Friday, February 26, 2010

Disappointing: Two Blown Chances for Gold

The women curlers from Canada had two chances to win the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, but Bernard didn't make either shot, and Sweden repeated as gold medal winners.

What a sinking feeling. One can easily understand how silver medalists don't look so happy on the podium, especially when they know they could (and should?) have won the gold.

In the tenth end, Bernard had a hit for the win, but didn't quite curl enough and jammed the Swedish rock, allowing Norberg to tie the game. As an addendum, it looks as if the official scorers decided that Canada out-curled Sweden, but it sure didn't look that way to me.

The extra end got away from Canada, but Bernard had a pretty straight-forward double for the win. Again, her shot was just on the wrong side of the nose of the Swedish stone, leaving a steal of one for Sweden.

Well, neither Alan nor I thought Bernard's rink would win the gold. We both thought the Chinese rink would win gold, but they took the bronze.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Olympics Women's Semi - Switzerland-Canada

Omigosh - what a great shot by Mirjam Ott in the tenth end. She lies two behind a mess of rocks out front, having navigated a hole. Great brushing lets Bernard remove one of the Swiss rocks. But Ott's shooter spills and it will be Canada-Sweden.
Sad - I find it easy to forget but Miriam Ott has been one of the great players of the last many years.

A Curious Decision

Doc and I have not been live-blogging Olympic curling on the sensible grounds that if you can read this blog you probably can get the live feed from the Olympic site.
For some reason MacLean's Magazine, a commercial enterprise part of the Rogers empire, is live-blogging. A chacun son gout.
Mind you, the live-blog is rather flippant and not very analytical.
UPDATE: If that is what MacLeans has to offer, they won't be missed.

This is Stressful

With Canada-Switzerland on CTV and China-Sweden on Sportnet, it is extremely difficult to get breaks (unlike Doc, I mercifully lack a day job). And it is very hard for my small brain to keep up with both matches, though the remote that lets me toggle between the channels is a bit of a help.
The Chinese and the Swedes seem to like complexity more than the Canadians and Swiss, though both ssecond ends were interesting.
I notice that the Chinese skip calls 'Hard', which I suspect is not Mandarin.
UPDATE: Even the groupthink on this blog can be really wrong. China did not even come close to making the women's final. And for me, the Scottish men are now long gone.

slow, jerky, pixelated
but better than nothing

My day job has me trapped in the office today, so I'm watching Canada vs. Switzerland in the women's curling semi-finals of the 2010 Olympics via this link:

It is far from great, but it sure beats the alternative (nothing). One interesting observation: the section with the stats seems to be about 30 seconds or more ahead of the video! [update: actually more like a 2-5 minute lag between the two --- that is really bizarre!]

[btw, best regards to all who found their way to this site over the past few days...]

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I have never seen this - both teams down to the wire in the time clock.
Murdoch draws to an extra end! Damn! Bones is starting up in five minutes,

Kathy Gauthier Steps In

Silly TSN commenter talks as if Sweden has last rock in the tenth end.
Kathy Gauthier very generosly and delicately reminds us Scotland has the hammer in the tenth end.

Why are the 12-Foot Rings Green?

Is there a real reason or is this a stupid affectation? Did I miss reading some new announcement?

Hair - GB versus Sweden

One skip seems to have the hair od a Chia pet and the other one I cannot fathom.


SwissSweden-GB tiebreaker is really quite a match. I wrote GB off an hour ago. They just keep stealing. Great aggressive play.


I predicted a good fate for Murdoch in the Olympics, and against my principles.
My principles look pretty good now, as neither Scottish Great Britain team has distinguished itelf much, despite being all-star selections.
The women's team does not even make the playoffs, and the much-vaunted men's team seems now on the verge of losing a tiebreaker, and thus will not make the playoffs.
Bureaucratic meddling with team formation is not so likely to produce good results. I feel good about that principle, and wish I had believed in it more when making my predictions. (BTW I do not know whether all the other countries are actually bureaucratically selected all-star teams - I know only that Canada's team is not.)
And we're only at five ends in.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Norwegian King to Model Argyle Curling Pants

Those pants are really popular. Even the King of Norway will sport a pair soon.

The Norwegian team is giving a pair of its trademark eye-popping pants to King Harald, who is slated to be in the audience Tuesday for his country’s final round-robin game at the Olympics. Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud talked to the King over the phone recently.

“I said what if the Norwegian curling team wanted to give you some curling pants? Would you accept them?” Ulsrud explained. “He said ‘Sure, they’re the coolest pants I’ve ever seen.’

“So just because we have some funny pants we get to hang out with the King or Norway and give him some pants and have some laughs with him that would be awesome.” ...

“Of course we knew when we put on these pants it was going to attract some attention,” Ulsrud said.

“We thought this could be good for curling in Norway but I would never dream that we would just hang out with the king and be wearing the same pants and could say — ‘Hey you look cool, King.’”


Hey, Ray! What Do You Mean by "Amateur"?

During the US-Canada curling game at the 2010 Olympics, Ray Turnbull (whom Alan and I had a chance to chat with briefly a few years ago), pronounced that Canada's curlers are amateurs.

Huh??? they win prize money, they obtain all sorts of sponsorship, and they do ads capitalizing on their status. These folks are professionals.

I think what Ray meant was they are not full-time professionals and they do not receive gubmnt funding, at least not directly.

You know what? I do a bit a acting and a bit of blogging and happen to earn a bit of extra money from my acting. Does that mean I'm an amateur economist?

Despite what my colleagues might argue, I don't think so.


Curling Percentages Going into Monday's Draw

Two things stand out for me in the stats for the women's curling at the 2010 Olympics.
  1. Despite all their close games and despite last night's loss in the extra end, Canada still has a slightly higher overall curling percentage than the other teams.
  2. The teams are quite close overall in curling percentages. The rest of the competition should be close and exciting!
TeamsRound ->123456789AVG


2USAUnited States70797682827483


5GBRGreat Britain74706880728077







The spread is noticeably wider among the men's teams. And given their outfits, I just have to love the overall performance of the Norwegian men curlers!

TeamsRound ->123456789AVG



4GBRGreat Britain73848081867287




8USAUnited States78747576778276




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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Curling Percentages

Wow! After two ends in the Canada vs. China game, Darbyshire is curling 44%, Bernard is curling 56%, and the others are only in the 60s. Not surprisingly, Canada trails China 3-0 after two ends and will have to improve a lot to win this game (but isn't that what Canada has done so often in previous games!).

Update: Well, the Canadian shooting percentages certainly improved during the game. Unfortunately some serious misses by the front end in the 10th meant that Canada had to fight to get one in the 10th, leaving China with the hammer in the 11th and a win. Canada's first loss, but we cannot really expect the team to have been lucky enough to win all the close games.

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Sponsorship for Olympic Curlers (and other athletes?)

As I have watched the curling from the 2010 Olympics, I have heard several of the commentators tell us that so-and-so from such-and-such country is a full-time curler. S/he is sponsored by their gubmnt and unlike Canadian curlers does not have to have another job to support themselves. There is always a whinging, wistful tone to such pronouncements, suggesting that in Canada we should also provide gubmnt financing for our top curlers.

I find this tone and its implications offensive for two important reasons:

  • It ignores the considerable sponsorship and prize money for curling that is provided by the private sector in Canada. Top curlers earn an acceptable (though probably not luxurious) living when their winnings and sponsorships are added up. This private support for curling in Canada is monumentally greater than the private support for curlers in other countries.
  • If the gubmnt were to provide support for Canadian curlers, who should receive that support? Only the top teams? If so, how might the gubmnt bureaucrats determine which are the best teams? And keep in mind that the fourth best team in Alberta could well be considerably better (and more likely to win on the international level) than the best teams from some of the other provinces. Gubmnts are notoriously bad at "picking winners" in other industries, and I see no reason for them to be any more successful at picking winners in sports.

In fact, one might well argue that one of the several reasons for Canadian success in curling (aside from years of practice and inculcation) is that curlers in Canada must compete for sponsorship and prize money. Those who aren't very good don't receive much money; those who are better tend to receive more money. There is a huge incentive to improve one's game.

I doubt if these arguments would apply to all Olympic sports, but they certainly are important when discussing sponsorship for curlers (and probably most other sports for which private sponsorship and prize money are sizable).

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Friday, February 19, 2010


The Danish women's curling team is wearing skirts in tonight's game against Canada at the 2010 Olympics. I don't remember noticing them in a previously televised game. And I didn't realize any women's curling teams still wore skirts. Interesting...


"How Proud Are You?"

Geez I really hate personal interest stories during the Olympics. I especially detest interviews with family members of the athletes. One I just heard was really typical of the dumber questions asked:

"How proud are you of _____'s performance?"

Once, just once, I wish someone would say, "Not much."

To the media: please show us the shots.


Sex Sells: The Nude Women of Curling Calendar

Once again we have noticed a dramatic increase in traffic to this blog and to Curling, where I co-blog with Alan Adamson. With a few seconds of checking, we discovered that the higher traffic is not to read our brilliant insights, but is from people searching for the "Nude Women of Curling Calendar". Our friend, John Chilton, has sent us several recent links that mention the calendar; I guess the mention of the calendar elsewhere helps explain the sudden spurt of interest in the calendar and the searches that have led people to our sites.

We appreciate the traffic and the interest, and we appreciate the searches that people have made to find this artful work. At the same time, we hope all our visitors will look around and re-visit us for other reasons, too.

as if.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mercy Rule at the Olympics?

Hooper asks in a comment to a previous posting,
... what is the minimum number of required ends before conceding? (This CAN-FRA blowout has a few people curious now.)
I have no idea, but the big lead Canada has over France made me wonder, too. Does anyone know? To be honest, I switched to Law & Order UK until Hooper's comment came through on my laptop....

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How Long Can Clutch Curling Go On?

Again, the Canadian women's curling team at the 2010 Olympics pulled out another victory with their last shot. Wow! They shouldn't get themselves into these situations, but it sure is exciting!

I haven't checked, but I suspect their curling percentages are lower than their record might suggest; or put differently, it is likely their 3-0 record is better than one might expect, given their comparative curling percentages.


Norwegian Men's Curling Pants -- More

As I watch this morning's draw between Canada and Sweden, I notice every once in awhile from the adjoining sheet that the Norwegian men curlers are wearing argyle pants, but today's have a red base instead of the white base that appears in all the photos. Does anyone have a good photo of the red ones that we can use?

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Canada vs. Sweden at the Olympics

If you aren't watching it now, go to a TV or find it on the internet. The first three ends of the men's round robin match between Canada and Sweden at the 2010 Olympics have already featured some absolutely amazing shots! This is so much fun!!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Apology

Hi it's Alan. You might reasonably have expected me to be live-blogging some of the Olympic curling. And I am sure I will get to it. But I actually am not sure how I feel still about curling being part of the Olympics, and the Olympics allow me to watch weird stuff I am not used to and I cannot do that and live-blog the curling.
So give me some time to decide I'd rather watch curling! It will happen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lots of Credit Due to CTV/TSN

Well, after my whiney, whingey posting this morning (since deleted!) in which I complained about the lack of coverage of curling during the 2010 Olympics (a mistake due solely to my misreading the time zones), I now see that CTV is featuring the Canada-Norway game and TSN is featuring the Britain-Sweden game!

This is terrific coverage of curling at the Olympics!

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The Norwegian Harlequins

The harlequin pattern on their slacks should not be mistaken as representing any of the other aspects of harlequin-ism. (photo from TSN)


Monday, February 15, 2010

When Will I See the Norwegians?

First draw has Canada against Norway; I think I will see them tomorrow afternoon.

Hoping the Norwegian Men's Team Gets Featured in one of the Draws

As it seems they may be interesting to look at.
Team member Christoffer Svae, who helped kit out the team, was also the inspiration behind the Norwegian team wearing pink belts at some tournaments last year.
"There are no rules against the pants, but there may be after this," admitted Svae.

No Controversy Here, Sorry to Say

I am afraid my picks are the same as Doc's and for much the same reason.
Maybe some back-up suggestions just to make it more interesting.
My second men's pick would be the Murdoch Scottish Great Britain rink (despite the means of their selection).
On the women's side, maybe I'd lean to Bernard.

My Picks to Win the Gold

Here are my picks for who will win the gold medals in curling at the 2010 Olympics:
  • For the men, I pick the Kevin Martin rink, representing Canada. They have been very good for the past decade or two, and they looked awesome in the Olympic trials.
  • For the women, I pick Wang and her rink from China. I make this choice with some disappointment and hope that I'm wrong. But Wang looked excellent and improving last year at the world championships; and no matter how good Cheryl Bernard looked at the Olympic trials, she and her rink didn't look like world-beaters there.
My picks are not much different from those of the odds makers:
It may not be as popular as hockey in Canada but curling is a sport that Canadians love and the men’s team is the favorite in Curling odds at 8/11 to win the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics while the women’s team is almost even money. Britain is the second choice in men’s curling odds at 4-1 while Norway is 5-1. ...
On the women’s side, ... Canada is a slight favorite at 7/4 at online sportsbooks while China is 15/8. Sweden and Switzerland are 8-1; Denmark is 10-1 while Great Britain is 12-1. Longshots include Germany and the United States at 20-1.
Addendum: Let me add that while I really enjoy considering the odds provided at various gambling sites, I personally do not gamble at these sites (or anywhere, actually), and I do not recommend using them for anything other than information. Friendly side-bets are another story.


Olympic Curling Schedule

When I get home this evening, I am going to print this out and stick it on the fridge:


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

US Women's Olympic Curling Team

I'm trying to do a little pre-Olympic research and discovered some lovely things about the US Women's team skipped by Debbie McCormick. Surely I knew this and forgot it but Debbie is Canadian-born, from Saskatoon! No wonder she does so well!
Moreover, her favorite band is 'The Counting Crows'. I have a cousin who plays for them, and I like my cousin but I don't much care for the band (he has been in much better if less successful bands).
The vice-skip, Allison Pottinger, is from Brampton, also in Canada!
The team coach, Wally Henry, is from Portage La Prairie, also in Canada.
Maybe I'll cheer for these guys.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Two of My Favorite Enthusiasms

...are combined in one press release!

HBO Notices Curling

In my mail:




With the Winter Games in Vancouver just days away, REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL presents an Olympic-themed program when its 155th edition, available in HDTV, debuts TUESDAY, FEB. 9 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), an hour earlier than usual, exclusively on HBO.

Segments include:

*Sweep This! If you’ve ever watched the Winter Olympics on TV and wondered how a bunch of people sliding rocks across the ice and sweeping with brooms became a sport, let alone an Olympic sport, you’re not alone. While curling hasn’t exactly gone mainstream here in the United States, it’s a national obsession north of the border. REAL SPORTS correspondent Bernard Goldberg travels to Canada to see what all the excitement’s about and visits Duluth, Minn., to take an inside look at the sport with a bartender, substitute teacher, construction worker and parole officer, aka the U.S. Olympic Curling team. Interviews include: U.S. Curling team members – John Benton, Phil Drobnick (coach), Jeff Isaacson, Chris Plys, John Shuster and Jason Smith; Toronto Globe columnist Bob Weeks; Canadian curler Glenn Howard; Ice maker Mark Shurek; amateur curler Eleanor McKitrick.

Producer: Tim Walker.

REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL has won the Sports Emmy® for Outstanding Sports Journalism 12 of the last 14 years, in addition to being the first sports program honored with the duPont Award for excellence in broadcast journalism.

The executive producers of REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL are Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein; Kirby Bradley is senior producer.


Monday, February 08, 2010

Sunday February 7 in Canadian Curling

The Scotties: I got home during the ninth end of the Team Canada-PEI match, and while I had my heart out to the underdog PEI, I found myself full of respect for Jennifer Jones' team's unwillingness to quit, and to fight back with a series of steals, as well as a very nice shot in an extra end to represent Canada again at the Worlds. It was very nice to see the PEI response - high-fiving, and to hear Kathy O'Rourke say that she was proud her team had done all they could.
I was very impressed with their very impressive call on the last rock in the tenth. It was gutsy, and only a fool would say it cost them the championship; they must have known an extra end with Jones having the hammer was not a great prospect.

The Ontario Tankard: One thing I failed to mention. Howard did not lose a single match. Of course Ontario is not Alberta, but still .....

Sunday, February 07, 2010

2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts - Extra End
Team Canada Wins!

Carmody really pushed the hammer out on her last shot of the 10th end. PEI was shot, so that rock scored. Now CAN has the hammer and better-than-even odds to repeat as champs. Let's see how they play it.

Through ten ends, Jones out-curled Carmody, but overall PEI out-curled CAN by 5 percentage points.

  • centre guard by PEI's Affleck
  • draw around it to top full 8 by CAN's Askin
  • draw around to back full 8 by Affleck
  • tap CAN rock to top 4, leave CAN shooter in 8
Nuts. lost some of what I'd written.

Guards are gone with the second's stones. Ramsay puts up a sentre guard. CathyO peels it. Another guard from Ramsay. CathyO peels it. Carmody guards with her first stone (a slight tap might have caused problems for CAN). CAN takes a time out. Jones wants to draw to the edge of the top 4 and convinces the rest of the team of the efficaciousness of the strategy.

The Jones draw is about 3" too deep, setting up a possible draw/freeze for Carmody, which would likely lead to a steal and a win for PEI. She didn't freeze it (a tad heavy), though, leaving a similar tap for Jones to win. Jones picks it and wins.

Team Canada three-peats in a very impressive come-back!

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Ontario Tankard

Won by Glenn Howard 5-3; there were no deuces. Too bad I could not watch it/

2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts - Conclusion

PEI leads 6-4 with the hammer going into the last three ends, and they are out-curling CAN 83% to 72%. The really big difference (in contrast to the Page 1-2 playoff) is that Carmody is out-curling Jones 89% to 71%.

End #8: CAN has two centre guards, one really long. PEI has two in the top of the rings. CAN nudges a PEI rock next to the other and rolls to the edge of the house. PEI removes the long guard. Nice tap-back by Jill Officer, who has struggled with draw weight today. PEI removes the tight guard, so we're left only with rocks in the rings. CathyO puts up a centre guard, which is peeled by PEI. CAthyO draws to the back 4 and is shot. Ramsay tries a double, but gets only one CAN rock, opening up the rings a bit, though. So Jones puts up a guard. Carmody tried to tap back the CAN shot rock, but just moved it over behind cover a bit more. Jones makes a beauty draw around the guards to sit just past the t-line biting the button, sitting 2. The pressure is on Carmody to make a really good tap, but it went too far. Steal of one for CAN.
PEI 6, CAN 5 and PEI still has the hammer.

End #9: Well I really didn't expect CAN to bounce back at all, and now they're almost back in it. If they can force PEI to take one this end, they'll be down two with the hammer coming home.

After the standard opening, Officer wrecks on a guard and drifts to the back 12'. PEI peels the long guard. Officer crashed again, setting up two corner guards. PEI hits and sticks on the CAN guard at the back of the house. CathyO doubles off the two PEI stones at the top of the house. Ramsay pushes the CAN rock back, where it jams at the back of the house. Now CAN can try to force PEI to take one. CathyO draws to the right side of the rings. Ramsay doesn't get as much roll as she wanted after her hit but lies one. Near nose hit by Jones to stick as shot. Carmody looked a little shaky in the hack, hits and is wide open. Jones has a hit and roll to make PEI draw for one. Let's see if that's what happens. Nose hit. Now PEI can't nose hit and score, so PEI must draw, but she's way light and give up a steal of two! What a switcheroo!
CAN 7, PEI 6

Last End???
Who'd a thunk CAN would be ahead going into the 10th end? I know they have great skills, but PEI seemed to be rolling. Now PEI has the hammer and must score 2 to win.

CAN puts a rock in the rings and a tight guard. PEI has a long corner guard. Then Affleck taps the CAN rock back and sits on the button. Officer hits and rolls, just a bit shy of being behind cover. O'Rourke ticked the shot rock rather than move it. Another guard by CAN. Run-back by PEI essentially removes a CAN guard. CathyO puts up another guard, leaving a small port for Ramsay to try to fit through to remove CAN shot rock. She did it and rolled a couple of inches. CathyO will try to follow her down, does, but the shooter rolls to the side 12. Ramsay draws to the button. What a time for Ramsay to pull through with two really good shots!!

PEI has shot rock on the button behind a long-ish CAN guard. Jones tries to follow Ramsay down but is just a tad light. So PEI takes a time out with a rock on the button; CAN has rocks biting the top 4, full side 8, and full side 12. Even if PEI is forced to take one this end, the advantage swings to CAN, who would have the hammer in an extra end.

I'm not sure I agree with the PEI choice to draw to the edge of the four, but if they make this shot, they'll be sitting two. They hit the red in the 8, but don't get a roll, so they're sitting 1-3. Now CAN calls time out and is discussing a possible double or hit and tap. huh? Their rock, which is 2nd shot, is fully buried, so a tap will be really tough. Meanwhile a draw through the port would be tough, too. After another time-out, they decide on the tap, hoping it will maybe become shot or at worst block the paths to the button for PEI.

Meanwhile, Carmody admits to being pretty nervous.

Well the tap didn't get the rock to shot, but it'll make it VERY hard for PEI to get two. Whoa, are they talking about trying a double to win? It's a risky shot, but it probably beats taking one this end and trying to steal in an extra end. I'm not sure it's there, and they risk moving their own shot rock. Probably worth the chance at this stage.

What a miss by Carmody! A complete flash, giving PEI one, so we'll have an extra end.
CAN 7, PEI 7

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2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts - Final, Part II

PEI is out-curling CAN 78% to 76% (not a big difference). The lowest percentage so far is Cathy OC at 59% (some of which is due to a pick in the first end). The skips are both curling at 84%.

End #5: CAN opens having Askin (CAN lead) put one on the top 8. Affleck (lead, PEI) answers with a corner guard that drifts very tight to the rings. Askin puts her 2nd rock top 12. Affleck tried a double, removed one, and drifted toward the corner guard. Officer over-curled and nudged the pei rock behind cover. PEI splits the rings in the back 8. Officer tries an impossible double and rolls to the button. Nose hit on that stone by O'Rourke. It strikes me that a nose hit is almost never good except for the hammer. Cathy OC returns the favour with a nose hit. Ramsay hits and rolls away from the other PEI rock in the rings. Nose hit by Cathy OC. Hit and roll even farther away by Ramsay. Jones hits and rolls a foot, wide open. Nose hit by Carmody to lie two. Jones would like a hit and long roll to corner freeze on the other PEI rock. About an eighth of an inch thick and rolled past the PEI rock. Linda says Jones and CathyO were calling different shots, one a freeze and one a double. Carmody draws for 2.
PEI 4, CAN 3. and at this stage do you think either of these teams can win gold at the Worlds?

Note to CCA and CurlCast: it is REALLY, REALLY annoying to have a bunch of crowd noise coming through my speakers when all I'm trying to do is look at curling percentages!

End #6: Speaking of curling percentages, PEI is out-curling CAN at every position through the first half of the game. Overall 81% - 75%. That's odd: TSN says the curling percentages are 80% - 76%.
PEI puts two in the rings, CAN a corner guard. But then Jones asks Askin to double off the PEI rocks, but she gets only one. Miss by Officer, leaves PEI well set, but O'Rourke is light. Officer doubles the guards. Centre guard by Ramsay, protecting the PEI rock that's biting the button. CathyO is thin, loses her shooter but doesn't quite remove the PEI stone. Ramsay draws too deep, leaving PEI with two in the back 12. Cathy O draws to the back 8 (too deep). Beautiful draw/freeze by Carmody bumped a bit but completely buried. Jones is wide with her freeze attempt and PEI is still shot. Another beauty draw by Carmody to bite the button, just clearing the guard. Jones has to draw to the button with some backing to salvage one, but despite the backing, she is light, giving up a steal of two.
PEI 6, CAN 3

End #7
The PEI rink has made me eat my words before, and it looks as if they might again. If they were to curl this well (especially Carmody) in the worlds, they'd have a good chance of medaling. But they still have to win this one to get to the worlds. So far, Jones seems perplexed. So does CathyO.

Once again a tonne of PEI rocks in the rings and failure by CAN even to establish guards.

... a tonne of personal stuff interrupted. But it sure looks as if PEI is dominating this end. Jones overcurls slightly and over-rolls with her first shot, leaving PEI sitting 2. Carmody's draw to the top 8 is a bit light, but PEI is still sitting 3. Jones has the hammer but must settle for a draw for one.
PEI 6, CAN 4

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2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts - Final, Part I

End #1: PEI has a bunch of guards as the skips ready to throw their rocks. Carmody (skip for PEI) tries for a double but removes only one. Jones (skip for Team Canada) hits and sticks when she wanted to roll behind a guard. Carmody gets the double on the second try. Team Canada has a draw to touch the 8' for one or a double attempt for a blank. Oops. She hit shot rock, but may not be shot herself. Had to measure twice, and Team Canada got one. Perhaps from now on, the umpires could be asked to keep their heads out of the camera line?
CAN 1, PEI 0

End #2:
omg, the vices curled 38% and 13% in the first end! Nice freeze by O'Rourke (2nd, PEI) to a CAN stone at the back of the house. Exchanged hits on rock at top 8'. Cathy Overton-Clapham [henceforth OC] smashes out a couple, followed by Ramsay clearing all but one from the rings. Exchange hits on rock at top 12'. Hit and roll by Jones. The end is set up for a blank by PEI. Hit and roll by Carmody. Hit and stick by CAN. Hit and roll out by Carmody to get the blank.
CAN 1, PEI 0

End #3:
PEI has a corner guard, CAN has a centre guard and a stone in the top 8', uncovered. O'Rourke hits and rolls beyond the corner guard in the side of the 12'. Officer (CAN 2nd) hit it, but rolled out. O'Rourke tries to draw around the corner guard but is partly open. Cathy OC wrecks on the guard, drifting to the other side. Ramsay tries to draw behind a guard but is wide open. Cathy OC tried to hit-and-roll, but is also wide open. Ramsay also hits and sticks. So Jones tries a hit and roll on the other PEI rock (which is shot rock), but rolls too far to be open and sits second shot. Carmody draws to the back 8'. At best a difficult double for CAN, so they opt to try a hit and roll (and not the freeze!). But Jones hit and rolled out, leaving a draw for 2 for PEI. Clearly Carmody has found her draw weight on this ice!
PEI 2, CAN 1

End #4:
The curling percentages are pretty even for the two teams, and the thirds are both up over 50% now 8-)

Does it seem to you that the PEI rink is big favourites of the TSN crew? Or maybe they're just enamoured of the new bunch.

Two corner guards by CAN, a PEI rock in the top 8, and centre guard by PEI. Nice draw around a guard by O'Rourke, Officer runs a guard back to remove one of the PEI stones in the house. O'Rourke misses a run-back but removes the guard. Perfect opportunity for CAN to hit and roll behind a couple of corners, but Officer (CAN 2nd) flopped a bit the wrong way, leaving a thin double for Ramsay. She's wide, gets one, and is open for Cathy OC to try the hit and roll, but she rolled out. Ray and Linda think the line call is bad on many of these missed shots.

Nose hit by Ramsay on the remaining CAN rock in the rings, for PEI to lie one. Nose hit on that rock by Cathy OC, still open. Nose hit by Carmody leaves a biter. Beauty hit and roll by Jones behind the two guards. Carmody's draw is a bit deep and open, but it is lying shot, so Jones must tap it back to score two.
CAN 3, PEI 2

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2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts - Final

From what we've seen, it certainly looks as if these are the two teams that belong in finals. PEI has looked very good (aside from a couple of early stumbles that misled me), and Team Canada has had only one really bad day, being solid otherwise.

Their earlier meeting was close. Carmody, the skip for PEI barely missed a number of shots.... shots that she seemed to make much more readily in the semi-final against Ontario. Today's final could be a challenge for both teams.

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Ontario Tankard Update

Bryan Cochrane, who had lost in the 1-2 Page playoff against Glenn Howard, will be playing Howard again in the 2pm final having handily won the semi-final just this morning.
Unfortunately (in one way) I'll see neither that match nor the Scotties final, preferring to go hear some music.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The 2010 Scott Semi-Finals:
PEI vs. Ontario, Conclusion

My guess is that ON needs to score more than one in the 8th end (while they have the hammer) if they want to have even a ghost of a chance against PEI.

End #8: Again, PEI starts with rocks in the rings and ON tries for corner guards. And again O'Rourke nose hits a guard, giving ON a chance to do more in the rings. 2nd time, she peels the guard. guard-peel, etc., again. Ramsay ticks on a corner guard, loses her shooter, and removes a PEI rock from the rings. Oops... the front end of ON called a George rock to be back 4', but it was top 4'. Set up a double for Carmody. Hit and roll attempt by McCarville, but the shooter either went too far or not far enough, sitting wide open and pickable. Beauty double by McCarville to score 2 and keep ON in the game.
PEI 8, ON 6

End #9:
Two rocks in the rings for PEI (one too deep) and two centre guards for ON. Freeze by ON to the PEI rock on the side of the 4'. PEI peels the guard. Miharija's draw attempt ticks on the guard, rolls over to the side 12'. PEI peels the guard. George puts up a guard, and PEI removes a rock from the rings. PEI lies 1, George draws around the guard to be shot rock. PEI removes the guard. McCarville puts up a near-centre guard, but PEI thinks they can knock out a couple of ON rocks. A knock-out and a top leave PEI sitting two. ON's play is a draw around the near-centre guard. 4' heavy and sweepers could have held up on it. That leaves Carmody a draw to the full 8' for one, or if she's bold, a slight tap-back for three. They settle for one.
PEI 9, ON 6

End #10:
ON has the hammer and must score three to tie and force an extra end. It's doable, but unlikely. The curling percentages have gotten closer (as reflected in the tighter score), and Carmody is curling over 90%, twenty percentage points more than McCarville!

Two guards by ON, two in the rings by PEI (which really bothers both Ray and Linda [colour commentators]). Both of them would prefer that PEI keep the rings clean. I have to agree. And once again O'Rourke, who has the lowest curling percentage on the ice for this game, noses the guard. So, to quote Doyle, "the game is afoot."

Hit and flop by George, but not quite far enough. Ramsay was wide with a pick, but got a very lucky double, making life pretty difficult for ON. George's draw ticks a guard and is wide open. Carmody hits and rolls out. Time out PEI.

As it is, PEI has shot in the top 8, ON has a rock in the top 12. ON needs to get rid of the PEI rock and score three. It'll take a miracle for them to pull this off. They freeze to their own, which is a pretty good strategy. If Carmody completely misses now, then ON can nose it and score 3. PEI decides to guard against this possibility, which will make life very miserable for ON. The guard is pretty tight. The only shot left for McCarville is to play a hard split so that her shooter barely slides in and the guard hits and rolls out and the momentum is high enough to move the two reds onto the yellow and drive it out. I don't know that I've seen her throw this much weight, but it sure is exciting to contemplate.

Nope. PEI steals one.

Final Score: PEI 10, ON 6

Digression: what a great day for sports couch potatoes tomorrow! Soccer in the morning at 11am, Scotties final at 2:30pm, and the SuperBowl at 6:30.

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The 2010 Scott Semi-Finals:
PEI vs. Ontario, Part II

Holy Crow! the bottom 3 for ON are all curling under 70%!! No wonder they're trailing. Also, they look emotionally beaten. I doubt if they can come back -- it would really be something if they do.

End #6:Corner guard by ON; two in the rings by PEI. Tap back by Maclean (ON lead) was a bit off but okay. PEI removes the ON rock in the rings. Draw by Miharija a bit heavy, lies between two PEI rocks in the 4' and is neatly picked out by O'Rourke. Miharija's second draw attempt is way light and leaves two guards for ON. PEI peels the centre guard, but why? leaving it would have made life hard for ON.

George freezes to a PEI rock but is only 3rd shot. But Ramsay flashes, sailing through a very narrow port. George tries to freeze to the other PEI rock on the button, but comes up waaayyy short, leaving a tight centre guard. And as PEI calls time-out, I'm going to replenish my scotch.

PEI decides to remove the only ON rock in the rings. Didn't remove it, but moved it over so that PEI lies 3. I heard part of the ON discussion, and I think they misread the angles a bit. They got a double but lost the run-back rock. Carmody draws to lie 2. At this stage, McCarville has to try to double for two to get back into the game. It's not a dead-sure double, though, but she makes it.
PEI 7, ON 4

End #6:
It's sad: they just showed the local sponsors for all the teams. They all had 4 sponsors listed except the Territories, who have only one local sponsor --- KFC Yellowknife.

Well, after that nice double by McCarville, is there a chance her confidence will return and ON can get back into the game?

ON tries to set up guards, but not successfully. guard-peel, etc. Horrible miss by O'Rourke: nose hit on the guard leaves her shooter as a guard, peels her own from the rings, and taps the ON rock over behind the guard.

George tries to draw behind the guard but is narrow and heavy, leaving a hit and flop for McCarville [I just reread this; I think I combined/confused the effects of 2 or 3 shots; sorry]. She opts to tap instead. Carmody taps the ON rock over, lies 2, but leaves a possible double or freeze by ON. ON chooses to freeze and does so beautifully, lying shot, forcing a draw for 1 by Carmody.
PEI 8, ON 4

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The 2010 Scott Semi-Finals:
PEI vs. Ontario, Part I

Ontario soundly defeated BC this afternoon by a score of only 6-4, but the back end of ON was noticeably better than that of BC for the 3-4 page play-off.

So now Ontario has a rematch with PEI in the semi-final. It will be VERY interesting to see which teams show up, since both of them have had games when they were really good and other games when they were worse than mediocre.

End #1: Maybe I'll get some of my carping out of the way now. I wonder what the day jobs are for the programmers for Curlcast. Surely full-time programmers wouldn't have created such a user unfriendly site (unless they were told to do so).

Hit and over-roll by ON, followed by an over-shot draw by PEI. Not an auspicious beginning. Two more draws that are a bit too deep. Double and roll by George (ON vice), but shot rock is wide open for a hit-and-roll, which was missed big time by Ramsay (PEI Vice). McCarville (Skip ON) under-curls with her guard attempt. Tap back by Ramsay leaves PEI shot, with a bunch of ON rocks at the back of the house. Nice tap by McCarville leaves ON sitting 2 or 3, forcing Carmody (skip, PEI) to draw to sit shot. The PEI team held their breaths, but the draw was good to the back of the button. McCarville tries to freeze but comes up a foot short. PEI is shot with a draw to the button for 2. Carmody has draw weight (finally?)
PEI 2, ON 0

End #2:
Oops. Work matters arose, requiring my attention. As I look at this end, they have just finished throwing vice stones, with one from ON in the top 12, exposed, and two other rocks over on the side in front of the house. Carmody hits and rolls away from the guards, leaving a biter on the edge of the 12'. McCarville hits and rolls over, but not quite behind the guards. Hit and flop by Carmody puts PEI partially behind a guard, forcing McCarville to draw for one.
PEI 2, ON 1

End #3:
I`m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I love the Capital One ad that combines all the holidays.

Nuts. More work to do. I`ll see how much I can get done. Nice tap by Carmody with her first rock, but it leaves a pocket for McCarville to freeze to. But McCarville is outside a bit and a bit light, leaving a hit for 4. But she missed slightly and scored ònly`three.
PEI 5, ON1

End #4:
As I am finally able to join the end in progress, they're on 2nd rocks. There are two corner guards, and two rocks in the rings. Miharija (ON 2nd) draws, but is wide open. Ramsay (PEI vice) hits it on the nose and sticks. George (ON vice) hits and slides slightly toward the centre. Another nose-hit-and-stick by Ramsay.

George wrecks on a guard, trying to draw. Carmody sort of buggers a shot, knocking one of the PEI rocks back and not removing the ON rock. McCarville has a very difficult tap back to lie 3. Too light: didn't get behind the guard with the shooter and didn't remove the PEI rock (still shot). Carmody tries to draw to split the rings, but drifts back too far, leaving a possible double for 3 for McCarville. A shade narrow and scored only one.
PEI 5, ON 2

End #5:
Two centre guards for ON, two in the house for PEI. Miharija's draw is a bit short, ending top 12. O'Rourke removes it and rolls to corner 12'. Miharija draws to the back 4 from the other side. O'Rourke peels the short guard. George puts up a tighter guard.

Small attendance again, compared with the crowds when this was held in London, ON.

Ramsay peels the long guard. George draws around the tight guard, and ON lies 2 for now. I can't figure out what Ramsay was trying to do as she shook up her own rocks in the house. Maybe trying to open the path to the button? Nevertheless, McCarville seems non-plussed. McCarville tries to draw around a PEI stone in the house, but again is a tad light and open. But PEI eschews the hit, opting for a Carmody tap back of their own instead. McCarville again was outside the broom (or else the broom was set out too far) and flashed on a classic angle raise. But Carmody made a perfect angle raise to score two.
PEI 7, ON 2

Break Time!

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Team Canada Wins the Page 1-2 Playoff

I got home in time to watch the last few ends as Jennifer Jones and the Team Canada rink defeated the PEI rink and Kathy O'Rourke. What I saw was a shaky Carmody throwing the skips stones for PEI, and I gather from both the commentary and the published stats that she barely missed a few shots, and that made the difference.

Tomorrow at 1pm EST, Kelly Scott and the BC rink will face Krista McCarville and the Ontario rink. The winner of that game will face PEI in the semi-final at 7pm, and the winner of the semi-final meets Team Canada Sunday afternoon (BEFORE the SuperBowl) for the championship and the right to represent Canada at the World Championships.


Tie-Breaker, Second Half

6th End: Pretty decent curling so far, but I would be VERY surprised if either of these teams could medal at the worlds. Meanwhile, being unaccustomed to bach-ing it (Ms. Eclectic is visiting relatives) I'm not messing with crock pots or what have you as might my co-blogger. Tonight it'll be 22 veggie eggrolls from a club pack.

Our cat seems to really enjoy watching curling, and likes it up close to the screen, making it difficult for me to see what's going on. Sorry.

MAN has shot rock and two guards; Miharija (2nd for ON) peels both guards and loses the shooter, too. ON has managed to clear things out pretty well after a messy beginning.

Coming in to this game, Phillips (MAN vice) had a substantially higher curling percentage than George (ON vice), but so far in this game, George is out-curling Phillips by 30 percentage points! Phillips wiffs, leaving ON sitting 2, then Thurston misses a double attempt, also leaving ON sitting 2. ON puts one on the t-line. Thurston needs a double or else ON will have a draw for three. She got one. McCarville has a hit for three.
ON 8, Man 3

7th End:
Ray and Linda are perplexed that ON hasn't thrown their rocks through the rings; instead ON begins with two in the 4' and the MAN front end of Westcott and Wilson puts up some guards, while Miharija tries to remove them. Oops, left her shooter as a guard on her 2nd shot.

I don't understand it (and neither do Ray and Linda) but ON had two touching the button behind a guard, and chose to peel the guard. I guess they just wanted to try to empty the house, but they certainly opened things up for MAN. But then after MAN taps 'em back a bit, ON puts up a guard... go figure. Maybe someone can offer an explanation in the comments?

Thurston tries triple whammy type run back but removes only one ON rock. ON guards such that Thurston will have a difficult time getting a second point. Thurston tries and angle tapback but whiffs on the target rock and removes her shot rock, giving ON a surprising steal of 2.
ON 10, MAN 3

End #8:
I guess if it weren't a tie-breaker for the play-offs, I'd have said it's over. And so we go back after a commercial and see that MAN agreed with me that they were not likely to come back.

Ontario wins, 10-3.

Alan is on tonight, covering Team Canada vs. PEI. Should be very good!



No, I'm not goofing off at home, watching the Scott Tournament of Hearts. I'm doing serious research for the course I teach on the Economics of Sports.

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Tie-Breaker, First Half

End #1: The teams played it cautiously, both seeming to get a feel for the ice. The one thing of note was that McCarville's first hit on a lone Manitoba stone in the rings rolled out, when she probably wanted to stick around; and then her second hit barely rolled out to give her the blank.
ON 0, Man 0.

End #2:
As the second end unfolds, Manitoba has two in the house, splitting the rings, with one partially behind a guard. If these keeps up, it's to Man's advantage because either they will steal one or ON will be forced to take one. But of course it doesn't keep up. ON tries to freeze to the shot rock, but bounces a bit. In turn Man also tries to freeze but also bounces.

Nice hit-and-roll by Tara George (ON Vice) to take out one Man stone and roll over behind the guard. Kristen Phillips (MAN Vice) jiggled the rocks around, but then George did another nice hit and roll the other way, to leave ON lying 3. Thurston pulls off a great double, leaving her shooter behind the guard and Man lies 1.

McCarville tries to freeze to the shot rock, but comes up about 4' short. Thurston puts up a pretty daunting guard. ON can draw for one, likely but opts to try a long run-back to score two or maybe even three. What an amazing shot! I was prepared to rag on her for taking such a big chance, but she made it!
ON 3, MAN 0

End #3:
MAN has a corner guard, ON two in the rings near the t-line; MAN's lead (Westcott) tries a tap back, but it doesn't really work. Hit and roll by ON, lying three. Hit and roll by Man. Hit and roll out by ON. So Man tries another tap back, this time with Wilson (Man 2nd) but it was a hit and stick instead. etc. etc.

George hits and rolls too far, setting up a draw behind the guard by Phillips. But it drifted back too far, allowing McCarville on her first shot to try to split the rings, but she came up about 6" short. Meanwhile Ray is just a tad condescending in his praise. I can just see him figuratively patting them on their heads.

Thurston has a great opportunity, but hits and rolls out too far to be 2nd shot, but the pressure is still on McCarville to make a good shot or else MAN will score 2. She tries to tap back her previous shot, but is on the centre-line side and rolls open. Hit and stick for two for MAN.
ON 3, MAN 2

End #4: Even with only one game on the ice, and no highlights from other games to show, TSN still manages to miss the opening shots. MAN starts with a centre guard, ON loses a couple and then ticks on the guard, so MAN has one in the top 8 plus a guard that they draw around but way too deep (back 12). Miharija hits and sticks; Phillips hits and rolls to the other side of the guard, which she missed by between 1/4 and 1/8 of an inch!

Hit and stick by Phillips that also removed the MAN rock at the back of the house. Hit and roll by George rolls about 80% buried behind the MAN guard. Run-back attempt by Thurston just misses. The contrast in appearance between Phillips and Thurston when they stand next to each other is quite striking, eh?

McCarville purposely puts her first shot in back corner 8', leaving a strategic hit-and-roll for Thurston, but she's wide of the broom, giving McCarville an open draw for two. Wow! Why wasn't MAN sweeping that one?? It was pretty darned deep! As Linda points out at the beginning of the 5th end. Ray says they couldn't have swept it out, but I'm not so sure.... it was really drifting.
ON 5, MAN 2

End #5:
Same as before: two in the house by ON, long corner guard by MAN, this time a successful tap-back by Westcott. ON removes the guard. Another tap-back by MAN, a bit firm. Miharija removes an ON and a MAN rock, along with her shooter, leaving two ON and one MAN in the house. MAN tries to draw up to one ON rock, but is about two feet short. ON neatly picks out a MAN rock. So MAN does another tap-back attempt, but ended up with a corner freeze to sit shot touching the button. George removes them both, leaving her shooter as shot. But MAN has 2nd shot and is in good shape to get a deuce. Except Phillips just ticks on her second shot, leaving ON sitting first and second shot.

Gotta love hearing the discussions of strategy! ON peels the back MAN stone. Thurston hits and taps to lie 1-2, leaving McCarville with a dicey double, but she missed the back stone, and so Thurston has a draw to the 8' for two, but she was light and scored only one.
ON 5, MAN 3

Break Time!


Tie-Breaker, Preview

This afternoon, the Scott Tournament of Hearts will feature a tie-breaker between Ontario (skipped by Krista McCarville) and Manitoba (skipped by Jill Thurston). At one point during the round robin, Ontario had the number one position, but slipped during the last few rounds.

By the end of the round robin, the two teams were tied with both an equal number of wins and losses, but identical cumulative curling percentages. It could be a close and exciting game.

At the same time, players on both teams have had good days and bad days. Although the teams have equal records, their performances have been highly variable.

Sure as shootin', some mediot will talk about the need for consistency from them. But of course what they really mean is better play, or consistently good play, not just consistency.

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The Dangers of Generalizing from Small Samples

Okay, okay. I was REALLY wrong this year. I saw a few draws early in the 2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts in which both PEI and Manitoba did not look all that good. I generalized from what I saw, and that led me to think these teams aren't very good.

Well those teams did pretty well. PEI ranked number 1 after the round robin, and Manitoba made it into a tie-breaker in the playoffs.

The thing I did get right, though yesterday I'd have thought even this was wrong, was the statement that Team Canada and the BC rink were both strong contenders.

Judging from their records mid-tournament, who'd have thought BC would place third and avoid a tie-breaker? Who'd have thought Team Canada would place 2nd and make the 1-2 page playoff? Probably lots of you readers. I was pretty skeptical, though.

Anyway, it will be fun. Unfortunately I'll have to miss a bunch of the draws: curling myself this evening and doing some acting for a film tomorrow afternoon. But I'll be checking scores as often as possible!

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Draw 16 - Woo-Hoo PEI Again - This Time Against Kelly Scott

It's the vets against the babies. PEI features two 21-year-old players in their first Scotties, Ramsay and Carmodon. Scott's team is one of Canada's greatest of the last several years. Who can ask for more - Scott must win to have a serious (any?) chance of making the playoffs. It is all too complicated for me.
They are now explaining things - 6-loss teams are out. But where the tiebreakers fit still seems confusing to me.

END #1 Fairly open. Carmody misses the open blank opportunity. 1-0 PEI and BC take the hammer.

There is much discussion of the scoring statistics. Russ Howard this morning had a profound ocmment on the limitations of these numbers. "If I make my first shot and miss my second, or if I miss my first shot and then make the second, it is the same 50% but the outcome is not the same."

END #2 O'Rourke asks Ramsay to come around rather than peel a guard, which she does. Schraeder taps it back to the back of the house, leaving the BC rock partly under cover. Ramsay clears it with a beauty but the house is full of rocks behind the T-line. Schraeder drops a perfect rock at teh edge of the four-foot, right behind a BC guard. Carmody is asked to do a tap-back, and fires a whiff! Scott had mentioned there is no finish in that area of the ice and she called it well. Scott freezes a beauty on top of Schraeder's rock. The guard in question on these rocks is one O'Rourke chose not to ask to have peeled a while ago. Carmody's draw misses and gives Scott a shot at three, but not easy. Perfect tapback - 3-1 Scott.

END #3 This is forming into an end you do not want as PEI. Scott is in complete command through second rocks, though Carter makes a bad mistake on setting up a guard (it is wayy too long). O'Rourke does a nice hit and roll behind cover. Schraeder wrecks on the front guard. Suddenly PEI has chances. Ramsay gets into the house but leaves the PEI rocks wide open. Schraeder hits one of them but does not hold the shooter. Ramsay comes up way short. Not a pretty end for either team. Scott misses the nose hit and losesthe shooter. Carmody is asked for a tap-back, analyzed by this crew as too complex, but it works out very well. Scott is way heavy, and Carmody can draw for two! She nails it. 3-3.

I may have to wander off for a bit. Will be back in later ends. It is a pain having a life!

I am back and it is end 5.

END #5 bc NOW UP 5-3. But theHouse as I return to action looks like a PEI house, exceptthat BC have shot rock in the back. Hmm no I think not - looks to me as of PEI has two shot rocks after a Ramsay throw. Scott hits and sticks, not the plan. Carmody makes the same mistake. Scott`s shot is great leaving PEI with a draw for one. Just dandy - BC lead 5-4.

END #7 BC now up 7-4. PEI take one. 7-5 BC

END #8 Scott takes another. I am now only provisionally watching.

END #9 BC steal 2. You always have to wonder how a team with nothing at stake in the match will play. In this case, not so great. BC has looked much better.

No handshake though there was discussion.

The Question of PEI

In blog posts and private communication, Doc has been questioning the quality of the PEI rink that will shortly be at the top of the leaderboard at the Scotties after the current draw.

Meanwhile, Russ Howard has been singing the praises of O'Rourke's game-calling and the shooting of both Carmody and Ramsay, though their numbers are decidedly not stupendous.

Now one of Doc's suggestions was that PEI was playing against below-average teams, in terms of ongoing records. So I wondered - is it possible for the first place winner to have defeated only average or below teams? In other words can we have the opposite of Lake Woebegon? And in fact it seems we can, if the winning team goes undefeated - then, everyone else can be below average. Well that won't happen, so if PEI ends up alone at the top of the leaderboard they will need to have beaten a team that will finish above the average score. And we know they already must have.

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Draw 15 - PEI versus Newfoundland/Labrador

Well, we woke up this morning, after having the TSN broadcast cut off for hockey last night, to find that PEI had finished its match against Team Canada with back-to-back steals of 2 and stand atop the leaderboard with 2 matches to go.
TSN sensibly chooses their game against Newfoundland/Labrador, whose ambition for the day is likely just to spoil things for PEI and BC.

END #1 A bit of a choppy start for both teams; after the first third rock NL have a rock touchjing the back of the four-foot in the center, behind NL And PEI rocks at the top of the house. NL Guard cleared. NL put a rock in the front eight foot in the center. PEI hit that rock and stick but bump the rear one under cover and scoring at the moment. NL wreck on one of the front PEI rocks and roll out. Carmody, seeing about half the rock, hits and sticks and now PEI count three, one skip rock to go for each team. NL want to hit and roll behind cover. Instead they hit and roll slightly more open. Carmody has done this once now, and does it again and PEI are up 3-0.

END #2 It would sure be nice if CurlCast was coming through but it won't load here.O'Rourke and Rogers both make major mistakes, each going through the house. O'Rourke starts removing guards instead. The first PEI third rock does not curly quite enough, and NL could now hit and roll behind the front guards. Ledrew hits but does not roll, rather just sits. Ramsay removes that rock and splits the house. Ledrew comes up light and, heading for skip stones PEI has three in the house, with two NL rocks at the front of the house. Carmody punches one of the PEI rocks behind the two NL guards into the eight foot in front of the button. The NL guards are in difficult positions to raise. Nichols does a nice job getting a rock into the four-foot just behind the T-line. O'Rourke asks Carmody to freeze to it. She's heavy, but taps the NL rock back so the covered PEI rock is shot. Now Nichols is heavy and yields a steal of one. 4-0 PEI.

At this point I will go off to start filling my crock-pot with what should become a few evenings worth of suppers.

END #3 Piles of NL rocks when I return from the frypan. Russ Howard congratulates O'Rourke for an aggressive call and for her coolness, but Ramsay misss, though not badly, getting arock into the house. NL are not managing to draw into the house.

By the way, Ontario is up 2-1 over Nova Scotia after 3. Each team has fought just to score its 1 in each end.

PEI have a bunch of raisable rocks at the front of the house, and NL's onbe raise chance is guarded by their rocks. Carmody makes a big miss, going too long, and leaving Nichols a port into the house for her single. Beauty draw to the four foot.

END #4 This is shaping up a bit better for NL with two rocks in the front of the eight-foot, guarding a rock ofeach team in the four-foot. O'Rourke tries to clean up a bit and does - things now look nicer for her. I was going to try to describe the situation now but Ramsay just cleaned up the house, not full of well-place PEI rocks and a NL rock. Nichols has now decided she needs to blast some rocks out of the house, and Russ chuckles in agreement. Ledrew almost gets the triple with a rocket, but moves the remaining PEI rock to the back of the house. Ramsay hits and rolls to the button to sit three - no guards are left. Nichols fires her rocket but she thinks it picked and she removes only one PEI rock. Russ Howard thinks she was simply heavy. Carmody splits the house beautifully, leaving Nichols no triple of the three PEI rocks in the house. Nichols fires another rocket but barely misses the double, and PEI has an open draw for three. Carmody makes it.

TSN had the camera on Carmody's parents a few minutes ago, and Russ Howard was folksily humorous: "Typical parents, they're three up, and about to score three, and they look like somebody shot their dog." Apparently the parents came to the Scotties with return tickets for Saturday, but seem willing to pay the penalty for changing their flights if need be.

END #7 I've lost a little focus with thh score 7-1. Russ Howard points out something interesting - the first PEI rock was called to come into the front of the house but wound up as a guard. O'Rourke called the second rock to peel the first, something Howard points out is legal, though not everyone knows.

Ontariop-NS continues to be tight. Maybe they could switch to that soon.

Meanwhile, Nichols has a hit and stick for two on her last rock. Which she makes. 7-3 PEI.

Somehow I am not surprised that the NL team are so charming and full of good humor even in such dark hours. We hear the call 'A deuce!', likely from Nichols, as TSN cuts to its ads.

YIKES!! Ontario now lead Nova Scotia 6-1. While I am off cooking I just keep missing things.

END #6 NL steal 1. 7-4 PEI. My interest picks up a bit, especially as the food situation stabilizes.

END #7 Ramsay is heavy but the miss is not quite fatal as she removes NL's shot rock. Still, the look on her face is worthy of a thousand replays as she watches the shot on the arena screen. Nichols misses a draw badly. And then she finds the front of the four foot. PEI want to blank, so this will be a rocket, with about a third of the NL rock visible. Carmody is perfect.

END #8 Carmody is making great skip stone shots, but Ramsay, though I have described a couple of misses, is making some fabulous hits. Who are these masked men? I cannot bother with details at this point. Shelley Nichols, knowing she is down to desperate measures, tries a monster rocket raise double that just misses. Carmody plants a beauty on the button, scores 2 for PEI. 9-4 PEI no handshakes yet.

TSN has implicitly made the handshake, switching to the New Brunswick game. Russ Howard enjoys this one, as his daughter is clearly a curler in NewBrunswick and plays a lot against this New Brunswick team. I am however less motivated so will likely not be back until the next draw.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Ah, the Penny Drops

Now I see why the curling was pushed ahead an hour today.... to make room on TSN's schedule for an NHL game at 9:30 EST. I guess I understand it, but it's disappointing not to see the conclusion of the Canada-PEI game, nor the extra end between BC and NS.

Let me say now that both PEI and Manitoba have impressed me more than I expected. Carmody seems to be making many, many more of her shots for PEI, and the same goes for Thurston of Manitoba. Tomorrow will be fun!
(too bad I have to be in my office with no tv!)


Quite the Turn-around

So PEI defeated Quebec quite handily in the 13th Draw of the 2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts, stealing points in the seventh and eighth ends and curling a respectable 82% for the draw.

Meanwhile, Ontario, who had been leading the pack to start the day, dropped their second game of the day, with the vice and skip both curling only 63% in their game with the Territories. What a turn-around!

And PEI may make me eat my words!


Ontario Men's Playdown

The Ontario Tankard is at stake this week, sponsored, interestingly, by Kruger. Is that not the company who now own the 'Scott' brand, which is why the women's championships is now called the Scotties?
Rogers Cable is broadcasting it on their local cable channel, and it seems the younger Howard is a force yet again.
The problem is the broadcast runs directly opposite the Scotties, so I am paying less attention than I might like.
UPDATE: Oh No! Cochrane-Howard tonight! Talk about conflict. And no doubt there is a crime show I want to watch too!

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Draw 13, Midway

Before this draw, and even in the early ends, The TSN announcers were all commenting on how many missed shots there have been this year at The Scott Tournament of Hearts. And, like me, they were particularly hard on PEI, pointing out that the PEI curling percentages were very low (though we are unable to know this because Curlcast and the CCA no longer make cumulative percentages available).

Well wouldn't you know it: over the first five ends, PEI curled 88% and led Quebec 3-2. Most impressive were the rebounds by O-Rourke (skip, throwing 2nd stones) curling at 93% and Carmody (throwing skip's stones) curling at 97%. These two had been the weaker members of the rink in earlier draws but have been very impressive so far.


Draw 12: Recap

Well, Ontario didn't look quite so bad during the second half of the 12th Draw against Manitoba, but Manitoba continue to curl very well. As a result of Ontario's loss and Canada's win, as Alan points out, Ontario and Canada are tied at the top of the table, with PEI right behind them. At the same time, the BC rink and Kelly Scott lost to Saskatchewan on a shot that should have been made in the tenth, dropping them back to a 4-4 record, tied with Saskatchewan and Quebec.

It will be interesting this afternoon to see how PEI does....

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How Come We are Getting the Morning Draws on TSN?

Is this a result of the fact that CTV has the Olympic broadcasting rights, and TSN is part of that network? Does it serve as promotion for the Winter Olympics?
I'm not complaining but don't recall any public statement about this. I was simply very pleasantly surprised when I got home Sunday night from California.

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More Reversion to the Mean!

Well, a mean!
Doc does not point this out, but the outlook now is that Team Canada will join Ontario at the top of the leaderboard at the end of this morning's draw.
As Russ Howard points out, Team Canada had a bad Monday, but otherwise has been perfect. As they seem to be this morning.
This is getting interesting.


Draw 12: Reversion to the Mean?

Interestingly, before the draw started, both Russ Howard and Brian Mudryck were saying things about Krista that were pretty similar to what I said in the previous posting. At the same time, what little I had seen of the Manitoba rink and Jill Thirston left me thinking that Ontario would dominate this morning's draw of the 2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts.


At the 5th end break, Manitoba leads Ontario 7-2, stealing 6 points in a row, including a steal of three in the fifth end. Not only is Manitoba out-curling Ontario, but both Miharija (ON 2nd) and McCarville are curling down near 50% or so.

So the race tightens....


Draw 11: Brief Note

I arrived home last evening just in time to watch some of the game between PEI and Ontario. Without wanting to beat a dead horse too severely, let me just say that the PEI performance was consistent with everything I have written earlier about the rink.

At the same time, we have been increasingly impressed by McCarville and the Ontario rink. We certainly miss Lorraine Lang. But over the past four years, McCarville has gained considerable experience and confidence, which really has shown during the 2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts.

Here's something fun to try, suggested by Ms. Eclectic. Next time Ontario is being televised, look away from the tv set. Do you sometimes think you're listening to Jennifer Jones instead of Krista McCarville? Even if their voices don't sound exactly the same, there is a tone of being confident, knowledgeable, and in charge that comes through in the voices of both of them.

On the schedule this morning are four games, all of which I'd love to be able to watch. This is one good reason for attending these things in person --- you get to switch you attention from sheet to sheet as you wish. Can't wait for the Brier to be in London next year.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

How Good Is PEI?

As Ms. Eclectic and I watched the curling match yesterday afternoon involving PEI, we wondered how on earth the team had a record of four wins and only one loss. And now that PEI has defeated winless NS, their record is 5-1. The team just didn't seem all that good to us, in what limited opportunity we have had to watch them.

This morning I wrote to co-blogger, Alan, that I predict PEI will not be curling in the 2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts on Sunday, and might not even be curling on Saturday, despite their being at the top of the round robin so far. I even speculated that their 5-1 record came from beating teams with bad records (to which PEI admittedly contributed).

Well here's their record, following this morning's draw:
They defeated Saskatchewan, who are 2-3
They defeated New Brunswick, who are 2-4
They lost (13-2) to Alberta, who are 3-3
They defeated the Territories, who are 2-4
They defeated Manitoba, who are 3-3
They defeated Nova Scotia, who are 0-6.

In other words, they haven't even faced any team with a winning record yet.

Maybe I'm being too harsh, but don't look for PEI to be at the top of the standings Thursday night.

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Second Tuesday Draw at the Scotties

It`s a Jennifer Jones festival today! TSN are back to the main broadcasting team, so we lose Russ Howard. Oh well, I look forward to him tomorrow morning.

Jones`rink is playing Kelly Scott`s. Both teams are at 4-2. This feels like old times, compared to the matches involving the wonderful new teams at the tournament. (UPDATE: I'll leave the weird punctuation as an object lesson - somehow in Vista I inadvertently changed my keyboard to Canadian French.)

On a side note, Doc has already complained, rightly, about the useless change in format of the CurlCast page. I have an additional complaint beyond his key content-related one that he cannot now watch all the matches as they proceed. My content-related complaint is that I find the UStream feed a total annoyance as I cannot figure out how to turn off its totally unhelpful sound, which interferes with sound I may actually want simultaneously from some other window in Firefox. Who decides to include these bugs disguised as features? Do they ask anyone about them? There seems to be a theme these days about degradations in service masquerading as improvements. Bah - humbug. Shape up you idiots! Stop making things that worked well stop working.

END #1 Jones seems to be establishing a pattern of missing significantly on her final shots and gives BC a steal of one. I was not paying a lot of attention but was writing the rant above into the wrong blog.

END #2 Jones lies three with skip rocks left. Lots of confusion on both teams about weight. Scott makes her rock second shot somewhat behind cover. Jones comes into the four-foot to sit two. Scott has a very tricky shot. And wrecks on a guard, promoting a Jones rock in the process. Jones draws to the eight-foot for four. OK - may develop an attention gap again.

END #3 BC barely manage to score one but do.

END #5 Jones got two in the fourth and BC two in the fifth. (Sorry - I was off raving in my other blog.)

Linda Moore has me busting out in laughter - she said something that sounded like thinking ahead is hard for skips. Come on! Football has quarterbacks, though I grant few call their own plays. Tennis players have to sort this out. Why would it be hard for curlers?

END #6 Jones hates the boring life. She gives BC a steal of one, and just as I mock Linda Moore's comment, her comment makes its point. OK I'm not worthy Linda!

END #7 Jennifer Jones loves complication! Askin has put two rocks into interesting places in the house, and Kelly Scott seems to enjoy complication too. Officer adds to complication, depositing another rock in the house - the Jones rocks are piled up brilliantly. I think she is thinking a few shots ahead. Sasha Carter cleans things up a bit - hey, Kelly Scott thinks ahead too! OK I cannot describe this end - let me say Jones was utterly in charge, and the Scott team screwed up a shot and it worked out brilliantly for them. Most sports have these aleatory moments. Jones breaks up the centre well but Scott still has a good shot at causing trouble. Scott misses, and Jones can score two and pretty much put this away. Perfect! 8-5 Jones.

END #8 These skips are so much fun. They just like trouble! And we have it again. Nobody is firing perfectly but what I love about both these rinks is that they keep firing aggressively. Jones takes 1 - she leads 9-5 after 8. I suspect this is another foregone conclusion.

END #9 Sorry was over enjoying K'Naan (great Canadian but likely not a curler - maybe his kids will try). It's funny - Jones is uncharacteristically keeping the house clean. At her advanced (?!) age she is learning something! When you have a four-point lead why ask for trouble?! But Jones goofs up a bit, and gives Scott 2. Though taking the hammer into 10 with a two-point lead - my guess is she feels pretty good.

END #10 Jenniferf Jones hate simplicity and she'd be better off if she liked it. But her team is scoring wonderfully and unlikely to get in trouble. OK was away for a bit and BC has a threat. And Jones prevails.


Tuesday Morning Draw

I'm finally back on Canadian soil in spirit as well as body. This morning's draw features one of the teams new to me in this year's Scotties, the Valerie Sweeting rink from Alberta, who prevailed in the Alberta playdown in extra ends over the more familiar Kleibrink rink. Alberta is just so strong! This rink also features two left-handers, including the skip.
They're playing Jennifer Jones' Team Canada, and both teams are at 3-2, so this is a pretty important match.
Alberta took two in the first end, and then Team Canada did a hit and stick, calculating that their rock on the edge of the rings, which it was not. A steal of 2 by Canada in the third has Jones up 3-2.

End #4 The Alberta second's second shot is a come-around attempt that wrecks on a Canada guard and promotes it into the rings, and Canada lies three after the next shot. Alberta hit and stick to lie shot; Overton misses, Alberta hits and rolls out, still lying one, with a Canada rock on the edge of the rings out front. Then I got called away. Sweeting faces two Canada rocks for her final shot, is heavy, goes through the house, yielding another steal of two. I may decide to regard this as a foregone conclusion now.

Ooppsss! I let my attention wander for a couple of ends and what happens! Alberta score 1, and then steal 2 on a major final rock miss by Jones in the sixth end.

END #7 Well, as Russ Howard observes, this will not be a blanked end! There is a cluster of rocks in the front of the house. Nobody is achieving quite the cleanup both sides are trying. Sweeting makes an overthrow on her last rock, leaving Jones an angle raise, potentially for four. She scores three. This has been quite a roller coaster ride, but I am not expecting a comeback. On the other hand, I have recently been quite wrong on such issues.

Well, it is more exciting than I anticipated - Sweeting gets forced to one in eight and steals one in nine. Jones heads to ten one up with the hammer, but we`ve had some steals.

In the end Jones did win by scoring one in the tenth. Maybe more interesting, PEI came out of this draw atop the leaderboard at 5-1 (Ontario at 4-1 play this afternoon). This is again a rink I do not know, having assumed that Suzanne Gaudet would represent PEI Forever.


Soccer vs Curling

Sunderland-Stoke, 0-0:
At least in curling they changed the rules to get some scoring

After waiting all weekend to watch the Sunderland-Stoke football game, I was bored to tears by the lack of scoring. If I had been in the crowd, I might have booed, too. I saw some fine athleticism, as well as some shoddy play, but nil-nil scores are about as boring as pitching duels in baseball or defensive struggles in American football.

When the lack of scoring outraged fans of curling two decades ago, the authorities realized they had to do something to boost the interest in the sport (and the audiences on television), so they implemented the free-guard zone, an innovation of Russ Howard's rink in their practices. Now people rarely, if ever, shout "booorrrr-iiinnngggg" during curling matches. But if soccer/football is going to attract more fans and keep them, it too should do something to increase the scoring in their games.

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HELP!! I'm trapped in my office!!

I have to work in my office today and am unable to watch the 2010 Scott tournament of Hearts on TSN at home. Is there ANY way I can watch it via the internet?? I can't find a link to live telecasts on TSN, and I have even explored to see if there might be some "alternative" sources. I can't find any.

Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Reflections on the Morning Draw

I managed to watch much of the two games of the Monday morning draw of the 2010 Scott Tournament of Hearts. I really enjoyed the curling in the later ends between Ontario and Saskatchewan. Lots of rocks in play, interesting discussions (including the insightful commentary from Russ Howard), and some really fun, challenging shots. The strategies, knowledge, and skill required to curl at this level are what make watching curling so exciting.

At the same time, I'm still puzzled about why the curling percentages for so many of the players seem so low. Are the scorers being harder on the curlers this year? Or are the curlers just not quite so good? In defence of the second view, both Ms. Eclectic and I have wondered, based on what we have seen so far, which, if any, of these teams can win the world championship this year.