You might have noticed that curling is back on TV…with the Brier in Kamloops BC. I must say it is a little bit painful watching the Brier this year, given that we came somewhat close to making it there. And it seems somewhat anti-climactic after the thrill of the Olympics. But what the hell, it still provides more compelling drama than most of the grand slams, and there is really not much else on TV these days.
The post-Olympic Briers are extremely tough to predict. Half of the teams there will not be together next year, and this surely affects their outlook and their chemistry. The last two post-Olympic Briers were won by Menard and Koe, both surprises. The big teams are usually a bit burnt out, as following the Olympic dream now means curling like a maniac for the 2 or 3 years leading up to the trials. It is normal for the teams to have a letdown in the months after.
Round Robin predictions:
- Kevin Koe is probably the odds-on favorite to win. This is a great team (although the rumour is that they will be breaking up after this week) with a ton of talent and experience who would love nothing more than to cap the disappointment of their trials performance with a Brier win. Prediction: 9-2 or 8-3.
- Greg Balsdon (Ont): the team that nobody knows, who beat Glenn Howard in Ontario. This is a solid cashspiel team, with Slam and Trials experience. And unlike many of the other favorites, they probably do not have plans to break up next week! Expect to see them in the playoffs. Prediction 8-3 or 7-4.
- Jeff Stoughton. Not sure if this is a swan song Brier for the 50-year old, but it sure feels like one. I am thinking he might win, have his team tearfully carry him out of the arena with him on their shoulders waving triumphantly to the crowd, and then announce his retirement (which would be especially ironic, since Team Canada gets invited back next year for the first time). Prediction 10-1 or 9-2
- Brad Gushue (NL): I guess he will do well. His team has looked rather shitty so far, with Gallant currently curling like milk (somewhere between 2 and 3.25%). Brad himself makes everything, but I am not sure he can carry this team on his back. Likely will squeeze into playoffs, then exit quickly like most years. Prediction: 7-4
- Jeff Cotter/John Morris (BC): Welcome back Cotter, the Cinderella-story from the trials will be tough to beat, mainly because of Morris. I think everyone and their dog knows that he will not be with this team for much longer, and he seems to be as popular in BC curling circles as an OCA official a CCA cocktail party, and I think this will keep them from winning. Prediction 7-4 or 6-5
- Jean-Michel Ménard: the perennial Quebec team will be tough to beat. They are not as consistent this year as they have been in years past, but they have the talent and the experience to get by anyone. It will depend mostly on Crete who can be outstanding or can be mediocre. Not sure why, but look for more insane yelling and quirky TSN clips of them looking silly, like the cover of the Tankard Times below. They will finish somewhere between 8-3 and 6-5.