I just got back from a long and sadly unfruitful weekend of curling in Gatineau, at the Chateau Cartier Challenge. In my ongoing efforts to provide my cherished readers of what it is actually like to be a competitive curler, here is a recounting of our adventures in curling, as experienced by me.
Thursday 8:30am: Departure from my house in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue: We pile into Francois’s vintage Jeep Patriot and hit the road.
Thursday 8:40 am: first of many breakfasts at Tim Horton’s. I think I spend enough at Tim’s during the season to actually buy a Tim’s franchise.
Thursday 11am: Arrival at arena for 1st game, against Marty Ferland. Feeling intimidated by Ferland’s fancy matching jackets and shirts, that kinda look like a cross between Star Trek costumes and a Green plastic tablecloth. Game summary: They kicked the crap out of us.
Thursday 2PM: Check into Chateau Cartier: Likely the nicest hotel we will be staying at this year. It has a pool, a eucalyptus sauna and a gym.
Thursday 7PM: Game 2 against former teammate Simon Lejour. This time it was our turn to administer an arse-kicking; apart from a few early scares the game was never really close.
Thursday night: Very little socializing. Post game snack at McDonalds, then straight to bed. (not sure why, but I love the Monopoly promotion that McDo’s has this time of year. If only I can collect Boardwalk, I can sponsor the team forever!)
Friday 11am: arrival at Arena for game 3, this time against Eddie Mackenzie from PEI. Despite Eddie curling 100% on every draw he threw, we still pull out a convincing win, and move to 2-1. Funny to watch my mostly French-speaking teammates try to understand Eddie, who speaks in a very Maritime accent that sometimes vaguely resembles English.
Friday 1:30PM: Team lunch at Subway, another curling weekend staple food. Curling weekends usually consist of trying to find food that will fill you up while not making you feel crappy while sweeping.
Friday 4PM: Game 4 versus Howard Rahala. Definitely our most eventful game of the weekend. After getting dominated most of the game, we pull a steal of 4 out of nowhere in the 7th end to win. After I made my last shot in 7, every skip on the ice winced at the situation Howard was in, much the same way that men wince when watching another man get kicked in the balls. We move to 3-1, and play in the b-semis later that night.
Friday 8PM: Team dinner at Sushi shop. Collectively we eat 100 pieces of sushi. I ate so much sushi, I was peeing soya sauce. JF almost dies after eating a chunk of Wasabi.
Friday 10PM: Game 5 versus JM Menard. With sushi in belly, we win in 6 ends, after taking a nice 3-ender in 5 and then stealing in 6. Definitely feeling good despite the sushi hangover. Consume a number of post-game ryes with JM, telling crazy stories until 2am about curling against the bombastic Park brothers. No need for post-game McDonalds snack, sushi still swimming in belly.
Saturday 8am: Wake up early, excited to play. We have a 10:45 game against Greg Balsdon, a solid team from Ontario, the winner qualifies for Sunday and earns $3500. The loser gets a second chance.
Saturday 10:30am: Scary moment: Near death experience in locker room, as beer, rye and sushi have combined to create a potent intestinal weapon that results in a vile brown cloud filling the locker room, forcing evacuation.
Saturday 11am: Game 6 versus the one they call Ballsy. The game starts badly. The first two ends are about survival. I make a hit and stick to give him a steal in 1, and make a crazy Hail-Mary draw against 5 in 2 to keep us on the ice. We give up a cheap deuce in 3, take 1 back in 4. The 5th end was our demise; Ballsy makes a 15-foot slash with a corner guard to take 3 and put the game pretty much out of reach. Damn. Fortunately, we get a 2nd chance at the $3500, at 10PM.
Our opponents at 10 are Mark Kean, a sharp young team from Ontario. Not one of them was yet born when I started curling. I feel old. And 10PM is past my bedtime.
Saturday 10PM: Game 7: The game starts badly, then gets worse. We give up a crappy 3 in the first end. Then we play a very bad 2nd end, but I save the day with a nice come around tap on my first shot - except Kean makes a better shot; an insane wide draw through a port to freeze his rock on the edge of the button to steal. Bastard. Down 4-0 after 2. We play a very good 3rd end, and I miss a tough shot for 4 by about ½ an inch. Argh. Kean makes a brilliant tap to the button against 2 in 4, and our evening is pretty much done. We gamble and lose in the 5th, and it’s handshakes for all. Our weekend is done.
Saturday midnight: Start consuming a few adult beverages, to remove the sting of defeat. Fortunately, a number of people are sympathetic to my plight; I use my considerable charm and guile to scam a few drink tickets and free drinks off of others to successfully drown sorrows in Crown Royal at a minimal cost. We return to hotel, and consume the remainder of a case of beer purchased earlier.
Saturday 2:30AM: Can’t help but hear a party in an adjacent room at the hotel. Amazingly, 20 curlers are still up drinking and partying well past 3AM. I will not mention names to protect the guilty, but suffice it say that many were curling at 9am the next morning. Good to see some teams still placing value on the social aspect of the game. My presence is at party is essential to do some simultaneous translation for my teammates.
Sunday at 10am. Wake up. Go home. Of course, only after a breakfast at Tim Horton’s. Back at it next weekend in Chicoutimi.
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