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Friday, March 9, 2012

Random Thoughts from the Brier

I love Brier week. This year the Brier happened to fall on my kids' spiring break, and the last week of my paternity leave. So I actually got to watch some bits and pieces of games. (note: a week of spring break with 3 kids at home is really not a "break" - it will feel like a "break" when I am back at work next week).
·         Brier week is the ultimate showcase for curling. It gives curlers a chance to watch a ton of curling on TV. It is also one of the great amateur sports events on the planet. The Grand Slams offer much better curling –with a better field of the top teams, but they will never be able to approach the Brier in terms of prestige –and tradition. 
·         Quebec had a respectable week, finishing at 4-7. As expected, Bob was entertaining. The boys just did not put up decent enough numbers to win games. Russ Howard called Bob the best 71% curler in the competition, and Bob called himself the best 1-4 team at the Brier, (at the same time that Gushue was 1-4). sad fact: you just will not win many games if you cannot curl above 80% consistently as a team. They had some great moments, especially when they were on TV – they just seemed to be sandwiched between some pretty awful shots.
·         I am glad I have HD, otherwise I would have never known that Pat Simmons from Alberta was trying to grow a beard. I have dated women with thicker beards.

·         It was awesome to see Jamie Koe from the Terrotories making the playoffs, the first time ever for a team from the North. I like these guys. I played Jamie in Saskatoon a few years ago. We beat him in a C-qualifier in a cash spiel, and then proceeded to drink with him for the next 7-8 hours. Jamie and his team are old school curlers – they believe in partying hard regardless of where they are in a tournament. Earlier this season, they lost the finals of a big cashspiel while simultaneously emptying the contents of multiple kegs of beer at the curling club bar. This is a role model!
·         Glenn Howard and team are just too good - especially with Middaugh. I think they will win it all this time. Maybe if they win, they can get Wayner some chin implants.
·         The “Rockumentary” on Team Howard that TSN showed endlessly this week felt a little like a collection of bad home videos. Not sure what the point was. I like these guys, but this was 30 minutes of my life I will never get back.
·         The Northern Ontario front end scares the shit out of me. These guys look like they could bench press my entire team. I’m not saying their front end is on steroids, but their coach was Ben Johnson, and their 5th man was Jose Canseco. Seriously though, these guys need to spend a little  less time in the gym, more time curling. In curling, brains usually wins over braun. Maybe they should quit curling – and try to get to the arm wrestling national championships, like Sylvester Stallone in this horrible 80s movie:

     (maybe I am just jealous – my wife seemed to watch their sweeping a little more intently than the scrawny PEI guys who looked more like Kermit the Frog sweeping up the backstage at the Muppet theater).
·         Rob Fowler has been solid this week after a bad start. After looking like a club curler in his first Brier game against Quebec – Rob played some solid big-hit curling. They controlled most of their games – and have a good shot at beating either of the the Koes to get to the final.
·         Gushue was awful this week. He looked pretty bad out on the tour this year as well, so this was not a complete shocker. Expect some team changes here. His front end has been killing him all year, and Fry is just not a 3rd. Nicholls certainly leaves a pair of big shoes to fill.
·         PEI was not nearly as bad as last year. I think they would likely go 5-2 or 4-3 in my club's A-ladder.
·         I honestly enjoyed watching the crappy games more than the good games this year. Alberta-Ontario was a snooze-fest. They are just too good. But NS – NB? It’s a little like watching Nascar – you are just watching for the crash.  There are strategy mistakes, there are good shots – there are bad shots – there are 3-enders, 4-enders - there are a million rocks in play no matter what the score is. Way more fun for an armchair skip.
·         The Saskatchewan team looked like a seriously nerdy bunch of nice guys. I would like to have seen them play a little better for the home crowd. Their games were also fun to watch.
·         Ok – here is a Pet Peeve of mine: The Brier was going on this week – but it was hard to find anything but the standings available in the Gazette sports section. Once again, the Brier gets relegated to the same back-page status as bobsleigh times and European cycling results. So why do they not cover the Brier more? TSN released numbers that they get the same level of viewership for curling as they do for NHL hockey or CFL football. Curling has become one of their pillars. I guess the Gazette thinks that nobody cares. They neglect that there are thousands of curlers in the Montreal area that care about curling. So what can we do?
Here is my plan:
Let’s all e-mail the Gazette sports editor, Stu Cowan:  scowan@montrealgazette.com and tell him the following:
“Stu: I want more curling coverage in the Gazette, and so do all of my friends!” or something similar.
It will only take you a minute, and if they get a mere 10 or 20 e-mails like this, they will likely start to listen. If you can, mention this to any senior curlers that you might know. (in my experience, old people still read newspapers, and actually take the time to sit down and write letters to the editor when they are angry). My goal is to get at least one letter published in the Letters section bemoaning the Gazette’s lacklustre curling coverage. So let’s use our voice and raise the profile of our sport in Quebec!
Pour mes amis francophones, je suis certain que la couverture du curling dans La Presse et le Journal de cette semaine était probablement aussi faible que la Gazette – ils méritent surement une lettre aussi!


  1. The third for Gushue is Ryan Fry not Schille :0)

    1. Don' t know why I always get those 2 confused...have played Gushue with both guys on his team.

  2. Lawren SteventonMarch 9, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Geez, where does that leave me? I love curling AND European pro cycling. I am screwed over twice. Right after watching Tirreno-Adriatico coverage on RDS, I will fire off an e-mail to the Gazette. Now where did I put my walker?