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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Reactions to My Last Blog - and Some Thoughts on Quebec Junior Provs

My last post seems to have created a little bit of discussion – and gotten me a few new readers.
Interesting reactions – a lot of agreement and a lot of disagreement.
To summarize:

A lot of people disagreed:
A lot of people do not see the problem: They see entries falling – but they say: “So what!” It is the natural evolution of the sport. The elite have gotten better. So shut up and be happy that you still have the Mixed and the Dominion to play in! Otherwise, quit your job, leave your wife (or try to find a very accommodating one!) that allows you to go all-in.
Also, people point to Brad Jacobs as an example of why I am wrong – as this team has “emerged” from the masses to join the elite level teams; thereby proving that the system works.

But a lot of people agreed:
I received massive agreement from the more remote provinces, where competitive curling has all but died. For example, if you are awesome in New Brunswick, you pretty much need to get on a plane and fly to get a CTRS point. Not surprisingly, a lot of people from BC, NB and NS agreed with my post wholeheartedly.
Interesting, people from other countries also chimed in, apparently this is not an exclusively Canadian sentiment.  

Let me clarify a few points:

1. I have no beef with people who dedicate their lives to curling. I think it is awesome that teams can dedicate their lives to mastering the game, and they deserve our respect, admiration and definitely some funding. I will cheer for Canada at the Olympics, and I have no beef with the elite teams in Canada. The sport needs an elite.

2. My beef is with the notion that it is all or nothing. You need to be the absolute best, or you should shut up, grab three club curlers and try for the Dominion. I think the Dominion is great. But I think it is insulting to a lot of curlers in this country to tell them that they belong in a “Best of the B” event.
 The strength of Canadian curling comes in large part from its depth. The reason Brad Jacobs is so good, is that they needed to rise up from the countless solid cashspiel teams that exist in order for them to break into the elite. Good for them. To quote Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own: “It’s supposed to be hard. It’s the hard that makes it great.”

3. I really love curling. I have played this sport all my life. But like many of the curlers around me, I have day job. And kids. And a mortgage. And yet we still throw rocks at odd hours, sacrifice our vacation time and a large part of our sanity to chase the dream and keep trying to make a Brier and be competitive. I think there are a lot of people like me, and yet I feel like the current system does little do support us, and in fact kinda discourages us. As an observer and as a player, I believe that a lot of what makes curling great happens at this level. The competitive teams from all parts of the country support spiels, and help develop the level just beneath them.
If we don’t try to save it, and only support the elite few with Slams, subsidies and sponsorship, then this level will die out. And I for one think that would be a tragedy.
I am not saying we need a revolution. Just maybe a little resource reallocation.

So – as I said in my last post:
In short, less events for the chosen few, more money poured into the next level down.


Okay enough about what is wrong – let’s talk a bit about what is right.
I spent the last week watching some of the Quebec Junior curling championships at my home club (Glenmore CC).
There was some excellent curling, some high drama and some serious shotmaking.

In the Ladies...

The tournament was won by Sarah Dumais from Etchemin CC, in a tough final over Lisa Davies from Glenmore. They looked like the better team in the final. They outplayed Davies for the last 5 ends of the game that I saw.
A very brave effort by Davies and her team. I was cheering hard for this team – Lisa and her sister Allison both have been curling in the ladder at Glenmore with the “grownups” for a few years now. I always respect juniors who recognize that they can learn and improve by playing against men’s/women’s teams. Davies made a ton of clutch shots all week to keep her dream alive...but ran out of big shots in the final.

In the Junior boys...

Adam Freilich beat Mark Fajertag in a very unexciting final that he won by a touchdown.
Far more interesting was his semi-final against Bornais. The game went to an extra end, but was decided in a bit of controversy:
Freilich had to draw the button against a counter back button with his last rock. His draw came up top button. His team thought it was good enough, but the crowd watching on the overhead camera were not sure. Before there could be a measure (and before Bornais’s 3rd could take a good look at it), Freilich kicked his own rock, claiming he heard the other 3rd say “1 Blue”. After much discussion, they decided to REPLAY THE END!!! Wow. My experience is always that if you kick the rock, you lose. But the officials made another call. I was not out there, so I do not know who said what, or how close it really was.  But Freilich took one in the replayed end to win the game, and then goes on to win the next one to go to a junior nationals. Wow.

A few hours after losing the semi final – I saw that Ian South (who plays 2nd for Bornais) posted something on the Glenmore Facebook page. I admit I expected the worst. I expected a social media rant about the officials, about how it sucked to lose that way, about the injustice of it all...
Instead, he posted:
“Junior Provincials at Glenmore are over. A big thank you to all the volunteers and members who came out to support during the week. Thanks to Karl as well for the excellent job with the ice!”
Maybe there is hope for us after all.


  1. if you are interested in the rule you can check Article 14 10 b ii.which deals with the specific situation in the boy's semi.

  2. Actually, rule 13(9) applies here: If a stone(s) which may have affected the points scored in an end is displaced prior to the skips or vice-skips deciding the score, the team causing the displacement shall forfeit the point(s) involved. Rule 13(10) only applies if the rock is moved by someone other than the players themselves.

  3. rule 13 applies to all ends except the last -rule 14 is specifically for last end

  4. sorry looking at different parts - rechecking the rules 14 -9 officiated play is quite clear. my error.

  5. I know the rules...but from what I hear - it came down to a question of did the non-offending team concede the point prior to deciding they wanted a measure. Sort of "I know its blue...but maybe we should measure......*kick". There was even an alleged outstretched hand...
    Tough to figure out who said what with all the adrenaline that was surely flowing at that point!!! Moral of the story - NEVER KICK THE ROCK!

  6. The question is not whether Freilich thought he heard someone on the other team concede the point or even offer a handshake. The question is did the players "in charge of the house" agree on the score (rule 13-7)? As the shooter, Freilich was clearly not "in charge of the house". This means he, like everyone else, should only be getting directions from his third on whether the rocks can be moved or not. If this agreement did not "clearly" happen then the rules say point to Bornais.

    Of course we count on the "players in charge of the house" to adhere to the fair play rule. Did the official call an extra end because of violation of this rule (just didn't know which team violated it)? It would be nice to hear on the reasoning from the official on this one.

  7. I was always of the belief that it is only the thirds who are allowed in the house after all rocks have been thrown in any particular end. No one else should be anywhere near the rings until the thirds have agreed on the score. Too often we see all members of both teams encroaching on the house prior to the thirds agreeing on the score. It all goes to the players respecting the rules governing their positions on the sheet during play! In this case, why was the skip in the house? Even players on some of Canada's top teams can be found out of position during the game! I have campaigned about this quite often! Respect all the rules of the sport and the game will be played fairly!

  8. Additionally...in this case where the teams were playing an "officiated" contest...it was the obligation of the thirds to agree on the score and indicate so to the scoring official behind the sheet. Until that happened no one else should have been anywhere near the stones in the house! It's as simple as that! If the scoring official had not yet been informed of the score and someone moved a stone...they must accept default! The game should have ended with the non-offending team getting the point and the win. Where is the provision in the rules for the end to be replayed?

  9. btw - my mistake - I believe it was Adam's 3rd that moved the rocks - not the skip himself. So I believe everyone was in the right place. As I said - the issue seems to be on who said what - the 3rd moved the stone on the basis that he heard someone concede the point, and therefore the game. Tough call to make for the official - could have been another Boots Labonte moment!

  10. Rule 14(10) states that any individual OTHER THAN members of either team who moves rocks prior to an agreement on the score...the end may be replayed. In other words...should an official who might be asked to measure two rocks moves one of them inadvertently...the end can be replayed. This was NOT the case here. It was an individual of one of the teams who did the moving and thus became the offending team. It was at the discretion of the non-offending team to determine the outcome. The non-offending team's coach has a very good case to protest the result of the contest!

  11. I get the impression that it was not as clear cut as that. Not being there, I will certainly not second guess the official, nor suggest that there should be any "protest". A call was made, Freilich won. Most seem to agree that he won the game in the 11th end, before the kick, and then won again in the 12th. It might not be the correct application of the rules - but it kinda seems like a fair one! Moral of the story: DON'T KICK THE ROCKS!

  12. My point is that there should have been no replay of the extra end. There is nothing in the rule book (especially for "officiated" play) that allows for this to happen UNLESS someone OTHER THAN a member of either team displaces a rock. Officials (and there always seem to be plenty of them!) are there to control the game. In this case, it seems as though they lost control of the game at a very critical mement in the contest!

  13. Fur further to the discussion of "elite" curling...Nolan T. raised an interesting point with regards to The Dominion event and the CCA restrictions regarding entry into those play downs...If there is, indeed, an imposed restriction on teams wanting to enter BOTH provincial play downs and Dominion events, perhaps THIS is one of the reasons for the decline in the number of competitive teams entering into the "show" play downs! Why has this restriction been put in place by the CCA?