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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Midsummer's Night .... curling blog?

What is wrong with me? It is 29 degrees. Swarms of nubile young scantily-clad female office workers fill terraces, there is quality soccer on TV, ... and I am thinking about curling. Clearly I have some sort of mental deficiency.

How to grow curling in Montreal / Quebec

My regular readers clearly know that this subject has appeared more than a few times in my blogs over the past years. How is it that a sport that does so well in terms of TV ratings and media attention can be doing so poorly in terms of participation in Montreal?

My idea: the Mike Fournier Curling Center

Last month, I was sitting at the Macolm-Knox swimming Center in Pointe Claire watching my 4 year-old daughter ignoring her swimming teacher. For those who do not know, the Macolm-Knox Swimming complex is the Mecca for competitive swimmers in western Montreal. It houses 2 50m pools, 2 kids learning pools and a 10m diving platform. The complex also features a gym with exercise equipment. It is the training home of a number of current and future Olympic swimmers and divers. It is bright, modern and makes you want to get in the water and swim a few lengths.

I think curling needs a center like this. While I love curling clubs, to the newcomer to the game they must seem like antiquated relics of an unwelcoming sport. The clubs are usually staffed by well-meaning volunteers who don coloured jackets. The sport feels old. No new club has been built in Montreal since Boucherville curling club was built around 20 years ago.

We need the Mike Fournier Curling Center (it’s my idea – I get to name it), located somewhere in Montreal. It will have 6 sheets. It will have a bar. It will have a gym. It will have a play area for kids. It will house the offices of curling Quebec. We will call it an Olympic Training facility, and seek government $$$ to build it. We will run a junior development program with a minimum of 500 kids. It will be new and shiny, the kind of place you want to go to. It will become a semi-permanent home for all major provincial championships, and a WCT event to boot. There will be no coloured blazers, no pictures of the f*&%ing queen, no musty carpeting. A center to take curling into the 21st century.

I can already think of 10 reasons why this would not work – so don’t bother writing me comments telling me why this is a shitty idea. Its summer time. Let’s dream a little. How does this work?


Just to confirm, for those who have not heard – I am curling men’s next year with 3 lads from the Sag: Francois, Yannick and Jean-Francois. I believe this makes me an honourary Bleuet (the name from someone from the Saguenay). Since joining the team, I now mock any male who orders beer in a size smaller than a quart, I now mock people who come from “la grosse ville” and I will start training now for the Traversée du Lac St-Jean (which will be hard because I currently can’t complete the Traversée de la Public Pool without stopping halfway).


In other news, Marco Berthelot is no longer at Curling Quebec, having left for a position at Sport-Quebec. His successor has yet to be named. So if you want to apply for an underpaying, underappreciated and over-worked role where you can experience the joy of being given shit from every possible age group and demographic, please send your cv to Claudine at Curling Quebec.  
Seriously, a big thanks goes out to Marco who gave a lot of himself to this job. You can agree or disagree with the decisions he made while in his role, but nobody should ever question his dedication for the sport and the passion with which he promoted it.


OK – not at all related to curling - I just cannot get behind the student protesters this summer in Montreal. And its not from lack of trying. I actually agree with most of the values they are representing:
·         Access to quality education for all
·         Access to a University Education for all regardless of income level
·         Not saddling students with an unmanageable student debt

All of these seem fair to me. I am proud to live in a province that places such a high value on the accessibility to higher education. Where they lose me is their unwillingness to pay a little bit more. An increase that will still leave students paying far less than any other province in Canada spread over 7 years doesn’t seem to me to be an act of war. It actually seems kinda fair, given the ridiculous tax burden that the rest of us are paying. And the bursary program for lower-income students means that the increase mostly affects kids who can most afford it.  I always say you have to choose your battles in life, and this is not one I can get behind.
Having said that – Johnny Charest and friends have done the worst PR job in the history of spin, and somehow have managed to make themselves look like assholes on an issue where I think most people agreed with them, at least at the start. Maybe he should get a blog.