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Monday, December 14, 2015

Screw You Charlie Brown - (aka Charlevoix)

So here we are at Christmas.
You will perhaps notice that I have not written a blog in over a month. It is not from lack of potential content!
Since my last blog – we have had:
  • More broomgate. With statements from Curling Canada and the WCF seemingly putting a wet blanket over the yelling and vitriolic that was being thrown around. (I got called a liar by a World Champion! Fun.)
  • Charlevoix: Screw you again Charlevoix. Played awful, had a crappy draw, and was done Friday night. Here is a pictorial representation of every year I play in Charlevoix: 

Image result for charlie brown and lucy football scene

Good Grief.(not sure if Charlevoix is Lucy, or the football, but I am definitely Charlie Brown in this example)
  • Gushue doing his best impression of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex's have really short arms, so I imagine when they fell they landed on their faces). And then he manages to return to finish the game with stitches (like some sort of demented Hansen brother)! It was awesome TV!
  • John Epping suddenly became the wizard of curling, winning a slam this weekend and once again looking like one of the top teams in the world (it had been a while).
  • Rachel Homan looks like she will win every single game she plays until the Olympics.
  • All kinds of great stories in Quebec curling to talk about – from the resurrection of Guy Hemmings, to Desjardins winning Baie d’Urfe while playing with 37 different brooms, to less teams signed-up for Women's Provincials then the Glenmore Day ladder.

All of this going on, and I could not manage a blog until now. All of this prime material just sitting there – and radio silence from this blogger. It was killing me.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s blog: Curler Burn-Out.

I am seriously burned out this year. My team played a semi-aggressive schedule this season: if memory serves it was 7 spiels together, and my guys played a couple more up in the Saguenay with a spare.
The idea, as is the case every year, is if we play more, we will play better. More spiels = More experience = more money = better shot at going to the Brier = We are Awesome! So we signed up for a lot of spiels. we filled every weekend we could. 

But here is the challenge. Life gets in the way of our best curling intentions. We have families. We have kids. We have girlfriends. We have jobs. We have wives with jobs. We have kids activities. We have travel for work. In short, we have LIFE!

The fact is, this year I have not had a quiet weekend or weekday since the summer. The choice to curl competitively while trying to manage the other stuff just felt harder this year than usual. Throw in a couple of personal issues here and there, and you have the recipe for CURLING burnout.
Here is what is looks like:
  • You feel like you are throwing the rock perfectly, yet you miss a lot.
  • You feel like you should win every game, but you don’t.
  • You lose to some teams you should never lose to.
  • You get angrier than you should.
  • You come home from spiels feeling more tired and more angry than when you left.

If you suffer from these symptoms, ask your doctor: Is Curling All the Time right for you?

I have a feeling that I was not alone on my team in suffering from this ailment. In Baie d’Urfé I tried to cure us of this with one of the known cures for curling burnout: Tequila. I think it worked.

But I think the best thing for us will be some rest. I think watching the Slam teams every weekend on TV makes it worse. Because we know they are curling every weekend and practicing every day, the Tier 2 (or 3 or 4) teams like us feel like we need to curl our asses off to keep up.  We need to add more spiels. We need to always be out there.

But here is the rub; for most of us there is a law of diminishing returns on curling more. And I think we definitely hit the top of that curve this year. It seemed like the more we played, the worse we got.

The truth is that there is no way to keep up with the top teams in the country anymore while holding down a real job and taking care of a real family. Fortunately for the guys on tour today, there is now significantly more money and sponsorship on the table, so that being a full-time curler for at least part of the year is an option. I don’t remember having that choice when I was 25! It has made the great teams that much better. And it has widened the gulf with the rest of us. For sure I can still play against the top teams and – on a good day – even beat them. (In Gatineau, we went 4-3, along the way beating a couple of teams who list their careers as “Full-time Curler”) But to beat these guys consistently, you need to be out there every weekend. And you also need to be not burning yourself out the rest of the time!  

I think I have suffered from this before without being able to recognize it. I think it is not a coincidence that I usually do poorly in Charlevoix: it is at the tail end of a period where I am usually in shit at work, in shit with my wife and in shit with my kids (this one hurts a lot).

So my new motto heading into provincials this year is BALANCE.  A lot of practice. But not so much that it gets in the way of other things. I know this is not the recipe to get me to the Olympics or the top 10 on the CTRS, but maybe it can get me to a Brier...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My broom also works as a rectal thermometer - here let me show you!

Broomgasm has finally reached its zenith this week, with a somewhat confusing statement from the World Curling Federation.
Without releasing any testing data, the WCF has extended their ruling essentially banning Hardlines used on the right side (not inverted) at all WCF sanctioned events for the rest of the season. They also have suggested that we now need to take out the clear plastic sheet in the broomhead. I think. I have read the statement twice, and not being an industrial engineer - I am not really sure what all of this means.

Some other highlights from the statement:
  • Brooms need to be “Commercially available” as of this week. So if you are making your own broomheads in your basement – they are banned too! Although I am not sure what the definition of Commercially Available” is. If I make broomheads with sandpaper in my basement, but show that I sold one to a few guys at my curling club – is this “commercially available”?
  • The fabric now has to be directly on a cushion. So no more plastic, wood, titanium, kryptonite or uranium inserts in the head that could affect the ice. I think this might include foil – but to be honest I am not sure. (unless you are an industrial engineer – the statement is a bit confusing).
  • No Hardening or Stiffening agents are allowed. I guess this means no more Viagra, Cialis, oysters or Generic imitations are allowed in your broomhead.  They may still be consumed orally by your sweepers, but if their sweeping lasts for more than 4 hours, they should consult a physician.

Seriously what does all this mean?
My read in that the WCF is buying some time, because they still do not know what to do.  They have found some bizarre scientific way of defining how a Hardline is manufactured in order to ensure that they are banned  unless used inverted.
However their statement is rather confusing. I think it also means that the Norway Pad, the EQ pad, the new Performance Head could also fall under this ban, depending on how they are made. Do they have plastic (or any other material) inserts? I really don’t know.
I am hoping the WCF can put out some kind of translation for teams – listing which commercially available heads are allowed – and in what manner (inverted or not – with plastic inserts or not). Until then, I am just a bit confused.

So what does this mean for those of us still sweeping with Hardlines?
I have prepared this helpful guide for Hardline customers all over the country, with some handy responses you can use if somebody accuses you of cheating.
Club Curlers: 
Keep using your broom – on the right side. The ruling only applies to WCF sanctioned events, and is really just a temporary measure because they do not know what else to do.
Response if someone calls you a cheater:
“Yes – I am using a Hardline, and it is an awesome broom. As a matter of fact, it also works as a rectal thermometer! Let me show you.”

Tier B -  Competitive Curlers – but not at WCT level
If you are playing somebody for money, or playing in a playdown to get to a National Championship, I think you need to invert the fabric.
Response if someone calls you a cheater: 
“To comply with the rules, I am using my Hardline Inverted. The same way I used YOUR MOTHER inverted last night at the hotel!” Extra effective if you say this with a Sean Connery Accent.  
(just kidding – so please do not flood my comments section saying that this joke is inappropriate. I already know it is)

Elite-Level Competition:
If you are playing for a lot of money – or at a Provincial level or higher. You will need to invert your fabric – or use the new complying heads that Hardline has made available for WCT teams.
Response if Someone Calls you a Cheater:
“Yes, my broom does amazing things. It also works as an ASSHOLE DETECTOR.” *then point your broom at the accuser and make beeping noises with your stopwatch.

Some things that I have learned in all this:

Sweeping technique matters. We always knew that corner sweeping and snowplowing worked – but now we have shown that if you do it with a more abraisive broomhead you can better manipulate the rock. Most competitive curlers have known this for a while. (Before Hardline existed, Glenn Howard’s team essentially invented the “Switch” because of this, so that the guy sweeping on the high side could influence the rock and make it curl more).  Snowplowing or dumping has always been frowned upon, but now seems to be fair game. Maybe we need to bring back some of the sweeping technique rules against corner-sweeping and snowplowing that used to exist in the rulebook.
A  lot more people than I thought make their own heads. I have been surprised to find out how many competitors modify or manufacture their own broomheads. As of today – they are now out of business – if they are playing in any serious level competition. So you can toss out all of those custom made heads, and be prepared to send some $$$ to the recognized manufacturers.

Regardless of what type of broom you use, we are in this situation because a few people are using brooms in a way against the accepted physics of the game.

If you are switching heads or brooms between shots , if you are using a broom that you believe is damaging the ice or if you are sweeping to make a rock stop or to make a takeout curl, you should stop doing this. It is against the principles of the game, and makes everyone look bad.

Mary-Anne Arsenault called out a Hardline team that was doing this last week in Ottawa. I think she makes a compelling point. However – I hate to tell you Mary-Anne, but I have played against a few teams this year who are using the same techniques with non-Hardline brooms. If you have a broom with an abraisive pad, and you corner sweep high side with the curl, you can make a hit curl a bit more!

A Closing thought.
This has not been fun.
I really take it quite personally when people call into question my integrity. I had the pleasure of having a World Champion call me a liar to my face, and suggest that my team was not good enough to be as effective sweepers as they were. (btw – the asshole detector in my broom started beeping at this point).  I am hoping this statement will at least provide some temporary closure on the accusations and bullshit that has been levied at the Hardline teams.

Me and my Hardline broom are off to Charlevoix next week to compete in the biggest spiel in Quebec, and I am seriously looking forward to it. This is my first year back, after 4 years off (due to the Mixed Nationals, and getting elbowed in the throat last year just before the tournament!)  Prior to this – this tournament has been my “bête noire”, a tournament that I just could never do well in. If I had put the money that I have spent in Charlevoix in an RRSP, I would be able to retire at 55, (instead of my current estimate of NEVER).
I have given sufficient time for the curse to have lifted! I have sacrificed a live chicken, and a virgin (hard to find in the curling world!). Thought about sacrificing my firstborn, but I am kind of fond of him. We have performed the appropriate rituals.  

Gods of curling – pray for us. Amen.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Broomapalooza - part 2


I never thought #Broomgate – or #Broomgazzi – or #Broomapalooza would get the attention that it is getting. This is crazy. I hear it is going to be on CBC national news tonight. Seriously.

I wrote a blog last week calling bullshit on a lot of this – in my usual friendly, joking tone. And it has gone crazy since. I feel the need to write a bit more, especially because I think some of the parties involved ARE NOT acting in good faith, and this seems like the case of one company trying to put another company out of business.

If you are offended by the term BULLSHIT, I suggest that you stop reading now, because I use it about 100 times in this post. There is an industrial level of Bullshit being generated on this discussion, very little of it fact-based, and a lot of it coming from parties that have a direct financial incentive to skew the debate one way.

So let’s talk about a few things:


Here is what I can tell you, as a longtime Hardline user, and a reasonably knowledgeable curler.
Hardline Fabric is NOT DIRECTIONAL. You can talk about the abrasiveness of the fabric – but there are no lines that direct the rock one way or another. Although I have never seen the BP version, I hear that if you rub it one way – it feels different than the other way. So I guess the shag carpet in my parents’ basement would be directional fabric. Or the brush I use to get dog hair off my suit jacket.  A Hardline is not. If you are saying it is – I call BULLSHIT. Show me proof.

I will tell you what I know from experience. A brand new Hardline performs differently until it is worn in. I think this has more to do with the way it fits on the head, or the malleability of the foam. But a brand new Hardline is not particularly effective as a broom. It gets wet. You usually have a bit of snow on the edges. It is not very effective at making a draw go further (which as a skip, is kind of something that I like!). I don’t think it SLOWS DOWN THE ROCK, but I can’t say I have really ever tried. If you are telling me that you can slow a rock down with a new Hardline – I call BULLSHIT. Show me proof.

Here is a pic of a used Hardline head (although admittedly it was was used by an aging skip sweeping 6 feet at a time).

You can see that the edges wear first (note the darkish ring). I think this is what causes the sharpness at the beginning. The “direction” of the fabric has nothing to do with it.

According to my current sweepers, and my longtime lead Mike Kennedy (no – not Mark Kennedy) – the “sharpness’ usually lasted about half a game – then they would return to “normal” and perform like a typical curling broom. I suspect that this sharpness likely makes them a bit more abrasive, so therefore one sweeper using a new head and corner sweeping against the curl could probably make a rock fall. I guess this is the “joystick” effect that everyone is talking about. To be honest, I have seen the same effect with other pads – like Norway pads or even Performance pads do when they are brand new. It is what we used to call “good sweeping”. I suspect that the players have seen this too, as competitive teams playing with Performance-type heads change heads pretty much every game, if not more often to have this effect.

My teams have never really benefited much form this effect with the Hardlines - because we did not see it as a benefit. Maybe I am old fashioned, but I like my sweepers to be able to drag a rock further when I am drawing against 3 in the first end, as opposed to holding a hit straight. I am sure McEwen and Caruthers probably like the fact that they could hold a hit well with a Hardline, but not sure they would always use brand new heads for this reason.  

Gushue took it to another level this year. They allegedly switched pads on different types of shots (although I did not notice in the game I played against them). They would have a brand new "sharp" head on a hit and roll – so they could better manoeuvre the rock with a “sharp” head. I never saw him sweeping to slow a rock down. They switched to older “normal” pads on draws so that they could actually be effective. I agree this seems to be taking things a bit far. So okay – let’s ban the practice of switching heads between shots. One head per game! I think this rule would impact all of ONE team.

As I mentioned, I played Gushue at Cornwall. I did not see his rocks doing anything that unusual. I did not notice if he switched heads. But if people are freaking out – then fine – let’s accommodate with that rule. Let’s ban switching broomheads within a game. He is the only guy doing this anyway.
But should we all agree to ban Hardlines altogether because Gushue pushed the envelope? BULLSHIT.

Balance Plus

So Balance Plus comes out with the Blackhead Directional broom of death that basically destroys the ice to prove a point. People have been sending me the videos of them fudging a rock around the ice – and then say “Hey Mike – here is proof that we should ban Hardlines”. BULLSHIT.

That is like showing me a video of the Atomic Bomb at Heroshima and saying “look at this video – therefore we should ban all firecrackers!” BULLSHIT.

Balance Plus and Team Howard are also shamefully sending emails to their entire curling address book saying that nobody should use or sell Hardlines. (I had it forwarded to me by a friend of mine in Ontario) Call me crazy – but isn’t that libel? I am no lawyer – but maybe you guys should think about that before hitting “send” next time. Especially when you have a direct financial benefit in having your competitors’ products banned. 

I do not accept the impartiality of Balance Plus or their representatives in this discussion. They are shameless broom peddlers, using nefarious smearing tactics to trash one of their competitors and try to put them out of business. Shame on you guys. Stop it! 

They are working to put Archie and Stan out of business, plain and simple - and are getting pretty close to accomplishing their goal. If this stream of bullshit results in a wider ban, or an official rule change, then Hardline is done - and we will all have to switch back to Goldlines or Balance Plusses.

If anyone believes this “integrity of the game” bullshit they are peddling to try to get this accomplished, then my sister has some lovely swampland to sell you in Florida. (BTW my sister really is a Real Estate Agent in Florida – if anyone is looking for a winter condo J

There are some big dollars at stake for the parties involved here – so keep that in mind when you read anything (including this!).


The letter signed by 22 teams is a bit too much for me. Talk about a witch hunt! By my count, out of the 22 teams that signed, 4 are Hardline teams: Laycock, Gushue, McEwen and Caruthers. The other 18 teams basically signed a letter that said YES, “I think we should ban my competitor’s brooms!” The fact that they lumped Hardline in with that Balance Plus MONSTROSITY is BULLSHIT.
And now Balance Plus has put out a Press Release calling Directional Fabric the end of curling as we know it – and saying that Hardlines need to be banned. And for fun they also imply that the Hardline teams have won because of the Directional Fabric.
If I were Mike McEwen or Reid Caruthers, I would be seriously offended by a press release that basically implied that they have won last year because they cheated. I call BULLSHIT here too.

Don’t ask me to sign a Bullshit letter saying that I will play the game with integrity and not use Directional Fabric. 
I always play the game with integrity. And I am pretty sure Reid and Brad and Mike would say the same thing.

If I believed I was cheating by using the Hardlines, I would not use them. I do not need a letter to say that, but thanks Nolan.

So what am I going to do?

Okay – first of all, anyone who ever questions my integrity in this sport can GFY (anybody who wants to know what that stands for can write to me personally!). I have played the game honestly for as long as I have played. If you want to accuse me of cheating – say it to my face. I dare you.

That being said, I like Hardlines. Not because they manoeuvre rocks in some mysterious way, but because they do what a good curling broom is supposed to do: drag my rocks further on draws and hold hits straight when I need it. They are light and fast. I would very much like to keep sweeping with them without being labelled a cheater.

Some teams are saying if you turn a Hardline pad inside-out, then they are okay. In other words they are less effective, but still pretty effective. I think that is what Caruthers and McEwen are doing this weekend in Manitoba – but not sure. My team tried it, and was not enthused with the feel.

I will be playing David Murdoch next week in Gatineau in my first game, who I believe signed the letter. I will be playing with my Hardlines one way or another. Maybe inside out - maybe not.

What has to happen next?

1. IMPARTIAL TESTING!!! The bullshit to facts ratio in this debate is 1000:1 right now. Maybe Curling Canada needs to step in, and please involve the manufacturers. Let’s get some facts before we change rules, or submit to bans. Please do not send me more bullshit videos of magic brooms. The fact that you can put a piece of sandpaper on a stick and destroy the ice to make a rock fall is not proof of anything, other than you have too much time on your hands.

2. Can we stop trying to put Hardline out of business? Archie and Stan set out to make a better broom, not an illegal one. They do not deserve the treatment they are getting. They are not cheaters. They are not scam artists. Can Richard Hart and Team Howard and Balance Plus stop putting out emails calling for Archie and Stan’s head on a stake? Let’s take a deep breath and remember that nobody is trying to ruin curling here.

Last point -

I really hate writing blog posts like this. 
I like writing fun, pithy stories about curling. This is no fun. I am writing this because I believe that Archie and Stan are getting screwed in this broomgate - broomgazzi bullshit. I can’t sit on the sidelines here. 

Plus now I feel like if I show up and play next week in Gatineau with my Hardlines, people are going to point and say “cheater”! I just can’t stand the hypocrisy of it all.

You can say that I am biased – and of course I am. Arch and Stan have been very good to me and my teams (both Mixed and Men's) over the past few years.  But all I am appealing for is for facts and reason to dictate the terms of this discussion, not BULLSHIT and smear tactics. 

btw I  NEVER delete any comments from the section below except for spam - so have at me!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Magic Brooms! Not a Harry Potter reference - just a Curling Blog.

We are very early into the curling season – and we already have our first controversy to talk about!
And I did not see this one coming – it is magic brooms!
There was a player meeting this weekend at a big tournament in Toronto – with some players suggesting  that the new brooms should be banned (!), as they are removing all the skill out of the game.

(My apologies to the non-curlers who read my blog - this one is for the hard-core curling fans)

A number of curlers are now suggesting that Hardline and the new Balance Plus brooms used on tour are “too effective” and are allowing sweepers to effectively manipulate the path of the rock significantly – taking the skill out of the game. Big guys like Hebert, Kennedy and the Harndens are saying that the new brooms are eliminating the advantage they have by being big and strong.

The controversy emerged after the first Grand Slam- where Brad Gushue really pushed the envelope on this – by using some unconventional sweeping techniques on his way to successful results.
So what do these magic brooms allegedly do? The big impact seems to be on soft weight takeouts. If you throw a hack weight hit – they are suggesting that the new brooms can hold the rock absolutely straight (or even make it fall) by sweeping against the curl – in other words by having the sweeper on the “low” side sweep in the opposite direction that the rock is curling in.

Gushue believed in this so much that he does not even let the other guy (the guy on the “high” side) sweep – as he harbours the belief that sweeping the other way will make it curl. So only one sweeper is sweeping hard, while the other guy just stands there looking goofy.

Gushue has also taken it to different level by changing pads between shots. Their belief is that a new pad is more effective on hits, but an older pad is more effective on sweeping a draw further. So his guys carry multiple pads in their pockets, and switch based on the shot they are playing. Not sure if anyone else is doing this.

So what do I think of this?

Full disclosure – I am a user and am a promoter of the brooms in question – my team has been with Hardline for a couple of years now – and we are very happy customers.You will notice their ad in the banner of my blog.

Having said that – I call BULLSHIT on this.

I have played against Gushue this year. I have talked to Mike McEwen (who also uses the Hardline brooms) this summer. I have played with the brooms for years.
The Hardlines that I play with are not joysticks that control the rocks – they do not have magical powers.
I definitely think both McEwen and Gushue are very effective at keeping rocks straight – thus making hit and rolls and runbacks easier. (Unfotunately, my team has not been able to use the brooms to win $100,000 yet, but we are still working on it).  

Gushue and Caruthers and McEwen make a lot of hit and rolls. I agree with the notion that new brooms are FAR more effective at keeping hits straight but they might be LESS effective at dragging a draw further (they just seem to get too wet) and they perform better after a few games.
When we played Gushue in Cornwall, I thought he had some effective sweeping – but it did not seem to be doing RIDICULOUS things to the rocks. He had pretty effective sweeping last year too – and it certainly helps that his sweepers look like the “after” pictures in a Bowflex commercial. But I would not have said his rocks did anything crazy. I read an article quoting Wayne Middaugh saying that he could make a rock back up four feet. I have never seen this with the Hardlines – and I am assuming that this is a misprint and he meant 4 inches. But they are claiming that the new Balance Plus brooms can do magic like that. If that is the case – then maybe we should look at banning these.

But here is the thing – broom technology is not new. This has been happening for years. The EQ pads – developed in partnership with the CCA to give Canadian teams an edge at the last Olympics – used a piece of foil in the heads to heat up the pads –making them more effective at destroying the ice! The Norway pads use a coarse, ribbed material. I think when either of these pads are new – they could likely have been used to have similar effects as what we are seeing now at holding a takeout straight by sweeping against the curl.  

What has changed however is the ability to change pads between shots. While players used to change pads within a game – it was usually only once per game – and was only to put a new head on - because new heads are more effective. They did not change heads based on the type of shot played. Now teams can change pads in seconds depending on shot selection by snapping on a new head.

The other problem is sweeping rules have been pretty relaxed over the years. The rules used to be specific about a “back and forth, sweeping across the face” movement – now that has been stretched to the limit.
Ben Hebert got called out for “dumping” in front of a rock (which is scatological way of saying he lifted his broom and dropped debris in front of the rock to slow it down) by Richard Hart in a Slam final a few years back - So the rules have pretty much been – “as long as you are not damaging the ice – significantly – then anything goes”.


So do we need to ban these?

My answer is No. 

I think this debate sounds a lot like the same debate that happens every time a new piece of golf technology comes out.
So we need to ban Titleist Pro-V’s? How about big-head drivers? Or belly putters?

I think some rules might need to come into effect that restrict a players ability to change heads within a game – much the same way you can’t use a Pinnacle to hit your drive further and then switch to a soft ball when you are approaching the green. Switching heads from one shot to another just seems wrong – and seems to be an awkward advancement for the game. I am old enough to remember playing against teams that would sweep hits with a brush, and then draws with a corn broom (damn I am old). Switching brooms or heads based on the type of shot played seems wrong. It did not make sense back then…and rules were changed to prevent this.

But I do not think you can go backwards and ban the brooms. I have played with Hardlines for a few years – and have not seen anything crazy to suggest that I have an unfair advantage. Admittedly we do not have the team budget to play with new heads every game…but my rocks do not do magic tricks. I wish they did.

Furthermore, I am not sure how a ban can work. We would have to ban types of synthetic heads? Or only certain materials? Would we have to play with brooms that only have a limited coarseness? Do we all have to back to hair brooms?  Would it only be banned in competition? Only on tour?

Apparently my spies tell me that the players meeting did not settle anything, and seemed more about posturing than problem-solving.

I am not sure where this issue is going – and I get the impression that the debate is being driven as much by competitive marketing then it is by facts or science.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Uh Sorry guys. (The Blog is Back!)

IT’S CURLING SEASON!!! Put away those flip flops, hide the golf clubs, empty the pool and start stretching!

For Team Fournier, The season starts next week in Brockville…er wait I mean Cornwall at the Shorty Jenkins Classic. For those of my readers who do not who Shorty Jenkins is… Cmon – you don’t know who Shorty Jenkins is? He is the King of Swing, Canada’s premier Iceman who sadly passed away a few years back. Shorty was basically the guy who figured out that curling was more fun with rocks that curl, so he used sandpaper to make rocks grip and curl more. For this innovation – he was heralded as a genius, and even given his own Tim Horton’s commercial.

This year the spiel has been moved to Cornwall CC, due to some technical problems with the compressor in Brockville. BTW – if you are in the Montreal area – this might be the best chance for you to see Canada’s best men’s and women’s teams competing. Here is the schedule:

The Shorty Jenkins has typically been the opening of the competitive curling season – a laid back event where the country’s best competed, and also got to play some free golf at the Brockville CG.
But this is no longer the start of the competitive season. Not even close. For some reason, the curling season now starts on Labour Day weekend in Toronto. Then off to ironically-named Paradise Newfoundland for the 1st slam of the season – this weekend.

I really just don’t get the desire to move the season earlier. I LOVE curling. And I think curling on Labour Day is a bit crazy. Plus we have to convince curling clubs to put ice in when its 30 degrees out. Why? Do we think that starting earlier makes us better? Are we more competitive as a curling nation because we are dumb enough to stand in a meat freezer when everybody else is at the beach?

Maybe I am old fashioned – but I believe winter sports should be played in the winter. Or at least fall. Brockville used to be a nice transition into curling: and you got to take a few last licks with your golf clubs before putting them away. But now starting in Brockville makes me feel like I missed the boat! I will be playing my first game of the season against Scotland’s David Murdoch, who will be on his 3rd spiel as I try to remember the difference between an inturn and an outturn.  


 Uh - Sorry
Okay – small problem. Was in a grumpy mood last March watching the Brier and wrote a nasty blog about Team Jacobs. It never really occurred to me that Team Jacobs might actually read my blog. But this blog got shared and re-shared and went kinda viral, and ended up getting a big pile of reads. And if you read the comments – it seems to have gotten some people rather irate. So Brad and Team – if you do happen to ever read my blog;
a)      Sorry!
b)      I am not a hater. I was writing ironically. Well not really ironically – but you know what I mean.
c)       I really didn’t mean to imply that you guys were steroid users. I am sure your muscles are the result of many hours of lifting really heavy things and making squinty faces at the gym.
d)      I am sorry about the tattoo joke. If I won an Olympic Gold medal I would probably tattoo it on my forehead and numerous other body parts.
e)      I am sorry about mocking your celebratory grunting. Clearly this is a generational thing. I think I am from the generation of curlers that tried to look like they expected to make the shot
f)       I still might cheer against you guys this season – but in a friendly, playful kind of way (like the way I will cheer against the Jays and Leafs).
g)      Please don’t hurt me.
h)      If I do happen to play you – I will make sure to not kneel or drag any body parts on the ice! I know that makes you guys angry. And we know what happens when you guys get angry:  https://youtu.be/0lvPn_LOn2o


The Tier 2 Slam?
So there is a slam going on in Paradise Newfoundland…but there is also a Tier 2 Event. This is WCT's effort at involving more teams, and trying to create a feeder tour for the Grand Slam Events. The Tier 2 event is for teams that do not qualify for the slams, but are looking for a way to break into the big events! Some familiar names and teams from the East – Gratton, Dacey plus a few teams that made the trip from far away.
I wish I could have gone. Not sure how to get invited to these…I guess I need to be a little higher in the World rankings. Anyway – seems like a good initiative – and more of these events are needed! I hope the Slams keep putting these on – and hopefully in more easily accessible locations and after a few teams have had a chance to curl a bit! But this a is a start! Hope they do not judge the success of the event by the lack of interest in the 1st one. So far it is the only Tier 2 event on the calendar. If it is the only one – then it is a shame!


Curling Quebec Excellence Camp.
So CQ did something very cool this summer. They invited some of the top curling coaches in Canada, as well as Quebec’s top coaches to give a curling clinic to some of Quebec’s top Men’s women’s and junior teams.
Big thanks to Bill Tschirart and Jim Waite who did a number of presentations both on the cold side and the warm side of the glass. We worry a lot about getting our bodies in shape for curling season – good to be reminded to get our minds in shape as well.
It was awesome to see 3 of Quebec’s top women’s teams (Mann, Larouche and Perron) all stepping up their games by adding coaches, psychologists, nutritionists, stylists, hypnotists, spiritualists…whatever it takes to get them to the next level. It seems like so many teams are working so hard and getting the help they need to compete at the top level. Hopefully we will see some results this season and at the Scotties.


Our sponsor is kicking some ass. Hardline Curling, makers of the Icepad, are on a serious run of converting the top teams in the world to their use their brooms. They have added Laycock and now the mighty Brad Gushue, adding to the credibility of their message.  
I can guarantee you, as McEwen and Gushue kick off their Olympic Qualifying run, they would not be playing with these brooms unless they were 100% sure that they are better than the alternatives.


I tried, I really tried. I watched a Blue Jays game. I tried to say YAY when they scored. I talked about how good Price is, about Donaldson’s catch, about Tulo and how good they are. But I can’t do it. I can’t bring myself to cheer for a Toronto Sports team.  I have been living in Montreal too long. Best I can do: I won’t cheer against them. Much.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer blog; Relegation Extinction and Curlers in a Pool

Hope you all are enjoying that magical time when curling clubs are closed to enjoy what most people call summer, but what curlers call “the off-season”.

In case you missed it, some interesting developments in competitive curling over the past week:

First of all – relegation is dead. Oh joyous day!!! How did this happen? My blog worked! 
No but seriously, it seems to have happened from the bottom up. A number of curlers apparently spoke to their regional associations, who then filed motions with the CCA (or Curling Canada), who then filed the appropriate procedures, and then presto - no more relegation. Aw who cares how it happened, the end result is that relegation will exists for the 2016 and 2017 Briers and Scotties and then will go the way of the dinosaurs. Not surprising that the changes could not come into effect until after the Olympic Cycle. A bit disappointing, but not surprising.

Speaking of extinction, it would seem that Greg Stremlaw, CEO of Curling Canada is also vanishing like a T-Rex after a giant meteorite strike. From what I understand, his last days will be this week. Not sure who his successor will be, but we can remain optimistic that the Curling Canada governors will hire somebody who fits the profile of Steward of the Game, as opposed to focusing almost exclusively on the pursuit of gold medals. I believe Curling Canada has the potential to truly capitalize on so many positive factors working in curling’s favour to truly grow the game at the club level, at the junior level to ensure the longevity of the sport.

Other changes of note, the residency rules have been both strengthened and relaxed; i.e. if you want to represent your province at a national championship, you need to demonstrate a clear residency in that province. However, each team is allowed one exception – i.e. one import from another province to play. I think this one makes sense, if only to avoid embarrassing situations like what happened with John Morris in BC, where residency rules were conveniently overlooked, to the dismay of many competitive curlers who were following the rules.

And juniors are now eligible to play down for the Brier or Scotties. This might make it a bit awkward when your team gets carded headed into the Brier patch, but it likely will not make a big difference in most provinces.

In other news, the Grand Slams appear to be adding some “Tier 2” events to the calendar to help promote the next level of curlers. The top 18 teams still get invited to the slam, and then the next 15 get invited to a B class event, with some significant money still on the table. Not sure how this will all work, or who gets invited, but it seems like a good outreach by the Tour to help develop the game. Now I have to figure out how to get an invite, given that I apparently forgot to register my team on the WCT order of merit last year! (oops L)


A golf story: was watching the US Open last week. It was a fun last few holes which saw Dustin Johnson 3 putt the 18th to blow his shot at his first major. I am always amazed in golf, and in curling, how fans are so quick to apply the “choker” tag to a player who misses under the pressure of the last hole. Spieth, who won the tournament, was hailed as a steely-nerved champion, and DJ was the choker. But wait, Spieth played the 17th hole like Sunday duffer, and missed about the same length putt for bogey that DJ missed on 18. Was that not a choke of equal value? Are they not both chokers? Let me tell you, as a guy who has missed his fair share and made his fair share of last end draws and hits, it is tough. Adrenaline courses through your veins and makes your heart pound like the drums at an AC/DC concert. Your hands shake, there is not a drop of saliva left in your mouth, and you can feel everyone watching. And you need to make a routine draw that you should make 99 times out of 100 (or a routine 4 foot putt).

Sometimes you make, and sometimes you miss. But I am always reluctant to put the choker label on anyone. Even poor Dustin Johnson.


My home club of Glenmore had the honour of hosting a night with Reid Caruthers and Mike McEwen, who came and talked about their seasons, life on the tour and about their love of all brooms Hardline (who hosted the evening). Some of the key learnings from an evening with Reid and Mike:

  1. Mike and Reid both like their Hardline brooms a lot – and are eager to talk about them.
  2. Some of the rivalries between competitive teams are as bitter as they look.
  3. Mike and Reid are both very cool and fun guys, and are very generous with their time.
  4. The Mike McEwen “Shot of the Year” for 4 against Gushue in Grand Slam was almost what Mike was actually trying to do.
  5. Beer Pong and Flip Cup are apparently universal pan-Canadian activities.
  6. Every curling club should have a pool - with a lifeguard.
  7. Mike McEwen likes my new Glenmore ladder team.

I feel somewhat remiss that I did not have a chance to take them out and show them downtown Montreal in the summer.

Most importantly – this reminded me that there is a need for a big Montreal cashspiel event. If we can put some decent money and organisation on the table, I think we will have no problem getting the big teams to enjoy a weekend in Montreal. Getting competitive curlers to pick Montreal over (insert name of small Prairie town here) seems like an easy sell. And events help put Montreal curling back on the map.


In the meantime, enjoy your summer boys and girls! In only a few months, we will be back on ice, wearing sweaters, putting winter tires back on the car. So Carpe Sunshine.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

mmmm. pie. mmmmmm

Well the season is wrapping up…time to pull the golf clubs out of the garden shed, time to stick the brooms into the cellar and write another blog!

First – some curling gossip and random thoughts:
(in an effort to be hip - I have included some hashtags (#) to try to appear cool to younger curlers #lameattempt.

- Martin Ferland and Phil Lemay are stepping back for a year! They are taking a break to recharge their batteries. The rest of the team will pick up a body and keep at it! #fakeretirement
- My crazy mix of Saguenay curlers and a Montreal Anglophone is back at it for another season. (unless they have fired me and have not told me yet!) #3bloquesetunbleuet
- What is up with Pat Simmons? When did he get good? Was he always good and we just did not notice?  #cinderellastory
-The US Team at the Worlds might not win that often, but its pretty cool that they have Ned Flanders playing second. #okleydokely
- I will keep my ear to the ground at the Glenmore Intermediate this weekend to bring my loyal readers any breaking news.  By ear to the ground, I mean that I will likely pass out and actually have my ear on the ground at some point.  #jelloshooters
- WTF is going on in Ontario? Just about every team changed. The guy who won the friggin’ province (Mark Kean) could not convince one of his teammates to stick with him. My man-crush Greg Balsdon is not playing with the Bices. Glenn Howard is treating next year like #TBT – with both Middaugh and Hart playing for him. Maybe Russ should skip!!! Is Ed Werenich the 5th?  #sweepwithhammers  
-  Glad to see Max Elmalah winning the Mixed in Quebec – with a very nice team. They will represent us well. #MikeKennedydidnotwin?
- Apparently Mixed Doubles is going to be in the next Winter Olympics. I still maintain that Mixed Doubles is what you should order at the bar after a curling game – but if there is an Olympic spot on the line in what seems to be a pretty random game, then I might have to try out! As long as nobody expects me to sweep my own friggin’ rock – that’s just plain wrong.  #doubleryeandcokeplease
- Curious to see if any of the BIG teams will break up – after a few very disappointing seasons. (Koe?) #firelaing


Some thoughts on my last blog:
I read the Jill Officer post about all the mean shit that people posted about Team Jones after their loss in the World Finals. Shameful stuff. Good on Jill for taking it on.
It did get me feeling somewhat guilty about my last blog where I  hated on Brad Jacobs and Team. I will say that my intention was to point out that this team has become hated by some of the curling world (in the way that people hate the Boston Bruins). I might have got a bit too personal in my usual search for entertainment, and maybe a bit too preachy in my quest to save curling from itself. If I went too far, than I am sorry. And trust me when I say it is really not personal. I do not know these guys at all of the ice.
I do not hate any of those dudes personally. Yes, they may look like the kind of guys who make you want to leave the gym when they show up – but for goodness sake they are CURLERS – so they cannot be that bad in my books.


Still not a big fan of the over-the-top MMA-like celebrations. But in the name of giving it a chance, my club team did a  “Team Jacobs Celebration Impersonation Night” in our last ladder game! My skip made an half-open hit for two in the 1st end, and we went CRAZY. Fist pumps. CMONs! I have to admit, it did feel kinda good. It was liberating -  like running naked on the beach. But on the downside - we looked retarded. Our opposition, Mike Kennedy, was not impressed. It might have worked better if I actually had biceps.


A big thanks to Evan Mooney and the good folks from Lennoxville curling club for inviting me to be a guest speaker at the “Pie Spiel” banquet. It was such a great experience. If you need a reminder of what curling is all about, pick up a few guys and sign up for this spiel next year. Entry fee is all of $160. The highlight of the spiel is an awesome roast beef lunch – which is followed by dessert:  about 100 home-made pies. The pies alone are worth the $160.  They had every pie imaginable. I am glad my awesome Hardline Curling Pants (shameless sponsor plug!) have enough stretch in the waist!

mmmm. Pie.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Guest Blog: JM Ménard shares his views on the Brier

This is a new one for in the house: 
A guest blog! From none other than the 2006 Brier champ - and the asshole that beat me in the Quebec final this year (and the Semi-final last year in case you are keeping track!)
But happy to turn over my space to him -  so enjoy!
In a previous blog I mentioned I was hoping to go to the Brier before it becomes the 8th slam...JM says I might be too late!

Dear Brier,

I’m writing this letter because I’m worried, worried about the long lasting relationship I’ve been fortunate enough to have had with you. The first time I became conscious of who you are was at the age of 13 (1989 Brier in Saskatoon). At that time, I was just starting up in the sport and was quite amazed with the coverage of the event. The more I was watching, the more I was getting into it… In the following years, while most kids were playing outside during March break, I was in my parents basement following this great event then heading to the rink to practice. I had a dream slowly building in me: Playing in the Brier one day.

It was an ambitious dream, and I quickly realized that lots of work and hiccups would happen along the way. Sacrifices would be numerous, but I could simply not stop before giving it a fair try. Finally, in 2003, my dream became reality; the Brier invited me to play!!! Including this year, I also had this precious invitation delivered to me on 8 occasions and feel blessed by these opportunities. You also allowed me the ultimate prize in 2006; handing me your precious Tankard and engraving my name on it.

I’ve always had the utmost respect for you but I’ve been noticing some changes over the past few years and as a friend, I find it my responsibility to let you know how I feel. I won’t be talking about the relegation as you already know my position on this (it shouldn’t exist…) but more on how the event is run. We used to be treated like Hollywood Stars for a full week making it difficult to go back to a normal lifestyle.  The event lived up to the expectations that had been building in me since my childhood. Now the event is looking more and more like your typical World Curling Tour weekend event. If you allow me, I will point out the numerous changes I’ve witness over the years:

Transportation: Until a few years back, every team had two drivers for the whole week, one driver for the team and a driver for the spouses and relatives. That was simply amazing and offered so much flexibility to team and family members. We also had the opportunity to develop a privileged relationship with our drivers. Now, we need to call a dispatch center to get a ride and family and spouses are on their own. With the dispatch center closing at midnight, I won’t even go on explaining how challenging it is to grab a cab when getting out of the Patch after midnight. I felt like Cinderella looking at the clock to make sure we got out of the building before midnight… When we arrived at the airport this year, my mom was traveling with us and the first thing she was told when arriving was: “Mam you’ll be on your own to get to the hotel”. What a great start to the event!!!

Rooms: Every team used to have 6 rooms for the full event, one per player (including the alternate) and one for the coach. This was simply amazing and it allowed each player to bring his family without disturbing other team members. Each room was also provided with a case of beer and a basket full of munchies. Tim Hortons coffee makers were also provided on a few occasions (a little challenging to bring back home but a great idea). Newspapers were also provided each morning on the step of our door. How great was it to start my day, a newspaper to feed on while conducting my morning business in the bathroom…

This year, we only had four rooms, therefore no family members decided to come over beside my mom. The active roster was therefore split in two rooms like we do in a regular curling event. As for the case of beer and the munchies, they’ve been a no show for a few years now and the newspaper is now non-existent meaning I have to modify my morning routine.

Per Diem: One of the great perks in playing the Brier was the allowance of a per diem to each player for the whole week. Until this year, it’s always been 850$ per player. This was so helpful and allowed players to play the whole week without taking any money from their bank account. This year, it was cut down to 550$, when you consider how many people WE, the players are bringing into the arena, it seems a small price to pay.

Sponsors Night-Opening Banquet-Closing Banquet: One of the highlight of a Brier has always been the Thursday night sponsor night. This was a great occasion to meet the sponsors and the other participants in a relaxed environment. An amazing finger food buffet was always present and beverages were free. This event is now, sadly, history…

Opening banquet: This aspect has not changed a whole lot over time but let’s say it’s not as glamorous as it once was. I remember the first few Brier’s I played in, we were piped in by a chorus of Pipers, now we are quickly brought in….. There use to be guest speakers and presentation of previous Brier winners, these days, there is an MC quickly conducting business…

Closing banquet: The closing banquet used to be after the final and was a final opportunity the meet our fellow competitors before heading home. A couple years ago, they switched it to a Brunch Banquet being held after the infamous bronze medal game (why the hell does that game exist by the way?) and before the final. It was a highend brunch with plenty to choose from. This year, they were charging 56$ for non team members for a buffet menu you could find at a local restaurant for 15$.....

Players lounge/room: At all the previous Briers I’ve had the chance to attend, there was a Players’ Lounge in the facility where players could socialize, eat, relax after a game. Back in the days, family members were also welcomed but that was cut short a few years ago. Last year in Kamloops, the Players’ Lounge went from being very comfortable and rooming to feeling like anchovies… This year: nothing, rien, nada...

Food between games: In the good old days, it was possible to get a hot buffet service or order food from a caterer between games. This year, we had two choices: a) Go to the main concourse of the Saddledome and have a Chili Dog or a greasy Double cheeseburger b) rush out of the arena after the game to get something to eat. Having tried option “a” in the past with limited success in games following this decision, we decided to go with option “b”. As you can imagine, Subway was a popular destination and I have yet to eat a submarine sandwich since coming back from Calgary. On the other hand, a visit in the officials room allowed me to witness they were provided with a hot food service and fresh baked pies…..

Jackets: In my first few Briers, jackets and team shirts were delivered to your room which was a classy move. The last couple of years, we have been directed to a room in the hotel where you are to pick up a box with your gear. This year, getting to our box was like going through a maze with numerous obstacles. We had to deal with Hotel employees not knowing what the hell we were talking about, wrong keys provided to us, closed section of the hotel were a janitor with all the keys needed to be called in before finally being able to get our stuff. There also the story of a team whose gear was misplaced and they started the Hot Shots on Friday with certain members of the team not having anything to wear….

I’m sure you now see my point, being invited to your event used to be the pinnacle of curling but as the years go by, I’m afraid all these good things we were once provided with will soon only be memories to tell our family and friends if nothing is done.


JM Menard

Monday, March 9, 2015

Brier Recap; and why I suddenly feel the need to Navage my nose.

Brier Recap;

I really wanted to have something to rant about. Relegation, Team Canada, broomgazzi, the CCA (or its new moniker: Curling Canada), TSN dissing the Quebec Team. 

But I have to admit it: I just thoroughly enjoyed the hell out of the Brier this year. 

I was worried heading in. Maybe Warren Hansen was right, and the Brier is just not that big a deal anymore. the Canada Cup and the Slams offer better curling.


In the end, curling saved the day. The games provided all the drama, the tension and the strategy and the excitement that the sport can offer.   Once the Brier reached the playoffs, all the games became epic contests coming down to last rock, with drama and exquisite shotmaking. It was a Curling fan’s dream; it was emotional, and was won in an extra end with a draw to the screw.


Some random thoughts, in no particular order:
  • Okay, it takes a big man to admit he was wrong. So here goes. Team Canada was awesome, and fun to watch. In the end, they made it a better tournament. I know I said that this team did not deserve to be there, and they were certainly on their way to living up to that prediction, but they turned it around. The shift of Johnny Mo to 3rd seemed to inspire Pat Simmons to skip just about the best Brier I have ever seen from anyone, and the rest was history.
  • I have dumped on Johhny Mo before, but man he was awesome. He proved he is the best 3rd in the land, and his energy on the ice made the game that much better and fun to watch. And he came out with some awesome new terminology: “Pat – put a rock here and it is Danger Bay for them!” Love it. Reference to a classic crappy Canadian TV series to describe a couple of rocks in the back 8 - awesome. 
  • Relegation is still shitty. The only bright side is it might motivate Nova Scotia to get off its arse and run a better Provincial in an arena; so as to send the best team that can play under arena conditions (no disrespect to Mr. MacLeod – who was a fine example of sportsmanship).
  • So-so week for the Quebec boys. I am sure they are disappointed to have finished out of the playoffs. The fact is they started the week flat (which might have something to do with Quebec Provincials being 6 weeks before the Brier), and they finished flat against Gushue and Simmons. Too bad,I was looking forward to TSN talking about how many out-turns they throw all weekend.
  • I know Home Hardware is a great sponsor – but their tagline: “Homeowners helping homeowners with Expert Advice”. Really? Are you required to own a home to work there? What if you just rent? And what is this advice? By a round mop?
  • Okay, I liked Dave Nedohin as a player, but he has some work to do on his commentary skills. Mudryk kept throwing him softballs, and he kept swinging and missing. He told endless stories of how he has played with against all of these guys before, and how good they are. Yawn. TSN might have been better to run the games silently.
  • I do not understand Gushue’s last shot against Team Canada in the semi-finals. He needs to force him to one point, and has a chance to throw a back-line tap back to lie behind the corner guard, and instead tries to make a corner freeze on a corner-frozen stone above the t-line. This was a MUCH harder shot than the tap back, in my humble opinion. Instead he lined up the automatic double for Simmons, and that was that. (says the guy sitting watching on his living room couch)
  • I love Vic Router (with Russ and Cheryl), but if I had heard him say BRUSH BROTHERS one more time I was going to switch to Guy on RDS.
  • I need to get a Navage. It has been a dry winter in Quebec, and my nose feels like there is stuff up there from the cretaceous period. Not sure what the difference is between the Navage and my garden hose though. That and I suddenly feel the need to by some new farm equipment, and some chemicals to protect my lawn from Sclerotium (whatever the hell that is).
  • Not sure if they did this at other Briers, but I liked the Team intros at the beginning with the walk-in music and the cheerleaders. Made it feel like an MMA fight. Already contemplating what my walk-in song will be. I am open to suggestions.
  • Nice try TSN – trying to make me like Brad Jacobs. You ignored their boorish behaviour, you kept showing me shots of his newborn baby, and even tried to do a little 5th end fluff piece about how much they love curling and each other. Nice try!
So on this subject, I have to ask…

Why do we hate Brad Jacobs So?

I was watching the 1-2 game Friday night between Brad Jacobs and Brad Gushue. It was an awesome display of curling. There were triples, button draws, touch doubles, drama and excitement right until the last shot.
I was also sitting with my iPhone; reading people’s comments on Twitter and Facebook every so often who were also sharing their impressions of the game. And what did people talk about the most? Was it the great shotmaking? The triples? The sweeping? The fan reaction? Nope, they were talking about how Team Jacobs reacted to making a semi-tough shot for 3 in the 5th end, and how obnoxious their reaction was.

I can't find a link to it...so let me describe it:

It seemed like a cross between an NFL end-zone dance, and a woman going through childbirth. There was guttural, primal screaming; there were clenched fists. There were high-fives that looked like they would have broken my wrist. There was grunting that sounded like my bathroom on a Sunday morning after an all-day Saturday visit to a cheese factory.

The way this team celebrates has polarized much of the curling world.  People hate them. Some love them, but lots of people hate them. They certainly did not win any fans with the classless and disrespectful foot banging against Kean, and probably lost a few more with their over-the-top celebrations against Gushue in the 5th end. By the time they were in the finals, Facebook posts and tweets all seemed unanimous in hoping that Simmons teaches Jacobs a lesson.
I must say that their celebrations turn me off.  But maybe I am a little too old-school. I come from the Vince Lombardi school of celebrating. Lombardi was the Green Bay coach who famously told his players; “If you manage to get into the End Zone, act like you have been there before.”
Watch this one: Laycock making a sick double-raise-double to keep his team in the game. Check out his celebration after. Classy.

The pro-Jacobs camp will surely say that this team is reaching out to a new generation of fans, raised on highlight videos of the best goal celebrations and reality TV – where over-reaction is a requirement. They will say that they are hated because they are winners. They will quote Taylor Swift: “Haters gonna hate, hate hate.” Maybe I am a just a hater.
But I don’t have the same negative reaction to watching other great teams celebrate - like Gushue. Or Ménard. Or Stoughton. Or Howard. I did not feel weird watching McEwen and team go crazy after he made the best shot of the season earlier this year. But when Jacobs and the Brush Brothers go crazy, I just want to puke.
I think my discomfort comes from what I hold dearly about curling, and the values that are built into the game's unwritten etiquette.
Maybe I look at sports differently now that I have kids. But one thing that I look for in a sport is what traits it helps you develop as a human being. I have learned a lot in curling, and from the many people I have played the game with or against. Here are some life lessons learned:
  • Treat your opponents with respect. Beat them, but respect them.
  • You are not bigger than the game. Others were great before you, and others will be great after you are gone.
  • Control your emotions – both positive and negative ones. Staying calm under pressure is the key to winning.
  • Play the game fairly and honestly. There are no officials – so honesty is required to make it a playable game. Golf and curling are the only sports I know where you call a foul on yourself, even at the highest level of play. (and it is the only sport where you would say to a competitor: “take the shot over” like Kevin Koe did this week)
  • There is no showboating in curling. Never celebrate other people’s misses.
  • Don’t get a tattoo of another man’s face on your chest, because your girlfriend will inevitably imagine him when she is with you! (okay I did not need curling to teach me that one)

By no means do I suggest that all curlers are perfect. We have all been assholes at one time or another. But I know when I have been.  And if I don't, there is usually someone is there to call me on it.

Somehow the game’s etiquette has always been kept by its venerable leaders; the respected old-timer (that every curling club has one or two of) who shakes his head when you slam a broom, or celebrate too wildly. I grew up worshipping guys like Hackner and Lang, Stoughton, Ryan, and Folk. None of these guys would have gone crazy after a tap-back in the 5th end of a tight game. None of these guys ever thought they were bigger than the game. I never heard any of them say anything like “We are changing the face of curling”. 

I am not sure the face of curling needs to be changed. And if it is to be changed, it probably should not be changed for a squinty, angry weight-lifting scowl.

Anyway - once again the Brier proved that it is the ultimate curling event, and despite its flaws and issues (like relegation); is still the greatest showcase for the sport that I love.