Monday, January 30, 2006

Sackville Curling Club a Home for Champions

The Sackville Curling Club places an emphasis on recreational curling as opposed to the highly competitive style as noted in some of the clubs in larger communities.

There have been a few outstanding performers come out of the local three-sheet club, notably sisters Krista and Heather Smith and Lesley Hicks, but this is rare. As a matter of fact, the club was designed and built in the late 1940s for fun and recreation by local professional and business people.

Although the demographics have shifted over the nearly 60 years, the aim remains basically the same – a place where locals can gather and enjoy a fun eight or 10-ender.

Recently, however, the club has provided a “home” for a number of former provincial and national champion curlers attending Mount Allison University.

From the Sackville Tribune-Post, with thanks to Brian Ferguson.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Taking Curling Seriously

What's going on? doesn't have betting available for the outcome of the curling matches at the 2006 Winter Olympics! Why not?

Are there other sites that do?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Club Curling Question

I have been watching club curling for several years, now, and I took it up myself last year. Something puzzles me:
  • Why do so many club curlers let go of the rock at least ten feet from the hog line?
I know they might be afraid of hogging the rock, but you don't have to let go that early to be safe. I also know that most of them are not "competitive" curlers (who continue to readjust the rock infinitesimally right up to the hogline). Why let go of it so soon?

Is it because they're too weak to push out that far? Too stiff and unstable to stay in the proper delivery position that long? What is the reason?

I use a push stick because I'm too weak, stiff, and scared to use a normal delivery; nevertheless I go right up to the hog line before I stop pushing the rock.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Stephen Harper: He Loves a Good Bonspiel

Sent to me this morning, at approximately 4 a.m., from Daisy Chain's Crackberry:

Ever wondered what Harper's favorite sport is?
Football? Basball? Hockey?
No. No. And no.
He loves --- are you ready for this --- he loves curling!
Yes curling.
He often schedules visits to cities so they coincide with bonspiels.

Hmm. Now, I'm a real girl. I.e., "sports" to me, means yoga or aerobics. I will only watch sports if forced at gunpoint. Because I have four brothers, I was forced by circumstances, when I was growing up, to watch sports. Nowadays, those circumstances would have to involve a gun aimed at my head. But I realize that some of you might find it interesting that Stephen Harper likes curling. It certainly fits with his macho, tough guy image.
I wonder if Harper likes it for the same reason my brother likes it. My brother likes curling -- or so he has told me -- because it is the only time in his life he hears a woman shout, "hurry, hurry, hurry," excitedly, in his general direction. Get it? Get it? It's hilarious, you see, because it's a self-deprecating comment about his performance in the bedroom. Hilarious! I so enjoy hearing stuff like that from a sibling. (Similar to the enjoyment one feels hearing about one's parents having sex.) And I think women across Canada would like to know if Harper has similar issues. Actually, no. I would not like to know that. I prefer to believe that Laureen is one satisfied customer. (And from what Daisy Chain has told me, if she weren't a satisfied customer, we'd all know about it, because "Laureen does not pull her punches.")
What I would like to know is, what the hell is a bonspiel? Is that even a real word? And do they have them in other countries? If so, will Prime Minister Harper only be attending international functions and conferences that coincide with bonspiels? Also -- will Colleen Jones get a plum position in Harper's new government? (Note: Until last week, and a conversation with my brother during which he insisted on discussing curling, I did not know who Colleen Jones was. I now know that she is a lady who curls and also gives weather reports on the Caliphate Broadcasting Corporation, though apparently not simultaneously.)

Stephen Harper: A bonspiel will put a smile on his face! (And I am not making this up. Bloggers are not allowed to make stuff up.)

Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why Is the CCA Still the Official Voice of Curling in Canada?

Many years ago, when championship matches were so boring that final scores were often 2-1 or lower and fans booed the play, both fans and players knew changes had to be made. Finally, at the suggestion of Russ Howard and with the support of many others, the free-guard-zone rule was adopted. The CCA finally supported the change, but made haste slowly.

Last year, the CCA, in conjunction with the CBC, completely alienated fans by negotiating a bad deal the had curling on a digital-only channel that doesn't belong on the air.

This past summer, the CCA, once again, confused everyone with their attempts to renegotiate the broadcast contract; sadly, the one they ended up with still does not provide coverage of all the ends at the major tournaments.

And now this.
Later this week, Joyce Potter and her Canadian senior championship team will be at their home club, the Rideau Curling Club in Ottawa, for a fundraiser they hope will give them some of the estimated $7,000 they need to compete in the world senior curling championships in Denmark, beginning on March 3.

The fact that team members have to resort to a fundraiser to represent their country, as well as solicit donations and dig into their own pockets, appears to say a lot about the financial status of the Canadian Curling Association these days. Potter's team and the men's championship rink, skipped by Les Rogers, had been promised $20,000 from the CCA, but that was cut by half after the association suffered significant losses caused by the fallout from the disastrous television contract affair of a year ago.

It's also why a number of curlers are questioning the recent trip taken by four of the association's directors and its chief executive officer to Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany, for the recent World Curling Federation semi-annual meeting.

Mikey, at In the Hack adds,
But what makes matters even worse is that these four left half-way through the Canadian Curling Trials, what would seem to be one of the biggest and most significant curling events of the year. None of them was on hand to see the conclusion.
What’s even more surprising is that Greenberg was the board liaison to the Trials, meaning he was supposed to be the director overseeing the event, which I guess he did from Garmish.

Parkes disappeared after the opening weekend while the others left mid-week.

(When I mentioned this information to the head of a provincial association, he nearly blew a gasket, saying that this was exactly the type of nonsense that they thought they’d put an end to at the Special General Meeting in November.)

Does that mean that the World Curling Federation meeting was more important than the Trials?

The media release announcing all the business items from the WCF meeting certainly was riveting. Topping the list was the news that Mongolia and Georgia had sent in applications to join the World Curling Federation. The media was also alerted that Mr. Kunio Nando had won the Elmer Freytag award, given out annually to someone who develops curling internationally. And finally, according to a release from the WCF, the World Senior championships will utilize an A and B pool format.

Good thing our directors were there en masse to make sure the WCF got things right.
As I mentioned last issue, you should be outraged. You should be mad that these people are running around the world on expense accounts paid for by your dues. Let them know how you feel. Tell them what they’re doing is wrong. In fact, you should even go over their head to Sport Canada.

The CCA lost about $100,000 last year due to their mis-management. Surely the executives and directors should not be rewarded with a trip to Germany.

Heads should roll.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Rhona Martin Story

Jim Byers of the Toronto Star painted a pretty sad picture of the last couple of years of Rhona Martin's life; she was the skip of the gold-winning curling team at the 2002 Olympics, and has managed to be selected for the UK team for the upcoming Olympics in Turin. But it is clear her path has been pretty rough.

The article describes the high points in an interesting way:
She flew home to a heroine's welcome. She met with the Queen and got an MBE at Buckingham Palace. She taught Avril Lavigne the finer points of her sport. She was lauded by Prime Minister Tony Blair and at least one newspaper has referred to her as "The Girl Who Threw the Stone of Destiny."
Now there is an issue in that description that deserves greater scrutiny. What the heck is Avril Lavigne doing learning curling from a Scot? She comes from Napanee, medium-town Ontario, and it is clear there were places she could have learned to curl very well as a young person.

Perhaps the point is that curling was not cool for a young person in Napanee but might be for a rising performer visiting the UK.

But back to Rhona Martin.
Martin told the Scottish Daily Record that the last 12 months have "been the worst year of my life."

Martin said she and her husband of 15 years are no longer together.

"Our marriage has irretrievably broken down because of financial problems. The (Department of Social Security) pays part of my rent. (But) if it wasn't for funding from the Scottish Institute of Sport and SportScotland, I wouldn't be going to Turin."

Martin, 39, said she's struggling to hold things together for her son Andrew, 10, and daughter Jennifer, 13.

"I owe nothing, but I've no money either — and my kids need a future and a roof over their heads," she told the Daily Record.

"I want to go to another Olympics and win another curling competition. But when I come back from Turin it's going to be harder. Lottery support (from the government) stops when I step off the plane from Turin. For any mortgage, you need to have a steady income. I can't rely on appearance fees because that's not steady income."

"Salt Lake," Martin said recently, "definitely feels like a long time ago."
Well, I must say I admire her commitment to the sport. And it seems to me this makes most of the whining I read about sport funding in Canada look pretty churlish. The whole story seems quite inconsistent to me with the highly managerial approach that the UK has taken in building their Olympic curling teams for Turin.

Well, my guess is I may find myself cheering for Rhona Martin again next month.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Alert - TV Coverage of Ontario Juniors' Championships

The local Rogers Cable channel in Toronto is covering both men's and women's finals today - women's at 11am,. men's at 5pm. I regret that my devotion to wild card weekend will preclude live-blogging. I am assuming that the matches will be available in other areas as well.

UPDATE: Hmm the men's final is on now.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Canada Will Defeat the U.S. in Curling at the Olympics

Noted economist and prognosticator, William Polley, has gone on record with these forecasts for 2006:

  1. The U.S. dollar will have modest gains over the next year. (I disagree).
  2. The Liberals will form a weak coalition minority gubmnt. (the UBC futures market doesn't necessarily agree).
  3. Canada will beat the U.S. in curling at the Olympics.

Let's hope he at least got the last one right!