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The Curling News – Old TCN https://oldtcn.com Old Source of News for the sport of Curling Tue, 17 Sep 2019 16:26:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.5.3 Men of Curling 2020 now on sale https://oldtcn.com/2019/09/men-of-curling-2020-now-on-sale/ Tue, 17 Sep 2019 14:58:36 +0000 http://oldtcn.com/?p=9791

The Boys of Winter are bringing heat as the Men of Curling Calendar lineup and sales website was announced today.

Fifteen of the world’s top male curling athletes appear in the 2020 Men of Curling Calendar, which is now on sale at menofcurling.com. The high-quality printed wall calendar sells for CDN $34.95 and proceeds will be directed to no less than 12 different charitable causes, each selected by the athletes.

The athletes represent four countries – Canada, United States, Scotland and Japan – and each competitor created his own photo theme and found a volunteer photographer to capture the final image.

“My initial reaction to the call about the calendar was shock and surprise,” said Scotland’s Bruce Mouat, defending European champion skip and the defending world bronze medallist. “This was something completely different for me to try and obviously for a good cause as well.”

Mouat is fundraising for Alzheimer Scotland and his photo theme is a blending of two different sport landscapes.

“The underwater idea came to be because when I started curling at seven years old, I thought that all ice rinks were frozen swimming pools,” said Mouat. “The photography company I used aren’t curlers so it was a strange conversation over the phone, first trying to explain that there is a Men of Curling Calendar and secondly that I wanted to take my kit off to get the ‘True Scotsman’ look.” 

The calendar also features colour-coded event listings mapping the full 2019-20 season of curling championships, tour events, development camps and other notable occasions. This makes the product a true curling calendar.

The calendar also features a full team participating – Team Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton – for only the third time. Norway’s Team Thomas Ulsrud posed as a foursome in the 2018 Men of Curling Calendar to raise funds for Right To Play, while the recent 2019 Women of Curling Calendar featured Silvana Tirinzoni’s Swiss team, which raised fund for Rolling Thunder, a Swiss power wheelchair hockey team. Team Tirinzoni are now the defending world women’s curling champions.

“We had to go with a train theme, based on our nickname,” said Bottcher second Brad Thiessen. “Bad weather made us postpone our first shooting date but the next one produced some amazing images.”

Team Bottcher, the two-time Brier finalists who won the last two Grand Slam events of the 2019 season, are raising money for Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta while Thiessen, who also appears in his own month, is directing another share of funds raised to the Myeloma Alberta Support Society.

Shannon Birchard of Winnipeg’s Team Kerri Einarson was Ms. August in the 2019 Women of Curling Calendar, and raised nearly $7,000 for KidSport Manitoba. On a typical gym evening in July, she spotted Connor Njegovan, the lead for Team Jason Gunnlaugson, and quickly realized something was up.

“He had a photographer with him, and it was easy to guess that he was shooting for the next men’s calendar,” laughed Birchard. “He may have been pounding out a few extra reps too. Of course I kept quiet about it, and here we are.”

Korey Dropkin of Duluth, Minnesota in the United States skips his men’s squad on the World Curling Tour and is also an accomplished Mixed Doubles competitor with his teammate Sarah Anderson.

“I was very excited and appreciative for the call to be part of the calendar,” said Dropkin, who has chosen to support Sport Matters. “It’s a great honour, and I am ready to do everything I can to sell calendars and make as large of an impact as I possibly can.”

Dropkin’s photo shoot, which took place in his employer’s residential gardens, was interrupted by some wide-eyed workers.

“During the day of the shoot, we experimented with a couple of different wardrobe changes, one which had me in a Speedo, which I’ve never worn before,” said Dropkin. “As I came out into the front garden, a mail truck and a UPS courier truck were both pulling up the street. Sure enough, the drivers come right to the house to find two guys in the front yard, one with a camera, and another nearly naked, rocking a Speedo. There were some weird looks… and some bad jokes.”

John Epping of Toronto has been tearing up the new 2019-20 curling season, scoring two victories in his first two WCT events with third Ryan Fry, a 2018 Man of Curling, featuring in his new team lineup.

“I was excited and nervous during the photo shoot,” said Epping, who is raising funds for LGBT YouthLine. “I feel fortunate to be part of this opportunity to help a great cause.”

The 2020 Men of Curling Calendar is a joint project of The Community Fundraiser (thecommunityfundraiser.com) and George Karrys, the former publisher of The Curling News (curlinguy.com). The partnership now spans more than a decade and has raised over $500,000 for numerous charitable causes since 2013 alone. The 2020 edition is available now from menofcurling.com.

The full lineup of athletes and their selected causes is:

• Team Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton, AB – raising funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta

• Connor Njegovan of Winnipeg, MB (Team Jason Gunnlaugson) – raising funds for the MS Society of Canada

Robbie Doherty of Charlottetown, PEI – raising funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association, PEI Division

• Bruce Mouat of Edinburgh, Scotland (Team Mouat) – raising funds for Alzheimer Scotland

Craig Savill of Ottawa, ON – Charity TBA

Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi of Karuizawa, Japan (Team Yamaguchi) – raising funds for the Japan Wheelchair Curling Association and Team Green at Misayama Hospital

• Brad Thiessen of Edmonton, AB (Team Bottcher) – raising funds for the Myeloma Alberta Support Society

Tyler Tardi of Surrey, BC (Team Tardi) – raising funds for the Curling Canada Foundation and Childhood Cancer Family Support

• Korey Dropkin of Duluth, Minnesota, USA (Team Dropkin) – raising funds for Sports Matter

Kirk Muyres of Saskatoon, SK (Team Muyres) – raising funds for the Do More Agriculture Foundation

• John Epping of Toronto (Team Epping) – raising funds for LGBT Youth Line

Geoff Walker of St. John’s, NL and Edmonton, AB (Team Brad Gushue) – raising funds for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation

High-resolution images of the 2020 Men of Curling Calendar cover and project logo are available to media upon request; visit The Community Fundraiser contact page to make your enquiry.

Roustan Media Acquires The Curling News https://oldtcn.com/2019/09/roustan-media-acquires-the-curling-news/ Mon, 09 Sep 2019 12:32:01 +0000 http://oldtcn.com/?p=9710

TORONTO, September 9, 2019 (Newswire.com) – W. Graeme Roustan, Executive Chairman, Owner and Publisher of Roustan Media, today announced the acquisition of iconic publication The Curling News from Gonzo Communications Inc., owned by Olympic silver medallist George Karrys (Nagano 1998).

Founded in 1957, The Curling News has served its loyal readers with independent journalistic excellence for more than 60 years.

“The Hockey News, which was founded in 1947, now has a sister publication that’s just 10 years younger,” Mr. Roustan said.

Mr. Roustan, who grew up in Canada watching curling, understands the importance of the sport both in Canada and around the world, where “The Roaring Game” is growing in popularity and is showcased at the Olympic Winter Games every four years.

Mr. Karrys, who served as Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Curling News since 2003, will remain on board for a transition period as Deputy Editor in Chief, reporting to Jason Kay, the Editor in Chief of both The Curling News and The Hockey News.

“I couldn’t dream of a better home for this legacy title,” Mr. Karrys said, “and I am delighted to pass the torch of its stewardship to the Roustan Media team.”

Added Mr. Roustan: “I’m humbled by the responsibility that comes with being the steward of The Curling News. I will expand the brand globally just as The Hockey News is a global brand. This acquisition will fit well under the Roustan Media umbrella of sports media titles.”

About: The Curling News is the world’s only independent curling newspaper and a global authority on the sport. Founded in Calgary in 1957 as Canadian Curling News, each modern-day issue of The Curling News is packed with the latest analysis, behind-the-scenes stories, brilliant action photography, event and team previews, stunning design values and information fans simply won’t find anywhere else.

About: W. Graeme Roustan is Executive Chairman of Roustan Capital (roustan.com), Roustan Media (roustan.media), Heritage Hockey Sticks (HeritageHockeySticks.com), Supreme Brands (SupremeBrands.com) and is the owner of several hockey-related entities like TheHockeyNews.com, ChristianHockey.com and Torspo.com. He was Chairman of Performance Sports Group, owner of Bauer, Mission Itech, Cascade and Maverik, from April 2008 through September 2012. While Chairman, he took the company public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2011. He is a past Governor of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) from 2008 to 2018.

Websites:  Roustan.Media | Roustan.com | TheCurlingNews.com | TheHockeyNews.com

That blissful static sound of curling https://oldtcn.com/2019/03/that-blissful-static-sound-of-curling/ https://oldtcn.com/2019/03/that-blissful-static-sound-of-curling/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2019 13:11:28 +0000 http://oldtcn.com/?p=8324 By Dalene Heck

This story was first published in the March 2019 print and digital edition of The Curling News

To any seasoned curler, there is no sound quite like it: the soft static produced as a teflon slider glides over frosty ice, especially for the first time in a season, and especially if you are the only one in the rink. The static amplifies by bouncing off quiet corners as you settle into the hack.

That sound takes me right back to my childhood. It reminds me of my junior curling years when every day after high school ended, I would make the walk to the nearby rink and lace up my shoes. Sometimes I was joined by teammates, but on many days I was solo, throwing takeout after takeout, draw after draw, aiming at an invisible broom and judging my own release and precision.

My skill didn’t take me very far, nor did my dedication. I moved away from home for post-secondary education and then jumped into a demanding career. I watched as my junior colleagues went on to achieve tremendous things – my former teammate Heather Nedohin began her run to greatness just two years after we hit the ice together. I acutely remember one devastating provincial loss over future Olympian Susan O’Connor. I even recall explaining how the modified triple-knockout system worked to fellow Peace-district competitor Carter Rycroft at his very first provincials. They, and many others, clearly bested my attempts, but I never let it dampen my enjoyment of the game. Curling has always remained a big part of my life. My marriage was even a product of the sport when I hitched up with a Canadian junior champion (Pete Heck) over seventeen years ago.

Yet I stepped away from the game for ten years, and it was only this last fall when I heard that blissful static sound once again. I pulled my shoes out of the basement, headed to the rink, and attempted a few slides. And like any unseasoned curler, that ambitious pursuit was followed by aching muscles and questions as to why I put myself through this fresh hell. But I would go back again and again over the weeks to come.

*     *     *

It wasn’t a blatant decision that kept me away from the game for a decade, but a circumstance of another big life choice. In 2009, Pete and I sold everything to travel the world, and there was no room in our backpacks for teflon sliders or curling brooms. Our first foray into the nomadic life took us to Bolivia and six other South American countries, and curling wasn’t much of a thought in any of those places. I remember watching the 2010 Olympics in a restaurant in Peru; all of the other patrons looked at the TV screen quizzically while we were enraptured. Our Spanish was good enough to pick up that the announcers were quite confused as to why anyone would throw a rock through the house to score nothing, and if they seemed unsure as to what to talk about next, the commentary always reverted to team Norway’s colourful pantalones.

We didn’t know then that that first year of a nomadic lifestyle would turn into eight. We sated our thirst for curling by “borrowing” our friends’ TSN passwords and enlisting a VPN service that would allow us to log on anonymously from wherever we were. While housesitting for friends in rural Turkey, we invited locals over to watch it while we explained what was going on. And once, during a journey through Europe, we contacted a few clubs to see if we could stop by. Only Slovenia responded: having introduced curling to the country less than two years before, they were excited to have some Canadians drop by and play.

Calling shots in Slovenia

That almost resulted in us living in Slovenia, actually. After that morning at the rink, Pete admitted to our new friends that it was an unspoken dream of ours to live in a foreign country that was new to curling in order to help them develop their local program. They loved the idea and invited us back the following summer to get a feel for what it would really be like to live in Ljubljana. We fell hard for the picturesque capital city, but the timing was just not right for either of us. We still hold out some faint hope, even though, after almost eight years of nomadic living, we have returned to live in our home province of Alberta.

*     *     *

Since our return, that soft static sound of teflon on ice has been comforting to me for so many reasons. Not only did it reinvigorate my love for the sport that has been such a defining part of my life, but it also became a milestone in my recovery.  It wasn’t by choice that my husband and I decided to settle back in Canada – our travels were ended rather abruptly when I was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.

Treatment was harsh but effective. APL is a weird little cancer that does its damnedest to kill immediately, but once the first scary weeks are passed, is highly curable. It is something that I will not likely have to deal with again and yet it has altered me forever. Our travels have slowed indefinitely as we find ourselves resuming a life we thought we had left behind. It was a hard transition (largely because it was unanticipated) but one that we have since embraced. Much of that has to do with the support of our family and friends, of course, but also because of our return to the rink near us in Lethbridge, Alberta.

On that first day out, I strained to throw even a handful of rocks and barely was able to lift myself off of the ice after each one. I had just finished treatment a couple of months before and my body was mushy and uncooperative. The following week, the ladies league started, and my new throw-together team allowed me to skip because I knew that I did not yet possess the strength to sweep. With every slide, I just hoped my weakened leg would hold me up.

I consider my progress on the ice as a marker for progress in my cancer recovery. I suffered a setback when sciatica kept me away for most of November and December, but I rebounded to sweep my first full game in early January. In February I entered a bonspiel and played third for all three of our games. I swept enthusiastically, and my energy level suggested I could have even done more. Other parts of my body are still clearly struggling. Many trips to the gym have helped my muscles regain their shape, but as anyone who curls knows, it’s a sport that demands some unusual contortions. Even though I am proud to be at a level of fitness I never thought I would achieve again, I know I’ve still got a ways to go.

But I feel more determined than ever, and I haven’t quite misplaced all of my skill. I have only one loss to my name this season (the wins I share with my young and able-bodied teammates, of course, but I am proud to have logged some killer shots as well). It is unlikely I will ever find myself in a provincial event again, but if I can pull off a few bonspiel wins (or at least take home a prize for best costume), then I will call this renewed pursuit a grand success.

But until then, the sweet sound of slider static will be enough to carry me through the rest of this season.

Dalene and Pete Heck are accomplished writers and wanderers whose numerous awards include National Geographic’s “Travelers of the Year” in 2014. Follow on Twitter @HeckticTravels and @HeckticMedia and on their blog at hecktictravels.com

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Time to fix the Brier/STOH playdowns – once and for all https://oldtcn.com/2019/03/time-to-fix-the-brier-stoh-playdowns-once-and-for-all/ https://oldtcn.com/2019/03/time-to-fix-the-brier-stoh-playdowns-once-and-for-all/#comments Fri, 08 Mar 2019 17:58:58 +0000 http://oldtcn.com/?p=8256 This column was originally published in our December 2018 issue, and has been posted online here as the debate over the Brier and STOH format continues. We remind curling fans that The Curling News is the only independent curling newspaper in the world, and each print and expanded digital edition is packed with innovative and essential curling news and information.

In that December issue, we welcomed two-time Olympic champion John Morris as a columnist. This is his first installment of The Athlete Angle, offering occasional perspectives on hot topics – from a high-performance curler and fan of the game.

John Morris at the 2014 Brier (Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

By John Morris

This is the first column I’ve written for The Curling News and I’m choosing to write about a hot topic that is on a lot of fans’ minds these days. Canada’s playdowns – the system used to decide a champion, from local curling club or zone play right through to the national title – has been receiving a lot of criticism of late, and I’m going to pipe up with my two bits on the matter. There will no doubt be a few people and provinces that may be slightly offended by my points of view. However, when it comes to the playdowns it would be near impossible to keep every party happy anyway, and I think it’s worth having the conversation in the hope of righting this ship for good.

I want to first point out a few changes that Curling Canada has done very well and that have made a positive impact on curling in Canada. The first being the subtle downsizing of the Brier, and taking it back to cities like Brandon and Kingston. Although their arenas are considerably smaller than the Calgary’s Saddledome or Edmonton’s Rexall Place, they will almost guarantee a sellout for many draws. Also, this brings a major event back to some really great curling hotbeds which have a good track record of hosting successful curling competitions. We as players would much rather play in a full 5,000-capacity barn than a half-full 15,000-capacity arena.

Secondly, the inclusion of a Team Canada in the Brier was a great idea. I find that to win a major championship like the Brier, you should have to beat the defending champ to officially dethrone them. And to borrow the longtime women’s Team Canada argument, this also allows Curling Canada to have a guaranteed strong team in the event to help market and pre-sell tickets.

Good point Gushue

Although I must admit I don’t watch a lot of TV curling when I’m not competing, I did tune into some of the 2018 Scotties and Brier and it gave me a different perspective. This was the first time in almost 20 years that I wasn’t an active participant. When all was said and done, I really did not enjoy either of them as much as I would have liked, and I think one of the main reasons was the format. In the first part of the week it seemed the games lacked meaning and intensity. Most of the games did not go the duration, and there were many lopsided scores. Then all of a sudden, near the end of the week, there were a bunch of really meaningful games going on at the same time and viewers could only tune into the one match that was being featured.

I must tip my hat to Brad Gushue – it is very easy to criticize a format when your team is losing and under those circumstances the criticism can lack merit. However, Gushue publicly commented on the format several times during the 2018 Brier stating that he wasn’t a fan and it needed a fix, and he was winning the thing (and he did). Coming from the skip of the team that has won the last two Briers… this type of comment in the media holds a lot of credence and I’m glad he said it, as I believe it now has a better chance of being changed for the better.

Trial and error

It seems to me that Curling Canada has been trying to fine-tune and update the playdown system for about the past decade. First there was the relegation experiment, which was introduced in an attempt to make provinces more competitive and also to make room for a Team Canada addition. In theory this made sense, but when I first experienced it and saw all of the negative feedback from most of the provinces, I, like many other Canadians, felt this was not fair. First of all, the costs to fly these teams in and accommodate them to play a mini-bonspiel before the Brier starts… I’m sure that was very expensive for Curling Canada. Then for the fans of those provinces, who may have been loyal Brier attendees, not being able to know if their home province is even in the Brier until the very last minute… no doubt this uncertainty had a lot of people not booking their tickets. 

Fast forward to last year’s 2018 season, which featured the two-pool system and the addition of a Wild Card entry. I have grown up through the traditional playdown system for most of my life and when Curling Canada first starting introducing two-pool play at the Canadian Juniors, it had me baffled. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in understanding draw formats, as I’ve pretty much seen all of them at some point throughout my career. The two-pool system – to put it frankly – is tough to follow. I can only imagine how confused the average Canadian curling fan feels. In this format  there was even a draw played that was completely meaningless, and held strictly for seeding purposes… this would have been what my old friend Benny Heebz calls “human torture” as you would have had a bunch of guys or gals – who are already feeling badly because they missed qualifying for the championship round – back out on the ice, not wanting to play in a meaningless game, where at least half of them would have been sporting a hefty Brier patch hangover from the night before.

(Editor’s note: the seeding draw was eliminated from this year’s STOH and Brier. According to a recent tweet from Curling Canada, “The game on Fri. morning (was) removed in consultation with all stakeholders. The players no longer in contention for the title are just as happy not to play in that game. We haven’t heard a complaint yet.”)

Morris watches his stone at the 2015 Brier in Calgary (Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

In my opinion, a Brier isn’t a Brier unless you are competing against the whole field.  Every time I qualify for a Canadian curling championship, I open the event schedule for the first time… and it’s like Christmas, finally getting to see when the marquee matchups are, and also predicting when it might be a good time to hit the Patch with friends. From the fan perspective, they can organize their trip to the Brier accordingly to see their favourite teams do battle. From a cost perspective, this format would still be through the roof as Curling Canada would be flying teams in from every province and territory, especially the Yukon, Northwest Territories (NWT) and Nunavut players whose flights costs cost mucho dinero. 

Maybe this is just my competitive perspective here, but does a team really want to play in a Brier or Scotties and get shellacked in every game? Last year the teams qualifying from Nunavut at both the Brier and Scotties both brought in a player from another province right before the event started; in one case the team had never even met their teammate before the Scotties began. As my favourite NFL football announcer Chris Berman would say… c’mon, man! That doesn’t seem like a whole lot of fun and also takes some competitiveness out of the Brier, which has always been a historically competitive event. 

Going to the nationals should be earned and not necessarily due to geographical locations. Kerry Galusha, who has had a wonderful Scotties career and has always represented the NWT with class, has even said that she isn’t a fan of the current system. In a series of tweets with Braeden Moskowy and Benny, Kerry said:

“People thought they hated the pre-qualification process aka relegation but people are going to hate the pool format way more… they are going to wish for relegation to come back.

“Nobody knows better than myself and my team how cruel relegation was… but we understood why it was in place and dealt with it. I do think it made our team stronger and work harder. Not sure what the right answer is though… but I don’t think pools is one of them.”

We The North

Instead of having the NWT, Yukon, and Nunavut having separate teams, I recommend that each territory’s champions compete in a special championship that rotates the hosting location. Format could be double round-robin, with the top two teams playing in the final unless one of the teams goes unbeaten. Curling Canada would cover the expenses for these teams which would help ensure that there are no teams complaining that it is too expensive to fly into other territories (which is one of the reasons that it was decided to have all of these teams compete in the Brier).  

Yes, there is still a cost incurred but it would no doubt be a fraction of what it would cost to fly all of these teams into a Brier for the week. Also, this would help produce development and competitiveness amongst the territories which will ensure that whomever represents the North will be pretty darn good. With the money that would be saved by doing this, you could even kickstart development funds for those territories that don’t make it – their reps could fly into one of our national training centres and access to our nation’s skilled high-performance consultants. This would no doubt have a more positive impact than sending them like sacrificial lambs to the Scotties or Brier only to get crushed in most games.

The Ontario issue

Growing up, the Brier wouldn’t have been the same without the likes of Al Hackner or Brad Jacobs representing Northern Ontario. As an avid outdoorsman and archery hunter, my favourite sound from Brier fans is undoubtedly the NONT moose call. However, I think the time has come for there to be only one representative from Ontario. 

It made sense to separate the two back in the early Brier days because efficient transportation was a key issue, and flying wasn’t an option. Back then there were also a huge amount of entries from Northern and Southern O, but things have changed. We now have multiple flight options to get across the province and I read that for the 2018 Ontario Scotties playdowns, the south had over 50 entries and Northern O had only four. So I think it’s time to amalgamate the North with the South and have a single Ontario representative. 

And when Brad Jacobs or Krista McCarville can still come out of Ontario with a purple heart, the Northern fans can dust those moose calls off and make those sweet sounds. Here again, there should be some cost-sharing with Curl Canada/CurlON as you wouldn’t want the excessive costs of travel to deter a team from entering playdowns. Therefore, it may only be fair to cover the plane tickets for the few teams that have to travel long distances for provincials.

Johnny said WHAT about Northern Ontario? (Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Player’s lounge!

As a side note here, the Brier used to have a player’s lounge that was one of the highlights of the event. This was a really comfortable lounge that allowed us to enjoy a wide array of beverages and some food items/snacks, where all of the players and their families could hang out after the games. It was one of the special things that set the Brier apart and was something every team had the privilege to enjoy. More importantly, it provided an area for the teams to hang out together and this was one of the few ways we were able to get to know our opponents. My favourite part of a few Briers was getting to meet the families of my longtime competitors in the lounge and seeing how excited their kids were to hang out as a VIP.

Apparently this was removed due to budgetary restraints and it was thought that the players would not even notice its disappearance… however, I can tell you it was an immediate dissatisfier for the players and it had many Brier competitors asking “What the heck?” With some minor sponsorship from certain suppliers, I think the costs could be kept at a minimum, if any, and its return would have a positive impact on the great traditions of the Brier.

CTRS teams, Wild Card

I have to admit that I’m not a fan of the Wild Card concept for two main reasons. First off, the Brier/STOH starts becoming too much like our other championships, such as the Grand Slams or the Canada Cup. As great as these events are and as much as the actual shotmaking and talent is better in these events, I don’t think we need another one of them.

Secondly, by doing this you make the event too large, and as a result you have to break it into two-pool play or have a round robin that would be too long, thus extending the event. I do like the idea of having Team Canada back, for the reasons expressed above.

A possible option

There are some competitive curlers who argue that certain provinces should not be in the Brier/Scotties because they consistently post losing records. Well, I’m kind of on-the-fence on this one, because I have a soft spot for my friends out east and I don’t think it’s as easy as just lumping all of the Atlantic provinces together and giving them one spot. 

One step might be to eliminate the province at the Brier that has the worst record (and break ties the same way you would for the teams tied for playoff positions). That team can only be eliminated for one year in a row, as the following year they would replace that year’s last place team. One clause could be that if a province is hosting a national, they would get a guaranteed entry.

The positives of this would be that every game at the nationals would be a battle and I, for one, would definitely tune in to see PEI versus NFLD (sans Gushue of course) as one of the last round-robin draws to see who makes it into the following year’s Brier. Now you may have the perennial bottom-dwelling provinces crying foul… but before you criticize this too much, won’t this inevitably help to improve these provinces and put some ownership on the provincial association to develop their high-performance programs? Overall, I believe this would lead to more competitive national championships thus creating higher quality champions, and this at a time when many have heard the rumblings from curlers and fans across our country as to why we aren’t as dominant on the international stage as we used to be. 

I believe this is one step in the right direction that will help strengthen our system coast to coast to coast, and give us a better chance at creating consistent top podium results for Canada for years to come. This has been used successfully at the European Curling Championships for years and really helps with the overall competitiveness of the event, and every single game has meaning.

Morris battles some P.E.I. buddies in 2015 (Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

The solution

I never enjoy hearing naysayers point out a problem without having an idea for a solution, so here goes. Over the years, Curling Canada has gradually lengthened the Brier and STOH inch by inch. I will reiterate that it is next to impossible to keep all of the curlers and curling fans in the country happy, so some people will simply not agree, but here it is:

Scrap the two pools and go back to a traditional round-robin system, where every curler in Canada still has a chance to qualify for the Brier/Scotties. Have one rep from all the territories, a Team Canada, and only one rep from Ontario, all for the reasons mentioned above. The team list would be BC, NWT/YUKON/NUNAVUT winner, ALBERTA, SASKATCHEWAN, MANITOBA, ONTARIO, QUEBEC, NEW BRUNSWICK, NOVA SCOTIA, PEI, NEWFOUNDLAND and TEAM CANADA. Use the same Page playoff format that has been used successfully over the last decade, and finally, consider the option of eliminating the last place team for the following year’s event.

Boom. Now tell me what you think.

John Morris is a two-time Olympic champion and multiple Brier, world and provincial champion who is now focused on the Mixed Doubles discipline. Follow him on Twitter @johnnymocurler and on Instagram at johnnymo_7

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Netflix curling documentary https://oldtcn.com/2019/02/netflix-curling-documentary/ https://oldtcn.com/2019/02/netflix-curling-documentary/#respond Thu, 21 Feb 2019 22:02:54 +0000 http://oldtcn.com/?p=8102 By George Karrys

I first heard of a proposed Netflix documentary series almost two years ago. The unnamed series would explore the stories of individual athletes or teams that suffered a massive loss and had to regroup, and find a way to get back to The Big Game and eventually triumph.

One of the show episodes would involve curling.

The idea of a series that turns the lens onto the losers of The Big Game, not the winners, and tells their tale of pain and eventual redemption, is quite intriguing. This appeared to be an on-again off-again concept, however, and the curling world has already been disappointed with high-end documentaries that never made it to air (see our upcoming March issue for one such example).

Lo and behold, the series does exist. LOSERS will debut on Netflix’s 26 worldwide platforms on March 1, the day of the Brier’s qualifying Wild Card match between Ontario’s John Epping and Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher.

The series features eight episodes covering eight different sports, and one of them spotlights one of curling’s greatest stories: the 1985 Labatt Brier final in Moncton between Alberta’s Pat Ryan (image above) and Northern Ontario’s Al Hackner.

The initial story of the curling episode “Stone Cold” drills into the game itself, which saw the previously undefeated Ryan squad drop a miracle deuce in the last end – on the infamous “Hackner Double” – and lose the championship on a steal in the extra-end.

(Of course, that epic match was so much, much more than that. We break it down further in our upcoming March issue.)

Pat… in space?

The documentary then zeroes in on what Ryan did next… he recruited a new third (a youthful Randy Ferbey), embraced a hitting game (creating the legend of “Ryan’s Express”), won back-to-back Brier titles in 1988 and 1989 (plus the ’89 worlds) and arguably caused the biggest rule change in curling history – the Free Guard Zone.

It’s all in the upcoming March issue of The Curling News, arriving in mailboxes next week and digitally (to subscribers) in expanded and enhanced form, with tons of stuff to click on. You won’t want to miss our description of this project’s history, our interviews with the principals, how this episode’s origins trace back to The Curling News’ network of writers and columnists (!)… and our explanation of why all of this matters 34 years later.

SUBSCRIBE to The Curling News and get in!

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Final thoughts from Omaha https://oldtcn.com/2018/12/final-thoughts-from-omaha/ Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:53:11 +0000 http://oldtcn.com/?p=7458 By Rob Gordon

This is me showing John Morris his debut column in the December edition of The Curling News – first time he’d seen it. I’ll see my first one in the January edition!

By Rob Gordon

The second leg of the Curling World Cup has come to a close, and with that, my stay here in Omaha. The city was welcoming, the curling was exciting, and I even got to reconnect with some family friends (shout out to Sue and Phil Daubman).

I enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in a curling event in an unfamiliar role, it was interesting seeing the event from a different perspective. Special thanks to Cameron MacAllister and Emily Dwyer from the World Curling Federation media team for showing me the ropes and answering any questions I had along the way. For my final blogpost, I decided to create a David Letterman-esque Top 10 list – highlighting some of my favourite things about the second leg of the Curling World Cup. So, without further ado…

 10. Hitting the hay after the first full day

I didn’t realize how exhausting this whole media thing would be! On Thursday morning, I awoke at 5:30 a.m. to craft my first blogpost, then headed to the arena for 8:00 am – four draws later, I left the Ralston arena (for the first time that day) at 10:00 p.m. I was out like a light as soon as my head hit the pillow that night. Needless to say, I have a newfound respect for the guys and gals in the media business. It’s harder than it looks!

 9. Three disciplines under under one roof

 things about the Curling World Cup is the Men’s event, Women’s event, and Mixed Doubles event all run concurrently with one another. This means as a spectator, you can watch a variety of games on any given draw. As a player, combining men’s/women’s/mixed together adds to the social aspect of the event. An often-overlooked detail that many players I talked to said they enjoy.

8. Fans doing the wave

 As I mentioned in myprevious blogpost, what the American fan base lacked in size, they made up for in spirit. After Canada’s Jason Gunnlaugson missed a runback and gave the USA’s John Shuster a steal of two and a commanding 7-2 lead in their final round robin game, the crowd broke out in the wave. Okay, it was a meek attempt at a wave, but a wave nonetheless. Curling needs more of this type of fan engagement; the atmosphere at a live curling event needs to resemble a party, not a funeral.

7. Omaha Zoo – What? It can’t all be curling!

 The Omaha Zoo is highly touted as one of the best in the country, and it did not disappoint. Great way to kill a few hours between games. If you ever find yourself in Nebraska it is worth a visit.

6. Lazy Handle heads to Omaha

 Good on the WorldCurling Federation for bringing an aspiring young journalist to Omaha and giving her the opportunity to interview some of curling’s biggest stars. I know how excited I was to be on the media bench for this event, so I can only imagine how she felt. Check out her YouTube channel by searching “Lazy Handle Show.”

5. Thank you volunteers

Events like this can’t run without a crew of dedicated volunteers making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. The volunteers at this event were spectacular. I was fortunate enough to chat with some of them throughout the week, and their positive attitudes were infectious.

4. Asian invasion

The second leg of the Curling World Cup saw an all-Asian final on the women’s side as Japan defeated Korea in thrilling fashion, stealing two points in the final end to walk away with an unlikely victory. Satsuki Fujisawa from Japan has skipped a top team for a few years now, winning a silver medal at the 2016 women’s worlds and a bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. The teenagers from Korea were even more impressive. Relatively unknown, the Koreans finished top of their pool by virtue of their two victories over the Canadians, and earned a spot in the final on Sunday. Heartbreaking end to their week.

3. Aksarben club hosts learn-to-curls

Near the conclusion of every session, the PA announcer’s voice would bellow out of the speaker: “Want to know what it really feels like to throw a curling rock? Head over to the public ice after the draw to try it out.” I never thought anything of it until the final day when I decided to check it out. The rings were faded, the hacks temporary, and the ice hadn’t been pebbled since the start of the week – but gosh darn it, people were learning how to throw a curling rock! This was such a great idea by all parties involved, and introduced a lot of newcomers to the sport over the course of the week.

2. Cheering on my girlfriend Kristin MacCuish and Team Canada (I swear I’m not biased)

The main reason I headed down to Omaha was to watch my girlfriend compete. Being able to cheer her and her teammates on as they represented our country was a lot of fun. They played great all week and unfortunately ran into a hot team from South Korea, who beat them in both round robin meetings. Although it was not the result they were hoping for, Team Fleury sure made all their fans proud this week. Shuster wins on home soilShuster wins on home soil

1. Shuster wins on  home soil

This one is obvious. As if it were scripted, USA’s John Shuster defeated Sweden’s Niklas Edin in the men’s final, a rematch of the 2018 Olympic gold medal game. American fans were treated to great shotmaking and thrilling finishes from Team Shuster all week,culminating in the much-anticipated Olympic rematch in the final. Shuster had control throughout the game, and ran Sweden out of rocks in the final end, solidifying the victory.

Validation. That’s what winning the second leg of the Curling World Cup meant to Shuster who said, “This win cemented the fact that our Olympic win wasn’t a fluke.” This is definitely a team that cannot be taken lightly anymore.

I had a great time in Omaha at the Curling World Cup. Thanks again to The Curling News for giving me a platform to share my experiences with all of you… and look for my article on the event in the January print and digital editions. Seems like the perfect time to give the gift of a subscription to The Curling News this holiday season!

Where is everybody? https://oldtcn.com/2018/12/where-is-everybody/ Sat, 08 Dec 2018 13:01:06 +0000 http://oldtcn.com/?p=7409 No Shuster versus Edin is a travesty

By Rob Gordon

OMAHA, NEBRASKA – The second leg of the new Curling World Cup series is being held in Omaha, Nebraska at the beautiful Ralston Arena. The event tagline boasts “The Greatest Collide” as 10 of the “top curling nations” compete under one roof. Exciting, right? So why is a building that can seat up to 4,400 people struggling to sell enough tickets to fill just one section? The easy answer is that Omaha – and the United States in general – hasn’t adopted the game of curling yet… and while that might play a role in the lack of spectators, I believe the problem goes much deeper.

 There are a few things working against the event here in Omaha. Certainly, location has played a part in reduced ticket sales, but what spectators here lack in quantity, they make up for in quality. The American fans are a passionate group who love cheering on their home teams. A chorus of a few dozen can be heard chanting “USA! USA! USA!” anytime Jamie Sinclair makes a clutch shot, or John Shuster makes a game-winning takeout.

Another detriment to ticket sales is the event itself. The Curling World Cup is such a new entity that no one quite knows what to make of it. If the avid curling fan is confused, getting the general public to be interested is nothing short of an uphill battle. An established event such as the U.S Nationals or U.S Olympic Trials might have more success selling tickets simply because it is somewhat familiar to the average viewer.

The format of the event also seems to be stunting potential attendance growth. The event runs as a double round robin with two pools, meaning each team plays the other teams in their pool twice. As a spectator, if I have seen Canada play China once already, I probably wouldn’t pay to see them play each other again. However, if this event ran as a full round robin with all eight teams there would be more compelling matchups. They could structure the draw to have marquee matchups in the evening to boost ticket sales.

The fact that Team Shuster and Team Edin are both in this event but can only play each other if they both make the final, is a travesty. The format of the event robbed local fans of the opportunity of watching a rematch of the 2018 Olympic final between USA and Sweden on American soil. Imagine the marketing potential? Put them out on sheet C on the Friday night draw and see how many fans filter through those doors! The World Curling Federation missed the boat on this one.

 However, low attendance is not just an Omaha problem or a Curling World Cup problem. Putting butts in seats at curling events has been an issue for a while now. When the Canadian Olympic Trials struggles to sell tickets, that’s when you know there is a problem. One year ago, many of the midweek games in Ottawa were played in front of a few thousand spectators, which looked horrible in an NHL-sized arena. Moving the Brier to smaller venues like Brandon and Kingston is a great idea by Curling Canada, but it doesn’t solve the underlying issue of the drop in attendance over the years.

The fact is, we live in a fast-paced world – a world of Twitter, Instagram and instant gratification. It seems the younger generation (my generation) does not have the patience to watch a slow-paced game like curling, and not enough free time to devote to sitting through a three-hour match. Curling is running into the same problem golf has been dealing with; spending five hours on a golf course is less feasible as it once was. Is spending three hours watching a live curling match becoming less feasible in today’s world? If you subscribe to The Curling News, you know that this position has been taken rather loudly by columnist Warren Hansen, who used to run competitions for Curling Canada.

So how do we get more fans in the seats? Do we need Vegas showgirls marking the score at every event, like at the Continental Cup? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do see this issue becoming an increasing problem in the future.

Favourites falter at CWC Omaha https://oldtcn.com/2018/12/favourites-falter-at-cwc-omaha/ Thu, 06 Dec 2018 18:13:38 +0000 http://oldtcn.com/?p=7381

Nice view for our new columnist

By Rob Gordon

OMAHA, NEBRASKA – So what is this “Curling World Cup” thing anyway?

I’m here at the second leg of this new four-event series, and I’ll have an analysis in the January issue of The Curling News. But for now, results from day one!

Opening day saw a few hiccups from some of the event favourites, as Canada lost on the men’s and mixed doubles side, USA dropped their first men’s match, and Sweden fell in their women’s opener.

Jason Gunnlaugson’s Winnipeg-based squad enters the event as the third-highest ranked team on the World Curling Tour Order Of Merit list (OOM). This is the first time any member of the team has represented Canada internationally, and they will soon find out that the Maple Leaf is more like a big target on their back. Other teams are always looking to dethrone the perennial powerhouse.

This was the case in the opening draw of the event, as Team Canada took on the talented young Scots who had just captured the European championship (in the digital version of the December issue). Canada controlled the game early, taking a one point lead with hammer into the fourth end break. In the fifth end Jason tried a little “scoreboard management” by playing two tick shots with his lead rocks, in hopes of an open end and potential blank. However, they were forced to one point, and hammer changed hands heading into the sixth end.

After Scottish third Grant Hardie made a long runback double, skip Bruce Mouat made a delicate hack-weight runback to score four points and take control of the game. Scotland never looked back from there, and cruised to an 8-6 victory.

The 2018 Olympic champions, USA’s John Shuster, also dropped their opener. The crowd favourites came out flat against a Chinese skip who made every double he looked at. Although the Americans didn’t have their best stuff, they still generated scoring chances—that is, until the opposing skip waltzed down the ice, settled into the hack, and made the U.S stones disappear. China stole singles on three different occasions, and never allowed Shuster to score multiple points with hammer, taking the win by a narrow 4-3 margin.

Another 2018 Olympic champion, John Morris, was in action on Wednesday, playing alongside his mixed doubles partner Kalynn Park. Morris, who won gold in Pyeongchang with Kaitlyn Lawes, has a new partner for this event as Kaitlyn is playing in the Canada Cup with Team Jennifer Jones. The Canadian duo gave up a steal in the final end, which sent the game into a sudden death draw to the button. Canada was unable to out-count the Swiss stone, and lost the game 6-5.

On the women’s side of things, Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg lost her opener in dramatic fashion. The Swedes held a two-point lead heading into the final end, but as we have seen numerous times this season with the implementation of the five-rock rule, a two-point lead is anything but safe. The Japanese skip made an open takeout on her final rock, ensuring two points to tie. The fate of the game rested on a measurement which went in favour of Japan, earning them three points and the 6-5 victory.

Wednesday at the Curling World Cup had no shortage of excitement, with all three reigning Olympic gold medallists starting the event at 0-1. Bring on Thursday!

15 athletes in 2019 Women of Curling Calendar for charity https://oldtcn.com/2018/10/15-athletes-in-2019-women-of-curling-calendar-for-charity/ https://oldtcn.com/2018/10/15-athletes-in-2019-women-of-curling-calendar-for-charity/#respond Mon, 01 Oct 2018 12:51:48 +0000 http://oldtcn.com/?p=6673

Lauren Gray, the Ailsa Craig and power words adorn the cover

The women of curling are back.

Fifteen of the world’s top female curling competitors appear in the 2019 Women of Curling Calendar, which is now on sale at the website womenofcurling.com. The high-quality printed wall calendar sells for CAN $29.95 and proceeds will be directed to no less than 12 different charitable causes, each selected by the athletes themselves.

The athletes represent five countries – Canada, the United States, Scotland, Switzerland and Japan – and each one created her own photo theme and found a volunteer photographer to get “the” shot.

“I was so excited to get the call about the calendar,” said Scotland’s Lauren Gray, defending European champion and a world bronze medallist who plays lead for Team Eve Muirhead. Gray, who represents the month of April, is fundraising for the Scottish Association for Mental Health and is portrayed with the famed Ailsa Craig in the background.

“When my photographer and I pulled into the car park there was a full motorbiking group that had stopped for a break,” said Gray. “You can imagine their confusion as I walked straight into the water in my jeans and started posing. Having an audience was certainly not part of the plan!”

Each month also showcases worldwide curling events from January through December, colour-coded in five different categories for easy reference. This makes the product a true curling calendar.

Edmonton’s Laura Walker is the defending world bronze medallist in Mixed Doubles and just captured gold in the first leg of Mixed Doubles at the new Curling World Cup series in Suzhou, China. She appeared in the calendar years ago, and felt some nostalgia during her photo shoot, but remarked “At this point in my career I think I have a bit of a bigger platform to make a difference. The goal is to raise money and help the charities.

“We did some shots at my house and some at Rachelle Brown’s,” said Walker, who represents February and whose share of calendar proceeds will go to the Sandra Schmirler Foundation. “I was fostering a cat at the time and couldn’t keep him off the bed when I took the first round of shots. It was so sweet, I had to take some pictures with him… and I almost used one!

“My mom and my sister also FaceTimed me while I was shooting and I hadn’t told them about the calendar yet. They were like, ‘What the heck are you doing?’ When we were at Rachelle’s place she was hilarious, getting up on chairs to cover her TV with a sheet to get a full white background, all while pregnant… anything for a good shot.”


Read CBC’s calendar story



Japanese Olympic bronze medal skip Satsuki Fujisawa is the first Asian athlete to appear in either the Women of Curling or Men of Curling Calendars. Fujisawa, representing the month of May, is donating her proceeds to JOICFP, the Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning.

“My photo shoot took place in Squamish, British Columbia, where my photographer Tempei lives,” said Fujisawa, who spent the summer in Canada studying English.” He knows so many great places and took me to the best spots for photo shooting. It was awesome to see so many beautiful places in Squamish.

“Tempei is also a climber and has a really strong core. He climbed like a monkey, everywhere, such as in trees and the edge of the poles along the pier when he was taking photos. I was just amazed with the unique techniques and skills he has. It was the best photo shooting experience ever!”

The calendar also features a full team participating – Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland – for the first time since Norway’s Team Thomas Ulsrud posed as a foursome in the 2018 Men of Curling Calendar, which raised $100,000 for multiple charities. Tirinzoni and Co. are a new squad for the next Olympic quadrennial and placed second at the first Grand Slam of Curling series event, the Elite 10, last night in Chatham, Ontario.

Kate Cameron of Thompson, Manitoba caused a stir when she posed for her photographer on a summer weeknight.

“Ha ha, it was very awkward,” said the third for Team Allison Flaxey, who as Ms. January is raising money for Northern Manitoba Paws In Need. “We had couples out for walks, people riding their bikes, all while I have no pants on down by the water at 6:00 p.m. on a Wednesday.

“This is something that was completely out of my comfort zone, but it was a perfect opportunity to give back to my small town community and help make a difference.

“I knew I wanted to give back to animals. As a new dog owner I clearly love animals. But living up in the north, you hear some stories that Paws In Need has dealt with… neglected animals being left in boxes, on door steps, at their shelter, hurt, abandoned, et cetera. Vicki (McNevin) and her team never refuse an animal, they try their absolute best to care for that animal. This rescue runs completely from donations. When I met with Vicki to ask some questions about choosing their charity she was over the moon. So please buy some calendars and help me raise some money for these adorable animals!”

The 2019 Women of Curling Calendar is a project from The Curling News and The Community Fundraiser, now a 10-year partnership that has raised almost $400,000 for numerous charitable causes. The 2019 edition is available now from womenofcurling.com.

The full lineup of athletes and their selected charitable causes is:

January – Kate Cameron, Thompson/Winnipeg, Manitoba (Team Allison Flaxey) – Northern Manitoba Paws In Need

February – Laura Walker, Edmonton/Toronto (Team Walker) – Sandra Schmirler Foundation

March – Casey Scheidegger, Lethbridge, Alberta (Team Scheidegger) – Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation

April – Lauren Gray, Scotland (Team Eve Muirhead) – Scottish Association for Mental Health

May – Satsuki Fujisawa, Japan (Team Fujisawa) – Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP)

June – Jo-Ann Rizzo, Brantford, Ontario (Team Rizzo) – Brant County SPCA

July – Team Silvana Tirinzoni (all four team members), Switzerland – Rolling Thunder

August – Shannon Birchard, Winnipeg (Team Kerri Einarson) – KidSport Manitoba

September – Kristen Streifel, Saskatoon/University of Alberta (Team Streifel) – Curling Canada Foundation

October – Kendra Lilly, Sudbury/Thunder Bay (Team Krista McCarville) – Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin North Bay & Districts

November – Nina Roth, USA (Team Roth) – Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation

December – Tess Bobbie, Toronto (Team Julie Tippin) – Special Olympics Ontario

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PyeongChang 2018: Curling, Karaoke, Pizza and Soju https://oldtcn.com/2018/02/pyeongchang-2018-curling-karaoke-pizza-and-soju/ https://oldtcn.com/2018/02/pyeongchang-2018-curling-karaoke-pizza-and-soju/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 09:04:17 +0000 http://oldtcn.com/?p=5452 By Glenn Kennedy

[Image copyright The Curling News® by Anil Mungal – any other use beyond this page is strictly prohibited]

GANGNEUNG, KOREA – With a couple of big wins against Japan and Denmark, the boys finished their round robin  at six wins and three losses, and all alone in second place. We play the USA team in the semifinal tonight, looking for a huge payback.

I was lucky enough to witness this in Vancouver 2010. The Canadian fans and players start off the Games as a very humble, friendly group, but as we reach the second half of the tournament, the competitiveness and Canadian drive starts to surface, and now there are no holds barred! We will be duelling with the USA fans tonight as hard as the boys on the ice! It’s playoff time baby!

The last few days have been pretty wild. We found karaoke, a pizza joint and a bunch of Soju, so no complaints… soju is a popular rice wine, that ranges in alcohol level of 16 to 50+ %. We have mistakenly been drinking it as if it is 16%, which has led to a few blackouts for the group of fans. The pizza was the best of all time. I also was unfortunatel enough to play poker with the Koes, and will now be paying them a couple of mortgage payments as a result. So much for a friendly game amongst family and friends…

Keep your heads held high Team Homan. We are all very proud of you. The sun still comes up and your journey in this great sport has only begun.

Next up was the women’s hockey gold medal game, and then a search to find some body paint.

Stay tuned and keep cheering hard back at home!!

[Image copyright The Curling News® by Anil Mungal – any other use beyond this page is strictly prohibited]

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