Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Country Star, Toby Keith ----
Olympic Curler?

From the National Post, via BF:

VANCOUVER - County music superstar Toby Keith says he is determined to become good enough at curling to qualify for the Olympics.

Keith rented ice a week ago Sunday while he and his band were in Nashville for the CMT Awards, and he seems to be a quick learner.

... "They're calling themselves the redneck curlers," said Gerster [chair of the Nashville Curling Club], who gave Keith a NCC pin, which he subsequently wore when he guested on The Late Late Show last Wednesday.

... Apparently, with little else to do, Keith and the band got interested in curling watching the Olympics from Turin on television while riding their bus on tour. They began making fun of it, but were still watching two hours later. Now they want to become Olympic curlers themselves.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Scott Scores an 8-ender over King in Calgary

At the Players' Championship on Saturday afternoon, Kelly Scott's rink scored eight (8) in one end over Kathy King, defeating her by a final score of 14- 4. I've always known that an 8-ender is possible, and I've known they happen, but I've never seen one before. And they must be especially unusual at championship levels.

I have searched the net to find a photo of the rings after Scott's 8-ender, but haven't been able to find one. If you have one or have a link, please let me know!

Maybe THIS Will Increase the Popularity of Curling: Throw Figure Skaters Down the Ice

This photo, sent to me by my friend Jack, was clearly photo-shopped. I expect the person who did the photo-shopping didn't even recognize that curling was involved.

Update: Friends tell me this is supposed to be a low-grade porn photo; I apologize if it is. That I didn't see it that way shows what an old-fart geek I am -- I just saw it as an amusing photo about the sport of curling.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Scotland Wins The Worlds

Scotland defeated Canada to win the 2006 World Men's Curling Championship. Although it looked as if Canada was outcurling Scotland through much of the game, in the end Scotland made shots when it counted and Canada didn't. But it was a close and exciting game, and Team Canada played very well. Also, Menard handled himself with poise and grace.

Now it is time to admit I was wrong. I picked Finland to win, but not by much, and I realized their chances of winning were greatly diminished when their skip injured his wrist. I also picked the US to finish ahead of Canada, but they seemed to falter during the second half of the tournament.

Congratulations to Team Scotland. They took two out of three matches against Team Canada. Look for many more close matches between these two rinks in the future.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Curl TV: + and -

CurlTV had announced before the 2006 World Men's Championship that they had exclusive coverage of the round robin draws. It turns out they don't. In fact, it seems they get to show whatever games the European networks aren't showing. For the most part, this doesn't matter to me, but it is disappointing at times when they cannot show highlights of the games involving Team Canada.

But that's the only major drag, and it isn't terribly serious.

The pluses are many:
  • they have greatly improved the sound levels in their coverage.
  • their use of the cameras has improved throughout the tournament.
  • they will be covering the tie-breakers and the page playoff draws.
  • they are showing Canada vs. Finland at 2pm Thursday.
  • they are showing Canada vs. US at 7pm Thursday.
  • (friggn day job -- I'll have to miss both telecasts, but Ms. Eclectic will be watching for sure).

I'm still unimpressed with the cliches of the announcers, but their insights are also valuable at times.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Canada Needs Steal in Extra End to Top Danes

Canada squeaked past the Danes in the 9th Draw of the 2006 Men's World Curling Championships to go to a record of 4 wins and 2 losses, tied for second place in the overall standings of the round robin.

Canada blanked the first end, and then the teams alternated singles for a 2-2 tie after five ends.
In the 6th end, Canada took 3, only to let Denmark answer with 3 of their own in the seventh. Then the Danes stole one in the 9th for the lead, and Canada could manage only one with the hammer in the 10th, to tie the score at 6. But then Menard's rink stole one in the 11th end for the victory.

For the moment, Canada is tied with Scotland at 4 and 2. This afternoon, Canada takes on Norway, 3 - 2.

damned day job!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Canada Goes to 3 Wins and 2 Losses

Canada defeated Ireland 8-7 in draw 8 to improve their record to 3 and 2. While the game was not the feature game on CurlTV, they showed skips stones from that game frequently.

Also, the US lost in the afternoon, and so there are no undefeated teams in the tournament. For the full standings, click here.

Is There Anybody There?
Is the Attendance as Pathetic as It Looks?

Tonight, during the 8th draw, CurlTV showed some shots of the "crowd" at the Lowell, Massachusetts, venue for the 2006 Men's World Curling Championships.

We saw a few fans, mostly relatives of the curlers, and tonnes of empty seats. I really have to wonder whether the paid attendance has exceeded 1000 for any of these draws.

If the the World Curling Federation isn't questioning its decision to hold the championships in Lowell, it should be!

Looking Good: Canada defeats Germany 8 - 3

Menard's Team Canada looked very sharp this morning, defeating Germany by a score of 8 to 3. It was refreshing and reassuring to see everyone on the team making many more of their shots. The victory moved Canada up to a record of 2 and 2, dropping Germany to 1 - 3.

Interestingly, Norway defeated Scotland, and Australia defeated Switzerland (both skips missed their last shots on an extra end), and so going into the afternoon draw, the US is the only undefeated team.

No one is broadcasting the afternoon draw 8-(
and so I guess I will have to re-focus on my day job.

The Standings after 3 Games Each

As I write this after Draw 5, every team has played three games.

Three teams (Scotland, Switzerland, and the US) have records of three wins and no losses.

All the rest have records of 1 win and 2 losses!

It'll never happen, but can you imagine a 9-way tie-breaker for fourth place?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hot and Cold:
Team Canada Can't Sustain the Sharpness

In draw 5, as with draw 3, Canada got off to a great start and seemed control of the game, this time against Scotland. But then Canada gave up steals of 1 in the 6th, 2 in the 7th, and 1 more in the 8th and ended up losing 7 - 5.

This is the second time in a row that Canada has played this way. The only question in each draw is whether the sharp team will show up -- the one we saw in the first five ends? or the not-so-good team -- the one we saw in the second five ends?

But before we panic, remember that Menard and Team Canada played this way in the Brier, too.

Low Curling Percentages as Canada Loses to Australia in Draw 3

For the first six ends of the Draw 3 match between Canada and Australia, it looked like textbook curling for Team Canada as they gave up 1, took 2, gave up 1, took 2, etc.

But in the sixth end, Canada missed more shots and the Aussies began missing fewer shots, and Canada was forced to take one. In the 7th, Australia stormed back, scoring 3 (and would have scored four if Millikin had made a fairly easy draw). Then Canada was again forced to take only one in the 8th, and Australia took 2 in the 9th, leaving Canada down two with the hammer coming home in the 10th.

After Millikin missed a take-out with his first shot, Menard missed a freeze attempt by throwing too much weight, leaving Millikin with a hit, followed by a draw for two by Menard to tie the game.

In the extra end, Australia had the hammer. Millikin made a very nice draw with his first stone, and Menard came up just a tad wide, leaving Australia with the win.

CurlTV is not showing Draw 4 this afternoon. But tonight it will be Canada vs. Scotland at 7pm EDT.

Why the Three-Minute Delay?

Why is there a three-minute delay between ends at the Men's World Championship in Massachusetts? If you are watching the round robin draws on CurlTV, you can see the curlers standing around, often frustrated with the delay. [remember hearing one curler say, "This is garbage!" referring to the delay?]

It isn't as if the broadcaster(s) have insisted on the 3-minute delay so they can run more commercials [digression: why on earth doesn't CurlTV have more commercials during these three-minute breaks? They've known for a long time that they had exclusive coverage of the event, and they should have been out there selling ads for the past six months!].

So if the 3-minute delay is not required by the broadcasters, why do they have it? The extra delay adds about 2 minutes per break for each of the nine breaks, adding a total of about 18 minutes per draw.

Is there any reasonable explanation for this policy?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Draw Two of the Men's World Championship

The U.S. deserved to win their draw over Ireland. They scored three in the 9th and held Ireland to just one in the tenth to force an extra end. Fenson had a draw to the four-foot for the victory in the 11th.

But what is with the US so-called fans? What a bunch of rude drunks! I don't agree that taunting the players is "awesome", as was asserted by the CurlTV announcer.

Draw One Results from the 2006 Men's World Championships

In Draw 1, Finland, without its skip [Markku Uusipaavalniemi] was soundly defeated by Switzerland, skipped by Ralph Stoeckli, 10 - 3, as Switzerland scored 3 in the 5th, 6th, and 8th ends. I haven't been able to find reports of curling percentages, but my casual empiricism led me to believe that Switzerland consistently out-curled Finland. The team seems to miss Markku Uusipaavalniemi.

Also in Draw 1, Canada was pressed by Sweden as the teams blanked the first two ends and then proceeded to swap singles for the next five ends. However, in the eighth end, Team Canada stole one (and was within a fraction of an inch of stealing two) and stole another in the ninth end(when a sweeper touched the hammer with his brush) and led 5-2 going into the 10th. Both teams missed a bundle of shots in the tenth, as Sweden scored two and Canada won, 5-4.

For other results from Draw One, see here.

What Happened to Markku Uusipaavalniemi?

I am watching Draw 1 of the Men's 2006 World's Curling Championship on CurlTV. Their featured game is Finland vs. Switzerland, and the Swiss are kicking butt, 7-3 after seven ends with the hammer.

Only half way through the draw did I realize that Markku Uusipaavalniemi is not skipping for Finland. Instead, Kalle Kiiskinen, Finland's third, is throwing skip's stones.

I suppose the announcers explained why he isn't skipping, but I missed it. Also, I'm unable to find any explanation on any of the usual websites that I check.

Does anyone know what is going on?

Update: During Draw 2, the CurlTV announcers told us that Uusipaavalniemi is still sitting out because of sore wrists.

Sore wrists? The guy is a skip.... he doesn't have to sweep all that much. They would have to be seriously sore to keep the guy out, I should think.