Let's get it started.
I will be heading up to the Shorty Jenkins Invitational this weekend to kick off my 2011-2012 curling season.
For those of you who do not know who Shorty Jenkins is:
He is the patriarch of modern ice-making in curling. He figured out how to make ice that was fast and that curled, and was thus revered by curlers around the world.
He did the ice for the Brier and TSN Skins Games - and countless events.
I think his masterful technique relied heavily on a piece of sandpaper - but it does not change the fact that he did it better than anyone, and did it before anyone else knew how.
He also likes to wear Pink Cowboy hats and boots, (Insert Brokeback Mountain joke here) - and wore pink well before it was fashionable for guys to do so.
Sadly, Shorty has gotten old, and is no longer actively making ice. But he is the uncontested hall of fame ice king in Canada (and was even made into a great Tim Horton's commercial in the 90s - sorry I could not find a link!)
The Shorty bonspiel in Brockville is a great event - solid competitive curling mixed with golf at a quaint little country club.
Gushue and Howard will be there, and are the heavy favorites, as well as defending champion Jean-Michel Ménard who is in our group in the round robin.
The Shorty is kind of a pre-season event - it serves to help switch over your thinking from golf, or camping, or biking - or whatever else you do all summer to curling. Even the the most experienced competitive curlers, there is an adjustment period - where we struggle to get back to the mental discipline required to stay focused for 2+ hours of curling.
So curling season starts now. I am excited - but for some reason I found myself asking "why?". Why do I try to curl competitively? Why do I love it? Why do I dedicate so much time, money and mental effort to a sport that is often the subject of ridicule? Why keep pushing to excel at a sport where my success or failure will likely never mean much to anyone but me and my teammates, and maybe those close to me?
I am sure many of you will say - "you do it for fun." You do it to get away on weekends - and drink and be with friends.
But this is increasingly not the case.
First of all - I really can't drink like I used to. I have become a lightweight when it comes to alcohol consumption. A few Rum and Cokes and I am done. And as I age - hangovers seem to get worse. (I barely survived a poker night with friends recently after unwisely bringing a bottle of Jack along. ugh.).
Second of all - as sappy as it sounds - when I am away curling I miss my family. Curling takes me out of town, often in mediocre hotel rooms - away from my kids - who are remarkably cute.
So, if not to get away and have fun, then why?
The answer is that to be good at curling makes you better at life.
Competitive curling, like golf (another addictive pastime) gives us the opportunity to make ourselves better. Winning at curling usually involves confronting the inner demons that can haunt us all; self-doubt, fear. To win as a competitive level - your need to conquer these. You need to fight the voice that says you can't do it. You need to be confident - you need to know that you can make any shot. You need to not be intimidated.
You also learn the value of practice and preparation.
Not surprisingly - confidence, self-assurance and practice are the keys to success in a lot of other endeavours as well.
I think this is why I love curling, and keep curling competitively despite a number of reasons to quit.
Anyway - please excuse the self-reflective nature of this blog. I will get back to being a farcical curling reporter next week.
On another topic, Prince Jaber of the Ivory Coast has not yet answered my request for sponsorship for team Fournier. Therefore - will need to find another source on funding for the season.
Next week: Psychic Predictions for the upcoming season that will amaze you!
Link to the Shorty Jenkins web page - for those of you wishing to follow along on-line (my mom):