Favorite Reporter

Favorite Reporter

Saturday, October 18, 2014

We want to Pump *clap* you Up!!!!

Okay. I just saw the latest commercial from the CCA for the Continental Cup of Curling (a made for TV even that features a bunch of Canadians playing a bunch of foreigners for some cash and a trophy). It shows curlers pumping iron in some gym - cleverly portrayed as curling rocks. Here is a link to it:


I am happy that curling has evolved from the perception that it is a sport for flabby old people. Having Ed Werenich as your poster boy admittedly did not make for a positive, healthy image for the game.
But have we gone a bit crazy with this? The Olympics became a homage to tight shirts and bulging biceps. If I heard another commentator say “The Jacobs rink is changing the face of curling” I was going to throw a dumbbell through my flat screen.  
The message we now seem to be sending is:  “I need to have huge pipes and make squinty faces after sweeping to be really good at this game.” And then there are the calendars. Shirtless curling hunks showing off their six packs (and I don't mean beers).

I love curling, and I work really hard to get better at it. But do I really need to look like Hans and Franz to play this game at a competitive level?

 I am going to say something that might seem like heresy these days, but here goes:
I have played with and against a ton of competitive players, and some of the best sweepers I have seen are relatively thin – relatively un-muscular guys. I am in no way saying that you do not have to be in shape to curl competitively (Cardio is essential for sweeping), but I am definitely saying that you do not have to look like a commercial for protein shakes to get the rock down the ice effectively. Savill and Laing, Sylvain and Elmalah. All are spectacular front ends, and are all in great shape. But none of them look like they need to turn sideways to get through a door.    

I think we can safely say that we have evolved the perception of curling from a drinking sport for old flabby people.  But has this perception change come with an increase in participation? I don’t think so. The sport used to popular because of the characters that played. I grew up watching Russ Howard, Ed Werenich, Kevin Martin, Pat Ryan, Hackner and Lang. The personalities sold the game. And they looked like cool everyday guys. The sport looked accessible. It made you want to go to the club and try. It looked fun.

Now we portray our top teams as uber athletes who would turn up their nose at a beer or an order of fries. We have made curling look like going to the gym!
And I really hate going to the gym. I hate everything about it:
  • I hate the smug look of the muscular dudes who make squinty constipated faces as they work out.
  • I hate the fact that I usually end up going alone to the gym.
  • I hate having to spray down the machines with disinfectant after I sweat all over it.
  • I hate getting onto a machine that some sweaty dude did not spray down after he used it.
  • I hate watching the shared TV with some other doofus who wants to watch CNN.
  • I hate having some 20 year old nutrition major try to sell me protein shakes or vitamin supplements.
I curl, and play soccer, and play golf, and play tennis and play whatever game I can find because I infinitely prefer playing any game to stay in shape rather than going to the f?%$%?$ gym.

So can we relax a bit on the recent fitness obsession in our curling promotion? I promise do my part. After every game I will repeatedly lift 12 ounce-liquid filled weights from the table to my lips. I might even make a squinty face while doing it.

Competitive preview:

So what is happening in Quebec Men’s Curling this year? Lots of changes. Here is your primer of the top teams. (They are listed in order of how they are seeded at the upcoming Quebec Curling Tour.)

Jean-Michel “Outturn” Ménard:  Quebec’s top team is back, and looking particularly fierce already. They won the Mac Ice spiel last weekend in Ottawa, and look ready to take on the best teams. Imagine how good they could be if they could throw an In-turn, or if Phil Ménard was in shape!!

Martin “Ferly” Ferland: Martin has taken over Phil Lemay’s team from last year. They have new jackets that look like the 80’s Houston Astros shirts, and seem ready to kick ass. They have looked thoroughly shitty so far this year, but will surely be tough to beat once they gel. And you do not want to get down to this team, as their peel weight makes you want to stand on the backboards.

Un bloque et 3 bleuets: My team is back for another kick at the can. We spent months in a Bhuddist monastery, learning meditation and balance. We went to Harvard to study probability theory and risk analysis. We went to Vegas to work on our gambling and our nerves. We are ready.

Robert Desjardins: Bob has once again had a busy off-season, switching his team around once again. He has kept Fred Lawton, and picked up a couple of youthful looking seniors to play; Louis Biron and Mo Caillouette. To quote Forrest Gump “This team will be like a box of chocolates”. Bob will pull out some tasty wins, but sometimes they will get stuck with a dried-up chunk of tasteless goop.  

Steeve Gagnon. The Steve with an extra “E” is always one of the toughest teams to play against. They grind and fight and never make it easy. Not sure how they will work now that they got rid of their lone Anglophone (Mike has gone back to his home planet).

Ghislain Richard. This is a new and solid team. Max Elmalah has put together this squad with part of William Dion’s former junior champion team. They will be tough to beat, especially when they bring out super-spare Francois Roberge!

Everybody else:  A few promising new teams, but will have to do a lot of hard work to catch up to the top teams.

btw I will talk about woman's curling some other time, when I figure out who is playing with who.

What is coming up?

The big cash season kicks off next week with the Challenge Chateau Cartier in Gatineau. This is one of the biggest spiels in Eastern Canada, and features a star-studded international line-up. My first game is against none other than David Murdoch, the Olympic Silver Medalist from Scotland! I plan on painting half my face blue – wearing a kilt and yelling “FREEEEEEEDOOMMMM” before the game. Cue the bagpipes.


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