Sunday, March 30, 2008

Canadian Women Win the 2008 Ford World Championship

Jennifer Jones and her rink won the championship game against China, 7-4, running the Chinese out of rocks in the 10th end.

The big blow came early. China began by taking only one, but then Canada scored three in the second. After that the teams traded singles for a few ends, but then with Canada up 4-3 with the hammer, Canada took two in the seventh to go up 6-3, and the game was all but out of sight for Canada.

Somehow it doesn't seem right that China beat Canada twice on the way to this game and then lost the last one, but that's the way the championship is structured. And watch out for the team from China in the future -- they spend an inordinate amount of time practicing and will likely be even better in the future.

I must say, in this game the Jones rink look VERY good, especially compared with their near-misses and losses earlier in the tournament.

Congratulations to Team Canada! And also to China, Japan, and Switzerland, all of whom curled so well and provided much better entertainment that many had expected.


Memo to Mike Harris:
It's China, not Japan!

Does it bother anyone else that Mike Harris has called the Chinese team "Japan" so often during the championship game? At the very least it's disrespectful, and I shudder to speculate what else it might mean.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

China-Canada - Wow!

For various reasons I did not see Canada's win, described by Doc below, in the semi-final, except for part of the tenth end, standing in a Sears store with ONE screen showing curling (I suspect because all the screens were HD and the basketball was in HD and the curling looked awful on that one screen). My wife and I left the screen just before Jones' great freeze.

Worse, I will be in the air during the final tomorrow, or in Denver airport, where I suspect none of the screens will be carrying the match. So I will not see it.

And that is too bad. I have LOVED watching China where I could - they are not only playing very well, but they play aggressively, even when they probably should not. With a large lead, they still seem to like complicated houses, and their confidence in extricating themselves from resulting trouble has so far been justified.

I wish both teams well. Jones' rink has been hanging on by its fingernails, and Wang's has had a relative breeze (she has won some key squeakers, though). It's only one game now and can go either way.

Canada Steals in the 10th and 11th to Advance to the Gold Medal Round

Wow! Canada started off the semi-final playoff against Japan with the hammer but quickly lost it by taking only 1 when it had the hammer, while Japan took two when they had it. After five ends, the score was tied 3-3, and Japan had the hammer.

Then Japan scored three to lead 6-3 and, to be honest, I had all but given up on the Jones rink. They weren't curling well, and there seemed to be confusion, if not dissent, on the team. If there had been Tradesports betting on the outcome, the price of a contract for Jones to win would have been pretty low!

But Jones took two in the ninth, then stole one in the tenth after an phenomenal freeze, and then stole one more in the 11th when the Japanese skip came up light on a draw to the button. Team Canada curled up a storm in those last three ends!

Tonight, a rematch between Japan and the Swiss. Tomorrow, Canada vs. China. Both games should be good, between teams that seem, overall, to be well-matched. In curling percentages during the round robin, Canada was better than China, but as one who saw quite a few games, I'm not persuaded by those percentages: China looks really , really good.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Draw 16, 2008 Ford World Women's Championship

Let me once again, though probably already anticipated, express my extreme disappointment in not having been able to see this draw in Canada. Three of the games went to an extra end, and Japan defeated China while Sweden defeated Denmark. As a result there will have to be at least one tie-break tomorrow (Friday) involving Japan and Denmark; furthermore, China, Canada, and Switzerland are in a 3-way tie at the top of the round-robin standings with records of 8W, 2L.

Too bad we had to miss it.

Addendum: What is this nonsense?
Am I mistaken, or will we also not be able to watch the tie-breaker(s) in Canada???

The TSN broadcast schedule says nothing about their televising any tie-breakers.

CCA! Did you have anything to do with this crappy broadcast restriction?


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Women of Curling Calendar - Nude and Semi-Nude Photos;
The issue that never gets old

Several years ago there was a very big stir among curling fans (and non-fans!) about a calendar featuring a number of women curlers in various states of undress from around the world.

The calendar has attracted renewed interest at this year's 2008 Ford world women's championship because Melanie Robillard, who lives in Belgium but curls for Germany, used to curl with Dawn Askin, the lead for Team Canada. Robillard, incidentally, also posed for the curling calendar.

Story and photo here. Once again, a hat-tip to The Emirates Economist for finding the link.


Can Anyone Stop China?

I missed the middle ends of the game between Canada and China during the 9th draw. But my students and I saw that last few ends. We were really impressed with the shooting of the Canadian team, firing take-out rocks through the narrow port to remove Chinese shot-rocks so deftly drawn there. And when Jones had a draw to the 8-foot to win, we were sure Team Canada would emerge victorious, despite our concerns about their not having kept the end cleaner.

Going into that match, every one of the Team Canada curlers was ranked number one at her position by Curlcast [ I'm not sure if that link will work; if it doesn't, you can find the Curlcast data by following the links from the CCA. The stats from this morning's draw still have not been posted, but from what I saw, I was mighty impressed overall with the team from China. They look to be a serious force with which other teams must reckon.

And now, halfway through the 10th draw, even though it is not being shown in Canada, we can see from Curlcast that China is leading the USA 7 - 1 after five ends. Can anyone stop China?


Canada-China after 3 Ends

Wow, does Wang, the skip for China, ever look good! Those two draws in the 2nd end were mighty fine. And to be blunt, Jones is really off: After drawing to score 1 in the 3rd end, Jones was curling a paltry 50%, way below her usual. Still, the overall curling percentages don't differ tooooo much, and Canada is trailing only 3-1 without the hammer after 3 ends. But now my day job calls... 8-(.


Battle of the Undefeated Teams

Today (Tuesday) at 11:30am Canada and China meet each other at the 2008 Women's World Curling Championships.
  • Fortunately, is carrying the match, since I'm stuck in the office until 1pm.
  • Unfortunately, I have to teach at 1pm.
  • Fortunately, I am going to declare an optional field trip for the class at 1pm to Gryph's, the pub on campus at the University of Guelph, where we will discuss the economics of the present curling establishment. 8-)
Team Canada will have its work cut out for it; Jones and her rink did not particularly shine in their last two games (vs. Italy and vs. Russia), as TSN said:
Jones's Winnipeg foursome looked ordinary, but still managed to pull out a pair of wins Monday at the Ford world women's curling championship. A 9-6 triumph over Italy's Diana Gaspari and an 8-6 victory over Liudmila Privivkova of Russia left Canada in a tie with the upstart Chinese atop the standings at 5-0 through eight draws. The Canadians made more than their share of mistakes Monday, but came through with key shots when they needed them the most.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Tele- webcasting the 2008 Women's World Championship

Wouldn't it have been nice if Canadians had been able to watch the 11-end matchup in Draw 6 between China and Denmark (won by China with a single point after Denmark scored two to tie the match in the 10th end)? China is undefeated (4-0) and Denmark is looking mighty good despite their two losses.


Attendance at the Women's Worlds

Have you seen the attendance figures for the world's so far? You didn't really have to see the numbers to see that attendance must be pretty low. The venue is small and there aren't all that many people there.

My standard for comparison is the Scotties in Kitchener a few years ago and in London two years ago, and so it may not be a fair comparison. I haven't kept track of the attendance at previous women's world championships, but here are the numbers available so far as posted on Curlcast:

Draw 1 1156
Draw 2 1465
Draw 3 831
Draw 4 1342

Is there a problem with Vernon, BC? Would it be better to hold the world's in bigger markets?

Addendum: Be sure to read the comment for some good insight into these questions.


Friday, March 21, 2008

The 2008 Ford World Women's Championship - - Some Preliminary Thoughts

  1. I don't really know the other teams all that well, but my recollection is that Mirjam Ott and Debbie McCormick are both pretty darned good and could give team Canada a run for the their money. I'll still pick Jennifer Jones and Team Canada to win the 2008 world championship. Jones and her team looked awesome during their last eight or so games at the 2008 Scott Tournament of Hearts.
  2. I'm glad Dordi Nordby won't be there if for no other reason than that it became off-putting to listen to Vic drool over her so much on TSN.* Maybe he wasn't drooling over her, per se, but just liked saying her name, but it got tiring nevertheless. For a different view of her retirement, see this.
  3. Sometimes I wish I were spending the next week in the US: The only curling being shown in Canada are the round-robin games involving Canada. If Team Canada isn't playing, we do not get to watch any games between two other teams. For some odd reason, CurlTV is not allowed to show their webcasts in Canada even when nobody else in Canada is showing curling! Given the CCA's ineptness in the past, it should come as no surprise that I suspect they are once again involved in this affront to Canadian curling fans.

*When the Scotties were held in London, one of the curlers told us that Nordby enjoyed mental and word games (aka "trash-talking") with or at the other players. One time when Sandra Schmirler was taking a long time to prepare for a shot, Nordby opined,
We could order a pizza while we're waiting...
To which Schmirler straight-faced (and without looking at Nordby) said,
I'll have just cheese on mine, please.
and then continued with her preparations and made her shot.


Televised Curling -- a question of orientation

I was watching the Brier on a wide screen HDTV. As I watched, I wondered if I might enjoy it more if the telecast showed the ice from side-to-side instead of from top-to-bottom as is the current practice. Of course if they did, they'd have to change the orientation of the ads on the ice, but I think I might like being able to see more of the ice from the overhead cameras as the shots come into the rings. Doesn't matter, though. It won't happen for at least 5 years.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Last Thoughts on the Brier

Don't get too excited. I hope I simply mean about tonight's match.

The 10th end reminded me of yesterday's extra end with a bit of a role reversal. Alberta missed moving away one of Ontario's center guards, only to be spared by an Ontario miss, the n to fail to peel. This allowed hart to bury his shot.

Yesterday any steal hopes in the extra end were killed on the lead rocks.

Harris made a great comment regarding Martin's first shot - the fact that he is peeling makes it clear Martin is confident of his draw. Ontario decided to talk about it and block the path to their own as potential backing. Ontario were classy as well - they cleaned the track for Martin's planned draw. This is one of the things I love about this sport.

There is a contrast here from Martin's early years - the reputation for messing up ice (well, aside from Morris' knees). It is great to see. This Kevin Martin I can enjoy seeing win - I could not in his early days.

Martin's team deserved this one.

2008 Brier - 10th end; Alberta 5, Ontario 4

I didn't see the first rock, did you?

Martin tries to move an Ontario centre guard, but knocks it off, so it gets replaced. Laing draws around it to the button, but Kennedy (Alberta) does a nice come around nose hit.

Laing's second shot was a bit wide, allowing Martin to try to peel the centre guard, but then Kennedy missed the peel. Two sort-of misses in a row by these teams? It must be the ice (and unclean air?).

Morris (Alberta) then peeled the guard and doubled off one of the Ontario rocks from the rings.

Guard. Peel. As Alan wrote about the 9th end, "Lather, rinse, repeat."

Martin peels with his first rock. Howard draws to the top 12, but off centre. With Ontario sitting two, including one in the 4-foot, Martin is left with a draw to win.

Friggn CBC didn't even show us the end of the shot! What jerks! They would rather show us Alberta hugging than show us how close the shot was. I cannot wait for TSN to start covering these events!

Anyway, either team would represent Canada well, but given the way they have been curling these past few weeks, it is clear that Martin's team was better than Howard's and deserves to go on to the World's.

Yea! Ms. Eclectic wins $4 in the curling club pool!


2008 Brier - 9th end - Alberta 4, Ontario 4

OK Tim Horton's ad, Purolator ad (classier, perhaps than Strauss herbal remedies - but recall that Purolator is Canada Post). Then Robaxacet - not far from the herbal stuff. And then Idomo. Very interesting who CBC get to advertise in prime time. Aha - another one - TENA - I don't want to know what that product is. Bespeaks an interesting demographic.

Mounties ornamentally dressed bring out the Brier tankard.

Woo-hoo - they actually show the first rock.!

Alberta put it where planned, right on the button. Ontario toss up a right corner guard. Alberta throw a rock away. Ontario put a rock on the t-line behind their guard. Alberta peel the guard.

Ontario replace the guard. Alberta peel it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Ontario now split the house - 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock both at the edge of the 8-foot.

Martin hits the 9 o'clock rock and rolls into the 4-foot at around 9 o'clock.

Howard has to roll away on this shot at Martin's rock, but rolls into the button just in front of the T-line. Martin has a shot at doubling the Ontario rocks out.

Martin nose hits and Howard has a hit for 2 to go to the 10th tied 4-4. No guarantee tonight! He makes the shot. First Ontario deuce tonight.


This is all because the right people are not reading this blog

Note Doc's points about the vents. Surely if the right people had read his posts last year we could have been spared this messy match.

I suspect justice is being done, but it is not obviously being seen to be done.



2008 Brier - 8th End; Alberta 4, Ontario 2 - blanked end

In response to Alan's (sarcastic?) plea for more stats: My guess is that if there were contracts available for the Brier final (Maybe there are, but if so I couldn't find them), a contract for Martin to win would be selling at a pretty high price right now -- in the range of $80 or so to win $100. Martin is up two and Howard has not yet managed to score two in any end.

Remember how last year in Hamilton I suggested that the dust in the air ducts might have been causing the picks? Well, son-of-a-gun if the announcers aren't suggesting something similar for this final.

Once again, Martin throws rocks into the rings, while Howard plays on the sides to begin. Kennedy gets a nose hit (unusual for him) and Laing claims a double on the reds in the rings. Later, Hart leaves a wide double for Morris, who gets a nose hit instead. Nice discussion about Hart's 2nd shot, but it doesn't quite get the Alberta rock off the ice.

Whoa, look at that scratch! Ice problems shouldn't be determining the outcome.

Ontario calls time to discuss Howard's shot. One question is whose rock is lying shot after Martin's first rock. Ontario guesses they're shot, but takes out the Martin rock anyway, just to be sure.

Beautiful loonnnnggggg double by Martin, leaves Howard with no choice but to try to blank.


2008 Brier - 7th End - Alberta 4 Ontario 2 - Substitute calledin for coverage

In the last end, some statistical profundities were cited to suggest that Alberta's situation, leading by one after 5 ends with the hammer, gives them an advantage. Wow - I am glad they have experts who can dig that data out. A fine use of my tax money.

I do not seem to recall this sort of thing in the TSN coverage.

Doc has passed the hammer to me so I will cover the seventh end. Things so far have not gone as expected. All the playoff rounds until now have been mostly characterized by simply great ice reading and play, and have featured an occasional really great shot (Howard taking 3 in one end through a tiny port to beat Ursel) or terribly bad luck, the Simmons apparent pick against Martin in his final end. And nothing could have been more classic than the Simmons-Howard match yesterday, finished with a forced draw by Howard to the four-foot to win. The best word I can find to describe this so far is 'goofy'.

I am hoping the CBC statistical staff can be assembled now, as they are on an election night, to project the result of this match, Alberta now up 2 with Howard having the hammer.

In the intermission Pat Simmons reports that you can't afford to have bad breaks go your way against Alberta. Well, yeah.

So again we missed lead shots thanks to the CBC. Two Alberta rocks in the house, an Ontario corner guard and an Ontario rock behind that in the back of the house.

Kennedy removes the Ontario guard and one of the Alberta rocks in the house, leaving a rock offset in front of the Ontario rock. Laing first shot dives, now in the 12-foot just off the center-line.

Kennedy removes the remaining Ontario shot in the back of the house. We have Ontario at 11:45 at the front of the 12-foot, at the front of the house. Alberta with two rocks a little farther in the house. OK they are now at the front of the four-foot at 1, at 3 in the 8 foot and the Ontario rock is now at 2 o'clock mid-8 foot. And it just got replaced by a Morris rock, now about 12:45. Still nobody seems sure of the ice or weight at all.

Hart pushes the central Alberta rocks more into the center. Not what he wanted.

Alberta peel the front Ontario rock. Ontario front end want to try to triple out the house and Hart does!! Now we get an exchange of hits and deliberate peel and blank so we go to 8 with Howard down 2 still with the hammer.

(Events may have gone a little quickly for the granularity of detail I struggled for above. :-) )


2008 Brier - 6th End; Alberta 4 , Ontario 2

As Alan says, Thank heaven the CBC has Mike Harris. His insight is a valuable addition to the telecast.

What's with the broken broom on the side? Did I miss something? Do you think Cathy Gautier of TSN would have told us?

More sparring in the 6th end, but not involving guards (due, according to Joan McCusker, to some missed shots by Savill, the Ontario lead), which makes the play both different and uneasy.

A recent commenter objected to my anti-CBC bias, but to have the CBC interupt so much with their promos and interviews is a real pain.

I'm not super knowledgeable about strategy, but I wondered why Howard didn't try the freeze with his first rock.... but even with a reasonably close freeze, Martin was able to knock the stones of the ice, setting up a blank possibility. But an uncharacteristic semi-miss by Martin as his hammer didn't roll out, leaving Alberta scoring one.


Don't Get Me Wrong

It is not as if things are worse than they used to be.

The CBC has been reverentially running an ad in which one of their beloved correspondents said, "No one looked more like a curler than Ernie Richardson".

This is meant to display the high quality and intelligence over many years of their coverage. Huh?

It does show me the consistency of the quality of the coverage and intelligence.

(Obviously Ernie Richardson looked like a curler. So did Ed Werenich.)

I think the good news is that in curling you just need a camera pointed into the house, and one that can roughly follow the rock. I think I could do a pretty good job with one friend and two camcorders. The CBC does a decent job.

Do they even do it in HD yet? (I am not prepared to go to my basement to find out.)

Thanks heaven they have Mike Harris!

In the Fifth End Break

How stupid are we?

I cannot blame the CBC for this alone, but the Brier web site has had the result of the Ford Hot Shots tournament posted all week as false suspense has been reported throughout all the coverage. (The whole thing is over before the first draw.) So why reveal this to us NOW?

They must assume that people who watch curling coverage have not heard of the internet. Given that Strauss Herbals are a key sponsor during the week, "they" may have a point.

Now I am going to have nightmares

The picture of Scott Russell (not the world's greatest interviewer) standing up against Kate Beckinsale may create some interesting pictures in my brain tonight.

Don't get me wrong - I take the Brier final seriously. Just not all the CBC's decisions about how to broadcast it as if it were a serious event.

2008 Brier - 5th End; Alberta 3, Ontario 2

Announcer: "How important is it for Howard to get two back here?" and Harris's answer was very good, saying basically, that Ontario doesn't and shouldn't panic, but of course they need to get a deuce eventually.

A big miss by Laing with his second shot turned the tide of this end. Ontario is having troubles recovering from that miss until Hart doubles off two Alberta stones, clearing the rings and setting up a blank. But once again Howard doesn't quite make his shot, and ends up taking one.


Between the Fourth and Fifth Ends

Oh dear, Doc needs to go read this post more carefully and follow the link to Kate Beckinsale.

For Ms Beckinsale I will say that when I have seen her appear on television, every time she opens her mouth something different, unexpected, and very surprising comes out. She clearly has a great sense of humour.

My experience is that when Ms Jones opens her mouth the same thing comes out every time. It will be a tough match., we'll do our best, everyone is great, ... All good stuff, but why bother? Get Kate Beckinsale to the Brier!

2008 Brier - 4th End; Alberta 3, Ontario 1

I can't believe Howard missed his final shot (a draw) in the third and ended up taking only one.

I also can't believe Scott Russell kept us away from the game with more in-the-stands interviews, though I'm sure Alan was delighted to see Jennifer Jones on screen again.

Wonderful run-back double by Laing to spill two Alberta rocks from the rings. And then impressive sweeping by Alberta's front end to keep Morris's first rock around the guard to remove the Ontario rock.

Do I detect some tension between the curlers on the Alberta team? Or is that just normal questioning among these players? And does it really matter?

Great run-back by Howard to remove Morris's rock, leaving Ontario lying two. Martin's draw is just a tad light. But Howard's attempt at a peel is again just a bit inside and rubs off the guard, leaving Martin with a draw for two.

What do you think Howard's curling percentage is after 4 ends? 69%. Martin's isn't much better, at 72%.


Between the Third and Fourth Ends

Scott Russell also interviews Jennifer Jones and gets nothing but her usual bafflegab (she is a lawyer, and really good at it - it will be tough, lots of good teams, yawn, yawn, yawn). Why waste this time other than to promote your upcoming coverage? This is supposed ot be public television. Why waste our time with this? (Well, not entirely wasted, as I was cleaning up the kitchen counter.)


2008 Brier Final - 3rd End; Alberta 1, Ontario 1

More reasons to dislike CBC: My former student, Scott Russell, interviewing junior curlers and keeping us from the game. Why, oh Why!

Morris (Alberta 3rd) threw his secondshot too heavily, allowing Hart (Ontario 3rd) to come around a guard, and the Alberta stone will serve as backing. Then Martin`s first shot was a tad wide and heavy, missing the Hart stone and not getting a rub they wanted. So Howard drew down but left Martin with a run-back double. Martin was inside the broom and took out only one Ontario stone, leaving Howard with a draw for two, but he was tight to the guard and took only one.


2008 Brier Final - 2nd End; Alberta 1, Ontario 0

Straight Ice? Several shots by both teams were straighter than the curlers expected. And having misread the ice, they are (as Mike Harris says) not trusting the ice or their judgement as much as they might.

More sparring, leaving Martin with a chance for two after Howard missed a runback. Howard then doubles off Martin's rocks, forcing Martin to hit and roll out to try to blank the end, but his shooter jammed on a rock out of the rings to barely stay on the rings, leaving Alberta up 1-0.

I agree with Mike Harris's (?) comment: why did Martin throw that turn and try to hit the rock on that side?

(query: was Morris trying to distract the Ontario team or is he hyperactive?)

The Brier Final - First End Blanked

We're all set for some fine curling tonight, and the first end didn't disappoint us! After some typical feeling and sparring (so to speak), Howard threw a perfect come-around and then Martin threw a perfect soft take-out for the blank. What fun to watch this!


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tough Luck for Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan, skipped by Pat Simmons, played really well throughout the round robin of the 2008 Brier. They certainly deserved their second-place overall standing after the round robin.

In their 1-2 playoff with Alberta (Kevin Martin), Saskatchewan out-curled Alberta by many people's estimation, but had an unlucky sudden curl on Simmons' last rock to lose that game.

In their next round, against Ontario (Glenn Howard), things were a bit different. After blanking the first end, there was a pattern: Saskatchewan would be forced to take one, Howard would take two, etc. until Ontario was up 6-3. Then Simmons made a superb shot after some close misses by Ontario to tie the score at 6. The teams were then forced to trade singles, leaving Ontario with the hammer going into the extra end, which Howard managed to keep clean enough that he could draw successfully for one and the win.

So the final, Sunday at 6:30 on CBC, will be between the two teams that most people were expecting to be there: Ontario and Alberta. This should be a great match.

Overall, the curling has been spectacularly good. Any one of the top four teams could do an excellent job representing Canada at the worlds.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What Else Can CBC Do to Ruin Curling???

Regular readers of this blog will know that nearly everything CBC does involving curling has problems (aside from their major coverage on their regular network of the semi-finals and finals -- those are well-done). And....They've done it again!!

Not only have they hooked up with CurlTV (which I am happy to have rather than have no coverage), providing a poor picture in their webcasts of the morning draws, but this morning they ended their webcast before two of the draws were completed! One, between Quebec and the Territories was tied going into the 10th end; the other, between Ontario and New Brunswick had Ontario up by one going into the tenth. So why did they go off the air??? To save money? To further irritate curling fans? It certainly wasn't because they had something else they intended to air at 1pm (EST).

I would like to think there is a logical, rational explanation for their decision. But I doubt if there is.

And to top things off, curlcast seems not to be providing data updates, and TSN has not yet updated its reports, so I don't have any idea what happened in either of those two games!

Thank you SOOOOO much, CBC!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Form vs Content - Speak Up, Russ!

Doc makes a very good point about Russ Howard as color commentator in the TSN coverage of the Brier.

Russ Howard definitely is too quiet-spoken, and they still haven't adjusted the volume enough on his mike feed.

And this from the guy who is famous for shouting himself hoarse!

But let me say he is wonderful on the content side. I hope he gets a little coaching and becomes a fixture. He knows this sport so well.

Webcasts from the Brier

Today through Thursday, I'm stuck in my day-job office and can't avail myself of the usual flex-time so I can watch the Brier in the comfort of home on our television set. So I'm catching bits of it via webcasts whenever I can over the internet.

The morning draws have been slightly dressed up versions of CurlTV transmitted (at no charge!) through CBC's website. The resolution is pretty poor, the technology is CurlTV, not CBC, and poor Luke is stuck in the booth by himself. In other words, the CBC webcast is not particularly good.

The afternoon webcast from TSN is worlds better. The resolution is much better, making it much more pleasant to watch the full screen version of the webcast. The technology is TSN technology, so we get better spiders (data runners around the action) and more camera angles. And we get more announcers. Russ Howard definitely is too quiet-spoken, and they still haven't adjusted the volume enough on his mike feed. All things considered, though, the TSN webcast is much, much better than the CurlTV/CBC webcast.

I understand why there's a difference. TSN cannot telecast all three draws without bringing in a second crew and/or paying exorbitantly for the labour to telecast the morning draws. So we're seeing the full afternoon and evening TSN telecasts as webcasts. At the same time, CBC isn't about to spend big bucks to webcast the morning draws (remember Country Canada???), so they have made this deal with CurlTV which is slowly improving but simply is not at the same budget level as TSN.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

That's Why Some People Learn How to Yell, Vic

From Russ Howard, providing colour commentary in the Ontario-Manitoba match, in response to Vic Rauter noting that arena curling can go on in the presence of a lot of noise.

Russ is fully aware of the humour in his comment.

Big brother also says of younger brother, "He's going to be a good curler some day."

Glenn wins yet again in the round-robin.

Sunday, some observations

The Howard, Martin, Simmons, and Burtnyk rinks all have perfect 3-0 records after play on Sunday. My overall impression was that while these rinks are good, they do not seem as dominant as Howard did last year. It will be interesting to see how they do the rest of the week.

Another general impression is that every team I have watched has made some pretty impressive shots.

The morning draw yesterday was available over the internet on CBC, not CurlTV. It looks as if CBC will be webcasting a few more draws in the future as well.

The pasting that Menard gave Nova Scotia in the evening draw was unusual at the Brier. Of course at the club level, scores like 13-2 are not unusual (having been at the short end of such a score myself on Saturday but then gone on to win our next two draws), but it also showed that Menard's rink has the talent to do well in the future.

And while the BC rink is 0-3, they are not that bad. Look who they have played and lost to so far: Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, all of whom are undefeated!

Finally, there's a chance that Russ Howard as TSN analyst had something useful to say. I don't know because his voice was so soft and the TSN sound engineers didn't or couldn't adjust the volume on his microphone so it would be the same level as Vic's. Here's hoping they get it fixed before the week ends.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

P. S.

Martin (Alberta) is my second choice.

Meanwhile Ontario has stolen 3 against Quebec in this round. This is crazy.

My Pick

Howard again. It was my pick even before the opening round yesterday when he came on so hard in the second half of the game, and even before the mauling he inflicted on Gushue last night.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Our Picks for the Brier

I didn't get a chance to post this prediction this morning, so I'll do it now. In our local curling club pool, I took Glenn Howard, and Ms. Eclectic bet twice: once on Kevin Martin and once on Brad Gushue.

For some reason, this year the outcome seems far less certain to me than it did last year. I can easily imagine that Manitoba or Saskatchewan could win, too.


This is my once-a-year day

The Brier begins.

First round TSN feature - Howard-Ursel. A bit boring, having seen the last rounds of Howard coming out of Ontario. Again we have a rink with the skip not shooting last. We shall see how this transpires.

End 1: Back and forth on a rock behind a front guard until it moves up to roughly the button for the final rocks. Howard rolls to the button behind the guard, it seemed to me, though the commentators say "wide open". Cotter (Ursel's fourth) moves the Howard rock but it stays in the ring, and he loses the shooter. Howard's shot swings a ton, finishing in the back of the button, never having been swept. Cotter hits and sticks for one for BC.

BC 1 Ontario 0

End 2: Wow, rocks are moving on this Manitoba ice. Howard has a rock at the front of the 8-foot in front of a BC rock on the button and behind BC centre-line guards. Ontario clears the fron tone but not the other. BC puts another guard in place, and the previous Ontario stone sits in front of those guards. Ontario does a combo that knocks the BC rock off the button and out of the house BC clears the Ontario stone, and they have rocks at 10 o'clock in the 12 and 8 foot. Howard has Hart hit the high stone and roll onto the center line, mid 8-foot. Ursel hits and removes and now has two rocks in the 8-foot. Hart nose hits and does not get the toll he wanted - in 12 foot up front. Cotter kills it, leaving the shooter in the 12-foot. Howard hits one of the BC rocks and rolls beautifully into cover. Cotter makes a fine angle takeout - Howard will now try to blank. As he does.

I need to go off to the kitchen. No likely reporting for a bit.

BC 1 Ontario 0 - hammer Ontario

End 3: Ursel into the back 4, not quite freezing on a Howard rock in the 8th, a variety of stones out front. (Sorry - was in kitchen.) Hart peels a couple of front guards. BC puts one back. Hart puts himself into the top of the button, not too far in front of a BC rock. BC put a shot onto the edge of the 4-foot at 1pm, trying to hold Howard to 1. This end is too confusing for me. Cotter makes a great risky shot picking Howard's rock - Howard has to draw against two. As he does.

BC 1 Ontario 1.

Missed most of this end : Howard makes a big miss on final shot, lets Cotter draw for 2, as he does.

BC 3 Ontario 1

Back fron the kitchen! What happened? End of the 8th BC 3 Ontario 8

Damn! Don't cook during curling.

End 9: Knowing they are conceding, BC at least let Cotter get the feel for draw. Classy.

Expect to watch the next draw in bed, unconnected to the Internet. Till tomorrow!


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Rockstar/Reality Curling
Sex, Drugs,..., and Curling

From CBC Sports (albeit last month):

Sex, drugs, guitars — and curling?

The Toronto Star reported Monday that NBC has acquired exclusive rights to launch 10 episodes of a proposed television show called Rockstar Curling.

Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, apparently closet curlers, are among the megastar rockers being courted to host it.

Citing unnamed sources, the Star said the two rock stars are among a group of entertainment types who rent arena time on occasion to pick up brooms instead of guitars.

Organizers are trying to negotiate a deal to get one of them involved in the proposed show, possibly as a host.

The series' winners could wind up with a berth at the U.S. championships and perhaps at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

And the real kicker,
Curling was a surprise hit for NBC during the last two Winter Olympics, once getting better ratings than an NHL playoff game at the same time the following day.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Canada Cup 2008

After squeaking past Jennifer Jones in the semi-finals, Kelly Scott's rink lost solidly in the finals to Lawton's rink, which demonstrated superiority at nearly every aspect of the game. But the big blow was a steal of three by Lawton, from which Scott was unable to recover.

On the men's side, in the battle of the Kevins, Kevin Koe's rink defeated Kevin Martin's rink in the men's final. The game was quite defensive most of the time as the teams alternately forced each other to take single points in the early ends. In the 10th end, Martin had a good chance to set up a steal of one to force an extra end, but his shot sailed about two feet too far, sealing a victory for Koe.

It was odd, seeing the men's final begin before the women's final had ended. It was especially odd since it looked as if cameramen had been on the ice that the men used. I had a sense that the tv contract was responsible for this overlap in coverage. Given that the women's match was not close in the last ends, I didn't mind not seeing every shot of both matches, but ordinarily I would.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

CurlTV and the Canada Cup

This afternoon, Ms. Eclectic was surfing the channels, and she saw that the Strauss Canada Cup was being carried on CBC but some of the later games were not being carried on commercial television. However, CurlTV is carrying those games.

So, with some hesitation, we checked them out. We saw that we could subscribe for the rest of the season for only $40, so we decided to take a chance.

The quality of the internet telecasts is better than last year. Luke is clearly knowledgable, and his microphone presence is improving. Also, the picture is better and has none of the jerkiness that was there last year. And, the piece de resistance, they have a telestrator!

It's worth the $40.