So I was trying to watch the Continental Cup this weekend. For the uninitiated, the Continental Cup is a manufactured travesty of an event that features the “best” teams in North America versus the Best teams from the rest of the World, in a Ryder Cup kind of format.
Can I be politically incorrect and say that this event truly sucks?
Mixed doubles? Come on. Apart from the entertainment value of watching a Scotsman with a full nasty accent trying to communicate with a Chinese girl (best sweeping call ever: “Hard Wang!”), and watching Wayne Middaugh chase after his own rock down the ice to sweep it, the weekend offered little drama. I have watched more entertaining club games.
I am a big Ryder Cup fan in golf. This is not the Ryder Cup. It has the feel of a mixed open friendly. The crowd shots seem to show a rather empty arena – and the endless camera shots of the teams on the bench cheering got lame in a hurry. While there are a few bucks on the line, everybody just seems like they are there to have fun. It makes for painful TV. By the end of the weekend, I really did not care who won.
A lot was made of the story that broke before the event started that the European side allegedly banned drinking by their squad for the duration of the event. I am thoroughly unimpressed, and quite frankly shocked that this idea would come from Europe.
I say shame on you curlers! Let’s hope this aberrant behaviour does not become a trend in curling. Next they will try to ban post-game poutine.
(Having spent a few weekends at spiels with Nick Edin and with Scottish curlers in general, I find it difficult to believe that no booze was consumed over the weekend, especially given the friendly and social looking atmosphere of the event)
Men’s and women’s provincials start next week in Quebec. To keep up with the tradition of handicapping the field – I will start with the Women’s this week, and move onto the men’s next week.
So here are the 8 teams, and my humble opinions on the odds of them winning it all. Please do not take any of this personally – I really have no idea what I am talking about, and am pretty much just looking for some cheap laughs.
First of all, let’s talk about who is not there. The women’s field is absent of a number of big names – like Bélisle, Osborne, Sabourin, Derick, Morgan. It would seem that 2012 was a big year for retirements; maybe women’s curlers have some fear of the Mayan calendar or something. Either way, the field at this year’s event looks younger than a Twilight premiere night. I believe I can say that I was curling before 75% of the field was even alive. (Please don’t do the math). I think the field is likely weaker than years past, but it is refreshing to see some youth in Quebec women’s curling.
So here are the eight teams:
1. MF Larouche: 3 to 1
Marie France is the odds-on favourite to win, once again. They have worked harder than other teams, and MF has more experience than anyone else in the field.
However, they are not the same powerhouse as teams past. Marie France’s team has been kinda busy procreating this year, with 3 of the original 4 each with a baby under 1 year old or coming soon (they started the season with Véro Gregoire, who is also in the family way). When this team says they need to get "pumped up" for a game, they are probably talking about breast milk!
Ok, you can call me an old-fashioned sexist, but I find it difficult to believe that this does not affect them as team. I mean – I don’t even have to breast feed (thank God!), and I have found it tough to curl competitively when I have a young baby. Their new front end is solid, but young, and less experienced.
Having said all this - you can guarantee that they will be around on Sunday.
2. Kim Mastine: 5 to 1
This team has been up and down all season. They have never looked truly great, but have never looked truly awful either. They have been together for a couple of years now. This could be their year. Kim (who is a pharmacist) needs to prescribe herself some beta-blockers to stay cool this week. She is not as good when she gets angry.
3. Nathalie Gagnon: 8 to 1
Nat is an experienced skip, with Scotties experience. She has been there before, and this will serve her well against a relatively inexperienced field.
4. Allison Ross: 10-1
This team has been brutal when I have seen them this year, although they have done well lately in a few Opens. After the Circuit Finals, they pulled a Pierre Gauthier and traded Mike Cammalleri (in this case Alanna Rutledge) for Sasha Beauchamp. Will it make a difference? Will the Habs make the playoffs? Probably not in both cases. But hopefully they will look happier than this guy:
5. MC Cantin: 10-1
Not a bad team. The front end has some solid experience from last year’s Mixed Nationals, and they can all curl. (If I remember correctly, Marie-Christine beat me in the finals of the Vic Open about 10 years ago, which was especially embarrassing given that she was about 15 years old and 4 feet tall at the time).
6. Helene Pelchat: 12-1
Helene “the Cat” Pelchat has been on the fringe for the last few years, usually a game away from the playoffs. I think that will be the case again this year.
7. Sian Canavan: 14-1
Young team of curlers – not a bad team. I saw them in a couple of cash spiels this year, where they were very up and down. Will likely not be around for playoff time, but will surprise some teams. I also expect high entertainment value from the announcer in Kenogami trying to pronounce her first name.
8. Julie Hamel 12-1
Solid young team fresh out of juniors. Will likely surprise a few teams. I play with Alana (their new 3rd) in the Club at Glenmore, and I can say she does not miss the broom much, and throws big peel weight for somebody who in fact weighs less than the stone.
So who is my pick? I am going with Kim to pull it off. It’s her time.