Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Olympic Qualifiers

Martin went to the Olympics and did not win gold. And this was at a time when we had a small right to assume Canadians would.
His reaction - build a new team that could win! And he disassembled his old team, with all the pain that entails, and assembled a new one, with similar pain.
I am a fan of Howard (Ontarian) but Martin is so great!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Roar of the Rings: Wrap-up

I don't know if everyone else saw things this way, but Martin was very impressive today. He will certainly go to the Olympics as the odds-on favourite. I often wonder about the dynamics on the team, but Martin seems to have things well under control. His own shot-making was superb throughout most of the Roar of the Rings, and his tactics/strategy were excellent. I would expect that teams from the other countries would have had scouts there, watching and charting Martin and his team. I would love to see their analyses.

On the women's side, Bernard's rink certainly deserved to win. They curled well throughout the Roar, and they dominated. Here's hoping they can continue to win in Vancouvre.

An aside: Rexall Place (formerly known as Northland Colleseum) suck big time as a venue. The seats are narrower than those on the cheapest, sleasiest airline imaginable, and the legroom is even worse. It was quite uncomfortable just being there. I'm glad I went, but given the option in the future, I would stay in a hotel and watch the curling on television.


End #8

Something happened during the sweeping of Kennedy's rock: Martin looked a bit peeved with Morris. Then on his first rock Morris ticked on the front guard.... no real damage, though. I had thought the dynamics between Martin and Morris had established Martin as the alpha male. I wonder what's going on or if maybe I'm just reading something that isn't there. Morris's second shot doubles off two Howard stones.

Battery down below 7% as Howard takes a time out. Gotta quit.


End #7

The Ride of the Valkyries again as Boston Pizza coupons come sailing down. Howard lies two, Martin nicely picks one but leaves a draw for two. Martin 5, Howard 3.


End #6

Standard opening ends with two Martin rocks in the rings, one Howard rock in the 12', and all the guards finally peeled as we go to vice rocks. Nice shot by Hart doubles off the Martin rocks and leaves the rocks at nearly equal heights. Martin removes one and is level with the Howard rock. Weak guard from Hart leaves Martin with a double attempt; makes it to lie one. Howard blanks to retain the hammer. Martin 5, Howard 1 after 6.


5th End Break

My overall reaction is that Martin is really on. His team is sharp both physically and strategically. And they are out playing Howard pretty substantially at this point. Indeed, the Martin rink is all curling in the 90s (aside from Morris at 88%, largely because of the flash in the 2nd end). But Hart is curling only 78% and Howard 70%. The Howard rink has definitely been out-curled so far.


End #5

Coming up to skip's stones, Martin has four in the rings; Howard has two long-ish guards. Howard triples off three and sits on the buttonhalf-covered behind a guard. He almost doubled but left one Martin rock barely biting the back 12. Draw for two. Martin 5, Howard 1.


End #4

A freezing game pursuing strategies which elude me. Good try by Howard at a run-back double, but he removed only one Martin rock and scored one. Martin 3, Howard 1.

End #3

Howard's team didn't really make any horrible shots; Martin's team made good shots and had the advantage until Hart doubled off two Martin rocks and rolled out his shooter. Beautiful hit and flop by Martin puts Howard in peril of yielding a steal of at least one. Howard's draw was just an inch wide of scoring. Martin 3, Howard 0.

Tim text to daughter: The score is 0-0
reply: are you watching soccer?
Tim text to daughter: Martin is ahead 2-0
reply: Steve Martin?


End #2

Morris flashed and set up Howard either to steal or force Martin to take one, but Howard's final shot missed the double-raise takeout. Martin draws for two.


End #1

Very tight quarters make blogging this very difficult. Both teams played the first end wide open. Martin made an interesting freeze to force the play, but Howard removed it; Martin threw his last rock through the rings to blank the end.


Men's Final: Martin vs. Howard

I have a less-than-desirable seat low to the ice near the home end. Not sure I'll be able to see or write much. Very crowded. No elbow room to write. Sitting next to Tim, whose son plays hockey with Martin's son. Who knows how much will get written.


Women's Finals! Roar of the Rings, Conclusion

Maybe if I write and post less, my batteries will last longer.
Anyway, as most of you know, Bernard won with a draw to 4' on her last shot. Kleibrink was forced to take one in the 9th end, tying the game but handing the hammer over to Bernard. Kleibrink drew behind a guard to bite the back 4' rings with her last shot. Bernard's final stone looked as if it might have been a tad heavy, but as it approached the rings, her sweepers started celebrating. Kleibrink swept it for all she was worth once it crossed the t-line, but it stopped about 6" from being too heavy.

Overall, there were some excellent shots, but there were also some pretty ugly shots. The curling percentages were lower than one might hope for Canada's representative to the Olympics, with both Bernard and O'Connor shooting in the 70s, and Kleibrink in the 60s.

I'll be cheering madly for Bernard at the Olympics, but I expect she and her team will need much more consistently good shooting to win gold.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Women's Finals! Roar of the Rings, End #8

The battery on the laptop is getting very low. This may have to be it. Bell into the top 12 for Kleibrink. Tight corner guard by Bartel for Bernard. Now a 2nd guard by Bartel in the top 12 for Kleibrink. Bartel hits and sticks on one. Hit and flop by Webster for Kleibrink. Set up a double for Darbyshire; nose hit and got only one. Hit and roll away by Webster. Hit and stick, exposed by Darbyshire. Hit and stick outside the rings by Nixon. The double is still there for O'Connor. She hit and stuck on the rock in the rings, but didn't roll behind the guard. Nixon made a beauty hit-and-roll behind the guard, but it leaves a short double for O'Connor. Instead, Bernard has her draw around the nearly forgotten corner guard. Nice shot.

Only 10% of the battery power left....

Nice draw through the hole by Kleibrink to tap the B rock away and sit in the 4'. It is exposed, though and the hole is not particularly small. Kleibrink's % has risen; O'connor's has slipped.

Bernard tries to hit and roll on the Kleibrink shot rock. Hits and rolls almost covered on the button. There's a thick double for Kleibrink, but if they keep discussing the shot, I won't be able to post about it.
7% of the power left....


Women's Finals! Roar of the Rings, End #7

Well, after having to correct my goof on the last end, I missed a couple of shots this end. Bernard put one in the top 4. K put up a corner guard. Centre guard from Bernard. Top 12 by K. Remove the corner guard by Bernard. Tap up by K, but Bernard controls the centre. Darbyshire removed the two centre guards (one of each) and rolled over as a corner guard. Webster removed B shot rock and rolled to side 12'.

I missed a couple more shots. K has one at the back 4, and B has a biter on the side 12. Nixon threw a light one, but the sweepers got it into the rings, top 12 and covered. Bernard has a shot at a run-back double, but it'd be a miracle shot. She got the front one at the 12. K freezes to her own to lie two. Bernard will have to make a good shot to keep K from scoring two or three. She tries a corner freeze, but is heavy and bounces to the button. K has a hit and stick for three. The game is afoot. Kleibrink 5, Bernard 4.


Women's Finals! Roar of the Rings, End #6

Oops. Lost the internet connection for a bit. After five ends, Kleibrink was curling only 53%, uncharacteristically low for her, and probably the major difference so far.

Lots of rocks lined up along the centre line, but the Bernard stone on the button is mostly exposed. As we move to skips stones, Kleibrink has a pretty open hit, and rolls over just a bit.
Bernard made a double run-back to remove shot rock but rolled over more than she wanted. With her last rock, Kleibrink does a hit and slight roll to lie three. The path to the button is not fully blocked, Bernard decides to try an in-off for her single. A risky choice and she missed, but managed to score one anyway. I goofed and thought she'd given up a steal. Bernard 4, Kleibrink 2.


Women's Finals! Roar of the Rings, End #5

What a sense of humour: Playing the Ride of the Valkyries as coupons for Boston Pizza are dropped to the crowd.

Top of the 12 by Bartel. Corner guard by Bell. Bartel taps hers up to the top 8', with the shooter staying as a centre guard. Tight, very tight draw by Bell barely avoiding the B rocks, but to the back 8. Another top 12 draw by Bernard's Darbyshire this time. Kleibrink asks Webster to remove a couple; she moves one and removes another, but rolls open. Hit and stick by Darbyshire. Webster's second shot is light, short of the rings on the centre line. O'Connor tried a raise takeout, but only removedher own rock. Nixon tried to draw around into the house, but wrecked in front.

A mess of wrecks in front. Amazing shot through a small port by O'Connor to remove the K rock and lie 3. Followed by Nixon and missed the guard by about an eighth of an inch. Bernard followed her but was even better, rolling behind the centre guards. Nice very soft draw by Kleibrink to tap the Bernard rock off the button and lie one. Some mighty fine shots here. With her last stone, Bernard tries to go through the same hole but wrecks on the guards. With the hammer, Kleibrink tries a tap-tap, hoping to move the Bernard rock back and score two. Way wide and scored only one. Bernard 3, Kleibrink 2 after 5.


Women's Finals! Roar of the Rings, End #4

Kleibrink has Bell put up a tight centre guard. Bernard draws around it to the button. Bell taps it back a bit, but it still bites the button. Bartel pushes the Bell rock to the back 12 with a superb shot!. Webster runs the guard back but just jostles the B rocks. Darbyshire draws to the t line, but sets up a double for Webster. She missed it, rolling over to the top 4, leaving the B rock on the button. Open and peeled by Darbyshire. Nixon doubles and there are just three K rocks left in play.
Hit and stick by O'Connor. Hit and roll a bit by Nixon. Hit and stick by O'Connor, just missing the double. Hit and stick by K, but the double is still there.Hit and flop by Bernard. Hit and stick by K, leaving a hit and stick for one by Bernard. Bernard 3, Kleibrink 1.


Women's Finals! Roar of the Rings, End #3

Top 12 by Bernard. Corner guard by Kleibrink. Second in the rings by B. Doubled out by K with a roll almost behind the guard, but not far enough. Peeled by Bernard and roll to the side opposite the guard. K ignores the B rock in the rings and has Webster draw around the guard beautifully. Darbyshire draws up a foot from the K rock in the rings. K hits and sticks and lies two. She's in good position to score two at this point.

Hit and stick exchange. Hit and roll over by O'connor and both K and B try to sweep it out; always amusing. Draw to the rings by Nixon. Hit and stick by Bernard. Hit by K but she rolled over to the edge of the 12' and is only 1st and 3rd shot. Barnard has a tough decision. Hit and stick and leaves an easy draw for two for Kleibrink. Odd decision by Bernard. I'd have frozen; others here in section 114 would have tried to roll over. No matter, K was heavy with the draw and scored only 1. Bernard 2, Kleibrink 1.


Women's Finals! Roar of the Rings, End #2

I think I'd rather watch slap-chop ads than listen to the nonsense that goes on between ends live.

Bernard goes into the rings. Peel by Kleibrink. Bartel to the button again, but this time Bell puts up a corner guard. Got some action now! Centre guard tight to the rings from Darbyshire (Bernard's 2nd). Webster tried to double off the B stones but got only the guard, leaving hers near the centre line. Advantage Bernard. Another, longer centre guard by Darbyshire). Through the port by Webster and a tap-back of the B stone.

O'Connor followed her down, removed the K stone and B lies two. Nixon (K;s vice) did the same thing and is shot. O'Connor's 2nd shot is through the hole, but light and on the centre line in the rings. Nixon's second shot came up very short, near the centre line. On to skip's rocks.

Bernard goes way to the left and draws beautifully around the Kliebrink shot rock right to the button. Wow! Kleibrink seemed pretty disgusted as she came down to the hack for her first shot. Her pick attempt we either a shade heavy or a shade wide: she just nudged the B stone further behind cover. B sets a guard on the left side, and K needs a magic shot to avoid giving up a steal. No magic with an intended double angle raise take out. Bernard 2, Kleibrink 0.


Women's Finals! Roar of the Rings: Intro

End #1. The temps outside are -27C. The putz who introduced the teams got all the names wrong for the Bernard rink and at least one position wrong for the Kleibrink team. First Kleibrink stone on the centre line biting the 12'. Peeled by Bernard. Odd, cautious beginning. Second rock top 8. Hit and stick by Bernard. and by Kleibrink.

Someone in the crowd already shouted "booorrrring".

After all the hitting, Nixon's rock is now a guard in front, but Bernard has O'Connor hit and roll into the rings. More hit and stick. I guess they're just trying get a feel for the ice and save time, too. Otherwise they'd have gone around the guard when it was available. In the end, Bernard didn't roll out after her hit. Bernard 1, Kleibrink 0. An odd end as it unfolded.


Women's Finals! Roar of the Rings

Well, I made it to Rexall Palace with my neice to watch the final between Kleibrink and Bernard. Both teams are good, as we saw through the week (and man did I ever call the Scott rink wrong this week!).

Anyway, I'm using my iPhone to tether from the laptop, and who knows how long the two batteries will last. Anyway, I'll try to post end-by-end for two reasons:
  1. If a battery goes, I won't lose everything.
  2. If anyone is following this on |RSS feed, they will get a new notice after each end.
To save the batteries, I'll probably try to post short summaries after each end.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Semi - Kleibrink - McCarville

Sorry - got caught up in Law and Order episodes.
Three ends in and Kleibrink is where form would say should be - 3-1 up after three ends.
END #4:
Saskatchewan rules, it seems. George tosses up a good guard. Nixon peels the guard. Amy wants to peel, Shannon is less sure. Peeling happens. McCarville guards again and Kleibrink tucks in and freezes to a McCarville rock behind guards. Perfect freeze by McCarville! Kleibrink does not get on top of it - 3-2 Kleibrink now!
END #5: McCarville, delightfully crazy, comes into the house early. A truly brilliant shot clears the house. McCarville is back in, but Kleibrink clears. Now they are back - Amy makes a good throw but things remain a bit messy. Nixon does not clean up as hoped. Kleibrink makes a brilliant shot clearing out McCarville rocks. McCarville can still force a single from Kleibrink; that is what happens.
END #6: Lang starts off with a great guard and a great freeze to a Kleibrink rock in the house. A Kleibrink error leaves Lang's freeze untouched and MacLean comes and sits on top of it. A few rocks later Kleibrink has the shot rocks but it is all McCarville in front of her. George finally manages a hit and roll behind cover. Kleibrink knocks it out. McCarville tucks herself in behind a guard. Kleibrink follows her in with a gorgeous freeze. McCarville comes up short and Kleibrink takes one more.
END #7: Lang makes a perfect tap on a Kleibrink rock on the button. MacLean adds to crowding there, and in the end McCarville takes one,
Sorry - Had to go to bed at that point.
Not a surprise but Kleibrink won 10-5. She goes up against Berhard Saturday.

Roar of the Rings - Women's Semi - McCarville- Kleibrink

OK I have no dog in this game. Through the day I was certainly a McCarville fan. but now I am neutral. Ray and Linda are in place and this should be major fun!
I think the great battle is Nixon versus George and I sure hope George can play, as she really has not, to the high levels of such requirements.
END #1:
Simple exchange of rocks in the house. Nobody trying for much.

My Own Deeply Belated Reflections

You could not ask for a greater contrast than between the women's draw and the men's. The men's draw is now down to the usual suspects - Howard, Martin, and Stoughton, and there was never a real threat that it would be otherwise (maybe Ferbey could have got through).
On the women's side, the usual suspects were cruelly and clearly eliminated as Jennifer Jones and Kelly Scott saw their rinks pretty much humiliated.
One could call Kleibrink, as the previous Olympic qualifier, a suspect, but that was really her unique great performance over the last few years. We are now down to Kleibrink and McCarville, and then Bernard. I would never have predicted this, and I doubt many others did.
The McCarville rink are actually my fondest memory of the Scott Tournament that Doc and I covered in London, and that likely shows through in my coverage. The effect should be smaller tonight, as I am also a great fan of the Kleibrink rink. The PI factor will be high again tonight, and, I am pretty sure, for the final.

Great Coverage Today by Alan

After having spent $4 on the iPhone application yesterday so I could follow today's action, I realized that mostly all the app does is send people to various websites that didn't provide any scoring updates for the tie-breakers today --- terribly disappointing.

However, following Alan's detailed descriptions on this blog was a treat, even on Safari on the iPhone. Who needs an app that provides no useful updates with a blog and a co-blogger like this?!!!


Roar of the Rings - Women's Tiebreaker 2 - McCarville-Holland

McCarville must be getting used to all these Saskatchewan teams. On the men's side it's Alberta. So nice to escape the stupidities of the Brier and Scotties in terms of provincial representation. They should have Olympic trials every year!
There is something wonderful about the names of the Holland team - it says a lot about our immigrant history. A Kalenchuk and two Schneiders, and a Holland!
END #1
: This end seems a little more wide open than either team intends. Holland blanks.
END #2: Must have missed this. A blank.
END #3: McCarville wants action and Lang puts up a centre line guard. Kalenchuk's rock goes through the house. Lang puts her second rock in behind her first in the house. Kalenchuk sits on the corner of Lang's rock. MacLean joins her and all can be removed. Schneider chips out the front McCarville stone and barely hangs on. MacLean kills it, rolling off. Schneider and George clear the house up to a degree. Kim Schneider kills the George rock, but rolls out. One Holland rock in the house at 9 o'clock, twelve-foot. It is now gone, and George's rock is not too far away. Schneider (Kim) removes it and sits at around 5 o'clock. McCarville hits and sticks. Holland hits and sticks. McCarville would like to hit and roll behind the guard. But she hits and sticks. Holland blanks perfectly.
END #4:
McCarville centre guard, Holland into the house, and then McCarville beside it (both well back of the T-line). Holland puts one into the front of the four-foot. McCarville has MacLean try to freeze but she comes up a little short. This is getting complicated. Tammy Schneider hangs out trying to freeze and ends up left of the McCarville rock (from the point of view of the back of the house). MacLean removes it and rolls into the line of rocks along the centre-line. Great shot. Schneider misses her hit, moves the MacLean rock over a little, and rolls out. George kills a Holland rock but loses the shooter. Kim Scheider misses her attack on the McCarville rock in the front of the four-foot - taps it back but loses the shooter and leaves the rock in an annoying spot. George sits nicely and nastily on the front of the button. Kim Schneider follows orders and peels the guard. We have two McCarville rocks in the front of the button. McCarville guards. Holland moves the McCarville rocks around, barely getting by the guard. McCarville kills the Holland rock and lies four as Holland draws. She uses some backing and scores 1.
END #5:
Last two ads - Advil and TSN. Hmm - tricky boycott plan on the latter though Advil will easily be a miss in the future. Two rocks in play. Aarrgghh. Holland has two rocks in the house in front of the button behind two McCarville guards. MacLean cleans the front nicely. Kim Schneider wrecks slightly but keeps filling the house with Holland rocks. MacLean cleans up one and loses the shooter. Schneider puts another in the house, and George misses the double, also losing the shooter. Holland's rocks are being spread out in the process. Kim S puts another in the house (Holland lying three); George wrecks on a front rock and is open, having done nothing to Holland's rocks. Holland punches that rock out - now lie four. McCarville gets a brilliant double and rolls over in front of a Holland rock. Just a great piece of salvage work! Holland puts a scoring rock in the back of the house, but leaves no double. McCarville hits it and sticks. Holland hits and rolls out, and gets only one, where a few shots ago she seemed on line to four!
END #6: Sorry - damned life dragged me away from TSN for a few minutes. Holland has two front guards, with a Holland and McCarville rock cuddled up behind the guards behind the T-line. George puts a rock in the top edge of the four-foot - did not break as much as wanted. Tammy Schneider clears one of the front guards but hte angle is not as desired and misses taking out the George rock. After another couple of shots, Holland has shot in the four-foot, but is pretty open. George hits it but it jams and still is the shooter. A couple of rocks later George has cleaned up the house and McCarville can contemplate more than one. Holland comes up short, sitting now in the front og the four-foot. McCarville seemed to feather the front guard but clears the house of Holland rocks with a double. McCarville is shooting 93%! Holland plans to bury on the button behind the front guards. Shad better as McCarville lies three. She leaves a rock openish - McCarville has a hit for four - and she is perfect! My heavens, what a pair of matches these tiebreakers have been! 5-2 McCarville.
END #7: Two rocks in play but this was just because TSN decided to review previous ends. Annoying but no boycott candidates. McCarville has two rocks in front of the T-line, unguarded. Holland has a corner guard and now rock in the house too. George removes the rock in the house and rolls out. Holland replaces a McCarville rock in the house with one of her own. George wipes it out and rolls in front of their other rock. Kim S puts a rock in the front of the eight-foot. McCarville gets rid of it and rolls out. Holland makes a shot I just do not get - she is open. And is removed. She can draw for one. And does. 5-3 McCarville.
END #8: Hooray! SlapChop makes my boycott list! McCarville's two-month-old baby looks really cute. Holland, clearly plagued, faces a hog-line violation on her first rock. Still, Holland has a nice front guard and a rock in the house behind it. Time for the peeling! Front guard is gone. New guard, now gone. New guard, George wants to peel, and does. Another guard, another George peel. Holland decides to come in behind her rock in the front of the eight-foot. But she seems to leave a double. McCarville misses it, removing only one. Nice freeze by Holland on a McCarville rock at the back of the eight-foot. McCarville will now draw, surprising the commentators. It is perfect! Who is this unmasked woman? She is shooting 95% and she is getting some very tough shots to make.
END #9: More than two rocks in play as coverage resumes and I failed to note who was running the late ads! This is hard work. Peeling has started. MacLean completely whiffs on a peel, so let's see what Holland can do. George misses her peel but luckily removes a Holland rock in the house. Kim S buries a nice rock behind the remaining corner guard. Which corner guard is now gone. Holland punches a McCarville rock back and sits in the front of the eight-foot. That rock is gone. Holland puts a shot in the four-foot, leaving a possible double. McCarville kills one, leaving Holland a draw for two. She makes it. 6-5 McCarville going into the tenth with the hammer.
END #10: Again two rocks in play and I am really sloppy about watching the ads. So far we have Advil and SlapChop as guilty parties. McCarville weirdly is filling the house with early shots, and Lang goes deep with one of her shots. Tammy S puts a shot on the button. Peeling now starts - double peel requested, and one centre guard remains. Now there are double-able rocks up front. MacLean removes them! Guards installed and removed. Holland rock on the button will be in play later. McCarville calls a timeout and coach Rick Lang comes out and has barely arrived before he says 'Peel it'. Too entertaining. Everybody immediately agreed. They just wanted confirmation. Rock peeled. Holland can cause grief by sitting in a perfect place behind a McCarville rock and in front of hers on the button. And she makes it perfectly! Brilliant shot. McCarville's double attempt gets only one. Holland steals one! We go to 11! Fantastic match.
END #11: Nikon and Ford are the guilty parties this time. Easy boycott candidates for me. Lang pulls off a tick, with great discomfort but also success. Peeling may now begin. And so it goes. Skip stones now. Holland puts up another long guard. McCarville's team are having a great discussion. Lang (the coach) is down on the rink again; they want to come into the top eight-foot to shut Holland's approaches down. Lang does not mind. The commentariat wants a peel, but McCarville is going in, top eight, and open. The shot is too close to the centre-line and now the peel looks really good. Holland can draw now behind the McCarville rocks. Wow! This is too exciting! She is drawing to the open side, and it slides to the back of the eight-foot, and is not even shot. McCarville wins 7-6. Another Olympic dream dies and the McCarville rink continue their longest day ever, I imagine.

Roar of the Rings - Women's Tiebreaker 1 - McCarville-Lawton

Two young teams, Lawton having survived into the tiebreaker by delivering a first defeat to Bernard, and McCarville by beating Webster.
END #1: Pretty wide open exchange of hit and stick shots. Russ Howard points out that one advantage to this for both teams is that they save some time they may have to use later in more complicated situations. Lawton hits and sticks once more than intended, fails to blank and takes one.
END #2: With her first shot, McCarville removes a well-guarded Lawton rock from the house, and rolls into the open. Lawton hits but does not roll behind cover. McCarville does not get the roll out of the house, and takes an undesired single. 1-1.
END #3
: McCarville puts a rock on the button behind a guard, after a hit but roll out by Lawton's team. Lawton makes a great run-back double, clearing the house and the guard. McCarville runs a rock through the house, not intentionally. Lawton goes through the house, intentionally. Still 1-1.
Apparently McCarville had noted during the week that she was 3-0 with straight hair, and not so potent with her hair curled. So the team is out this morning with straight hair. Russ Howard comments that he played much better when he had hair.
END #4
: First complicated end. Hosse has more or less vertically aligned Lawton and McCarville rocks, in two pairs. There is a front guard partly covering the aligned rocks. Singler wobbles coming out of the hack, overrotates, and removes her own front rock, the shooter rolling out. Tara George puts up a guard, covering the rocks in the house. Kasner removes both front guards. Tara George makes a great pick shot, removing the Lawton rock from its position in front of the button; the rock is still just hgugging the rings at the back. Kasner removes the front McCarville rock. McCarville removes Kasner's rock but rolls towards her other rock, allowing a double. Lawton makes it perfectly, and now sits two. Howard says it is a shot he would not even have tried, as it had to be done so thin. McCarville now needs a long double, and gets it! Who are these unmasked women! Fantastic curling. Howard - the room for error on the last two shots was about the width of a penny. Lawton hits and inadvertently sticks again. 2-1 Lawton.
END #5: McCarville (George) goes behind two Lawton guards. Kasner taps it back, and Lawton also has a rock on the centre-line. George does not quite freeze to it, but close. Lawton intends to freeze to that rock, not necessarily getting shot rock. She taps it more than wanted (Howard calls it a half-inch miss.) McCarville taps Lawton's rock, barely missing her freeze. It is difficult to tell which rocks are counting. Lawton now plans to tap her centre-line rock into the button. She gets it there but it is not buried and McCarville may have a double for three, possibly four (I suspect there will be a measurement.) Howard has pointed out steadily through the end that McCarville has forced the hitting Lawton team to play touch shots. McCarville's shot is perfect! Looks like four to me. Man, that was an aggressive and exciting end. 5-2 McCarville. Seems time for McCarville to renounce the touch and start hitting.
There was a good discussion early in teh broadcast on a topic I have long wondered about, how the McCarville rink, stuck way up in Northern Ontario, get good tough practice sessions. It turns out they play regularly in a men's league, and, as Russ Howard pointed out, when you have Al Hackner on the opposing team, you learn quickly not to leave many good hitting opportunities on the ice.
END #6: McCarville puts the first couple of rocks in the house in front of the button, and then peels. Kasner tries a gentle tap back but it not gentle enough. McCarville clears that rock and rolls out. Lawton is thinking about the double to set up a blank, but it is now a long double. The deliberations are curious to watch as Lawton consults Lana Vey; Howard cannot figure out why. She misses the double and leaves a McCarville rock in the house. McCarville clears that rock; Howard says Lawton's double will not allow her to roll out, exactly as McCarville wants. Lawton decides to hit where Howard would draw, and makes her single. It says an awful lot about the quality of women's curling that Howard is constantly saying he would not try the shot being played right in front of him, usually successfully.
END #7: Lorraine Lang is curling 94%! We're back to peeling after her rocks. There is a Lawton rock in the eight-foot on the centre-line, and McCarville rocks behind it on the button and the back 12-foot. Lawton is throwing up guards, and George double the guard and the Lawton rock in the house away, but sits out front. Kasner rubs on that front guard and goes through the house. George puts another rock by the button. Lawton plans to freeze on shot rock - she won't be shot but she has one more rock. She leaves about a foot between her rock and McCarville's backing rocks. McCarville chips it out but leaves a spot to freeze into. And Lawton does, beautifully. McCarville is now designing another crazy shot - hitting one of her own rocks very thin to bounce into the house almost horizontally and clear the Lawton rock. She finally backs off and taps the Lawton rock back to take one. 6-3 McCarville.
END 8#: Usual protocol. Lang puts two rocks in the house, and then McCarville starts peeling guards. Singler wrecks on one of her own guards trying to come into the house and her rock becomes a centre guard. We have guards on both sides of the house as well. George removes the centre guard but we have corner guards on both sides, so Lawton gets another shot at it. Kasner is a bit heavy and her tap on the rocks in the house slides into the open. George, under clear instruction, makes a perfect shot, removing the Kasner rock, and one of her own, and slides up into the front in the eight-foot. Kasner whacks the McCarville rocks, lying open, and leaving two McCarville rocks in the house, but nowhere really to freeze. As Howard says, this end cannot now be blanked, and it is hard to see where two will come from. McCarville removes the Kasner rock and sticks. So there IS a freeze, a McCarville rock at 9 o'clock in the eight-foot. And thatr is Lawton's intention. Very nice - Lawton is shot rock and there is only about a six inch separation. McCarville does not get shot rock because of an overcurl. Draw for two for Lawton. Lawton is heavy. Measurement! Howard - "It's amazing how many times you don't think you're shot rock and you are." Lawton did go too far - 6-4 McCarville with the hammer into the ninth. This is BY NO MEANS over.
END #9: Amusing discussion from Howard about the forms for the Olympics. Apparently they are full of slots for the names of your parents, but not for the names of your children. Ageism! Anyway, back to the match. Lawton centre guard, Lawton rock in the house on the centre line eight foot, McCarville rock on the button. I missed what Kasner did, it must have been a goof-up, and George clears the centre guard. Kasner puts a rock up beside their other rock in the house. George misses the double, but the shooter stays in the house. Lawton now seems to be playing a guard, puzzling Russ Howard, as McCarville has a rock on the button, and would surely be happy with one. It IS a great guard, but why it is there also baffles me. McCarville peels. Lawton tries a tap back but does not get shot. McCarville has a number of ways to get two now - she elects a draw, which might be heavy, and could wind up giving Lawton one. Apparently someone in the crowd shouted "Throw it away", and Howard asks "Was it Kevin Martin?" McCarville makes a brilliant shot but it looks like one. One it is - 7-4 into the tenth, hammer to Lawton.
END #10: TSN let us miss the first two rocks. I think I am adopting a new policy. I will list the last two advertisers in each TSN ad break and invite readers to boycott that company. This time one of them was MicroForce, selling some silly-looking shaver. Please do not buy it.
McCarville threw one through but then left one as well in the house, and now they have a guard (a failed peel). Lawton throwing up guards, McCarville peeling. Howard is baffled that McCarville wants her rock in the house. McCarville's peeling is weird - she now has two rocks in the house. Why any? Lawton needs a timeout - I can understand - she has few rocks left. Lawton seems worried about being shot, and Howard points out that she has much larger problems than that and being shot means you get peeled! Lawton's coach, Brian McCusker, gets rid of the goal of being shot, and Kasner tries to get behind a corner guard, but still pretty open. George completely misses the Kasner rock! Kasner misses her attempted freeze and goes right through the house. Disaster for Lawton. She's out of rocks if McCarville removes one Lawton rock. And she does. Handshakes. And Lawton's Olympic dream dies. Sport is brutal - someone loses.
Great match though.
And just a passing thought. It seems to me that over the years the women's curling PI (pulchritude index) has been rising fairly steadily. A bit like golf. Both events are becoming through competition much more competitive.
Back in a couple of hours with McCarville-Holland!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Draw 14: Conclusion

A very close game, and whatever misses there have been have been relatively minor or only partial misses. Great curling going into the last three ends tied at five.

End 8. Standard opening again. Nice double by Laing to remove two Martin stones. Martin split the rings, and Howard tries an angle raise double off his own rock. Removes one and moves the other Martin rock to leave Howard sitting two. Martin plays a perfect hit and freeze. Howard replies with a run-back single (trying for a double) and scores one. Howard 6, Martin 5.

End 9.Different opening. Otherwise Martin would have been able to blank the end. Should be fun. This is SO much better curling than the match we saw this afternoon. Morris freezes beautifully to a Howard rock. Howard wrecks, Martin is heavy, Hebert doesn't lift his hair broom away from the rock's path, and some of controversy. Martin makes a terrific raise double to score three. Amazing!!
Martin 8, Howard 6.

End 10. The Howard team looks stunned. They are trying to put up corner guards, and Martin removes them, while still having two on the button. Big miss by Morris who didn't remove the guard but removed a Martin stone from the rings. Fantastic saving double by Martin. Wow, again! Howard leaves his shot open. Martin peels it and wins. Howard plays Stouton in the Semi-Finals. Martin gets the bye.


Draw 14: Howard vs. Martin, middle ends

A series of cat-and-mouse ends so far, with each team forced to take one on each end.

End 4. Who said this: "Is it just me, or is it hard to make a shot out here right now?" I think it was Hart (Howard's 3rd) preparing for his shot. Hmph. He's curling a much higher percentage than Morris... but then Morris makes a really nice hit and roll behind centre guards. Hart removes one and moves another to the 12' with a near double. Nose hits follow. Martin removes the centre rock and sits one. Howard tries to swing around the corner guard but is more than half open. Martin tried to pick it but it jammed on Martin's rock in the back 12, leaving a split for three for Howard. Howard 4, Martin 2.

End 5. Two of Howard's rocks in the 4' and two of Martin's out front. Beautiful pick-double by Hart to clear the sheet of Martin's rocks. And made the same shot again after Morris put one back in the rings nearly frozen. Wow! Howard tried the same shot but missed and took out his own rocks. Now Martin is in good shape to get two. Howard hits and rolls out, leaving Martin with a draw for two. Tied at 4 at the break.

Break: I just realized I'm missing Thursday night NFL to watch this match. Oh well, the Steelers have lost 4 in a row and the Browns are the worst team in the league. It isn't much of a sacrifice!

End 6. By the time the thirds are throwing, Martin has two touching the 8' and one touching the button. Howard will be lucky to escape with one, the way this end is going. Morris and Martin kept dropping a stone on the button, forcing Hart and Howard to play run-back take-outs. Howard, facing three with the hammer, hit and stuck for one. Howard 5, Martin 4.

End 7. Standard opening: Savil to top 4' for Howard; Hebert sets corner guard for Martin; Savil, centre guard; Hebert corner freeze to the 4'. Lang freezes to that stone. More exchanges in the rings. Nice run-back by Howard forcing Marting to draw for one. Tied at 5.


Draw 14: Howard vs. Martin

This will surely be one of the matches we have all waited to see. The Howard and Martin rinks are two of the best in the world. Unfortunately, both are guaranteed places in the play-offs. Fortunately, first place is at stake, with the attendant bye from the semi-finals (no page play-offs here). So with that at stake, it should be an exciting game.

End 1. Far from perfect curling from the front ends as they all miss or sort of miss their shots. Morris doubles off two Howard rocks, and then on his next shot tries to go around the only guard, but is wide open. Howard hits but stays open. Beautiful hit and roll by Howard behind the corner guard forces Martin to draw for one. Martin 1, Howard 0.

End 2. Both teams curled only 72% in the first end. It showed. In the second end, there are five rocks staggered along the centre line. Laing (Howard's second) takes out two and has his shooter roll to be a corner guard. Great shot. The rings are gradually being emptied with only two in the rings now plus a corner guard after the front end rocks have been thrown.
Morris's attempt to clear the house leaves a couple biting the rear. Hart inadvertently knocks them out, leaving only one rock in the house plus a corner guard. Hits and rolls by Hart and Martin. Hit and stick by Howard. Martin manages a hit and roll behind the corner guard. Howard has to draw for one in an end that looks a lot like the first end.

End 3. As we join the end in progress, Martin has a corner guard with the hammer while Howard tries to dominate the centre of the sheet. Beautiful shot by Kennedy (Martin's 2nd) clears the rings and rolls to be a corner guard on the opposite side. But a miss by Martin's team lets Howard set up well in the rings. Martin is forced to draw for one against three. Martin 2, Howard 1.


The iPhone App

Thanks to Marc and Punch-Drunk in comments here, I decided to try the curling info application for the iPhone, Curling Zone. It's okay, I guess. But it is slow, and there is quite a delay in reporting the scores. Also, there's a lot of stuff there that doesn't interest me all that much. Here's hoping that future updates will be faster and will have more information about what is happening in each game. But that would require a truckload of reporters and connections. I doubt if it will ever become as detailed as the material provided by other apps about baseball or the NFL.

Please Support Our Sponsors

We have added a sponsor on the right side of the page, just under the "Links" label. They have decided to sponsor "Curling" for the next year, for which we are grateful.

Draw 13: Second Half

I hate to say this, but I'm not convinced that either of these teams (McCarville, Webster) could end up on the podium at the Olympics. Too many misses. Indeed, their curling percentages are considerably lower than those of the top teams.

End 6. With her last rock, McCarville attempted to pick a Webster rock out but instead took out the Webster rock along with two of her own, allowing Webster to blank the end.
End 7. Webster missed a draw and scored only one. zzzzzzzzz.
End 8. The thirds on both teams are curling only mid-60s percentages. McCarville makes a fine hit and roll to lie one behind guards. Webster wrecks on one of the guards with her last rock. Then McCarville's draw is too heavy and she scores only one. McCarville 5, Webster 3.
End 9. Guard, peel, etc. until a McC shooter sticks as a guard. Webster come-around to a McC rock in the rings. Pick by McC, replaced by Webster. Webster well-set to score two, but her first draw is light. So McCarville hits and sticks to lie three. Webster has a hit-and-stick for one. Barely scored one. McCarville 5, Webster 4.

It is really clear the announcers are trying (and struggling) to say nice things now and then about the shots in this game. It is also really clear that there is a sizeable gap in performance between the top teams and the rest.

End 10. McCarville is up 5-4 with the hammer coming home. If she wins, she'll force a tie-breaker with Holland, who just demolished the Scott rink (man, did I ever pick them wrong!) and with Lawton, who just handed Bernard her only defeat. Two centre guards by Webster, nice come-around by Lang (McC lead), followed by nice come-around by Preston (Webster's 2nd). Guard, remove, guard, remove, guard, remove, guard.... Wtf is Webster guarding? she's second shot and McC is shot. And in the end, Webster misses a hit-and-stick. McCarville wins 6-4 and will be part of the tie-breaking marathon that is shaping up.


Draw 13: McCarville vs. Webster

McCarville is 3-3; Webster is 2-4. I would much rather be watching Bernard 6-0 vs. Lawton 3-3. So my interest might drift a bit.

One nice thing about watching these matches live is that you get to watch the game you want to watch and aren't forced to live with TSN's choices.

End 1. McCarville is off to a bad start as George (vice) came up short and then wrecked on her second shot. A series of missed attempts to hit and roll failed. McCarville hit and stuck for one. McCarville 1, Webster 0.
End 2. Lots of rocks in play agian, but not all on purpose. Ray's tone captures my feelings: this is good curling, but it's nothing like what we saw this morning. 7 rocks staggered along the centre line. Messy house. Webster tried to knock out the McC rocks, but scored only one. McC 1, Webster 1.
End 3. Holy cow! George is curling only 46% through three ends, leaving McCarville with difficult shots. Webster wrecks on a guard after McC is too heavy with a draw. But on her second shot, McCarville draws through a curved port for one. McCarville 2, Webster 1.
End 4. Plenty of McCarville stones in the rings, but strategically the teams seem about even so far in this end. Nice near-double by Olson-Johns (Webster's third). But McCarville seems to be gaining position. McCarville's last shot was light and thin; Webster missed a hit-and-stick for two, rolling out, and scored only 1. McC 2, Webster 2.
End 5. I've been distracted by the responses to my request for an iPhone app. More on that later. Meanwhile, as I look up at the tv, I see 7 rocks in the rings and an attempt by McC to play an angle raise take-out on the Webster shot stone. Got a double, but not quite the way I was expecting, and scored two. McCarville 4, Webster 2.


Future Coverage of the Roar on This Blog

We expect to be able to cover both of the remaining draws today. We're also hoping to cover the playoffs on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, but we're not sure one of us will be available for both of those matches.

I am hoping that I will be able to attend the finals on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon at the Rexall Place in Edmonton. If I can, I shall try to take my laptop and iPhone with me to blog updates from there. We tried desperately to obtain media passes for this event, with no success since neither of us is a full-time journalist, and so I'm not sure how it might work out, if at all, trying to blog from the stands. But I'll give it a shot.

Watch for updates!

Is there an iPhone app with Curling Updates?
or are we it??

I have an iPhone, and I love it. One of the apps I use often is a sports application that provides frequent updates of scores and plays in all the major sports. But I have not been able to find such an application that includes curling scores/plays/updates. Is there one? I know there's curlcast for the computer, but curlcast requires "flash", which is not available on the iPhone.

Curlcast for the iPhone would be great. I'd certainly pay for it.

Or do people just check in here now and then for brief descriptions and updates?

Labels: ,

Draw 12: Second Half

As the second half of the draw begins, Ferbey leads Howard 4-3 and has the hammer. I have quite enjoyed Russ Howard's commentary, but it is dangerously close to becoming too pedantic.
End 6. Lots of rocks in the rings. You have to be a good intuitive physicist with good foresight to play at this level. Nice raise double by Ferbey to clear two Howard counters from the rings. Nedohin's last shot: attempted quad-raise take-out, but didn't quite make it. Steal of one for Howard. Tied at 4.
End 7. Just a few rocks in play, keeping the strategies a bit simpler. Ferbey (throwing 3rd's stones) rolled out of the rings, though, with his last rock, and Howard drew perfectly around the guard. Nedohin's first draw or tap missed and coasted a bit deep. Howard puts up another guard. Nedohin has to draw through a good-sized hole for one. Ferbey 5, Howard 4.
End 8. Russ Howard's insight on the Gunnlaughson rink: "They haven't lost enough games in their careers to learn from their mistakes." The rocks are not really lined up in the centre, leaving some interesting carom attempts. Great fun! Two phenomenal hit-and-rolls by Hart have set up the end nicely for Howard. Draw for two. Howard 6, Ferbey 5.
End 9. Another staggered line-up of rocks down the centre with the lead's rocks. I sure am impressed with the knowledge and quickness-of-adjustment on the part of all those involved. Most of us would take minutes or hours to get to the strategies they do, if we could ever get there. Wow! what a shot by Laing through the port to pick a Ferbey rock; and then Pfeiffer makes a good clearing shot. Great curling! But a thin double is always a tough, risky shot, and Nedohin missed it, giving up a steal of two. Howard 8, Ferbey 5.
End 10. Up three without the hammer, Howard is keeping the sheet as clear as he can. He'll run Ferbey out of rocks and win.


Draw 12: Howard vs. Ferbey

After having seen these teams play in the past, one has to expect the probability that Howard will win is reasonably high.
End 1: Centre guards and come-arounds into the rings. Jam by Hart sets up the end for Ferbey to score 2, which he does after Howard misses a pretty tough double.
End 2: Pfeiffer (Ferbey's 2nd) comes up short, setting up the end for Howard, but Ferbey slams out a bunch of guards and a Howard rock to reduce the Howard advantage. Both Ferbey and Nedohin had superb first shots and not quite superb second shots, allowing Howard to take two. Howard 2, Ferbey 2.
End 3: Guards and run-backs. Howard missed a run-back, setting up a chance for Ferbey to score two, but Nedohin leaves his first rock exposed, creating a double opportunity for Howard. So Ferbey is forced to blank since he can't get two.
End 4: A series of terrific hits, run-backs, doubles. There's one long guard and a rock in the rings; and both teams vie to use both. Ferbey - nose hit. Hart - nose hit. Nedohin - nose hit. The ice seems straighter than they expect; let's see if the skips adjust. Oops, Howard rubs on the guard then misses a double, allowing Ferbey to score two. Ferbey 4, Howard 2.
End 5: Several beautiful draws make both teams concerned about what the other team will do. With last rocks, Nedohin taps instead of freezes, setting up a hit for four by Howard, but he's just a bit off and gets only a single. Ferbey 4, Howard 3.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Draw 11: Jones vs. Bernard

Bernard is 5-0 coming into this draw, but a few of their wins were very close.... some would say lucky. At the same time, the Jones rink has struggled and not looked all that good, with a record of only 2 wins and 3 losses. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up with the draw, but I'll post notes as I get a chance.
End 1. Plenty of guards and lots of action and lots of misses or rubs. Nice draw by Jones, but not quite good enough to cash a deuce. Jones 1, Bernard 0.
End 2. Hit and stick in the rings. Etc. Etc. Ho hum. Blank.
End 3. Oh crap. Same thing again. zzzzzzzzzz. Peaty single malt seems to relieve the boredom somewhat...
End 4. The TSN announcers can't believe it, but there's a corner guard from Bernard. Maybe we'll see some action this end? Lots of rocks on the side in the 8', but just the one corner guard. Jones last rock drifted too deep; Bernard made a raise take-out and scored 4. Bernard 4, Jones 1.
End 5. Jones has positional advantage as the end develops. Just missed a slight tap for 3 but had to settle for two. Bernard 4, Jones 3.

Sorry, but I'm too tired to continue.


Draw 10: Second Half

The Martin team dominated the first half of the end. It will be interesting to see how the Ferbey team reacts.

End #6: Two centre guards by Ferbey, two come-arounds by Martin. Nice tap by Nedohin, leaving Martin with a raise double on his last shot, but it jammed. Steal of one by Ferbey. Martin 5, Ferbey 3.

End #7: Similar start with a centre guard by Ferbey, but this time followed by come-arounds with the remaining lead stones. Beautiful double peel by Mark Kennedy -- he should get bonus marks for that shot! Lots of ensuing guard-peel-guard-peel, etc. even with rocks in the rings. This is definitely NOT club-level curling! Martin scores 2. Martin 7, Ferbey 3.

End #8: Oops. Work got in the way again, so I missed the first eight rocks. I see there are two Martin rocks and one Ferbey rock in the rings; no guards. In the end, Ferbey scored 2. Martin 7, Ferbey 5.

End #9: The end begins with a centre guard, but Hebert (Martin lead) moved it over; the next guard was pushed back to the back line and barely stayed in. So now the come-arounds begin. With his last shot, Nedohin just missed a double, leaving Martin a draw to the 4' for two. Martin 9, Ferbey 5. Handshakes. I must say, the Martin rink looks VERY good.


Draw 10: Martin and Ferbey

This is one of the many matches forward to which we have been looking... 8-)
Both teams are among the contenders, entering the draw with 3-1 records.

End #1: Cat and mouse with no guards. Hit-and-stick; repeat. Disappointing. I gather the goal is to get a better feel for the ice and at the same time to save time. Blech. Blank.

End #2: Action this time, with guards and come-arounds. Nice taps by Kennedy (Martin's 2nd) and Ferbey (throwing 3rd stones). So now, already, we get the joy of listening to their discussions and strategies. This end alone makes up for the boredom of the first end! Nice triple-tap by Morris (Martin's vice) to leave Martin lying 3. Nedohin (throwing skip's stones for Ferbey) over-curled with his first rock and tried a real tv-shot bounce-around, but left Martin lying two. Martin had a nose hit for four, but lost his shooter to score only 3. Martin 3, Ferbey 0.

End #3: Lots more strategy, but a bunch of it seems wasted as Ferbey flashes on a pick attempt. Nevertheless, Martin still seems to be fretting and his shot drifts too deep. Nedohin's first shot is a nice angle tap, but Martin's last shot leaves him lying two and Nedohin in trouble. But he was able to draw for one. Martin 3, Ferbey 1.

End #4: Two big wrecks/rubs by Pfeiffer (Ferbey's 2nd) set up a possible big end for Martin. But watching the skips explore the possibilities is a great treat anyway. Morris makes a thin hit, and Ferbey tries for a double, but doesn't quite remove one of the two Martin stones. Martin's lying 3 and Nedohin tries a come-around to sit second shot. I don't understand why Martin doesn't pick it out, but Linda (commentator) he is trying to keep some other options open for the hammer. So he draws to the top 4 to lie 2. Nedohin misses a double. Martin draws for two instead of picking for three. Martin 5, Ferbey 1.

End #5: The end opens with jockeying for guards with a couple of rocks in the rings. Tap and roll by Ferbey that is removable, but Martin asks Morris to tap it back. Too hard. Martin lies three; Ferbey taps back the shot rock, but too far. Nedohin hits and sticks for one. Martin 5, Ferbey 2 at the break.


Draw 9, second half

After the first half, Kleibrink leads Bernard 4-2. Bernard dodged bullets often and Kleibrink dominated more than the score showed.

End #6: Fascinating analysis by Russ Howard, who pulls no punches. Kleibrink's last rock: a double attempt that was close and pretty darned good, leaving Bernard with only a draw or hit for one. She elects to try the hit. Nice pick. Kleibrink 4, Bernard 3.

End #7: Through 6 ends, Bell (lead for Kleibrink) is curling 100% and Darbyshire (2nd for Bernard) is curling only 65%. These two percentages more than anything else probably account for the Kleibrink lead over Bernard.

Another note: As Alan has mentioned, it is really annoying to miss the first few shots of the end. Not seeing those shots makes it harder to maintain interest --- Take Note, TSN!

Neither team was able to establish a guard for this end. We're looking at 1980s curling as a result. No surprise, a blank end.

End #8: This should be fun. Bernard puts up a near-centre guard, Kleibrink comes around to the top 12, Bernard tries a come-around, but freezes to it, which ends up making life difficult for Kleibrink. Great shot by Darbyshire and a near miss by Webster leave Bernard in pretty good shape for this end even though Kleibrink has the hammer. A complete flash by Nixon, followed by two Kleibrink misses put Bernard in an even better position. Bernard steals two. Bernard 5, Kleibrink 4.

End #9: Wow. Bernard has the advantage again, as Nixon flashes again. And then Bernard makes an amazing draw, followed by at least as amazing draw by Kleibrink through a tight portal for one. Bernard 5, Kleibrink 5. Bernard has the hammer going home.

End #10: Again, the Bernard team seems to grab the advantage early on, then Nixon wrecks on a guard and O'Connor essentially triples off the yellow guards. With the hammer, Bernard is in great shape to win this. Kleibrink makes a fine draw, and Bernard opts for a run-back take-out for three. Bernard wins 8-5.

Thoughts: wow, did the Kleibrink team ever fall apart in the second half. Russ Howard pointed out numerous strategic errors; also the curling percentages plummeted for Webster, Nixon, and Kleibrink. At the same time, Darbyshire improved and Bernard never seemed to lose here cool.

What a difference from the first half of the draw!


Draw 9: the Kleibrink-Bernard Duel

The Bernard team comes into this match-up undefeated, and the Kleibrink team is in second place so far with a 3-1 record. This is gonna be fun!

End #1: The Bernard front end of Bartel and Darbyshire curled only 50%, setting up the end for Kleibrink to score big with the hammer. She had a chance for three, maybe four, but was about a quarter inch wide and scored only two. A bit of moral victory, so to speak, for Bernard.

End #2: The Kleibrink lead (Bell) was about a foot or two deep with her first rock. After guards, Bartel froze to the Bell rock on the button, and Bernard was in good shape. But then Webster (2nd for Kleibrink) made a perfect freeze. It looks as if the advantage is going to flip-flop a bunch this end. Great raise double-tap by Kleibrink left Bernard facing four; she was a bit heavy but escaped, giving up only 1. Kleibrink 3, Bernard 0.

End #3: I'm working at home today and the damned work interruptions are getting in the way of watching curling. I looked up in End 3 and saw three yellow Kleibrink rocks in the rings, but have no idea what is happening. Interesting: Kleibrink has two near the button that could easily be doubled off, but Bernard has O'Connor, her third, attempt a hit and roll. For reasons that are not clear to me, Nixon (Kleibrink 3rd) clears the rings, allowing Bernard to blank the end.

End #4: This end has unfolded much as the 3rd end did but with a corner guard for Bernard. Oops. Kleibrink missed a run-back attempt, leaving Bernard with a good chance for two or three. Russ Howard (commentator) was puzzled by Bernard's decision not to try to bury her first rock, meaning the most she can score is two. Kleibrink 3, Bernard 2.

End #5: The Bernard rink bounces back with some excellent shots including a good freeze, putting a lot of pressure on Kleibrink, facing one on the button with a couple of guards. Nixon miscalled the sweeping slightly, but Kleibrink salvaged one anyway. Kleibrink 4, Bernard 2.


More Reflections on the Roar of the Rings

Well, the Scott rink sure hasn't pulled through the I expected. And the Bernard and Kleibrink rinks both look pretty impressive so far. I wonder, though, whether either rink will have the consistently strong ability to win the gold in Vancouvre. I am really looking forward to their match-up this morning!

On the men's side, Howard has squeaked through but also looks strong. The other major contenders also look good, especially the Martin, Ferby, and Koe rinks.

We are hoping that I will be able to live-blog the finals from Edmonton.... we'll see...


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Roar of the Rings - Draw 7

And now it's the women! TSN is featuring Holland-Lawton; not quite sure why, as both are at 1-2.
END #1: Holland makes some great finishing shots to score two.
Sorry - wandered off. Family mini-crisis.
6-3 Lawton over Holland in the 6th end.
7-4 Lawton after 7. Apologies, but I have a life.
Lawton wins 10-4.


Roar of the Rings - Draw 6

It's the men, and the TSN feature is Stoughton-Koe. I intend to follow yesterday's pattern.
END #1: Howard had predicted a fairly open end, and was terribly wrong, as the house is filling up with Koe rocks. Ooppss, my mind wandered, but Stoughton successfully drew for his one.
END #2: Koe slightly misses on a tap-back, leaving Stoughton with shot rock, which Stoughton guards. Koe draws for one.
END #3: Park makes two great shots to give Stoughton two rocks in the front of the four-foot. Koe doubles them out. Stoughton freezes beautifully to a Koe rock in the four-foot. Koe misses his freeze. Stoughton draws to the button for two.
END #4: Koe makes a perfect freeze and sets up his own double. Something fitting about that.
END #5: Koe makes a brilliant double with his last shot. Koe's rock is partly buried behind a front guard. Stoughton draws for one, with a LOT of help from the sweepers.
END #6: MacDonald makes a great double to leave Koe lying two, but the double is there and Stoughton makes it, leaving the house empty for Koe. In the end, Koe winds up drawing for one, after a great Stoughton freeze. 4-4.
Russ Howard has already commented that these are two great hitting teams, engaged in a battle of touch shots.
END #7: After some early complication the house becomes pretty empty and the skips trade hits, and Stoughton blanks.
END #8: What a messy house! How did htis happen? (I was chopping vegetables.) More or less vertically aligned we have a Stoughton rock, two Koe rocks, and two Stoughton rocks now. Of course there are many weird angles involved. MacDonald comes up short and puts another Koe rock up in the front of the house. Weird stuff goes on with the bizarre angles at teh front of the house. Hey what happened? More vegetables and I find two Koe rocks scoring in the house now! Stoughton doubles them out and scores two. Wow! This is one crazy match. For all the touchie-feelie, that was a great hit.
END #9: Koe, against three Stoughton rocks, draws to take one and heads into ten down one, Stoughton with the hammer.
END #10: Nobody entirely happy with play in this end, and Koe tucks his first rock beautifully behind cover. Stoughton removes the cover. In the end, the hitting wins as Stoughton doubles the house clear. Great match.


Roar of the Rings -- Early Reflections

Because of my day job and other activities, I have been unable to watch nearly as much of the Roar of the Rings as I had hoped to watch. One of the things that has impressed me, though, is how good the non-favourites have been. The Howard rink has squeaked by with a couple of wins; Martin looked shaky against some impressive competition. And so many rinks, including Simons and Stoughton are looking quite good (despite lapses now and then).

And on the women's side, the Scott rink hasn't dominated as I expected them to. And even though the Jones rink was VERY impressive last night, they looked quite weak in their first two losses. At the same time, McCarvill looks better than she ever has at the Scott. And the Kleibrink rink is doing better than I expected, too. And that doesn't even include the others who are doing so well!

So, based on the early rounds, the Roar of the Rings is everything we hoped it would be and more.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Roar of the Rings - Draw 4

Can one do better than Howard-Middaugh? ex-teammates, and both skips of great teams - obviously - they are here!
As with the previous commitment, I will do a light-handed documentation of what is on my TV screen.

Roar of the Rings - Draw 3

It's women again, and the featured matchup is Kleibrink-SCott, which is a bit of a revenge match from the last Olympic Trials. I won't be live-blogging in detail but will update this from end to end with the current status and occasional comments.
END #1: Kleibrink blanks a pretty much wide open end.
(Meanwhile Lawton chooses complication and scores 3 in the first against Webster, and Jones scores 1 against McCarville.)
END #2: Kleibrink makes a brilliant and risky double to clear the house of Scott rocks and score 3. 3-0 Shannon.
END #3: Scott blanks. There still seems to be significant confusion about the ice.
END #4: Scott is using some front guards but the Kleibrink team hitting skills are working so far. Meanwhile McCarville steals one to go up 3-1 over Jones. Lawton scores 2 in the third to go up 5-2 over Webster. Schraeder buries a beauty and Kleibrink's attempt to remove it just moves it in the house. Scott puts a second rock in the house, but behind the T-line. Kleibrink decides to knock one out, leaving Scott a shot for two. Then she chnages her mind; and misses badly short. Scott, as a result, can and does score three. 3-3.
END #5: Nixon makes a perfect and brilliant shot through a tiny port to place the scoring rock in the house. Scott starts clearing guards. After further adventure, including a whiff by Scott, Kleibrink now has a draw for three. And makes it. 6-3 Kleibrink.
Holy Cow! McCarville is 7-2 over Jones!
END #6: Kleibrink fills the house with rocks (five!) for Scott's last shot. One sits on the button behind guard. Scott just taps the rock on the button with a brilliant shot to take one, by far the best of the alternatives available to her!
END #7: Under significant threat from the Scott rink, Nixon has a terrible miss, with a totally lucky outcome, a freeze, entirely unintended, against a Scott rock. Scott herself then misses and basically blasts all her own stones from the house except the shooter. Two wrongs have made a big right for Kleibrink. After some more bare competence (at this level) Kleibrink scores two to lead 8-4.
END #8: More dumb luck for Kleibrink, and a miss by Scott, give Kleibrink a steal of one. 9-4.
Scott keeps fighting but succumbs in the tenth. Bernard-Holland ends up in a measurement and Bernard wins by a whisker.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Roar of The Rings - Draw 1 Live-Blog - Ends 6-on

End #6:
Wow have I seen worse TV coverage? We enter ends with many rocks in play, the TSN team choose not to name the members of the Holland team. I have three of their names now, but may never learn the name of the lead, as her rocks are gone by the time the ads are over. I am building a list of the advertisers as I really do not like this.
And indeed all Holland lead rocks in play. This is horrible. I loathe it.
OK empty house with the first Officer rock to come. She drops a center guard. Tammy Schneider peels. Officer pust up another guard. The peel attempt leaves a rock out front and Overton gets sort of behind it. Sorry - missed some shots (I have a life) but Overton leaves a rock in the eight foot at roughly nine o'clock and open. It gets peeled and Jones tries to get in behind a Holland guard out front at 1 o'clock, but it is pretty wide open. Holland hits and rolls into the open at 11 o'clock in the front of the eight-foot. Jones hits and rolls past cover. Holland blanks.
END #7:
My fault this time - caught up in Lady Gaga, figuring the end would be over before TSN returned. And in fact I am right to a degree - this is major yammering going on while play goes on. Does TSN think actual curling is boring and therefore we should have almost brain-dead chatter instead of actual coverage of play with, like, the names of the players?
This is awful.
Two Jones rocks in the house, one Holland rock in between, all roughly vertically alingned on the center. No guards out there at the moment. Officer guards. Tammy Schneider peels. (The front Jones rock is roughly on the button.) Overton guards. Kim Schneider chips out the front Jones rock and sticks! Overton gets a rock to the front eight, behind a Jones rock in front of the house I did not notice. But it is not buried. Kim S puts a beauty in front of the other team rocks, in the front of the eight foot. Jones hits but really does not clean up much - her shooter is open and Holland has two counting rocks (though they are side by side) behind the Jones rock. Holland puts a rock into the four-foot. Jones clears out the second and third Holland rocks; Holland draws for two. She leads 6-3 and still TSN has not told me the name of her lead!
END #8:
Ms. Kalenchuk! Outscoring Askin by miles! First name please?
OK we have Holland rocks in the front of the house, eight and four foot. There is a Jones rock off to the side. And Officer now puts one out in front of the house at left (there is another at right). Holland clears the left guard and rolls over to sit in front of her other center-line rocks. Officer drops a rock into the house, just behind the T-line, at around 4pm in the four foot. Whatever the plan. Holland peels the left front guard. Housecleaning going on. Overton fails to bury a rock. Holland picks it out. Jones tucks a nice hot in to the back of the eight foot behind cover. Holland slightly misses. Joes draws for two. WOW!
END #9:
It's like watching track and field when you rejoin the CBC coverfage in the 1500 and they have already run 800 meters. Rejoining and end with rocks in play is extremely annoying, and this is TSN, who love to claim to serve fans. Jones has a pile ov center line rocks - including one at the front of the four-foot, flanked by Holland rocks. Tammy S just peeled a front guard. Replaced by Officer. Tammy makes a slightly flukily great shot clearing most of the Jones rocks from play. Jones tosses up a center line guard. Overton almost freezes to the Holland rock in the back of the eight foot. Kim Schneider clears that and their own rock - but that is a win. Jones gets her weight wrong and her rock sails by all planned acquaintances. Holland drops a rock into the four foot but goes a tad too deep. Jones deposits a stone in front of the four foot, with Holland stones backing, and it seems she may be shot. Holland thinks not and plans to draw to the button for two. Perfect!! Two for Holland.
END #10: We are into running out of rocks.
Heather Kalenchuk! That is the lead's name, and a fine cross-cultural name it is. Thanks at last, TSN.
I'll take notes if this starts looking other than a foregone conclusion. And that will not happen. Holland 8-5.

Roar of The Rings - Draw 1 Live-Blog

Key point here is that there are only eight teams so each round-robin match has great significance. Falter once and you may be gone.
And this actually raises my first question. There will be ten teams at the Olympics. Would it not make a lot more sense to have the Canadian Trials mirror the likely upcoming competition - that would mean ten teams, and the same schedule? Why did the CCA (I assume) choose this odd format?
Theory #1. This is 20% cheaper.
Please offer other theories.
I was once a track and field coach and I always thought that the brilliant thing about the US Track and Field Olympic Trials was that they mirrored the Olympic schedule perfectly. Now the US was likely the one country that could do that; but surely Canada is that country in curling.
First draw on TSN is Jennifer Jones versus Amber Holland. Woo-hoo! I am so excited.
END #1:
First Holland rock to back of the eight-foot, Askin goes through the house. Holland puts a center guard in the twelve foot. Askin peels. Another guard in the twelve foot. Officer peels. This one heads into the four-foot. Officer punches the guard into the back rock, which rolls over to the side of the house. Holland team punch out Officer's rock, and leave the shooter up front. Overton misses the double, leaving her rock out front. Team Holland kills Overton's rock, and also her own rock, sticking out front. Overton peels the front rock, and leaves the house. Holland sits in the four foot. Jones hits and rolls over into the eight foot. Holland removes that rock and moves to the four foot. Jones fails to blank the end, hits and sticks.
1-0 Jones - Holland takes on the hammer.
(I apologize to the individuals on the Holland team - I am learning your names.)
END #2:
(Meanwhile Lawton scores 2 in the first over Scott. Bernard-McCarville blank in the first. Kleibrink down one after one.)
And dammit - we are many rocks into the second end! What the hell?! In the Roar of the Rings, TSN does not give a crap?
Let me wait until it makes sense to describe but I am peeved. All the advertisers will get nastygrams from me.
Jones rock in the back of the eight-foot, a number of Holland rocks up front on the right. Officer tucks a rock in almost behind those just behind the T-line. Nice Holland team shot, clearing one of the up-front rocks and rolling to the other side of the house. Overton kills the rolled-over rock. Big Holland team miss - they punch a Jones rock over and lose the shooter, not as planned.
Why is TSN not mentioning the names of the players on the Holland team? Did they forget to pick up the media package?
Holland punches some rocks out of the house. Jones leaves a thinnish double. (I wish I could describe this better but TSN is being silly.) Holland makes the double beautifully. Jones hits - hit and stick for two for Holland. Meanwhile Kelly Scott makes a very great shot for 1 to go down 2-1 to Lawton.
Holland hits and sticks for 2, so 2-1.
Editorial comment - TSN got broadcast rights, and Doc and I did not get media passes? Oops - forgot - CTV has a lot of money (despite what they tell the CRTC).
END #3:
Rocks in play again! What sort of braidcast contract is this - advertise at your ill? Certainly not a fan-friendly one. Wonder if I could take this to the CRTC.
After first rocks we have one of each in the house. Jones rock removed by Holland's second. (HEY TSN - DO THE HOLLAND PLAYERS HAVE NAMES??)
Jones tosses up a guard, the unnamed Holland second drops in behind it.
The Jones freeze merely taps the Holland rock out a bit and sits. Lost track of some shots but Jones freezes to a Holland rock at 9 o'clock. Holland's third (still unnamed) comes up short and taps the front guard and joins it.
Overton makes a fine hot to sit on top of the two shots behind guard at 9 o'clock
Holland gos too deep, to back of the twelve-foot. Jones comes and sort of sits on the back rock. (Meanwhile McCarville draws for 2 to go up 2-1 over Bernard.)
Holland clears all teh back rocks but that leaves Jones an interesting shot for at least two. Jones misses big time and gives away a steal of one!
HEY CCA - send a media package up to TSN with the names of the players on Holland's team! I am sure they are asking.
END #4:

This is sad. No end starts without rocks in play. TSN Seems to have no idea of the names of the players on the Holland team. What bad joke is this?
Rocks in play again. I almost give up! Holland rock at the fron to the four-foot, guards in front. Askin's (we all know her name) second rock tucks in at the top edge of the twelve. Lots of action up front. Let's see what happens and then I can try to describe it. Holland asks for more piling up out front. Officer does MAJOR house-cleaning - still some guards out front but nothing much left behind. Tammy Schneider (yes, a name!) slightly misses. Officer goes too deep behind a bunch of Holland rocks out front around 11 o'clock. And now Kim Schneider (a name!) removes an open Jones rock at 3 pm. Overton hits that and rolls beautifully behind the Holland rocks out front. Kim Schneider sits on a Jones rock at the back of the eight foot. Overton is light and leaves herself at the front of the house. (Meanwhile Scott steals two in the fourth and leads 3-2 over Lawton.) Holland puts a rock on the button, well guarded. It seems to have gone a tad too deep. Jones is heavy and goes through the house. Holland goes into the eight-foot, almost inviting a double attempt from Jones, though the risk is self-destruction of a high degree. Jones misses totally, so Holland has another steal and leads 4-1.
END #5:
Oh for heaven's sake! They interview Jones while more rocks go into play. I almost give up.
We have two Holland rocks in the house, and a left guard from Jones. Officer puts a guard up on the right. Tammy Schneider (now that they told me her name) clears that and goes away. Overton tucks a rock away behind one of their guards on the left side of the house, not yet scoring. Kim Schneider kills the guard but there is a jam and she leaves a Jones rock on the left behind the remaining rock. Well, not quite behind. Overton hits and stick nicely on a Holland rock in the four foot. Kim Schneider htis and sticks, missing the planned double. Overton hits and rolls, implications not clear. (Scott and Lawton go to the break at 3-3.) Holland hits Jones' scorer, but also leaves the house. Jones sort of tucks in behind a corner guard. Holland clears teh guard, missing her planned double, leaving Jones a draw for two. And she gets it. 4-3 Holland at the break.
END #6:

Saturday, December 05, 2009

My pick to be Canada's representative to the Olympics

As Alan says in the previous posting, and as we have been noting for the past four years, we expect that the curling we will see for the next week will be the best curling in the world. Canada has so many teams that could compete well and be likely to win the gold at the Olympics. Furthermore, there will be more than one team from some provinces, whereas in the Scott and the Brier only one team can represent each province or territory.

Unfortunately, my day job will keep me from watching many of the draws, as will some travel. At one point, Alan and I had hoped we could report live from the event in Edmonton, but we were unable to secure media passes because we not been full-time journalists for the past year. But more on that later....

Meanwhile, I would like to offer my predictions as to who will win and maybe some thoughts on which team I think might best represent Canada at the Olympics.

Since the women start first on Sunday, I will begin with them. I have no idea who will win this. Not a clue. Kelly Scott came so close four years ago, and her rink has been superb over the years, but they seem to have slipped a bit lately. The Kleibrink rink actually looks better than they did four years ago, and they have a good chance. The Jones rink has been solidly good for most of the past few years. I will be a bit surprised, but only mildly, if one of these three teams doesn't win the trials. But several of the others would likely be just as good at representing Canada in Vancouvre. My pick will be Scott, but with 8 highly qualified teams in the running, I give them about a 15% chance of winning, which is only a bit higher than random! Whoever wins will surely have their hands VERY full trying even to medal at the Olympics.

On the men's side, it looks like a real fight between the Howard and Martin rinks, with Stoughton and Ferbey as close contenders. I expect that Simmons or Koe would also do an adequate job of representing Canada. The real dark horse is Gunnlaugson; I'm really looking forward to seeing him curl again. I'm willing to bet beer (at even odds) that Middaugh's rink will not be the Canadian representative at the Olympics. My pick: Howard, but I'm really expecting to see some fine and fun curling over the week.


Fasten Your Seat Belts - Roar of the Rings

The Olympic Trials in Curling for Canada start tomorrow. The eight top teams for men and women, election unencumbered by provincial origins (in fact, the teams need not have members from the same province, if I interpret the Gushue team from 2006 correctly), making this likely the best Canadian tournament of the season.
I expect we'll be there. I know I will be racing home for the first match.