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Curling Weekend

This is quite the curling weekend!

As we told you earlier today, the 2010 Canadian Seniors get underway tomorrow in Ottawa, Canada.

Also starting on Saturday, March 210 and running through March 28 is the 2010 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship, from Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Jennifer Jones is off the media bench and back on the ice for her third World appearance in a row representing Canada, and she is looking to rebound from last year’s disappointing fourth-place finish in Gangneung, Korea. The home team will be challenged by defending champions China, Denmark and Scotland, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the teams from the USA, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Japan, too.

This event also features the debut appearance of Latvia, whose team is coached by Brian Gray, a Scotsman who lives and coaches in Switzerland. Here’s our previous story on the Latvians and their big qualification triumph, from back in December.

Canada’s games will be televised live on TSN, and each game will also be available for online viewing shortly after completion, at TSN.ca.

Team USA will see four of their games webstreamed online at Universal Sports (USA only), plus all the playoff games.

Eurosport will be televising many games throughout Europe, and streaming more games on the online Eurosport Player.

We have also heard from other markets that experienced great interest in televised curling during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games – including Brazil, which be televising selected games during both the women’s and men’s worlds, via SporTV. Olá a todos os fãs do Brasil de curling!

What else, you ask?

There’s also the greatest party bonspiel (tournament) underway this weekend in Duluth, Minnesota… the House of Hearts, which features celebrity athletes competing with Regular Joes (and Janes) to raise funds for charity. While we await news (and hopefully photos) of this annual classic, here’s a “medical” look back at one past event… and a second, remarkable tale which includes a YouTube video

Finally, let’s not forget the Wheelchair Curling event wrapping up this weekend from Vancouver, namely, the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games (photo). As we have already advised you via Twitter, there is a tiebreaker today between Sweden and Italy (admission is free) and the winner battles Canada tomorrow in one semifinal, while the United States and South Korea will meet in the other semi.

The finals also take place tomorrow.

[WCF photo by Dan Field]

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2010 Curling Calendar On Sale

A new curling calendar launches today, featuring action photography of some of the biggest names in The Roaring Game.

The 2010 Capital One Curling Calendar is now on sale for $16.95 (before shipping and handling) and features such rock stars as Jennifer Jones, Kevin Martin, Brad Gushue, Stefanie Lawton, Team Kevin Koe, Scottish wonderkid Eve Muirhead, and more.

“It’s a great idea and it’s an honour to be included,” said Glenn Howard, one of sixteen Olympic hopefuls who are skipping teams at Edmonton’s Roar of the Rings Olympic Trials starting December 6.

Howard’s image, captured by Capital One Grand Slam of Curling photographer Anil Mungal, appears on the cover. His team also makes an appearance inside.

“This is great for curling fans and it provides excellent exposure in an Olympic year. Curling is booming these days.”

The 13-month wall calendar hangs 9.5” x 24” in wire-o-bound for a perfect finish, and is printed in brilliant colour on the same high-grade,  glossy stock as the 2009 Women of Curling Calendar. Each calendar is also packed into a corrugated sleeve to prevent shipping damage.

The 2010 Capital One Curling Calendar is an all-ages, all-curling product and even includes event listings from far across the sport spectrum. Events both in Canada and around the world – even during the summer months – are included, making this a handy curling reference guide.

Net proceeds will be split equally between The Curling News and Shoot For A Cure Curling, the charitable campaign of the Canadian and American Spinal Research Organizations, which aims to cure spinal injuries and paralysis and boost awareness of wheelchair curling, an official 2010 Paralympic sport.

Click here to order your 2010 Capital One Curling Calendar… just in time for the holiday season!

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Vancouver 2010 Olympic gear

Say hello to 2002 Olympic curling silver medallist – and 2010 Olympic team hopeful – Carter Rycroft, resplendent in Canada’s new Olympic clothing.

This image provokes some thoughts. One of which is that Rycroft is just as close to repeating his Olympic experience with Team Kevin Koe than John Morris, last year’s Canadian curling poster boy, is close to going for the very first time.

Another is that Rycroft makes this stuff look good.

John who?

The host nation unveiled its official Olympic wear for Vancouver 2010 yesterday – all except key athlete-only gear, like the ceremony and podium lines – to generally strong reviews (see here, here and here).

Another curler took part in the launch – Sonja Gaudet, who has captured world and Paralympic gold for Canada, and whose spot on the 2010 national wheelchair curling team was confirmed earlier this week. Gaudet’s HBC publicity photo should appear later today at Eric Eales’ excellent Wheelchair Curling Blog.

Make sure you check out the November issue of The Curling News for much, more on Vancouver 2010 and, of course, Canada’s upcoming Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials. That first print edition of the new season comes out in mid-October.

There was much talk about the new clothing, which has continued into today. There is also a political firestorm over the team clothing logo, which allegedly resembles the logo for the political party currently running the country. Sigh.

For the best look at the product lines, including videos, visit this special Hudson Bay Company Olympic site.

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Canada’s wheelchair curling team

Say hello to Bruno Yizek, the newest member of Team Canada.

That’s the Paralympic Team Canada, by the way. Alberta’s Yizek was named yesterday as the alternate on the wheelchair curling squad that will defend its Paralympic gold medal at Vancouver 2010 in March.

Canada’s main lineup is the same one which also captured its first world championship earlier this year at the Vancouver Paralympic Centre: skip Jim Armstrong, third Darryl Neighbour and the all-female front end of Ina Forrest and Sonja Gaudet.

Yizek beat out 2009 worlds alternate Chris Sobkowicz and former national team skip Gerry Austgarden for the spot.

For more on the latest curler to wear the Maple Leaf, click here.

[Ian Readey photo from Eric Eales’ Wheelchair Curling Blog]

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CNE Curling (and Kurling)

Celebrate the Olympic Spirit is a live winter sport demo taking place at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition (or CNE, or “The Ex”) through September 7.
The outdoor attraction featuring interactive Olympic sport activities in Ice Hockey, Speed Skating, Figure Skating, Skiing and Biathlon and the Paralympic winter sport of Ice Sledge Hockey.

And, of course, not one but two curling offerings: Curling and Wheelchair Kurling.

In just a week, thousands of patrons have dropped in and reports say that over 500 kids are monopolizing the displays daily, while the adults cheer them on… and look for the opportunity to throw some rocks themselves!

The Wheelchair “Kurling” demo is operated by the legendary Variety Village, utilizing the same Kurling stones used in the Capital One Rocks and Rings program.

The Curling demo is operated by the Toronto Curling Association, which is obviously keen on increasing interest in GTA curling in this critical Olympic season. Curling stars Brent Laing and Sherry Middaugh were there on the opening weekend.

The CNE venture is TCA’s first of the new season, which includes the big-league, World Cup-style championship coming to Mississauga in October. Along with the demo, visitors can learn about the 20-odd clubs in the GTA, and survey particpants can win a pair of event passes for the Masters.

In the above photo, Wheelchair Kurling is in the foreground while traditional (albeit dryland) Curling can be seen in the background. We’re not sure of the make of the TCA “stones”, but they may have been salvaged from the short-lived Olympic Spirit Toronto initiative.

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Rehab Race for Armstrong

Team Canada wheelchair curling skip Jim Armstrong, who led Canada to its first-ever world championship gold medal in March, underwent shoulder surgery last week in Vancouver.
Canada’s major hope for a repeat of Paralympic gold at Vancouver 2010 had first confirmed the diagnosis of the injury back in July.

“I have a muscle tear in my left (non-throwing) shoulder that has been bothering me since before the world championships,” Armstrong had told Eric Eales of wheelchaircurling.com.

“The prognosis for a full recovery is good, but the surgeons are suggesting that rehab may take three to six months.

“The long rehab is a concern,” Armstrong continued, “but if I can get the surgery in a couple of weeks I plan to go ahead with it. Otherwise I’ll wait until after the Paralympics.”

And now, with that three-to-six-month window now in play, the race is on to get “Army” back in Paralympic Games shape.

[WCF photo by Dallas Bittle]

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Mercer Curling tonight

Tonight is the season finale of Rick Mercer Report, and in said finale, the Canadian funnyman goes wheelchair curling.

Of course, as a faithful reader of The Curling News Blog, you already knew this. And you knew this many times over. And et cetera and so on

In the Dallas Bittle photo above, we see that Mercer did actually get a stone in motion. Tune in tonight at 8:00pm (on CBC) to see the results.

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Rick Mercer Curling V

VANCOUVER – Okay. Canadian TV star Rick Mercer is in his chair, and attacking the poor, innocent curling stone like he’s a sledge hockey player digging the puck out of the corner.

This is to the obvious amusement of Jim Armstrong (right) and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell (left).

All that’s left is to show you is… Mercer’s historic first delivery.

Which we’re not going to do. Not right now, anyway.

You’ll just have to wait. Perhaps until next month, when the final episode of Rick Mercer Report airs in Canada.

For context on what this is about, see the first post in this series.

TCN photo by Dallas Bittle. Click on image to increase size.

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Rick Mercer Curling IV

VANCOUVER – Canadian TV star Rick Mercer is safely in his wheelchair, armed with a throwing stick, and he’s finally ready for action.

However, it may or may not be fact that B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is trash-talking the Maritimer. Mercer looks somewhat unamused at the taunting and yet amused at Campbell’s gall.

You’re going to beat my ass? We’ll see about that, Gordo.

Of course, we could be wrong. Campbell may have some wheelchair curling prowess, and he might be passing along some pointers.

You’re giving me advice? We’ll see about that, Gordo.

Or perhaps Campbell is advising Mercer on a possible run for Prime Minister?

Who knows?

For context on what this is about, see the first post in this series.

TCN photo by Dallas Bittle. Click on image to increase size.

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Rick Mercer Curling III

VANCOUVER – Canadian TV political comic Rick Mercer finally sat in his wheelchair… and promptly near-tipped it over.

As Mercer braces himself on everyone else’s chairs, 2009 world champion wheelchair curling skip Jim Armstrong gives the funnyman some pointers.

Team Canada third Darryl Neighbour and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell look on.

For context on what this is about, see the first post in this series.

TCN photo by Dallas Bittle. Click image to increase size.