Favorite Reporter

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Monday, November 21, 2011

You stay classy, Charlevoix

Yes, I am curling in Charlevoix this weekend. For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, after a humbling 1-3 performance in last year’s event, I wrote “Screw you Charlevoix” and vowed never to return to the place that has brought me so little success in recent years.
Well, like a strung-out junkie returning to his dealer for another hit, I am back for more. Hit me one more time Charlevoix.
The unavoidable truth is that Charlevoix is simply the best spiel in Quebec. We start Thursday morning against Dan Petryk, an affable dentist from Calgary. Should be fun.
And of course- we will hear from my favourite band in the world, the 2-person band that plays the party every year at the Curling club. They do not speak a word of English – but bravely perform a mostly English set of songs, often mangling the words.
Classics from the past:
From ACDC: “She was a fax machine, she kept her motor clean...
From the Black-Eyed Peas: “Tonight gonna be a good night”
This year I am expecting:
 “Hive got fashion in my pants hand I hate afraid to schewitt - Hi m’sexy and Hi know it” by the Black Eyed Peas
And of course “Honda Floor” by JLo
When did I become an old curler.
This week I will be playing in Charlevoix, and on Thursday I turn 40.
For years – I always felt like a young kid in the curling world. I always felt like I was just out of juniors – throwing big takeouts and challenging the old guys. But somewhere along the line I became an old guy.   I still feel like I curl the same, if not better than when I was 30, or 20. My wavy Stoughton-esque hair used to billow behind me as I effortlessly threw peels, whereas today I find myself wearing hats to keep my head warm.  I fully expect to have to start rubbing Tiger Balm or some other vile-smelling cream on my joints to continue toe-tucking in the next few years.
I am definitely smarter than I was then, although it does not seem to help me win that many more games. Maybe being young and foolish has its advantages on a curling sheet as well. Oh well, here’s hoping my forties bring me as much pleasure and fun as I’ve had curling up ‘til now.   
I curled in Brantford this weekend in the Sun Life Classic. It was a great spiel, and a fun experience. I just wish I would have curled a bit better. We lost 3 out of 4, and were out by Saturday night.
Strange set of winners on the men’s side – despite all the big names present the finals featured two underdog European sides. The spiel was eventually won by Niklas Edin from Sweden, a great guy who does not let his lack of English language skills limit his ability to hit on women. I remember not too long ago you would look forward to playing the European teams, as they were an easy win. But no more.
While our curling was not top notch – Brantford did provide a great reminder of what makes competitive curling great. Saturday night I shared drinks, laughs and fun with people from Saskatchewan, Sweden, Minnesota, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Newfoundland and all places in between. While there are a few assholes in every group, for the most part competitive curlers are fun, nice people.
 Our drive up to Brantford sucked. We got caught behind an accident on the 401 in Trenton, and spent almost 4 hours not moving on the highway. It was only made liveable by the fact that we watched Anchorman – the Legend of Ron Burgundy on my laptop while waiting . You stay classy San Diego.

Btw - my Movember moustache currently looks very Ron Burgundy-like.
The other Quebec teams also fared pretty poorly in Brantford, JM Menard was out on Saturday, as was Marie-France Larouche. But fortunately, this provided an opportunity for Eric Sylvain (Jean-Michel’s 2nd) to put on an indescribable display of dancing prowess in the hospitality room at the hotel. Jean-Michel is in serious danger of losing Eric to the next edition of So You Think You Can Dance Canada.  Let’s hope the tryouts don’t conflict with Provincials.

The Dominion kicks off this week in Richmond Hill, BC. Good luck to all participants.
The Dominion is quickly becoming the most talked about event in Canada. It is a national competition for club level curlers - a sort of Amateur Championship. It is a great reminder of what curling should be about. It’s social, it’s fun and it is a sport for everyone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Circuit Wrap-up, Numbers on Jackets and Super Mario!

I am just coming off another glamorous weekend of curling - this time at Glenmore for the Quebec Curling tour championships.

On the men's side - (and the seniors) - the event serves as a preview of men's provincials. The same teams will inevitable clash at provincials 2 months from now - so the Circuit serves as an advanced scouting of what provincials will look like.

It was a rather draining weekend - we somehow managed to lose the right combination of games so as to have to play 9 games between Thursday night and Sunday afternoon - before losing a tight game in the semi-finals to eventual winner JM Menard.
Today I have a sexy 2-pack-a-day smoker voice, I feel like crap , and I didn't even have to sweep anything for more than 6 feet. Imagine how bad my front end must feel.

So here are some random notes and observations from the event:

* JM Ménard has not lost a lot of games this year. They again won a tournament undefeated. They are playing very, very well and seem to be focused on becoming a top Canadian team. They will face a good test in Brantford next weekend - at the Sun Life Classic - where they will face the top teams in Canada.

* Simon Dupuis lost the final - somehow managing to sneak into the finals with some bizarre comebacks in both the 1/4 finals and semi-finals. He was down 3 playing the last end against Francois Roberge in the semis, and somehow managed to pull off an ugly victory. sadly the final was an ass-kicking - it lasted about as long as one of Simon's smoke breaks- not surprising given that it was their 10th game in the tournament! It looked like they just ran out of gas.

* Not a great weekend for Serge Reid, Team Hemmings and Robert Desjardins, all surprisingly eliminated before the playoffs. Surprise of the weekend was JF Royer from TMR - who qualified B-side before they managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory in the 1/4 finals against Dupuis.

* On the women's side, Kim Mastine beat Laura Thomas in the finals. Surprising run by Laura. A good win for Kim who was having a rough season so far.

* In Seniors - Robbie MacLean looked kinda dominant  -winning without seemingly having a close game.

Speaking of seniors, they were especially grumpy this weekend. They are complaining to Curling Quebec about the fact that there are no longer money spots at Seniors Provincials...(the 12 teams at Provincials will be the 12 teams that win their respective regional qualifiers). I think they definitely have a point. I am guessing that CQ might rethink this for next season.


Off to Brantford Ontario this weekend for the Sun Life Classic!

Can't wait. Our 9 game curling marathon this weekend will definitely have prepared us well...still need to be a bit more consistent.

The draw is available at http://www.sunlifeclassic.com/ and actually looks pretty cool.


Numbers on jackets.
Possibly the lamest trend in curling these days is to put numbers on curling jackets. It is actually a requirement now to curl in a Grand Slam event that your team have names AND numbers on the backs of their shirts and jackets. Not sure if the World Curling Tour thinks that this will lead to people actually confusing curlers with athletes...
But my team is jumping on the numbers bandwagon - our jackets are in the shop as we speak getting numbered.
For my countless fans - I will now be number 21, in case you were planning on having it tattooed on a body part, shaving it into the side of your head or planning on buying a Team Fournier jersey for your loved one for Christmas.


Thanks to those of you who entered my "favorite curler for a laptop contest"...

And the winner is:

Andrew Ouellette!
Andrew is an all-around nice guy and longtime curler at Lachine Curling Club, who actually taught me how to curl on my first time on the ice - some 26 years ago.
I will get in touch with Andrew this week about claiming his prize.
Thanks again to the folks at HP for this generous giveaway.

Big thanks to those who entered. There were some interesting choices:

I especially enjoyed the Dale Ness flatulence story. Few in Quebec competitive curling have not experienced Dale's ability to change the momentum in a game by producing a think, green gaseous cloud that makes concentration and shot making impossible.
Strangely, the only person to have matched Dale's intestinal prowess over the years is a prominent competitive female curler (who shall remain nameless) - who took pride in making opposing teams suffer.

My moustache is only 2 weeks old - and I already want to shave it. It is getting itchy, bushy, it smells like the chili I ate yesterday and my wife no longer wants to touch me. So far I have been told that I look like a pedophile, a Nazi, Dupont et Dupont (from Tintin), a French police inspector and my personal favorite:
Super Mario if Super Mario was also bald. (although it is hard to tell if he is not really bald - he always wears a hat in the video game.)

So you need to give generously to make this hardship worthwhile!!!

To donate - follow this link:

You even get a tax receipt for your generosity. its very easy - a few clicks and done!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Free Laptops and 70s Porn Star Moustaches

Busy weekends of curling these days...While Team Fournier has been taking some time off, there has been lots of curling.
Grand Slam – World Cup of Curling
The first Grand Slam was this weekend, with Glenn Howard beating John Epping in the finals. It was a great run by Team Epping – who I boldly predicted would have a big year.
There was some interesting TV – I enjoyed the McEwen-Howard quarter-final on Saturday afternoon.
For those of you who missed it – McEwen was one-down playing 8 with last rock. On McEwen’s last rock – he was faced with a choice: a really tough in-off on a rock 6 inches from the boards for 2 points and the win – or a simple draw to the 4-foot to force an extra end.
I think McEwen is the only big team in the world that would have tried shot A. He tried it, just missed it – and lost. Most wise older curlers would surely make the easy draw and take their chances in the extra end...but McEwen is so sure that he will make everything that he tried a seemingly low % shot for the win.
So what was he thinking? Was he sure that Howard would beat him in the extra end? Or was he sure that he would make a really tough in-off?
Who knows – but you have to respect a guy that goes for the big shot – even if he ends up looking like Tin Cup sometimes.
Crappy Moustaches:
It’s November, so that means it’s time for many male (and sadly a few female) curlers to grow some tragic facial hair in support for Prostate Cancer research in the increasingly popular Movember movement.
I too have joined this trend, as evidenced here:
I believe I either look like a bus driver, or a 70’s porn star. Not sure which one is better.
Sadly, I am growing this to support a former club mate and friend at Lachine who I recently found out is fighting the big C. He is one of the most positive and optimistic guys I have ever had the pleasure of curling with – and I am sure he will fight this fight the same way.
So give generously...here is the link:
Free laptop for one of my readers!
The good folks at HP have donated a free laptop for me to give away to one of my readers! As I mentioned last week – they are sponsoring Team Gushue, and are throwing some love my way as a result of my ever increasing on-line blogger popularity.
Here it is:
So – if you want to win a notebook – here is what I need you to do:
Post a comment here or on my Facebook Link saying who your favourite curler is (past or present) and why.
Example: “Eve Muirhead is my favourite curler because of the way she holds her bagpipes”. Or “Hec Gervais is my favourite curler because of his kick-ass sideburns and because he was the Gentle Giant”. Be creative. The contest is open for one week.
I will randomly pick a winner from entries.
Special consideration will not be given for those who shower me with free drinks – although you are welcome to try.
(To my mother: please do not enter the contest by saying that Mike Fournier is your favourite curler)
Thanks to HP for this cool giveaway – and keep sponsoring curling teams and curling in general!