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Curling tours partner for the future

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND AND LONDON, CANADA
JUNE 28, 2017

The World Curling Tour (WCT) and Curling Champions Tour (CCT) have announced a formal merger, creating a truly global tour of some 250 championship curling events.

Based in North America since 1992, the WCT has long been the ultimate competition circuit for all high-performance curling teams. Founded in 2005, the Europe-based CCT has grown rapidly and now boasts all the trademarks of traditional WCT events, attracting larger sponsors and delivering professional webstreamed or televised coverage.

Both tours have also recently expanded into the Pacific region, with high-powered curling championships now hosted in China, Korea and Japan.

“This is a great day for the Roaring Game,” said the WCT’s Gerry Geurts from London, Ontario, Canada. “As we begin another Olympic curling season, the official merger of the WCT and CCT into one organization clearly proves, once again, that curling is one of the fastest-growing winter sports in the world.”

“From the beginning, the CCT and WCT have worked closely together,” said CCT’s Armin Harder from Zurich, Switzerland. “CCT events have been incorporated and counted on the Order Of Merit points list. And the CCT’s beginnings have been largely based on the same ideas and principles as that of its close relative tour in North America.

“To the fans it has always seemed like one Tour, but in terms of operations they have been quite different. CCT has found it necessary to take a new business approach in order to face the challenges of forging into new curling markets. Today both organizations officially share that vision, and curling fans will benefit most.”

The combined Tour will bear the name of the World Curling Tour and feature new branding reminiscent of the Curling Champions Tour. A new website at the URL worldcurl.com will be launched shortly.

The World Curling Tour events will now be divided into two categories, a “WCT Masters Series” and a “WCT Challenger Series.” On top of that a “Champions Series” aka “Majors” will be created over the next few years, outside of Canada, to complement the popular Grand Slam of Curling series.

In the past two seasons a CCT World Mixed Doubles Tour has experienced explosive growth and popularity. Now poised to lead the development of more Mixed Doubles events in North America and Asia, the new World Curling Tour can better manage the fastest growing segment of the sport.

Mixed Doubles will make its Olympic debut as a full-medal sport at February’s 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Korea.

Additional growth is planned for the Asia-Pacific Curling Tour, an expected World Junior Curling Tour and even a global Tour for Wheelchair Curling, an official Paralympic Games medal sport at Korea next year.

“The World Curling Tour now counts some 250 champion events taking place in 2017-18,” said Geurts. “We will work to increase the amount of streaming and TV coverage worldwide to showcase the Tour and its increasing number of events.”

“We will also continue expanding into new regions in hopes of developing new young teams, and providing them with a place to enjoy the sport and hone their skills,” said Harder. “These new athletes will be the engine for the future growth of our sport.”

For inquiries on the WCT scoring system, World Team Ranking (former OOM), draws and other IT-related matters, please contact Gerry Geurts at: gerry-at-curlingzone-dot-com

For inquiries on WCT Tour development, new events, marketing, sponsorship opportunities, television and internet streaming, please contact Armin Harder at: info-at-curlingchampionstour-dot-org

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Quebec’s Sabourin joins Team Jennifer Jones

Pregnancy sidelines hard-throwing Jill Officer

Joelle Sabourin, second from left, with Team Osborne

First, Winnipeg got the Jets. Now, the world’s best women’s curling team – based in the Peg, of course – gets a bit of joie de vivre this fall.

Winnipeg curling star Jill Officer started the ball rolling with an online reveal – her first pregnancy!

Officer then told The Curling News that Quebec curling veteran Joelle Sabourin will replace her on the powerhouse Jennifer Jones foursome this fall and winter, in tandem with regular Jones alternate Jennifer Clark-Rouire.

Officer’s due date is December 2 – right in the middle of the all-important Canada Cup in Cranbrook, BC – and with the curling season starting up well past the midway part of her pregnancy, it was decided that she will sit out the first half of the season entirely.

Officer plans to “stay loose” throughout the fall and is hoping to rejoin the team in time for the Manitoba women’s provincial scheduled for Portage La Prairie, January 25-29. Should they qualify, it will be Jones’ first provincial appearance since 2008.

Jill Officer (left) with Team Jones last February

After running through a draft list of substitute options, Sabourin was chosen by Team Jones as Officer’s replacement due to a couple of factors: her previous intention of not competing in 2011-2012 – so much for that! – and her friendship with Jones lead Dawn Askin.

Askin, an Ottawa native, was a teammate with Sabourin in 2005. The Quebecer was the alternate for Ontario’s Jenn Hanna – with Askin at lead – when Jones made that legendary in-off double-takeout to win the Canadian women’s championship final in stunning fashion.

Sabourin has competed in five Canadian women’s championships since 1997, including 2008 and 2009 with skip Marie-France Larouche. Her 2011 squad, skipped by Chantal Osborne, lost the Quebec final 8-7 to Larouche.

Sabourin confirmed that she will play in the major World Curling Tour events – plus the Canada Cup – while Clark-Rouire will fill Officer’s shoes at the smaller tour stops and also in the early rounds of Manitoba women’s playdowns.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity and an honour to play with these guys,” Sabourin told The Curling News.

“When Dawn called me… I had recently made my decision not to play next year and I was okay with it, but then she called soon afterward and asked me and I said ‘You’re kidding me, right?’

“I’m gonna work hard on my side – I’m not Jill, but I can throw hard and I’ll be practicing my peels for sure. I was biking because I have a race coming up… but now I’ve added kickboxing, four days a week, also to get ready.”

Team Osborne photo courtesy of Curling Quebec

Team Jones photo by Andrew Klaver / Kruger Products Ltd.

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Cyber Attack on Curling

A pox on you... you infernal infestation of überdweebs!

by George Karrys

LONDON, Ontario – It’s a baffling cyber crime, and it’s aimed squarely at the presumably harmless sport of curling.

For those online curling addicts who have noticed, four of the sport’s biggest and most important websites – CurlingZone, World Curling Tour, Ontario Curling Tour and Canadian Curling Reporters – have been knocked offline for days. Temporary pages now sit, surrounded by white space, where reams and reams of curling info once scrolled and flickered.

It was early Friday morning when Gerry Geurts, one of the proprietors of said websites, noticed that one of his online databases was missing. Entirely.

What followed was something akin to The Matrix films – or perhaps Monty Python, as Geurts scrambled to track what was happening. Surely this was some kind of nightmare. Surely this couldn’t be happening… to curling websites?!

“I couldn’t believe it,” said a rueful Geurts. “And on my birthday, too. Someone must really have it out for me.”

Geurts, who lives in London, is a classic example of the overworked and underpaid curling enthusiast who has now spent the better part of four days – along with CurlingZone partner Dallas Bittle of Vancouver – wrangling desperately for answers. The pair, who also published three editions of The Black Book of Curling a few years ago, even sought the help of Dan Field, a top U.S. computer industrialist who lends technical support to the online efforts of the U.S. and world curling governing bodies.

“Dan said his U.S. sites had just been attacked from sites originating in China and Korea,” said Geurts. “We’re wondering if these attacks are related, but we don’t know yet.”

The latest news is that database content as young as the 2008-2009 season has been recovered… and that’s the good news. The bad news, which is getting worse, is that Geurts will need to shell out at least U.S. $6,000 to a large U.S.-based data recovery firm if he is to have any hope of recovering the last two years of work – data which includes the critical 2010 Olympic season.

The various website databases, you see, include massive amounts of statistical data from major and minor curling events – much more than mere forums for anonymous online chatting. And secondary backup systems were hit, too.

“We’ve gotta do it,” Geurts said firmly. “CurlingZone has invested too much time and money into our online properties, including our proprietary statistical scoring engine CZIS, to not bite the bullet and spend the cash.”

Geurts said that the affected URLs may disappear completely for a few hours, as the switch is flipped to a new server host location based in Toronto, Canada. And as the online curling world awaits the return of these cool curling web portals, two simple questions remain – who on earth would do such a thing… and why?