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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Curling depression - and my unrequited love for a sliding broom.

Communique from my basement:


I have not left my house in days. Since our crushing last rock defeat against JM Menard in the semi-final of the Quebec Provincial Curling Championship, I have not left my basement.  I have not shaved. I have not showered. I have not changed out of my curling pants.
I simply walk around in circles, muttering “out-turn double, I don’t think my rock can go through that hole without taking out one of his” over and over again. I don’t sleep. When I do drift off, I am almost immediately shaken awake by the haunting image of JM’s rock sliding across the house, but not out. I have become a collection of nervous tics and tremors. I am a wreck.
I lay on my couch, covered in chip crumbs and empty beer cans, waiting for the memory to fade, waiting for the anguish to subside. I contemplate whacking myself in the forehead with my 8-ender brush “Brad Heidt-style”, hoping to induce some form of curling amnesia that could exorcise the last few days out of my brain. I have written a song to express my mood. 


But seriously, I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and grizzled, but I just don’t feel that bad. Despite my loss, my kids were still happy to see me, and I seem to have realized pretty quickly that life does go on, despite a gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of JM, who will again represent Quebec at this year’s Brier in March in Kamloops. Shit Happens.
It would be easy to hate curling. But the fact is it is hard to hate a game that can stir up so much emotion and drama. As cliché as it sounds, there is always next year. But thanks to all who have reached out to me in support! I am okay. Really.


It was a compelling week of curling and drama in Val d’Or, with Allison Ross winning the Scotties over Kim Mastine, and JM defeating Phil Lemay in a seemingly unexciting Tankard final. Some quick highlights:

  • Allison is a very deserving champion. They were the class of the field, and clearly outplayed Kim Mastine in the final. They work harder than any team in Quebec, and it shows in how well they execute. I am hoping she can improve on her Scotties showing from last year.
  • A good run from Kim,although they seemed to falter in the end. They will be back.
  • An impressive Bronze medal for Roxanne Perron, who showed she had a lot of game, defeating the 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the round robin. She would have found herself in the final if not for a late-week loss to the local team with only one win on the week. This looks like a promising team for years to come. Plus, they have a great coach!
  • Tough loss for Eve Belisle in her last game to be eliminated. She came up a foot short on an extra-end draw against Ross to make semis.
  • Lemay has become the Buffalo Bills of Quebec curling, losing 3 finals in a row. You have to feel bad for them, they beat Menard 2out 3 times, but not at the right time. Phil played a simple, hard-hitting style of curling that was especially effective when he had a lead. I did not stay for the final (as I was driving back from Val d’Or alone in my car replaying the last end in my head for seven hours), but I hear it was never really close. An early 4 sealed JM’s return to the Brier.
  • Not many rumours as to who is sticking together or breaking apart next year (or at least I was not aware of them!), but I am guessing you will see some changes in the teams that finished out of the playoffs.   
  • Great job by the organizers in Val d’Or. The club, the facilities, the volunteers, the ice, the committee, the officials, were all second to none. Despite the long drive, everyone seemed to have a great time. Val d'Or itself seemed especially hospitable; the temperature never fell to the -20 I was expecting.
  • Denis Robichaud is my new favorite team. Denis and his team are relatively new curlers (most are still eligible for Colts, meaning less than 5 years!), but they played great all week. They beat Reid and Desjardins, and came within a hair of beating JM. More importantly, they reminded us just how much fun the game is. They showed up to almost every draw where they were not playing, and created a wild atmosphere behind the glass, singing, gambling and cheering every shot. One of them even played “Scotland the Brave” on a harmonica. Curling in Quebec needs 10 more teams like this. And I am in love with the 3rd’s sliding broom. He is a toe-tucker and uses an old corn-broom taped up a- la Mike McEwen. No way should a guy with less than 5 years of curling experience have a sliding broom that cool. I am jealous. JF – if you are reading this – please post a picture of the broom in the comments section below.
  • Lots of discussion about the qualifying format for next year, but I will talk about that in a later blog.
(edit: here is the sliding boom in question with its owner. awesome!)

Pier-luc Trépanier's photo.

All in all, a fun week. Some final thoughts.

We need to find a way to webstream these games. The curling is too good to not be seen by the entire Quebec curling world. I know this has been tried and failed in the past, but I know the cost of streaming has dropped substantially in the last few years. This is a great event; it should be the marquee event of Quebec curling, yet nobody sees it. The people at CurlingZone.com are web streaming crappy cashspiels from all over Canada. If they can do it, why can’t we. BTW, the provincial finals in 6 or 7 other provinces are broadcast on Regional Rogers Sportsnet channels. 

Quebec curling also needs a better storyteller. Seems to me you used to be able to at least read a report on the games, to give some indication to fans elsewhere what is going on. (especially when the event is in Val d’Or). We feign outrage at the lack of media coverage of our sport, yet we can’t even be bothered to post some media coverage on the Curling Quebec website or Facebook page? What about a press release? Anything? I think somebody tweeted some pics, but that was as far as it got. If we are looking to get corporate sponsors involved, shouldn't we at least appear to be interested in our own sport?  

Anyway, enough blogging I need to get back to my secluded depression.


  1. Wow Mike tout une histoire... tu es mon idole ;)
    Pour ton info les demis et finales provinciales des filles de BC, Manitoba, Alberta, et Saskatchewas je crois etait a Sportsnet le weekend dernier et les hommes y seront bientot. ;)

    Enjoy family time. JOE

  2. Mike,
    I was surprised by your statement that there didn't seem to be any coverage of theTankard-Scotties provincials on the Curling Québec Facebook page or website. There were 18 provincial related posts on our Facebook page. The results were available live / end by end for all the round robin and playoff gamess. Close to 5,000 people visited our Facebook page that week. As for regional TV coverage, the recent deal between Rogers and TVA Sports might encourage them to cover our provincials in the future.

    Marco Ferraro, Curling Quebec

    1. I agree Marco - the curling world visits the sight to follow along the scores. (However out of the 5000 visits - 4900 of them are probably my mother clicking refresh :-)).
      Curling Zone.com also picks up the feed - so there are probably even more than 5000 following.
      But we are trying to sell the excitement of the sport - not just the linescores!!! Where is the story? Where are comments from the players? The top teams are all struggling to find sponsors - as is the event itself! And I think I learned somewhere during my MBA that good marketing requires communication! We can't wait for RDS to show up at our door - we need to sell it ourselves!

    2. Même chose pour le Canadien Junior qui a lieu maintenant en Nouvelle-Écosse. Tout ce qu'il y a sur le site de CQ, c'est un lien pour le site de l'ACC. et encore là, il faut savoir ou le trouver.