Favorite Reporter

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

It's over? A post-Brier blog.

I am now officially in post-Brier depression. I can’t believe it is over. Back to real life.

That was absolutely the most fun week of my life. Some perspective – if I had to rank the Brier on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the best week of curling I had ever had, the Brier is a 37. I can’t believe it’s over, and I absolutely need to get back.

I will admit to crying at the usual Vic Router Brier wrap-up video. Here is the link to it:

Some highlights of the week, in no particular order:

Game 1 vs. Saskatchewan
So my first game of the Regina Brier was against the home team and local favorite Stephen Laycock.  I can’t even verbalize what it was like to be bagpiped on the ice in front of an absolutely full Brandt Center. My goosebumps had goosebumps. But what an awesome feeling. We had arrived.
Great past Saskatchewan champions were also part of the opening ceremonies, with Sandra Schmirler’s team and daughters, as well as Ernie Richardson and other past legends. The experience was beyond surreal.
I honestly do not remember the game that followed, which is surprising for me. I remember we played extremely well. As nervous as we were, our opponent was Matt Dunstone who despite his ridiculous curling CV was also playing his very first Brier game. We won a tightly-played contest, and for a few hours we were undefeated.

First TV Game
On Sunday, we found out that our game against Ontario was going to be the TSN game. As much as you want to tell yourself this is just another curling game, I have to admit I was a little bit freaked out to look up at the Jumbotron and see me, and realize that a National TV audience was also seeing me at the same time. Took me an end to get used to that, and by then we were down a cheap 3 to a team curling 100%. 
Ouch. It was a humbling learning experience.

Vs. Jacobs
Or game against Jacobs on Tuesday night was if nothing else entertaining. This game was the Brad Jacobs show, and the rest of us were just secondary characters. Brad made 2 ridiculously good shots in 4 and 5 to break us. After the game, somebody told me that Brad’s shot was the TSN 1v1 winner – and I actually had to ask “which one?” When they showed the top 5 shots of the Brier, his last rock in 4 and 5 both made the list. (I actually thought his triple takeout in 4 was a better shot than the raise in 5).  It was very cool to be the TSN highlight of the night, would have preferred to be on the other side of it.
I hate losing, but that game was still fun.

The Patch
For my non-curling readers, the Brier Patch is a bar usually set up somewhere close to the arena where fans and players can go between and after the games. The patch in Regina was ridiculous. I think it was the size of 2 or 3 football fields, and a mere 5 minute indoor walk from the arena. On the last few nights, there were likely 8000+ plus fans there. There is nothing else like it in curling. It felt like every curler and fan in Canada was there. It was simply put the biggest curling party I have ever seen. There is live music. There is food. And there are…

Tacos in a Bag
I need to bring this to Quebec. So you take a bag of Doritos, you cut it open along the side, and add Salsa, Sour Cream, beef, lettuce and tomato and then eat it with a fork. A Taco in a chip bag. Brilliant. Apparently this is a Saskatchewan thing. Needs to be exported.

The Fans
Okay – I come from Quebec. In Quebec, my level of celebrity is exactly zero. Telling somebody you curl is an open invitation to get a “I’ll bet you are great at sweeping up around the house”, or “isn’t that a sport for old people” joke. So to play somewhere where people stop you in the street to sign an autograph, or where the flight crew on your flight home asks for a selfie with me is a whole new set of experiences. I literally could not walk 100 feet in the patch without somebody stopping to congratulate us and to say how much the enjoyed watching us curl. We had fans of all ages. Somebody donated $200 to the Sandra Schmirler foundation for one of MY Quebec shirts. Surreal.

Special thanks to our Quebec entourage who traveled to Regina to make us feel at home. They were awesome all week.

The Volunteers/Workers
Have never met a nicer bunch of folks. Every driver, flag bearer, bartender, and countless others were all incredible all week long. Also the TSN folks - I never thought about just how many people it takes to put on a production like TSN does the Brier. What a dedicated and fun group of people.

The Format:
So this was the first Brier with the new 2-section round robin + championship pool. I will say the same thing that I said after the Scotties; it is far from ideal – but I am still waiting for a better idea.
I do like the inclusiveness of it, I like the fact that the games get better as the week progresses. I like it a lot better than relegation. I am not in love with the idea of a Wild Card, but you need to find a 16th team from somewhere.
Still holding back on criticism while waiting for a better idea that still satisfies all the constraints.

My Team
I was really proud of how my guys approached the game. We played hard, but we had a lot of fun. I know that taking the emotion out and keeping your focus is a big part of what takes to win, but being too serious is not what works for us. So we had fun, and people seemed to like that. I think my front end said something stupid/crazy/silly/hilarious before almost every rock I threw. The most common thing I heard from fans all week is how much they enjoyed watching us curl, because we were having fun.
Line of the week from JF, during an end where we were set-up well one end: “Notre set-up est aussi beau que le profil Tinder de Will.” (translation: our set-up is as pretty as Will’s Tinder profile). Awesome.
Love these guys - and hope we can get back to the Brier again together.

I also received the single greatest compliment I have ever/will ever get in my curling life. Before our final round robin game, while we were warming up, Vic Router came down from the broadcast booth to chat. He came over to me, shook my hand and said: “We really enjoyed covering you guys this week, Mike. You are what curling is all about.”

Highlight of my curling life.    (So far! J)


  1. Good job guys, it was fun watching you. You guys finished with the same amount of wins as I did, but you managed to get 4 less lost! Lol

  2. You gave a pretty good account of yourselves for a first Brier, where the atmosphere and environment were completely different than anything you’d previously experienced - the crowds, the TV presence, the autographs, the ice, the quality level of the competition... It’s a lot to absorb and adjust to in just a few days... especially while playing several teams who are accustomed to that environment (and who curl pretty well, too). You certainly didn’t embarrass yourselves.
    Glad you enjoyed the experience.

  3. Many years ago (back when that Guy guy was representing us) I went to the Brier as a spectator. It was a fantastic experience yet it was out west (unless one considers Ottawa as such! As much as I enjoyed it, (even relating to my past experience as an official at various levels of competition), I can barely imagine what it would be like to be part of it, as a player in a province that breathes curling. How wonderful you must feel, can’t blame you for being excited, he’ll we were excited to watch you from here! Great job Mike. Robert B. from LCC

  4. Congrats on having a great week.
    When you can measure success by the memories you bring home, rather than just the W's and L's, you know you're in the right place. The story about your chat with Vic made me smile and tear up all at once.
    What a game.

  5. Congrats Mike!
    Gerry from Otterburn

  6. My highlight for Team Quebec? Hearing the question "what weight are your throwing?" with the answer of "Turbo Supercharged". Laughed out loud. Seriously. Anne the Fan.

  7. What a great summary. We get to see the experience, but rarely do we get to hear the experience from a player. Great story! Hope to see you at another Brier.

  8. Tacos in a bag are called Walking Tacos. They are not a Sasky thing. They are quite popular all over. You should get out more. ;-)

  9. I've been following your team Mike and your blog says it all.Curling is so much more than winning.The whole team spirit thing has been a huge positive effect in my life.