Monday, March 29, 2010

I Sure Called the Women's World Championship Wrong!

Man, did I ever get it wrong in my prediction, where I predicted the Chinese team would win the gold and that the Canadian and Swedish teams would be the major contenders. China didn't even make the play-offs, and neither Canada nor Sweden contended in the gold medal game.

Let's face it: The teams from Scotland and Germany were the best two teams there. I know, I know, Canada had the best record in the Round Robin, but despite that record, the teams from Scotland and from Germany looked tonnes better in the play-offs.

Congratulations to both of them for curling so well at the 2010 Women's World Curling Championship!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Caption Contest

Use the comments to enter your suggested caption for this photo of Andrea Schopp, skip of the Gold-medal-winning German team (from the Season of Champions website):
Please keep it reasonably clean


What a shame that the Scot penultimate rock caught something and really put Scotland in a difficult position.

and then what a shame that Schopp seemed to be yelling at her teammates.... does anyone know what she was saying?

And what a terrific triple raise bump-back by Scotland to tie the game and send it to an extra end.


Canada Wins Bronze

Going into the 9th end, I set the odds at less than 50% that Canada would defeat Sweden in the bronze medal game of the 2010 Women's World Championship. And that was even though Canada was up one with the hammer.

But then Canada scored two in the 9th and was up by 3 going home and ran Sweden out of rocks.

The curling percentages for the game were low, but they still seemed higher than what we saw on the ice. There were lots of shots that I guess were made, but which really didn't turn out well ... for both teams.

I was impressed that the TSN announcers recognized the risk-reward trade-off made by Sweden. I was also impressed by Ray Turnbull's repetitive whini-ness. Despite all his contributions to broadcasting curling, it's time for him to quit. I won't miss him.

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Well Holy Crow

After taking 4 in the 6th end to lead the Bronze medal game of the 2010 Women's World curling championships, and leading 7-2 over Sweden, Canada then gave up 3 in the 7th end to lead 7-5 with the hammer going into the 8th end.

In discussions with Hooper on a previous posting, we speculated about what is going on and whether the Jones rink will stay together after this.

One thing that seems so unusual is that both Jones and Overton-Clapham seem to be missing more key shots in the playoffs than they missed in the round robin. I know the curling stats don't really show this, but it sure looks that way. Also, both Ms. Eclectic and I wondered why Canada didn't try to keep the rings clearer in the 7th. Some of the decisions by Jones seem unusual at best.

For the future, Ms. Eclectic expects the Jones rink to go through a shake-up. But who would they replace? and with whom? One possibility might be to have someone else throw 4th stones, but again who? After watching so many of the games lately, I'm not sure any of the others would be better suited to throwing skip's stones.


Bronze Medal Game, 2010

According to the scorers, after five ends Canada is out -curling Sweden in the 2010 Women's World Curling Championship consolation game: Canada 92%, Sweden 73%. Canada leads the game 3-2 at the mid-point.

When the game started, Jones curled only 38% on the first end, and it looked as if the team would carry on in the same mis-firing style that saw them lose to Germany and Scotland earlier in the playoffs.

And even though the scoring shows that Canada improved, the noticeable change has been that Sweden has missed quite a few shots and has let Canada fill the house against them. This is not the best curling in the world.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Good Grief. Give It Up Already

Officer, Overton-Clapham, and Jones.... all three.... have been curling horribly. A steal of one, a steal of three, and now Scotland leads 10-3 after 7 ends.

Time to pop in a DVD and give it up. As the 8th end starts, Ray Turnbull says, "It's all over." and Scotland is throwing their rocks through the rings.... already!.... in the 8th end!


Looking Sad for Canada after 5

Again, the Canadian curlers seemed just a bit off, following the Muirhead miracle shot of the 2nd end, and Jones hasn't been able to make any of her shots in the last three ends. I'm not much of a fan of using "momentum" as an explanation for athletes' performances, but it sure seemed to be in force tonight.

And in the 5th end, Scotland made so many good shots, including Muirhead's final draw for three. This is not looking good for Canada at all.


Disappointing Two Ends for Canada

In the third end, Canada gave up a steal of two to Scotland as Cathy Overton-Clapham missed her shots and Jennifer Jones over-threw her draw so much she was lucky to give up only two.

And then in the fourth end, things were set up for Canada to score two, but again Jones overthrew her draw to the 4', substantially and ended up scoring only 1 instead of 2.

Canada sees the headlights in their eyes.


Holy Catfish!

Through the first two ends of the semi-final, Canada is clearly out-curling Scotland. Canada scored two in the first end and looked set to steal one or maybe two in the second end.

And then Eve Muirhead, skip for Scotland, made an absolutely amazing angle raise to double off Canada's two stones and score one for Scotland. WOW!!!!! What a shot!


Earth Hour? And Miss the 2010 Women's World Curling Championship Semi-final? Get Serious!

Earth Hour just seems like so much "feel-good" clap-trap to me. Not that there's all that much wrong with feel-good clap-trap, but it becomes unconscionable when others try to shove it down my throat.

So I'm supposed to turn off my lights and tv and computer during the semi-finals of the 2010 Women's World Curling Championships tonight? Ain't gonna happen.

And I really doubt that any of the local radio or TV stations who have been telling everyone to participate will go off the air.


Some more Observations

As often happens with the games that start late in the eastern time zone, I missed the ending of last night's Page 1-2 Playoff between Canada and Germany. When I went to sleep, Canada had been curling well and was leading. When I awoke, Canada had given up a 4-ender through a series of missed shots and lost 6-3.

And it is not a foregone conclusion that there will be a re-match between the teams. Scotland effectively demolished Sweden this afternoon and looked very determined. Canada will have its work cut out for them this evening.

But of course I likely will not see the end of the game.... 8-(
[Update: I fall asleep early, but since tonight's game begins at 7pm EDT, I probably will see the conclusion.]


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Norwegian Women Can Wear Funny Pants Too

The Norway versus China match proceeds on the next sheet beside the Canada-Germany match at the women's worlds.
It seems wearing Harlequin pants is now a Norwegian feature. I like it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Canada's Unbalanced Schedule

Going into Draw Ten, Canada is the only undefeated team in the round robin of the 2010 Women's World Curling Championship tournament. But that isn't worth all that much.

So far, of all the teams Canada has defeated, only one has won more games than it has lost.

And of the games left to play, only one of Canada's prospective opponents does not have a winning record! For details, see this.

Team Canada has its work cut out for it for the next two and half days. It sure should be exciting.


An Oddity: the photos at the top of the website

Has anyone else noticed this?

At the top of the website for the 2010 Women's World Curling Championships is a banner containing the photos of three skips: Jennifer Jones (Canada), Bingyu Wang (China), and Annette Norberg (______). I know Norberg won the Gold Medal at the Olympics, but she isn't representing Sweden at this tournament. Putting her photo there as a leading world skip isn't all that bad, but it seems odd to me nevertheless.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Initial Impressions from the 2010 Women's Worlds

Three things have struck me so far:
  1. What's with the team representing China? As of Sunday afternoon, they are 0-2, and the TSN announcers hinted that there is some dissension on the team. What on earth is going on with them?
  2. Watch out for the Swedish team, if not this year, then in the future. They looked impressive in their first few ends against Canada (admittedly the Jones rink was pretty bad then), and they substantially defeated Norway this afternoon. Given their youth and lack of experience at this level, I can readily imagine they will improve and be important contenders for quite some time to come.
  3. Team Canada looked horrible for its first few ends against Sweden. In particular, Jones and Overton-Clapham had extremely low curling percentages during the first few ends. But, as the TSN announcers suggested, they were likely a bit rusty, not having curled much lately. And yet the rust seemed to disappear fairly quickly.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

thanks, WCF and TSN

For those in doubt, the title of this posting is sarcasm. TSN is covering the 2010 Women's World Championship, but it is carrying only games involving Canada. During the round robin, TSN is not carrying the draws not involving Canada.

I know the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament is on right now, and I know there's some pretty exciting stock-car racing and football/soccer going on, too. But those sports are all pretty well-covered on all the various networks.

I realize, too, that if TSN carries three draws in a day, they have to pay lots extra for broadcasters and crew.

But curling is a pretty popular sport in Canada. I'd be surprised if it didn't pay more for TSN to carry the non-Canadian draws with a minimum crew on their second channel than for them to use that channel for anything else. I expect (though I don't know this for sure) that the World Curling Federation has exclusive contracts with others prohibiting TSN from covering the non-Canadian games. Does anyone know for sure?

Meanwhile, I have friends who know a great deal about different possible internet sites that might provide access to sport events televised anywhere in the world. They tell me that there might be a few places in Europe that might have some abbreviated coverage of non-Canadian games. But they haven't pointed me to anything that looks like full coverage. 8-(

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

2010 Women's World Championship Begins This Weekend

The 2010 Ford Women's World Curling Championship tournament gets underway this weekend in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Now that much of the work for my day job is behind me, I may be able to post more (and more provocative) notes about the tournament. I confess that I am looking forward to watching as much of it as I can (and will likely be doing much of my day-job work between draws or in the wee hours of the morning).

The team rosters are available, inter alia, here at TSN. It will be fun to watch some of the familiar teams, but it will also be fun to see how some of the newcomers do, too.

I haven't checked the odds. Have any of the readers here found them? My guess is that the Canadian-Chinese team (so-called because they practically live in Leduc, Alberta, where they practice and work out most of the time) are favoured to win. They won the championship last year and had a good showing at the 2010 Olympics, despite not winning the gold there. I somewhat tentatively pick them to repeat this year.

But with Annette Norberg not representing Sweden this year, surely a second favourite team must be the Jennifer Jones rink representing Canada. The Canadian rink did not do so well last year at the world championships, nor did they look like world-beaters at the Olympic trials last December, but they have been very good over the past five years or so. At the same time, though, (see below) the current team representing Sweden might very well be one of the favourites.

But maybe my sense about the qualities of the various teams is affected too much by my familiarity with some of them. Here is the World Curling Federation's ranking of the women's teams as of the end of February (others are included in a longer table at their site):

Womens ranking as of 2010-02-28

Rank Association TOTAL 2008/2009 + / -
1 Sweden 1 064 2 1
2 Canada 1 002 1 -1
3 China 818 5 2
4 Switzerland 761 3 -1
5 Denmark 684 4 -1
6 Scotland/GBR 554 7 1
7 USA 525 6 -1
8 Germany 491 11 3
9 Russia 481 8 -1
10 Japan 476 10 0
11 Norway 288 9 -2
12 Italy 212 12 0
13 Korea 150 13 0
14 Czech Republic 131 14 0


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Alberta Wins the 2010 Brier

Who knows what on earth Ontario was doing in the 6th/7th end when they gave up 3 to Alberta, but let's face it, Alberta and Kevin Koe curled extremely well through the Alberta trials and through most of the round robin. And they made some great shots in the final. So I'm looking forward to watching them do well at the worlds.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Something about Curling Athletes

Something else just occurred to me as I'm watching the 2010 Tim Hortons Brier.

Curling athletes, unlike those in baseball, football, and hockey, don't spit. At least I've never seen one spit, not on tv, not live at a major event, and not at the local club.


Two Groups

This year seems different at the Tim Horton 2010 Brier. There are clearly (at least so far) two groups of teams. In the upper group, there's Ontario at 7-0, Nfld-Lab 6-1, and then Alberta, Northern Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec all at 5-2.

In the lower group are Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and BC all at 2-5; and then Nova Scotia, PEI, and the Territories at 1-6.

I don't recall having seen such a division into the two different groups at past major tournaments.


Monday, March 08, 2010

Selecting Teams for the Brier and the Scott

As I watch the Brier this week, it strikes me that there are several teams that really, to be blunt, are nowhere near as good as the others. In fact, they are nowhere near as good as some of the teams that were eliminated in other provinces. I would much rather see the second, even third, place teams from Alberta, Ontario, and BC than watch games involving the to-date winless teams from PEI, Nova Scotia, or the Territories.

The divergence in quality seems especially striking this year, with truly excellent teams at the Brier.

The problem, though, is how else might the Canadian Curling Association choose teams to compete at the Brier. Surely they do not wish to keep good teams from small provinces from participating, and surely they do not want to use money-winnings or curling stats as decision variables. And if that is correct, then I see no change that might be seen as either reasonable or fair.

The only possible change might be to lump Northern Ontario with either Ontario or possibly the Territories and give the previous year's winner a berth at the Brier. I'd like that, but I'm not sure it would get strong support.

Addendum: I can't believe I didn't think about this earlier, but of course it is impossible for more than one team to be winless through the entire round robin. Duh.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

My Picks to Win the 2010 Tim Hortons Brier

The Brier starts today. I expect that the Glenn Howard rink from Ontario is odds-on favourite to win the Brier and go on to represent Canada at the World Championships.

Why isn't the Howard rink a prohibitive favourite? I think there are two possible explanations:
  1. The Howard rink choked big time during the final of the Roar of the Rings Olympic trials. I saw the final of that tournament live, and it looked to me as if the entire rink was in shock. Some of the facial expressions made me think of the the phrase "like a deer in the headlights". It is unlikely to happen at the Brier, but there is some non-negligible probability that it could.
  2. Kevin Koe looked very good in the Alberta play-down. His rink and the Stoughton rink could, on their own merits, challenge the Howard rink. A possible dark horse might be Darrell McKee from Saskatchewan, but I confess that's a vote more from my heart than from knowledge, since I will be living in Saskatchewan much of the 2010-11 season.