Some random thoughts this week...
* We will be leaving tomorrow for the lovely town of Alma for the Circuit Provincial Finals. The Circuit is always interesting mainly for one reason: The winner gets a spot at Provincials.
While this carried some weight in years past, this spot is especially valuable with the number of teams in provincial decreasing to 10. Not surprisingly, all the big Quebec teams will be there; Menard, Ferland, Reid.
There is also a bit of money in play - with the winner taking home 4000.
But the big prize is the spot. As of now, Serge Reid has a spot as provincial champion, and Menard has an unsurmountable lead in the cash race to get a spot as well. The 2nd cash spot is still up for grabs (Ferland, Me, Bedard, Desjardins, Charette still have a shot). But if Reid or Menard win, another spot will open up through money winnings. Sound complicated? It is. It will all be clear Monday.
All that to say it is an important weekend in men's curling. (and seniors, and women)
And as a bonus - I get to spend 5 hours in a car with Doctor Scott Hill...always entertaining. I can feel my head shrinking already...
* Amazingly, I have never been to Alma. I think I have curled everywhere in Quebec, but never Alma.
I am looking at visiting the local tourist attractions between games. We will surely find a way to occupy our off-ice time in a wholesome and enriching manner.
* We won the Valleyfield Open! My team, skipped in Valleyfield by the illustrious Tom Wharry, defeated Danny Bedard in the finals.
Valleyfiled is a nice tournament - the ice is pretty good, the people are nice. Admittedly the draw was a bit strange (the A semi was scheduled for 11pm saturady night, we got off the ice at 2:45am), but all in all a good weekend.
Many asked why Tom was skipping instead of me. I guess most people assumed that it was because Tom is old and needed a week off of sweeping. Partially correct - the other reason is that I needed a week off skipping. It felt nice for both of us - and we won - so apparently the plan worked.
Highlights and stories:
- Had an epic 8th end against Raby and Guillemette (the deaf guys). Those guys have game. We were 1 up in 8 without hammer, and he had a really tough shot for 4 or 5, and JUST missed it.
- Sylvain Lejour made an appearance to watch the finals (unfortunately his brother texted him that the finals were at 5pm, when they were really at 2pm), but it was great to see him out at a curling club anyway.
- Tom was grumpy despite the win, as the club ran out of 50 early friday night.
- Johnny Stewart had an eventful weekend, beating his kid in the B-semis then coming back from 5-0 down to beat the McSweens in the B-final.
* The mixed Nationals start this week. Quebec is represented by Simon Hebert and team (with Vicky and Amelie Blais). Strangely, Simon has picked up a different 2nd after dumping his previous 2nd (Marc Rivard) a month before nationals. Unusual to win the province, then get booted off your team, but that's mixed. Anytime you add women, it gets complicated. Seriously, I don't know the story here, but let's wish them luck anyway.
Simon is likely to be the favourite at this year's mixed provincials as well, as they will be held in his home town of Baie Comeau. The mixed already has pretty tough time getting teams to sign up...I am guessing that the prospect of a trip to Baie Comeau will likely not contribute to enhanced sign ups this year.
* It was fun to watch curling on TV again this past weekend. The Grand Slams provide some interesting games. But I have to say - taking 3 hours to cover an 8-end game is SLOW.
As if curling wasn't slow enough. It must be frustrating for the players to have to wait 3-4 minutes between every end, and 15 minutes after the 4th. If I ever make a televised Grand Slam game, (a guy can dream), I will have to remember to bring my laptop - I could blog between ends!
* It was nice to watch a Grand Slam Final and not have to see Kevin Martin or Glenn Howard. I recognize how great these teams are, but Christ I feel like they are the only 2 teams in the world sometime. Mike McEwan coming to Charlevoix is even bigger news now that he has won a Slam.
* Worse part about curling on CBC - they only have about 3 or 4 commercials, which they run OVER, and OVER, and OVER, and OVER again.
While I do like the Capital One commercials (the guy who uses his gas card to buy all his Christmas presents for the points), watching John Morris workout pumping iron to sell curling shoes makes me throw up a little in my mouth every time. Suggestion to Goldline: a commercial with Cheryl Bernard working out in Spandex instead.
I will defend curling as a sport, but anyone who tells me you have to work out constantly to be a great curler is full of shit. Ask Eddy Werenich.