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Friday, February 1, 2019

Grumpy Post-Provincials Blog


So a couple of weeks have passed since the Quebec Provincial Curling Championship…so I guess it’s time to come out from my cave and start blogging again!

Quebec Men’s Provincials

Argh. That sucked.
We lost the Provincial Final to Martin Crete on an agonizingly good shot: a 4 foot angle tap to the pin. I keep seeing it playing over like an ever-repeating GIF in my brain. It haunts my dreams. It still hurts. My second says he has PTSD.

Of course congrats to Martin and team and all that. Quebec will be well-represented at the Brier in Brandon in March (*he begrudgingly mumbled halfheartedly).  But damn, I just wanted it to be me.

Unfortunately, as a Tier 2 team, our season is now O-V-E-R. We could not find a spiel to play in if we tried. I looked on the World Curling Tour website for possible events between now and the end of the season – and all I found was the Red Square classic in Moscow. Seriously. Moscow. The prize money is paid in Kompromat, and 2nd place is a month in Siberia.
   
Of course the Slam Teams will play in a number of Slams before and after the Brier, further distancing themselves in terms of points and experience from the rest of us mortals, but for us it’s already golf season. It’s -17 with 50 cm of snow on the ground, but it’s golf season.

So if we actually want to curl, we either need to play in the Mixed or the Mixed Doubles, play in some late season drinking-spiels or just start practicing for next September. Damn. I miss curling already.
I think I need to organize a giant cash spiel this time of the year for all the teams that are not at the Brier and who don’t want to stop curling in January. I will put that on my to-do list for next season.



Quebec Women’s Provincials

I have to admit I was a bit dismayed watching the Quebec Scotties this year, which was going on at the same time as the Quebec Men’s provincials in Grand-Mere.

What the heck has happened to women’s curling in Quebec? There were all of five teams competing for the right to represent Quebec at The Scotties. Five. And guess what: 2 of the teams were junior teams!

The Quebec Scotties Final this year featured 2 junior teams, and not even the best junior team. Gabrielle Lavoie defeated Emilia Gagné in the final – and I wish them well at the Scotties. Both of these teams are very dedicated junior teams. Laurie St-Georges meanwhile won the Junior Championship, and was busy during Quebec Provincials playing at Junior Nationals. So Quebec is (again) sending its 2nd best junior team to the Scotties.  

With all due respect to these teams – I know that they work very hard to be as good as they are - but they are junior teams. They are young, dedicated and enthusiastic – but have all the weaknesses that junior teams typically have.

So what the hell happened to anyone over the age of 21? I know women who curl. I know lots of them. I know lots of them that would likely have beaten the teams that won. But for some reason they CHOSE not to sign up.

Amélie Blais had a serious women’s team this year – but they had a bad week. They are arguably the only women’s team in Quebec that actually practiced and played – and even then their schedule seemed rather light for what they hoped to accomplish. Verreault and Perron rounded out the field – I love both of these teams but I am not sure either is really putting in the time and effort required to take a serious run at the Scotties.

So what happened? How can we fix this?

The first step in solving a problem is usually to understand it. Why are so few women signing up to play competitively?

Some theories:
·        The “Pro” teams like Homan, Jones and Einerson have gotten so good that it discourages the Tier 2 women’s teams from signing up to go get pounded on National TV at the Scotties.
·        There are not enough Women’s events within a reasonable distance of Montreal/Quebec to allow the teams to even conceive playing a schedule that would allow them to be good enough.
·        Women in Quebec just don’t like curling anymore. (I hope it’s not the case!)

I don’t portend to know the answers. I must admit it is weird that there are still a pile of Men’s teams that would give their left nut for the chance of playing in a Brier (and I am one of them), yet the idea of playing in a Scotties is so uninspiring that we can’t get more than a couple of teams to even try out! I think the problem is worse here in Quebec, as most other provinces still have actual playdowns to get to provincials. In Quebec you just sign up to go to Provincials – and even if you don’t sign up Curling Quebec might call you to play to fill the draw!

So here are some solutions:

-         Let’s fund a Quebec Women’s Curling Tour. I think there might be some money left from when we hosted the Scotties in a Women’s curling development fund – or maybe we can convince some corporate benefactor to throw a few bucks at this. But there needs to be something – a series of events – a tour – a carrot – that can provide some competition and get more people into the game.
-        20 Years ago – we used to have the Montreal Open – a big spiel that brought the best women curlers in the country here. Let’s do it again.
-         Let’s offer coaching to any women’s team looking to get better. Curling Quebec can do some matchmaking here – but let’s offer mentorship to teams that want help. And not just technical coaching – but coaching from teams/players that understand competition – and can help them build a plan and a schedule to reach their goals.
-         To all the women who have proudly represented us at the Scotties in the past– I issue you this challenge: Get involved in this. The sport has given you a lot – it is time to give back. I am not going to name names – but I seem to remember during the Scotties in Montreal  a herd of 40 or 50 Blue-jacket wearing women that showed up for the Thursday night draw. You all should be involved in this. Get to work. If you don’t want to play anymore, then get involved in coaching – or helping to run a women’s event at your club.

Anybody else have any ideas? Or do we just shrug our shoulders and hope that the next generation of junior teams will save us from the current sad state of women’s curling in Quebec. 

5 comments:

  1. Gord Otto (Alberta)February 1, 2019 at 3:17 PM

    Mike,
    Curling Canada's recent announced change to junior curling eligibility they say is being done to "allow junior curlers a longer season" (while not mentioning that they are stealing away an entire YEAR of competition from the children -- poor trade for the kids...).
    Maybe when they do all that they must be planning to do to fill up this part of the year for juniors, they could throw a few bones the older folks' way.

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