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March of time at curling worlds

By Luke Coley

EDMONTON – I always look forward to working at the world championships, but this year is extra special because the event is taking place in Edmonton, where I live.

 
It’s hard to walk into Northlands Coliseum without remembering the atmosphere during the 2005 Brier and 2007 men’s worlds. It still gives me chills as I remember the ovation for Team Randy Ferbey, winning their fourth Brier title at home, as the crowd was on their feet for that final shot by David Nedohin. The entire crowd singing the Canadian anthem while waving the Alberta flag.

Then to see Glenn Howard and Team Canada come out to a packed house wearing cowboy hats to a sea of Maple Leafs on clothes, hats
and flags.

How things have changed for curling and for me, since that world championship in ’07. Back then I was living the single life, working for CurlTV (remember that?) and covering my second world championship. Now I am doing commentary for the World Curling Federation and I have a lovely wife and two amazing children.

It’s been so much fun to bring them in and show them the experience of a world championship that I have now covered more than a dozen times.

Players that were participating at those ’05 and ’07 events are now on the coaching bench, like Peja Lindholm as national team coach for Sweden and Brier champ Marcel Rocque leading the Chinese team – in the same building in which he raised the Tankard for the fourth time. At this championship they are honouring all past champions to win major curling events in Edmonton, which includes Rocque’s part in the Ferbey Four win in 2005.

The World Curling Federation now also has a live YouTube channel – World Curling TV – that allows fans around the world to watch the live coverage throughout the event. There are two full broadcast trucks producing live coverage that is reaching 90 countries on TV and many more via the YouTube channel.

The building that is hosting this event will probably be the last curling event ever here as a new state-of-the-art arena, Rogers Place, has been built in Edmonton. While the Coliseum has seen its share of great curling moments, I am sure there will be new ones created as the championship continues through the week.

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Winnipeg 2013: Randy Ferbey’s Olympic picks

The Ferb speaks (of course)

Randy Ferbey at his final roar, in 2009

If there’s one thing that might be considered to be missing from our December 2013 issue, it would be celebrity picks for the 2013 Canadian Olympic Trials, underway in just over an hour in Winnipeg.

We’ve published picks for the Trials and occasional Briers in recent issues. Folks like Al Hackner, Mark Dacey, Cheryl Bernard and Sherry Middaugh have bravely guessed the winners amongst the fields, putting themselves on the record.

There’s no picks in our latest issue, but we do have an entry for you right now, courtesy of another of our superstar regulars – Mr. Randy Ferbey.

Take it away Ferb!

MEN

1. Glenn Howard (5-2) – Obvious choice to finish first
2. Kevin Martin (5-2) – Some question marks still?
3. Kevin Koe (5-2) – Hottest  team coming in
4. Jeff Stoughton (4-3) – If Jeff plays well he could win this by himself
5. Mike McEwen (3-4) – Could and should be better
6. Brad Jacobs (3-4) – These guys just might surprise again
7. John Morris (2-5) – Too much to ask for a new team
8. John Epping (1-6) – Sorry John, just too tough a field

MEN’S PLAYOFFS

Semifinal: Stoughton over Martin
Final: Howard over Stoughton

WOMEN
1. Jennifer Jones (5-2) – Best skip in the field
2. Rachel Homan (5-2) – Peaking at the right time?
3. Stefanie Lawton (4-3) – Might be time for her to finally win the big one
4. Renée Sonnenberg (4-3) – Surprise of the field
5. Heather Nedohin (4-3) – Kind of an up and down season
6. Chelsea Carey (3-4) – Too inconsistent
7. Val Sweeting (2-5) – Maybe four years from now
8. Sherry Middaugh (1-6) – Sorry, time has passed her by

WOMEN’S PLAYOFFS

Tiebreaker: Lawton over Sonnenberg
Semifinal: Jones over Lawton

Final: Jones over Homan

[Canadian Curling Association photo copyright ® by Michael Burns – click on image to increase viewing size]

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2013 Skins: Curling votes are in

Steve Gould. Pumped for the Skins.

The long ride is over, and the votes are in.

The Sports Network has just revealed the names of the 16 all-star curling guys who will compete at The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game on Jan. 19 and 20 at Casino Rama, just north of Toronto.

Among the usual suspects – such as skips Glenn Howard and Kevin Martin, and thirds John Morris (Martin’s top vote-getter) and Jon Mead (from Team Jeff Stoughton) – there are a couple of welcome surprises.

The Tick Man is in. Ex-Stoughton lead Steve Gould made the cut, finishing third overall at his position. Gould is mostly inactive this season, apart from some mentor duties with the Brad Jacobs foursome.

Now, off you go to the rink for practice rocks, Steve-O.

Gould will be reunited – at the event, at any rate – with his three former teammates, which may (or may not) make for some discomfort. Might he then end up on the same team as one or more of them? See the next-to-last paragraph for how that might happen.

But what about retired third Randy Ferbey? He did NOT make it in, despite ranking among the top thirds some 10 days ago.

Both Gould and Ferbey were on the ballot as per last season’s standing on the Canadian Team Rankings System (CTRS) chart.

Read ’em and weep, Skinsheads

Meanwhile, all of Team Kevin Koe (the defending Skins champs) are in, as are the members of Teams Martin and Howard, Stoughton second Reid Carruthers and one member from Team Mike McEwen: third man B.J. Neufeld.

On the outside looking in are some social media wizards who worked hard for over a month to court the public vote: this list includes the remainder of Team McEwen, the members of Teams Jacobs and Brad Gushue… and many more.

So how, you might be asking, will the 16 players be assembled into the four competing teams?

A live draw will be held in Toronto on Jan. 17, bringing the teams together at random – and the affair will be televised on TSN. Show details are sketchy at present, but be sure to check the upcoming January 2013 issue of The Curling News (and the monthly Curling TV/Web Guide) for all the details.

Also… CONTEST ALERT! CONTEST ALERT! Be sure to visit our CONTESTS page for a chance to win VIP treatment for two at the Skins Game, courtesy of Casino Rama and The Curling News! Hurry hard, as the contest closes Dec. 20.

CCA photo of Steve Gould copyright ® by Michael Burns. Click on images to view larger.

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2013 Skins: war of words

Left to right: Randy Ferbey circa 2007; Ron Jeremy

by Colin Hodgson

Twitter feeds explode with public begging. Facebook groups pop up overnight. Is this the United States presidential election? No, it is bigger than that. This is the vote battle for the recently revamped The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game.

Canadian curling fans can log in to their computers each day and pick the players they want to see curling in the annual TV Skins Game. This is exciting, all-offense curling that boggles the brain of the average curler until it all comes together with a Hail-Mary heater on the last shot of the game for ridiculous amounts of cash. That’s what I call a curling match.

This year’s Skins Game will be a lot spicier than past events. In previous years, four teams were selected to compete, whereas this year fan voting will select four skips, four thirds, four seconds and four leads, and all will then be randomly thrown together to create four teams. Hence, our best-case viewing entertainment scenario: Randy Ferbey is selected as Kevin Martin’s third – and all pandemonium breaks loose.

Voting just started on Monday, and it seems a fire has already started on social media – ignited by curling stars John Morris and David Nedohin. Attacks between their Twitter feeds, @johnnymocurler and @dnedohin, have been raising eyebrows and thus intrigued, I resolved to find out what is going on between these guys.

Colin Hodgson (CH): So John, the comments on Twitter between you and David probably have a lot of people wondering just where all this animosity between the two of you came from?

John Morris (JM): Well, it seemed to really peak in the mid to late 2000’s when every big game we (Team Martin) played seemed to be against Ferbey. David has always been a strong competitor and so have I, so that nature sometimes translates to fire on ice. We are both really intense guys and sometimes that intensity can get the best of us in the moment.

Sass Johnny Mo? Best be careful.

CH: What is your honest opinion of David Nedohin?

JM: He can be a bit of a square. It’s funny, because when we used to battle for provincial titles my boys at the fire hall would tell me to make sure that nerd Nedohin doesn’t beat you, or else there won’t be any dinner for you when you get back to work.

CH: Let me just quote a tweet you sent to David as an example:

Hey @dnedohin, maybe this skins you’ll make more shots now that you don’t have Ron Jeremy calling line for ya #furball #zing

How did you ever come up with that comparison of Randy Ferbey to Ron Jeremy?

JM: It’s pretty easy if you’ve ever watched 1980s porn as well as Randy Ferbey curling in his heyday, when he drank slightly too much beer and rocked an aggressive moustache.

CH: Given the chance that you might end up playing with David in the Skins Game, how many ends do you think you would make it through before chaos broke out on the ice?

JM: It’ll be all good unless he starts making some bonehead strategy decisions. If that’s the case then it may get interesting out there.

CH: Is there anything you’d like to add about the rivalry?

JM: It’s always been a heated rivalry between us. It cooled off a little when Randy retired but this new skins format has definitely refuelled things.

Well. After interviewing John, I thought it would be appropriate to get both sides of the story. So, naturally, I called Nedohin.

CH: I’ve noticed there is a lot of tension between you and John Morris. Having already interviewed him it seems you guys have a lot of issues to work out. What do you have against John?

David Nedohin (DN): John has a hot personality and it’s always been a bit of a detriment to his team. Like, honestly, who snaps a broom over his knee in the middle of a game?

David Nedohin (foreground) pounds it in 2009

CH: What do you have to say about John’s tweet where he compared Randy Ferbey to Ron Jeremy?

DN: I find it interesting that a player in his position would say something about a player that is arguably the greatest ever. He still has a lot to learn.

CH: Over the years the rivalry seemed to be Ferbey versus Martin and Morris versus Nedohin. What do you think would happen if you were teamed with Morris, and your opponents were Randy and Kevin? How long do you think it would take before all hell broke out on the ice?

DN: That is a really good question but I don’t think it would really matter, because Randy and Kevin would happen first.

CH: Is there anything you would like to say about Morris or Team Martin heading into the voting this month?

DN: I think that Team Martin is one of the best teams in the world right now, and also one of the greatest ever. Even so, I guarantee that if I were to play in the Skins Game against John, I feel confident I would win, and would even be willing to put a small wager on it.

Strong words from both players. But who has the advantage?

Although virtually deadlocked in win/loss records over the past 12 years, prior to 2007 the head-to-head score was 15-4 in favor of Nedohin. Post-2007, Morris has a commanding 20-6 record over Nedohin (thanks to CurlingZone for the stats). Either way, if these players are “elected” to compete at Casino Rama, and if certain lineups and matchups are then created, this new Skins Game cannot possibly disappoint.

Remember curling fans, go to TSN.ca/CurlingSkins everyday to vote for the players you want to see squaring off at The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game. The athlete draw takes place live on January 17, 2013 on TSN, and the Skins Game follows on Jan. 19-20. You have the power, now go use it!

[Insight Sports Ferbey photo copyright ® by Dallas Bittle; Ron Jeremy photo copyright ® by Ron de Jeremy (rondejeremy.com); Morris photo copyright ® by Canadian Curling Association; Capital One Nedohin photo copyright ® by Anil Mungal – click on images to view larger]

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Vote now for Skins curling stars

Curling fans in the know really wouldn’t… or would they?

Aren’t they a lucky bunch, those Canadian curling fans?

Beginning today, the biggest names in curling are going head-to-head online, and fans across the country will determine who will compete in The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game – thanks to a brand new qualifying process and a brand new All-Star team format.

Created and operated by TSN Events, The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game (Presented by Pinty’s) takes place live from Casino Rama Jan.19-20, and is perhaps the premiere “special event” on the annual curling calendar – it’s definitely a fan favourite, with some 24 years of equity on The Sports Network.

From November 5 to December 10, fans can visit TSN.ca/CurlingSkins to vote for their favourite Canadian men’s curling stars at each position – skip, third, second, and lead. The All-Star ballot consists of players from the top teams as ranked by last season’s Canadian Curling Association CTRS (Canadian Team Ranking System) and the following competitors are included on the ballot:

 

SKIP

THIRD

SECOND

LEAD

Glenn Howard

BJ Neufeld

Brent Laing

Craig Savill

Mike McEwen

John Morris

Matt Wozniak

Denni Neufeld

Kevin Martin

Pat Simmons

Marc Kennedy

Ben Hebert

Kevin Koe

Scott Bailey

Carter Rycroft

Nolan Thiessen

Jeff Stoughton

Jon Mead

Scott Howard

David Mathers

Brad Gushue

Ryan Fry

Reid Carruthers

Steve Gould

Rob Fowler

Allan Lyburn

Geoff Walker

Adam Casey

David Nedohin

Randy Ferbey

Richard Daneault

Derek Samagalski

Brad Jacobs

E.J. Harnden

Ryan Harnden

Brendan Melnyk

 

The top four players with the most votes in each position will qualify. As part of this year’s new format, the All-Star teams will be chosen by random draw broadcast on TSN on January 17, 2013.

The four All-Star teams will compete for $100,000 in prize money during The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game televised live on TSN, January 19-20. And everything else that is traditional about the skins game still stands – such as the single-elimination format, whereby the winner is decided by total prize money and not total points throughout the two-day TV event.

One thing we are predicting is a healthy battle for voter influence between curling teams that have made a mark on the digital world. The official news release announcing the voting only came out at 12 noon (ET) today, and already players like Brad Gushue and his teammate Geoff Walker have posted on Facebook asking for your vote – same for Kevin Martin lead Ben Hebert, but his request has a twist, in that each Martin team member is pledging to donate 10 per cent of all skins winnings to the fight against prostate cancer.

Team Appelman, among others, has taken to Twitter; this squad has one player in the running for a Skins berth. Another team boasting a decent digital followin is skipped by Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen, and they’ve begun bombarding fans through Twitter and their website, listing the reasons you should vote for their team members.

It stands to reason that teams and players who wield the largest and most dynamic digital footprints might have an advantage at the ballot box. However, it’s fair to note that the contest is also being promoted on TSN itself, which is home to quite a few anti-curling sports fans as well as, ironically, the most traditionally powerful group of curling fans: the blue-hairs! (And we say that affectionately, of course. – Ed)

We also noticed something right off the bat, ie. that last season’s CTRS rankings were used to declare the candidates – and that means ex-Jeff Stoughton lead Steve Gould, who is largely inactive this season, is still on the ballot. Likewise for another notable and quite notorious curling star who announced his retirement during the summer –  Randy Ferbey – so if you want to see The Ferb just one more time in high-profile, televised competition, then you know who to vote for.

And wouldn’t this be an incredible sight to see – imagine if Ferbey won, and by luck of the draw ended up playing third for his 2010-11 skip, Brad Gushue (ouch)… or even, dare we think it, his one-time (fall 1995) teammate, sworn arch-rival and fellow Edmontonian… Kevin Martin?

You have the power, curling fans. Use this power wisely – or not, depending on how much fun you want to have!

Voting closes on Dec. 10. That website, once again, is: TSN.ca/CurlingSkins

Capital One photo of Randy Ferbey (left) and Brad Gushue copyright™® by Anil Mungal – click on image to increase viewing size

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The Brier Issue

London curling, we ain’t got no swing

It’s out. Volume 54, Issue 5 aka the March 2011 issue of The Curling News has shipped and started arriving to subscribers yesterday. Curling clubs and other recipients will get theirs sometime next week (another reason to subscribe, folks).

Does the cover image ring a bell (click to increase size)? What else is super-cool about this issue, and why should you plunk your money down to support what we do? For starters, here are some of the contents in this issue…

London Calling – er, Curling
The Clash at Brier 2011: Is Kevin Martin mortal this time around? Would we ask if we thought otherwise?

Our Experts Pick ’Em
Who are these “experts” and what do they think? Three special guests weigh in, with a fourth to be revealed on opening weekend

Purple Heart for Pride
The daughter of a champion watches dad take another crack at glory, and remembers decades of family commitment

The Curling News TV Guide for March
Think you know all the game times, and channels, for upcoming coverage like the women’s worlds in Denmark? Guess again, folks – the internet lies. We don’t.  FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY

Brier Passion – Passion du Brier
Who are these guys? Mike Fournier explains why you should cheer for Francois Gagne and L’Equipe Quebec

They Said It
You won’t believe this month’s collection of quotable quotes. Which Brier rival said this about Martin: “I don’t know how anyone can win a Grand Slam throwing it that bad?”  FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY

Quote of The Month
A new feature for all readers: this month, the man behind the Wheelchair Curling Blog takes a swipe at administrators whose careers are not affected by the sport’s development struggles

March Newsdesk
All the Ferbey versus Gushue you can handle plus Team Jacobs (Soo versus Thunder Bay), Coach Muyres, Glenn Howard and the Jennifer Jones bubble…  FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY

From Bull Durham to High River
Guy Scholz wants to know why provincial curling championships are still locked in a box, just begging to be opened

Bullseye and The Hammer
The story behind those nifty new CCA commercials and why they are connecting with TV viewers  FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY

The Dominion Club Corner
Does your curling club or facility embrace corporate outings? If not, you’re missing out – big time

Mixed Skins – the Olympic Answer?
Part II of Larry Wood’s push for the next Olympic curling discipline, with thoughts from David Murdoch, Rick Lang and a feisty Andrea Schoepp

Volunteering – to pay or not to pay?
Would you pay a nominal fee for your volunteer jacket? Thousands do every year, and many have an opinion

Plus, there’s more.

And, of course, our free online stuff is rockin’ and rollin’ via Twitter… and our London Brier Blogstar Kim Tuck will post her first story later today. Followed by, sometime this weekend, the mysterious fourth Brier predictor… all right here on Da Blog.

So what do you say, curling fans? We’re crazy about curling and we know you are, too. Please support our call and subscribe today to Ye Olde TCN… you’ll love our stuff, which includes extra subscriber-only content!

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Opening Weekend

Aaaaargh. Our eyes!

The 2011 curling season, if you haven’t noticed, is now underway.

In some ways, that glorious 2010 Olympic season never really ended. After the various world championships wrapped up in early May, the European summer spiels took place… followed by various World Curling Federation camps and clinics… then the regular winter season for Australia and New Zealand, as well as various U.S. summer recreation leagues.

Followed by Canadian summer camps, spiels and leagues… the Great Brazilian Curling Adventure™ right here on this blog (of course)… and now, the “official” fall season.

And there’s lots to watch, too. On Thursday night, CurlingZone launched online webstreamed coverage of the Ontario Curling Tour Championships in Oakville, Ontario utilizing the UStream platform. That first recorded game is archived here, and their live channel coverage (including a chat board) can be found here.

Just a few hours later, on Friday morning in Switzerland, the Baden Masters event kicked off Europe’s Curling Champions Tour. And by the time folks on Canada’s west coast had gone to bed, the new Brad Gushue/Randy Ferbey combination had won their first game of the season, 8-7 over Switzerland’s Dominik Maerki (the Swiss held leads of 3-0 and 5-2 early on).

The second round of play sees Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud taking on Russia’s Andrey Drozdov, with the Olympic silver medallists displaying new lime-green pants worthy of their Loudmouth Golf sponsorship (screen shot above). At this time of writing the match was being streamed live on LAOLA1.tv, with the Russians holding a 3-1 lead after five ends of play.

Some 10 matches will be streamed online during the tournament, including all pre-playoff games scheduled on sheet two. So there you go.

Want more curling, all the time? Make sure you follow The Curling News Twitter feed, with daily postings on The Roaring Game. There was no summer vacation there, trust us!

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Muirhead and Capital One confirmed

All hail Eve Muirhead's "Guitar Face"

Capital One – one of the sport of curling’s BFFs – announced today that it is sponsoring the new charity event in Toronto June 4-5.

As we’ve pointed out in recent days, the Capital One Charity Bonspiel offers single-entry participants the chance to curl alongside Olympic and world champion competitors, while raising funds for SickKids Foundation, the fundraising arm of Toronto’s world-renowned Hospital for Sick Children.

“The SickKids Foundation benefits countless children in our community, and we are proud to support them in their efforts,” said Ian Cunningham, Chief Marketing Officer of Capital One in a news release. “Curlers and curling fans are big supporters of charitable causes, and this mix of curling stars and recreational players will make the Capital One Celebrity Bonspiel a memorable event.”

The news release also confirms what The Curling News heard a week ago: that Olympic curling heroine Eve Muirhead of Scotland, who grabbed world silver last month in Swift Current, Sask., will be coming to the event.

Muirhead joins 23 other celeb curling athletes, including Brad Gushue of Newfoundland & Labrador, Randy Ferbey of Alberta and multiple members of world champion teams (like Glenn Howard and Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones). There’s also a whack of great Canadian and provincial champions taking part, too.

The Capital One Celebrity Bonspiel is scheduled for June 4-5 at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club… and the news release also talks about a presenting sponsor, who happens to be another curling BFF: The Dominion.

The weekend kicks off with a junior curling clinic on June 4, hosted by the Capital One Rocks & Rings educational program. The celebrity
competitors then meet their “new” teammates at an evening mixer.

Saturday, June 5 features the Celebrity Bonspiel, which includes three four-end curling games, followed by the event finals and the closing
dinner.

Fundraising inquiries are welcome at: sickkidsbonspiel@rogers.com

And hey: if youre looking for More Muirhead, she is back from the legendary summer bonspiel in Ober (that’s Oberstdorf) and, on very little catchup sleep, shes already made another public appearance.

Yesterday, she promoted this summers Piping Live, the worlds largest bagpipe festival, which takes place at Glasgow in August. The Scotsman photo shows Eve honking away (is that a piper’s Guitar Face?)… and you can read about the gig here and watch Eve in video action here.

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Nomes ondulando brazilian grandes

We’re feeling kind of silly today, and faithful readers know that this means – brace yourself, and get ready for anything.

So, on that note, here (at left) is what Randy Ferbey’s soccer jersey would look like.

If he was Brazilian.

Yup. There’s now a website, located here, that claims to instantly change your name to the single-word nickname that makes Brazilian athletes famous.

The four-time world curling champion would like this, we think. The translation is roughly “Big Ferb” and moreover, his team checked out a Real Madrid game, live at The Bernabéu, a couple of years ago. Of course, that’s in Spain where they speak Spanish, whereas Brazillians, who are located on another continent, speak Portuguese.

But we digress.

Ferbey might also like the fact that arch-rival Kevin Martin’s Brazilian name is the same as Brazil’s greatest female footy athlete, whose team lost the women’s World Cup final yesterday.

We plugged in some other famous curling labels, and got multiple options when we doubled up on first or last names. A sampling:

Guy Hemmings – Hemmão or Hemminho
Colleen Jones – Collealdo Santos or Colleson Pau
Jennifer Jones – Jonisco or Jennifaldo
Wayne/Sherry Middaugh – Middacos or Middaaldo
Wes Richardson – Wa or Werto
Bob “Pee Wee” Pickering – Pee Weandro or Bildo
Vera Pezer – Verito or Pezildo
Andy Kapp – Io or Kio Santos
Elisabet Gustafson – Gustafsimo or Elisaba
Ed Werenich – Ildo or Werenaldo
Paul Savage – Paildo or Savagaça
Neil Harrison – Neundo or Neimo
Brad Gushue – Brildo or Gushuson
Jamie Korab – Jamildo or Korildo
Pål Trulsen – Pildo or Trulsimo Peres
Kelly Scott – Kildo or Scildo
Glenn Howard – Gla or Howinhosa
Richard Hart – Hisco Da Costa or Hinho

Even the famous flying Finn – Markku Uusipavaalniemi – gained a few letters, as his monikers came up as “Uusipaavalniemico” or “Uusipaavalnieminho” (M-17 or M-18).

Okay, okay… back to curling.

• Speaking of M-15, his appearance in this story on “former Finnish sporting legends” just two years after Turin may or may not stick in his craw, depending on his intentions for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Suffice to say it would be great to see Uusis back on the ice in Vancouver, and also on the podium, if only to push the word “former” aside. For another year or two, anyway …

Predictions are that Wednesday will see Victoria, BC named as the host city for the 2009 STOH …

• The latest on the Windsor CC sees one of the punks make a court appearance; items like championship banners and the Tankard are lost forever; and now two levels of government – one federal – have pledged to help rebuild the club, inspiring this vow from the club president.

Hmph… it would have been nice to see that kind of commitment from politicians in north Toronto (Avonlea closure), Winnipeg (Thistle arson job) and other cities. Right?

Some good news, however: as it turns out, an ancient inter-club curling trophy was saved, although writer Monty Mosher tells The Curling News that one aspect of the tale has since proved inaccurate: the trophy was actually in a safe elsewhere in Windsor; the prized record books were in New Brunswick …

• Speaking of ancient awards, the Yester CC in Scotland embarked on a missing trophy search that dated back to 1879, and found success …

• The Welsh Dragons won a shocker yesterday to defeat Denmark in the final of the European Mixed, and kudos to Curling Today for some great day-by-day coverage. This local observer even labelled the Scottish outfit the “semiofficial” blog of the tournament!

One of the teams – the Dutch – also kept a fairly active blog, but there was also a bit of media coverage of this event, from AP photographers to media in the host city of Madrid; in Hungary (here and here); in Slovakia (here and here); and even in Estonia.

As for the locals, there were many blogposts expressing curiosity – ¿Qué es el Curling? – and we’ve spotlighted some of them, located here… and here… and here… and here… and yet another here… and and even this short vidclip, too …

• Congrats to Thunder Bay’s Bill Charlebois on his induction into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame last Friday night. In his present role as the Dutch national curling coach, he was unable to attend …

• This past weekend’s tour stop in Vernon saw Bob Ursel win the men’s crown while Calgary’s Heather Rankin upset city rival Shannon Kleibrink in the women’s final. Kleibrink had upset Kelly Scott in the semis. No B.C. teams made the playoffs, which also saw teams from the U.S. and Switzerland qualify …

• In Selkirk, eight teams are into tonight’s semis at the McMillan Insurance Classic

• How would you, as a spiel organizer, like to have a field like this confirmed a full six months prior to your event? We bet you would …

• Meanwhile, this coming weekend will see some decent names duke it out in New Westminster …

• The new Pheasant Classic field is also quite good, but they’ve booked CanRock legends Prizm to play the Saturday night. Now you’re talkin’ …

• This bitter and twisted rant against curling is a couple of years old, but just came to our attention now. Of course, it’s not funny, which is the biggest sin the writer actually made …

• See, now this is actually funny. That’s how you do it …

• Brampton, Ontario’s growing junior spiel now has 48 teams (including Quebeckers and Americans), a prize purse of $12,000, and some new sponsors to boot …

The Chicks won’t be in Brampton, but they were in nearby Oakville over the weekend …

• A couple of ex-Junior stars have joined forces in Thunder Bay …

• Look at this… it’s a rare bird, otherwise knows as a promotional curling media story from Quebec! Hopefully there will be more of these as the first Grand Chelem draws closer

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Heroes and Hyperlinks

Many thanks to all for the positive comments – here on The Blog and via email – on our efforts during Torino 2006. Please keep the subscription orders coming: the printed version of The Curling News is still our lifeblood, and a successful TCN allows us to add value via blogging and other initiatives.

A pile of stuff to wade through today, simply because we’re not sure how much blogging we can do over the next week… we have two days to crank out the March issue of TCN, before heading to the STOH for both CBC and the National Post. We need an assistant!

Before we begin, a shout out to an old public school chum, David Naylor, whom we caught up with in Turin, as well as additional thanks and cheers to Naylor’s colleague Christie Blatchford, who wrote in the Globe and Mail that The Curling News is, and we quote, a lyrical and literate little jewel.

Grazie, signora.

Triumphant airport returns for Canadian curlers: the men here in the Big Smoke (Brad Gushue in photo) and then, oh yes, in St. John’s, where the party is probably still going on… plus the women here… and down south in “Curling Capital USA” where newly-bronzed Pete Fenson will no doubt be slinging pizzas at the parlour tonight… and even in Finland, where an unbelievable 30,000 people want to learn the sport. Like, wow.

Hey, did you know that no less than three Canadian talismans were buried in, under or adjacent to the ice as the playoffs approached? Yeah, we did, but we didn’t want to say anything.

Did you also know that Cindy Klassen, Canada’s Olympic superwoman, has just signed a $1 million sponsorship deal? Her agent is Elliott Kerr of the Landmark Group, who has also been representing Russ Howard since the dark days (now most certainly forgotten) of the infamous legal action against the Canadian Curling Association, circa the early 1990s… what’s next, Elliott? A new deal for The Wounded Moose, perhaps? But with or without the Gushies?

It could take forever to wrap up Turin… so let’s get cracking, and prepare your fingers to hyperlink away!

• Here’s a look at the microcosm of curling within the spectrum of the Winter Games themselves… the Italians are still hot on the sport… and here’s the view from Spain

Mass U.S. interest and commentary continues, in Rapid City, SD; via letter defense in San Antonio; the venerable NY Times reports on 1,000 people showing up at Broomstones for an open house; here’s Lebanon (er, not the Middle East, just Pennsylvania): Charlotte chants “Om” to curling… Dulltooth (just kidding!) is predicatably all over the curling craze… San Jose lists Gushue’s win as one of the top five Games moments… Arizona feels the buzz… here’s some thoughts on the “whiteness” of the Winter Olys and curling as a sport in “technical terms”… This Red Sox outfielder, a Canadian, has never tried curling… here’s a Dallas writer’s take on the bronze game… a solid U.S. curling wrapup with questions about the fallen CurlGirls… too funny: here’s how AP described that Fenson bent the winning rock into the target area…meanwhile, Cleveland described how Fenson curved his stone around a block to nudge another Great Britain stone out of scoring range… and look, we’ve discovered the amusing Michael Hunt in Milwaukee, also with an earlier curling piece here.

• Indeed, the curlers were the Rock Stars of Italy, even if a high-profile Sports Illustrated type needed to experience it firsthand in order to change his mind, after first writing something mildly nasty (if funny)… ditto for the odd radio jock as well, crow thus eaten and lessons well learned…

• Okay, so it was Mark who streaked during the men’s bronze match. Commentary continues, seemingly nonstop, even in India (?!), but we’ll say this once again… thanks for not stepping on the ice surface, fella!

• Internationally speaking, the Finns have a lot to say, about curling (and hockey) of course, including wondering if Gushue’s missed seven-ender was just him being “polite”… Andrew Baker of Britain’s The Telegraph is brilliant:

The top three are awarded medals. Fourth prize at the Olympics is a kick in the teeth, a crock of manure or any other metaphor you prefer for sporting despair. It is far better to finish fifth, and dead last has its attractions. Fourth stinks.

And another Baker gem, about the streaker:

Indeed, one member of the audience became quite carried away, divesting himself of all clothing and racing around the arena with only a rubber chicken to protect his modesty. This being an ice rink, there wasn’t much to cover up.

Speaking of the Brits… er, Scots… there’s a great zinger from a UK journo here and, back on ice, the U.K. supersquads have returned to their old rivalries with their national championship starting today… there’s also some grumping in NZ as winless Becker carried the flag in the closing ceremonies, as well as the opening.

• More funnies: this guy made a curling song, and these guys loved the sport as well as the calendar (in addition to this guy)…

• Last but not least, and away from the Olympics for a moment, The Kids Are Alright (once again) at the STOH, which is doing well on many fronts… and which features a birth-control edict for one team!… and Team Ferbey reminded everyone just how good they still are – had you forgotten? – by winning the third Grand Slam of the year…