Ah - Christmas Break.
A welcome respite from the pressure of competitive curling.
A chance to recharge the batteries before the playdowns, some time to relax with family and friends.
Sure, there is some curling on TV...a grand slam next week, and there is usually some cheesy skins game on between Christmas and New Years.
And I will likely be out practicing a lot.
But a break will be most welcome.
So heading into the break, four teams have qualified for men's provincials:
1. Serge Reid: who has continued his surprising run from last year, and has won over 17K already this season, in relatively few events.
2. JM Menard: who have been very good, but slightly less consistent than usual. Their biggest win was in September.
3. Martin Ferland: Has played sporadically well, showing signs of greatness, and signs of being very average.
4. JS Roy: Who has been all but invisible this season, with the exception of the Circuit finals, which he won to earn a spot.
Its hard not to pick Serge as the early favorite to go to the Brier. But the competition seems much more wide open than in other years. The top teams have not been as dominant as years past - I suspect 6 or 7 teams have a realistic shot at winning this year, depending what kind of week they have in Gatineau.
On another topic:
Ok - before you hear it somewhere else...
Yes, I broke a broom last week.
I admit it.
I was playing in a meaningless Sunday morning game in an open, and had just missed the 8th consecutive shot by my team in the 1st end, and was about to give up a horrible 4.
I turned and tossed my 10-year old sliding Brownie into the wall at Baie d'Urfe curling club, causing the head to pop off and jitterbug accross the ice like some sort of demonic chicken.
To make it even worse - we were playing against a junior girls team at the time. Oh the shame.
I have broken a couple of brooms in my career, and to be honest I don't know a lot a serious competitve curlers who have not whacked something to let off a little steam once in a while.
But that does not keep you from feeling like an absolute dumbass afterwords.
Strangely, I usually don't bang brooms during big, meaningful competitions. Its usually afterwords, in a game of far less importance a few weeks later that I usually get angry and wham a broom. Not sure why that is. Will have to consult with the team phychologist about that one.
I must say - I have witnessed some spectacular broom abuse during my career; I have seen a Performance Broom helicoptered across three sheets by my front end after losing a final on a pick...I have seen straw broom explode from being thrown against a wall...I have had a perrfomance broom head sail over my head after being golf swung into a hogged stone...and have heard about far worse. I think my favorite was Johnny Morris cracking his sliding broom over his thigh after missing a shot at the Brier a few years ago. That was just too cool.
But just because everybody does it, it doesn't make it right. I will try to not break any more. (I better not - there is a limited supply of angled Brownies left in the world for me to slide with!) I apoligize to anyone offended by my outburst (although I think everybody else was more amused than offended).
Best idea ever: I guy I used to curl with at Lachine suggested that I should insert a squeaky dog toy into the head of my sliding broom - so if I ever whack it on the ice it would make a cute squeaking sound in stead of a loud wham. I am thinking about that now...
So after a missed shot you would hear "SQEAK" instead of "WHAM". It would be hard to stay mad for long. I will have to talk to the guys at Hardline about developing a prototype. It would be a great Christmas gift for the overly-tense skip in your life!
One more topic:
Congrats to Chantal Osborne and team for winning the Baie d'Urfe open last weekend. They played solidly all weekend, and beat my team in our first game.
Of note, my record against women's teams this year is a stellar 0 and 3. Thankfully only we only have to face men's teams to get to the Brier.