Favorite Reporter

Favorite Reporter

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Two tickets to the gun show

Twas the blog before Christmas...
First of all; please excuse my lack of blogging for the last couple of weeks. I could make up a lame excuse about being busy with pregnant wife/kids/holidays whatever...but the truth is I just did not feel like it.
The season competitive cash season was long and not particularly fruitful this year...the team account finished well in the red. And we definitely lost some extremely frustrating and disappointing games. When things are not going well, competitive curling almost feels like a job.
To sum up our season - we had some good moments, but we lost 3 C-qualifiers, which all together total about $10,000 worth of defeats. But more importantly, we lost games that we should not have lost. If we had lost to teams curling 100%, it would somehow feel a little less painful. But that is not how we lost. We lost by making mistakes - by choosing the wrong shot, by missing the wrong shot, by miscalling line. With all due respect to the teams that beat us: we beat ourselves. 
So, in short, I needed a couple of weeks to not think about competitive curling - to not think about the fact that we now have to play down in a very tough west regional playdown to get to provincials - to not think about what we need to do different next time we step on the ice to keep from defeating ourselves.
So I tried to remember that curling is fun. I played some ladder games in the club. I practiced. I remembered why I love this game so much. I made some shots, I missed some shots. We won some games, we had some drinks. It is good to remember that curling is about making shots, at whatever level you play at. There is an understated elegance to a perfectly executed curling shot; it feeds the ego with a sense of accomplishment. I think this is why the “On purpose” CCA commercial works so well. It just feels good to make shots.
I believe it was Pitbull (an honorary member of Team Fournier), who while providing backup vocals to Enrique Iglesias, so wisely stated: “You gonna like how it feels”.
Oh Pitbull, will you ever cease to provide us with your eternal wisdom?

So what has been going in the curling world since I last blogged?
First of all, Jean Michel qualified in the Grand Slam. For those who do not follow curling that closely, let me tell you that this is HUGE. The Slam features a who’s who in World Curling. And JM proved that he belonged there, losing a tight game on a measure to eventual winner Mike McEwen of Winnipeg in the 1/4 finals. This is a great result for these guys, who now are by far the favourites heading into Quebec provincials this year.  (by the way - shame on the CBC who missed the opportunity to show the McEwen-Menard game, instead of yet another Stoughton/Martin game).
Joëlle Sabourin also had a big win. She is playing 2nd for Jennifer Jones, filling in for Jill Officer while she is in the family way. They won the Canada Cup of Curling – a big CCA event that features most of the top teams in the country.
And it’s always nice to see Joëlle on TV. And check out those biceps! Christmas gift suggestion: 2 tickets to the gun show!

5 rocks?
Other big news in curling is the 5-rock rule. The Grand Slam experimented with the 5-rock free guard zone, meaning that the team with the hammer gets to put a 2nd unremovable guard up if they so choose.
The big impact of this is a team with a lead will have a more difficult time peeling out a game, as the opposition is guaranteed at least 2 guards per end if they choose. I think it will reward teams that can make runbacks and freezes.
Predictably, at the Grand Slam it amounted to a lot more rocks in play and some more offensive curling – which is all good news as far as I am concerned. It definitely makes it harder to play defence, but here is a bold prediction: the best teams will find a way to win with this rule as well, just like they did with the 4-rock rule.
Suggestion to all curling clubs: play the last round of your league with the 5-rock rule this year – it is surely coming soon – and it will give everyone something to talk about.
So what is next?
Regional playdowns are set for Jan 6-7-8 at Glenmore and I believe Etchemin. This year's participation is at an all time low (which I will talk about in a later blog) - with 12 teams at Glenmore and 8 at Etchemin, playing for 4 spots in each region. The low particpation does not make it any easier for us; the West playdown features 12 pretty strong teams (if you include us!).   
A very Merry Christmas to all of my loyal readers.
I will surely blog after the holidays as we head into regional playdowns and then provincials. In the meantime, wish us luck! Or more importantly, wish us fun.


  1. I'm not so sure that the new 5-rock rule will become the norm, Mike. There was also a lot of talk a few years ago about going to an 8-end game instead of the traditional 10-end affair...and this idea doesn't seem to have legs!

    Keep up the good work on ur blog...and all the best for the holidays!

  2. I had the pleasure of attending the Kingston Grand Slam event and was really curious about watching the effect of the 5 rock rule. Some thoughts:
    - typical strategy left 2 corner guards and 3 rocks in top 4 foot / top 8 foot after the first 5 stones.
    - key shot is a hit and roll behind a corner, preferable moving out 2 stones
    - this didn't happen often. Usually, the 2nd corner never got used and the team with last rock had to scramble just to score.
    My opinion:
    - many more games will end early
    - a few more games will result in come-backs
    - this rule only works for elite teams
    - it is totally useless for club play

  3. Regarding 8 ends vs 10 ends:
    - I was astounded to learn that the men's regional playdowns are only 8 ends when the provincials and nationals are 10 ends.
    - I suspect 8 ends will become the norm some day.

    Other observations about the Kingston Grand Slam:
    - Wayne Middaugh was the best curler out there. If Glenn Howard played better, they would have won.
    - I love watching Kevin Koe and Marc Kennedy throw rocks. Poetry in motion.
    - Hebert and Kennedy are the best sweeping front end in the world.
    - Morris is still the "bad boy" of curling. Breaking the handle wasn''t the only exhibition of broom slamming last week!
    - Ferbey's team was sleep walking.