone else crash Calgary’s Kevin Martin versus Glenn Howard Brier party?

• Innsbruck 2012: yes, there’s more curling in another Olympic Games, folks… and Rodger Schmidt says the new Youth Winter Olympic Games just might save the sport of curling

• Big Brotherly Love: Howard versus Howard at the Brier – why is it historic, and who has beaten whom, and where and when, leading up to the battle?

• The Wrench Speaks Yet Again: our final chapter, third of three, with Ed “The Wrench” Werenich… and you’d better believe he names the names

• The Curling News TV Guide: our monthly look at curling on television, with a bonus feature on new TSN talkie Brian Mudryk

• Brier Changes Afoot? Larry Wood has spies on the ground and all kinds of wild rumours on big changes coming to the sport of curling

• Sponsor Watch: Recession? What recession? New curling sponsors for CCA and for the WCF, too

• U.S. Curling Flaws: Matt Hames came, he played and then wrote about the U.S. Olympic Trials system

• Capital One Grand Slam Report: the BDO Canadian Open, “Average Guy” Ron, Capital One Cup points update, and Grey Power on tap for Grande Priaire

• 51 Years Ago: We revisit the March 18, 1958 issue of Canadian Curling NewsMatt Baldwin wins his second Brier in a row over high-school aged Terry Braunstein, and you won’t believe the photo of a teenaged Ray “Tay” Turnbull

• A Tale of Many Howards: Glenn, Russ, and now Ashley, Scott and Carly (and Judy)… when is the Howard invasion going to stop?

• Q & A with Greg Stremlaw: the CCA CEO on his first 18 months on the job, and what still needs to be done

• They Said It: Martin, Dacey, Ferbey, Morris, Mead, Brown, Corner, Howard, Kennedy and 1953 Brier champ Russ Jackman in our monthly quotable quotes


So… why not subscribe today?

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Spinal Tap Curling

Glenn Howard. Jennifer Jones. Pat Ryan. HartLaingSavill. Ed Werenich. Joan McCusker. Sherry Middaugh. Mike Harris. Cathy Overton-Clapham.
Not a bad list of celebrity curling stars, who arrive in Thornhill, Ontario tonight for Saturday’s 18th annual Dominion of Canada Spinal Tap Mixed Bonspiel.

The little bonspiel that could has very quietly raised $250,000 for spinal injury research – until now, entirely without celebrities – since 1991, the year after a young curler named Ryan Durham broke his neck in a swimming accident and became confined to a wheelchair.

Nearly two decades later, Durham is still a fundraising dynamo for the Canadian Spinal Research Organization and its impressive Shoot For A Cure fundraising campaign, which has become very big in pro hockey (it’s also got a curling division, located here). And Durham is also the Business Development Director for The Curling News (ahem)… and, of course, he’s still running the Spinal Tap.

Last July, Thornhill Golf & Country Club hosted the Sandra Schmirler Golf Classic. You may even recall a great series of pics, shot by Anil Mungal, which showed Jennifer Jones agonizing over a missed putt.

Ryan Durham showed up later for cocktails, and did a whole bunch of convincing.

He convinced Glenn Howard to allow himself to be auctioned off as a celebrity skip some seven months later, at the Spinal Tap.

He convinced tournament sponsor The Dominion of Canada to allow a live auction item to suddenly join the proceedings, in fact as the last item of a long dinner/presentation agenda.

He convinced tournament host and emcee Mike Harris to be the auctioneer.

And some 45 minutes later, much Durham’s surprise and glee, no less than nine superstar curlers had been auctioned off for many thousands of dollars, with Capital One curling impresario Ian Cunningham agreeing to fly in the out-of-towners and put everybody up at nearby hotels.

The big day is tomorrow, with the celebs hitting the ice with their various teams at 10:45 am and again at 4:00pm. In between, at 12:30pm, they will gather for a four-end Skins Game rematch – Howard versus Jones – with a few twists thrown in, namely:

• two of the ends will be played from wheelchairs, with the official rules of Paralympic and world wheelchair curling in effect;

• Howard will play for Shoot For A Cure and Jones will play for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, with a $4,000 pot up for grabs.

The details of this new celebfest have come together nicely. Thornhill is setting up bleacher seating to accommodate extra fans (no jeans, please). There’s a mammoth silent auction table ready to go, and special menu items are available in the adjacent cafe.

When Overton-Clapham had a cortisone shot earlier this week – she’s now been knocked off the ice, although she’s still attending – the combination of Pat Ryan and Peter Steski quickly stepped in. Rogers Sportsnet broadcaster – and ace Oshawa curlerRob Faulds will emcee the dinner.

And there’s also some teams chock full of celebrity-worthy status, like the squad featuring recently-departed Alison Goring third Cathy Auld, Team Wayne Middaugh second John Epping and Team Julie Reddick member Leigh Armstrong… not that we would ever mention the name of the skip who blatantly stacked this formidable squad… right, mister President-of-The DominionGeorge Cooke?

Congrats and thanks to the celebs, the participating teams, Thornhill G & CC and the sponsors for what will no doubt be a memorable day.

Oh…. and congrats and thanks to Ryan Durham, too.

It’s Friday, folks. And that means there’s still more going on in the wonderful world of curling…

• As of Friday morning Russ Howard was 1-1 in his drive to get back to Brier and, following that, his hometown worlds in Moncton

• Last night’s anticipated Alberta A-side matchup of Kevin Martin versus Randy Ferbey was, um, rather forgettable. Here’s the view from Calgary and another story from Edmonton.

Speaking of these two, is it possible that Martin and Ferbey are becoming buddies? Heavens, we should hope not.

And in our last bit on Alberta, did you know that ex-Martin lead Don Bartlett is back, with a great new back, and competing in the provincial?

• It was Mark Dacey over Shawn Adams in Nova Scotia last night; and here’s some more on the Bluenoser provincial

• In Quebec, Martin Ferland has qualified for the big A1 vs B1 game, while famed comeback kid Guy Hemmings is also at 7-1 …

Sean Geall is in contention out in British Columbia

• And let’s not forget the Moose Callers up in Northern Ontario

Kerry Burtnyk is the top seed at next week’s Manitoba Safeway Select, and here’s a look back at his fateful win in 2001

• DID YOU KNOW: that the 2009 Swiss Championships start Saturday? Here’s a brief preview ….

• Here’s a feature on curling in Brookline, MA, starring some high school students …

• Students from francophone schools across Saskatchewan recently descended on Nipawin for some curling fun …

• DID YOU KNOW II: that Saskatchewan’s Players’ Championship is underway?

Paul Weicek says: extend the curling season

• Hmm… according to the Burlington Post, the lead for Team Peter Corner is Paul Moffatt. We actually thought it’s Brad Savage

• Speaking of errant writing: did you say… Furbey?

• That’s right, Charles and Ken… the joke is on you!

• Will Eugene Hritzuk’s last-minute Ashams do the job of 16-year-old Dacks?

• Curlers and officials in BC are both saying they would support the idea of a BC Curling Tour. But wasn’t something like that attempted last season?

• Brantford’s 63-year-old Johnson Wax bonspiel is fading, with only 16 teams entered this year…

• We have a science-curling crisis, folks. Apparently, outgoing Washington climatologist Phil Mote has “picked on curling” as an analogy for planet Earth’s climate sensitivity …

• DID YOU KNOW III: that tre curlinghåp til ungdoms-OL? Er… now you do!

• This Brit skiier thinks curling is brill, man …

• And finally, the winner of USA Curling’s eBay auction – where the winning bidder’s photo-of-their choice will cover the on-ice buttons at the upcoming U.S. Olympic Team Trials championship – has apparently gone to the dogs

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All Howard, all the time

A roundup of event results, and more, starting with the Ontario men.

In Woodstock it was pretty much all Glenn Howard, all the time. His one loss in the round-robin came on a sweeping error, and then – slightly miffed – he proceeded to win his next two matches by a combined score of 18-0.

Peter Corner’s gang of impressive part-timers kept things interesting in the Page 1-2 game, taking Cliffy down to last stone, but the championship final was a debacle – 3-nil out of the gate, 6-nil and then 7-nil. It mercifully ended well in advance of the requested TV minimum number of ends… actually in five, we think.

Speaking of Rogers TV, they continue to improve each year on what is a comprehensive level of event coverage. There are still some shocking mistakes, of course… such as immediately after the Page playoff, when host Matt McCooey explained that Corner would go on to face “the Lobels” in the semifinal (it was actually Joe Frans) and then Marilyn Bodogh opened her winner’s interview by calling Glenn “Russ Howard” at point-blank range. Sadly for Glenn, he must be used to it by now, because he carried on like a trooper, without even a blink.

Of note is the record Howard set: his 11th provincial title (fourth as a skip), breaking the record he had previously tied with Ed Werenich. It was also the fourth straight title for his squad of Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill, tying a record for the most consecutive titles by a foursome.

That’s right, Richie… that’s actually four, not two (TCN photo by Anil Mungal).

Howard set that original mark with his older brother Russ, Wayne Middaugh and – of course – Corner, from 1991-94.

There’s some rocky editing involved, but here’s some audio – plus pics – from Howard, Hart and Corner… and here’s some thoughts on Woodstock’s hosting job, crowd numbers etc.

Finally, here’s a nifty innovation: an online write-in poll asking “What Dream Team of any curlers could beat Team Howard?” …


Brad Gushue is back into the Brier, and this piece from mid-competition has some, er, interesting public comments posted below the story …

Pat Simmons couldn’t make it five in a row, and accomplished rookie Joel Jordison is off to the Brier. Saskatchewan scribe Murray McCormick dubbed it a strange Tankard

• The Kirkness sisters are back in the Scotties representing Manitoba, and this completes the field for Victoria …

• PEI’s Brett Gallant and Manitoba’s Kaitlyn Lawes are off to Vancouver for the World Juniors… and so is Scotland’s Eve Muirhead, the two-time and defending world junior women’s champ. Graeme Black will represent the Scottish men. Scot story and pics here and more pics here, and here’s a bit more on Lawes, who won world bronze last year …

CTV’s Olympic website went live today, which includes a curling page

• The B.C. men’s provincial starts today, and here’s a preview

Likewise for Quebec, which starts today, too …

Bob Weeks has some weekend thoughts plus a new column today …

• This story on Saskatoon’s application to host another Brier might be interesting 10-15 years ago. The truth these days is that the Brier rotates among only seven Canadian cities anyway, and Saskatoon is one of them …

• DID YOU KNOW: the Hope Classic in Thunder Bay raised more money in its first five or six years than the Heart to Heart Bonspiel ever did?

• First Guelph, then Welland, as the Jennifer Jones tour of Ontario continued

• Last year Laurier’s men and women swept the Ontario University Athletics curling championship; this year it was the Stangs, whose coach was named top gun of the year before the championships had even finished …

• For a moment, we thought the “Camp Trillium” that received $10,000 in this bonspiel fundraiser was the famed Trillium Junior Curling Camp

Krista McCarville is the latest to appear on The Curling Show

• And finally… to the most awesome background music of Journey’s classic Caddyshack song, some really cute Little Rockers took to the ice between the Canadian Junior semifinals …

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More curling sons and daughters

Lots today. There’s a big Ontario player meeting tomorrow; some Seinfeld mischief; Jennifer Jones in Guelph; many hugs in Moncton; a Polish flame; Soo tickets already; the death of Gordie Weber and more.

But first – this nice photo of proud papas Neil Harrison (far left) and Paul Savage (far right) and their sons, Sean Harrison (inside left) and Brad Savage.

Sean toils for Team Chris Gardner, a fine young squad competing at the 2009 Ontario Tankard which is also off to China very shortly, for the 2009 Winter Universiade, otherwise known as the World University Games.

Brad throws lead for Team Peter Corner, currently in second place and confirmed for the Tankard playoffs this weekend.

The original Harrison and Savage, of course, are curling legends… and their old skipper, Eddie “The Wrench” Werenich was also at Woodstock yesterday.

You can read this story and much more by downloading the various editions of the daily event newsletter, the Bull Roar, from this webpage.

And don’t forget the first of our huge, multi-part interviews with The Wrench which is in the current February print edition of The Curling News. It’s typically controversial stuff, and you can’t read it online, so why not subscribe?

Believe us, you’ll be glad you did.

Anyway, this continues yesterday’s father/daughter theme starring Russ and Ashley Howard. And, although we’ve told you this already – come on, people – we are compelled to point out that still yet another Howard, Scott Howard, lost the Ontario junior men’s championship final on the same day his dad – Glenn Howard – lost the Casino Rama skins final to Randy Ferbey. You can see a photo of Scott Howard in action in the story link, too.

And now for the hard news.

The Ontario Curling Association will be present – with no less than six high-powered suits in attendance – at an Open Forum meeting with athletes Saturday morning in Woodstock.

The goal is to attempt to thrash out long-discussed changes to Ontario’s archaic playdown system.

The meeting is no surprise. The usually disorganized athletes have been united in recent weeks, and from the OCA perspective, the absence of a fellow like Wayne Middaugh – who wilfully chose to compete in a Grand Slam event instead of his last chance provincial playdown – tends to get people’s attention. As in fans, sponsors, et cetera.

“Let’s not do (zones and regional qualifying) in curling clubs in January on crappy ice with nobody watching,” says a rather blunt Richard Hart in today’s Toronto Star. “Bring all the best teams to one location at the provincial and then bring the fans in to watch it. It’s a great show.”

“Love him or hate him, Wayne should be here,” said Peter Steski. “Everybody wins if you have the best teams here – the curlers win, the OCA wins, the host committee wins, the fans win.

“I don’t see how anyone can lose.”

And what is the OCA attitude heading into the meeting?

“We don’t really care what the format is as long as the host committee’s needs are met and the sponsors’ needs are met,” said OCA exec Doug Bakes.

Okay, then… that certainly sounds promising.

Incidentally, the original version of this story, located here, concludes with more Steski hijinks – make that George Costanza of Seinfeld fame – and a washroom incident starring the event mascot.

Must be a Friday.

And on that note, here’s your Friday linkfest …

• Moncton celebrated 60 “sweeps” before the Ford Worlds yesterday. The event included an outdoor rink set up right in front of city hall and the World Curling Federation mascot, Skip, engaged in a massive hug-a-thon …

• Speaking of outdoor curling, you can do that tomorrow at Winterfest in Surrey, British Columbia …

Jennifer Jones did her corporate/charity thing yesterday in Guelph, Ontario …

Chelsea Carey is 4-0 in Manitoba STOH play, and we like the cool “downtown” squad photos on her team website

Pat Simmons and Joel Jordison are headed for an A-side showdown at the Saskatchewan men’s Tankard …

• Given the Canadian Juniors currently going on, you might expect that a new website which focusses on junior and university curling would be very active this week. You would be correct …

• Speaking of youths, Trent University is hosting OUA curling action this weekend… and here are last year’s award winners

• Still with young people, the big flame in Poland has been lit for the 2009 European Youth Olympic festival. Yes, it will feature curling, but more on that later …

• Early bird tickets are on sale for the 2010 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario… and while CCA’s Warren Hansen notes that “Right now, people in the Sault are the only ones aware of it,”… uh, whoops, it looks like we’ve just taken the news around the world!

Anyway, be sure to note the early bird event dates, due to the Vancouver Olympics: January 30 to February 7 …

• DID YOU KNOW: that just a few days after dumping two-time world junior champ Charley Thomas from his men’s team, Calgary’s Chris Schille won a WCT-E event at Prague, in the Czech Republic? Well, now you do …

• In this nice piece by Cookie Gilchrist, we discover that legendary Labatt sponsor liaison Gord Weber has passed away. Weber was instrumental in delivering Labatt Beweries into the Brier sponsorship in 1980, and was also a big booster of other sport and community endeavours …

• The Associated Press has picked up on Pete Fenson’s defeat in the race for the U.S. 2010 Olympic berth, and scored some quotes from the disappointed skip …

• Awright you Slave Lakers! Lots of pics and a video accompany this story on their men’s bonspiel

• Spain has their national mixed and mixed doubles playdowns this weekend

• Come on Robert, your pal Arnold expects more than this

• And finally, more images of Bob’s Birthday Cake, posted to a different blog. Geez, this guy is pretty popular. Or perhaps it’s the cake …

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February 2009 issue: all killer, no filler

We have lots of newslinks for you today, but first, the February 2009 issue of The Curling News is now in the mail.

Inside you will find a plethora of curling goodies not seen on this blog, which you would do well to seek out. All killer, no filler.

Stuff like:

The Curling News TV Guide: only TCN gives you all the regional and national curling TV listings in one shot: provincials, Scotties, Super Leagues, you name it!

The Wrench Speaks: in the first of a multi-part TCN exclusive, living legend Ed Werenich speaks to The Curling News about absolutely everything… growing up in small-town Manitoba, the problems with women’s curling, the Olympic weight fiasco, Marilyn Bodogh, his crowning achievements (and regrets), his brief stint in the TV booth, Sandra Schmirler… and more!

• Our humungous cover story on the race for berths into Canadian Olympic Trials – who has the inside track in qualifying; how the CTRS system works; and which curlers are sick and tired of the whole thing …

Larry Wood opines that the previous Olympic qualifying system was just fine as it was, thank-you-very-much …

Letters: readers spout off on the TSN commentators, the number of curlers in Scotland and why women can’t beat men …

Battle of the Sexes Redux: inspired by a powerful Letter to the Editor, we examine criticism of the Casino Rama Skins experiment and explore the history of the Battle, which now sees the men tied with women at three wins apiece – yes, believe it or not – dating back to the first Battle in November 1973 …

• What’s in his wallet? Kevin Martin stars in a new Capital One TV commercial …

The Dominion Club Corner: a tale of Trillium grant dollars in Mitchell, Ontario and a golden 50th anniversary in Comox, BC …

• Capital One Grand Slam Stars of the Future: Craig Savill is in the spotlight, although he’s pretty much a star right now …

• The Ultimate Curling Rankings Primer: not only do we list all the men’s and women’s Gold Trail, CTRS, AWCT and Order of Merit standings, we try and explain just what the heck it all means …

And more!

Trust us, you don’t want to miss this one, folks. Make sure you subscribe today.

What else is happening? Geez, what isn’t?

Marla Mallett is the surprise 2009 B.C. STOH champion

• It was standing-room only at the Nova Scotia Scotties as Nancy McConnery became the surprise Nova Scotia champion, upsetting TCN’s own Mary-Anne Arsenault in the final. TCN’s own Teri Lake lost the tiebreaker with Team Jill Mouzar.

• Newfoundland is no surprise as Heather Strong has captured another title, her fifth in a row …

• Also advancing to the Scotties in Victoria is Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche, who beat arch-rival Eve Belisle in the Quebec final

• On Prince Edward Island, Kim Dolan is through to tonight’s final

Sherry Middaugh and Ontario – including calendar girl Chrissy Cadorinare underway today through Sunday, as are a whack of other provincial Scotties championships this week …

• In men’s play, Glenn Howard beat Kevin Martin in a very interesting Canadian Open Slam finale yesterday. It was a game of great shots and stupefying misses – though not as stupefying as those in last year’s Brier final – which helped make it a thoroughly entertaining affair.

Capital One contest winner Ron Trottier almost won a million bucks, but 10 grand ain’t too shabby.

Almost as entertaining – not really – has been the major-league whingeing over foul language dished out by the athletes.


Don Bartlett is back in the Alberta provincials, as is former two-time provincial finalist Jamie King. So is a fellow named Mike Hutchings, after winning the C-berth yesterday. As the story tells, the Peace district will be repped by Jeff Ginter and Kurt Balderston.

• In the south part of the province, Steve Petryk grabbed the A-berth, Rob Armitage took the B and the C-side finale goes tonight …

• In New Brunwick, names like Odishaw and Kennedy have made it through to the upcoming provincial finale …

• In nothern Sask, three pretty big names from the past are into the Tankard, while here’s the southern qualifiers

• CurlBC is looking for a Team Leader for their squad at the Wheelchair nationals in late March. Deadline for applications is January 30 …

• Question of the day: is Idaho Statesman writer Bethann Stewart disdainful toward curling, or just a rookie? His story, located here, starts with the zinger “curling, a sport that requires little or no athletic ability. And that’s just part of the charm.”

• And finally, what have our pals at The Curling Show podcast been up to? Well, they’ve recently posted Q7As with Dave Nedohin and John Morris, that’s what …

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Hot Shots curling game… and contest


The Ford Hot Shots have been around the Canadian Curling Association’s big events – the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts – for a long time now. On practice day, the entire field of sharpshooters gather and fire off six pre-set shots, totalling their scores, and eventually one competitor gets to walk away – er, drive away – with a new car.

Now, the CCA and Ford Motor Company of Canada have teamed up to let Joe and Jane Computer play… and play to win, too.

A new website has launched today , where you can discover everything about the ground-breaking contest which starting right now – on December 9, 2008 – and concluding on March 31, 2009; how to register, the rules, the competition (that’s the fun part) and the prizes.

It’s the first time that the CCA has unveiled an interactive skill-based game, and the grand prize will be similar to what one of the curlers competing at the 2009 Scotties in Victoria will win… a two-year lease of a new 2009 Ford Flex SEL FWD, with an estimated retail value of $22,747.

The two finalists will be determined by the total score from their best 20 games. There is no restriction on the number of times you can enter the Ford Hot Shots Online Game.

Upon the contest closing date at the end of March, the top two players – boasting the highest 20-game aggregate score – will be determined and then flown to Moncton, New Brunswick, site of the 2009 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship – the 50th anniversary Worlds! – for a one-game online playoff on Friday, April 10.

In addition to the grand prize, the runner-up prize is a Nintendo Wii Console, with Deca Sports Game Bundle and an autographed Mondetta Team Canada Jacket (which looks even better than the shirt): total approximate retail value $800.

There will also be a number of monthly prizes awarded from now through April such as Mondetta Canada Jackets (approx. retail value $500), Nintendo Wii Console and Deca Sports Game Bundle (approx. retail value $300) and $150 Gift Certificates, for use online only at the Event Max website – the official online store of the CCA’s Season of Champions.

The Ford Hot Shots Online Game is a mirror image of the on-ice skills competition, which has proven so popular at the Hearts and Brier with past winners including Kelley Law, Suzanne Gaudet, Colleen Jones, Jill Officer, Ed Werenich, Pat Ryan, Randy Ferbey, Mark Nichols and John Morris.

Participants must execute six basic curling shots: the Hit and Stay, Draw the Button, Draw the Port, the Raise, Hit and Roll and, of course, the knee-knocker… the Double Takeout.

Points are awarded depending on the success of each shot, along with bonus points generated for curling over the Ford logo in this special online version. Upon completion of the game, which only takes about three minutes to finish, your total score will be recorded and registered.

So there you have it. Game on, Joe and Jane, it’s your turn to shine with the Hot Shots!