It’s likely the deepest the Brier has been in some time, the feeling that there are many teams here at the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary that could challenge for a playoff berth.
It certainly makes it hard to pick a top four, but in my opinion, the Brier final is pretty clear.
Brad’s, Jacobs and Gushue have been the best two teams (in attendance here) this season, and I expect the trend to continue this week.
With the addition of Mark Nichols, the Gushue team has taken a step forward, from contenders to future champion and they’re my pick to win it all.
Brad Gushue will win Newfoundland and Labrador’s first Brier since 1976.
Brad Jacobs will make a strong challenge and very well could win in what will likely be a ‘coin-flip’ final, but I believe it’s time for The Rock. Jacobs’ play last season leading up to and including the Olympics has raised the game of several teams this season, and will be tough to beat.
Reid Carruthers and Kevin Koe round out my Final Four predictions, though there’s a lot less confidence here. John Morris and Steve Laycock could easily interchange, with Jean-Michel Menard an outside shot as well.
The rest of ’em, who knows as there’s some experience and past history of successes, but in this deep field, they’ll be in tough to win more than 5 or 6 games.
History was made today at the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary with the final game of the Pre-Qualifier round-robin as Nova Scotia played Prince Edward Island in a game between two long-time participants for the last spot into the main event. Nova Scotia’s Glen MacLeod won their opener against Bob Smallwood of Yukon, the third team in the event, while Adam Casey of PEI lost their first to setup the important final match.
With Yukon set at 1-1, their fate was sealed, a shootout score of 118.3 centimeters had them feeling uncomfortable to play the waiting game. Nova Scotia could seal their spot into the Saturday play-in game by posting a better shootout than the Yukon, but came 2 centimeters short, sitting at 120.3cm, making the game against PEI an elimination game.
PEI came out strong, finishing a 12-3 win, leaving Nova Scotia out of the Brier for the first time since 1927. A three-way tie at 1-1 with Nova Scotia being eliminated with the worst shootout score. A long time historic participant, their absence will certainly create a lot of debate and discussion.
While we’re understanding of where the Brier and Scotties are likely going in the future due to competitive pressures, we feel some things may need to be re-thought. The lack of a tie-breaking game when all teams finished tied, being eliminated on a shootout will certainly leave a sour taste with many people.
We caught up with the teams following the game, each with their thoughts on the game and the process.
Are we setting up clubs to fail? – Gerry Geurts, CurlingZone/Ontario Curling Tour
Another year and another long list of complaining on the Ontario Curling forums about ice conditions at the playdowns which saw Glenn Howard getting knocked out of contention, losing 2 at Regions and then going 0-2 at the Challenge Round to miss the provincials for the first time since the 2003 boycott year.
While getting into whether Howard “deserved better” is for another blog, my concerns are more about playable ice conditions and that curling clubs and icemakers are being put up to an impossible standard as their facilities and the icemaker’s processes are not set up for 12-14 ends of competitive ice.
When you consider that teams get 7 minutes of practice time to learn the ice, you’ll see them throw up and back, twice or more, putting at least 2 ends of play onto the ice before the game even starts. Add in a possible extra end and curling clubs are facing the burden of trying to make ice conditions that need to hold up for DOUBLE the normal club play when you factor in the increased sweeping prowess of these great young teams.
Because of this, we’ve seen problems at clubs that cause randomized conditions that don’t allow the club and icemakers to fully showcase their abilities. The icemakers are forced to tinker and experiment with their tempatures to try and hold up to the conditions and that can often sacrifice curl and speed that these players desire.
Reports out of Gravenhurst was that the icemaker was in consultation with the OCA Ice Team and trying to get more curl on his ice, thus he raised the temperature to get a little more swing, but this also pushes the limit of how long the ice will hold up and in the Region 3 playdowns the reports were that the teams had to deal with a lot of picks.These picks will happen because the ice is softer/warmer and will wear down faster leaving flat spots with no pebble left on the ice, causing the rocks to “pick”.
At the Challenge Round on the weekend, conditions in Bradford were reported to be 3-3.5 feet of curl and teams were looking forward to the opportunity to play on better ice. The end result though was that it seems the icemaker turned his temperature down to allow the ice to withstand the punishment of 12-14 ends of curling, with the result being less curl and disappointed teams.
This is certainly no fault of the ice crews as they’re doing the best they can and reaching out for help. The problem is that we’re expecting them to work miracles with an event format they will rarely see in their club.
The solution: 2 up and 2 back in practice, limit the time to 7 minutes but don’t make it a rush to throw as many stones. Another practice that should be implemented is requiring teams to throw their draw to button, which has been tested in Ontario Curling Tour events and is now used in the Grand Slams as well.
Go to 8 ends for Zone and Regional play and then when you get to Provincials we go back to 10 ends. It will make for better conditions to play on for the preliminary levels of the game, and give the curlers the consistency they desire.
While 4 feet of curl and 25 second ice is great to have at all levels, I believe that all curlers really want is to be able to confidently draw the button in the Final end of their curling game.
Funerals are supposed to be a time to mourn and reflect, particular if the person passed unexpectedly or because of causes that cut short their life. But during the course of Neil Harrison’s funeral and more so in the reception afterward, I found myself feeling uplifted – smiling, in fact – because of what I learned about the man affectionately known as Harry.
I had followed Neil’s curling career since I began writing about the sport for the Toronto Sun in 1986, beginning with the World Championships. I hadn’t been on the “beat” when Neil played lead for Ed Werenich’s team that won the Canadian and World’s in 1983 with Paul Savage and John Kawaja rounding out the Fab Four that was known as The Dream Team.
Ironically, the first time I saw Neil curl happened in the Battle of the Sexes match the night before the ’86 World’s, featuring The Wrench’s ’83 team against the newly-crowned women’s world champions, skipped by Marilyn Darte. If I needed a baptism into the zany and crazy world of curling – at least back then – this was it. Eddie’s team was preceded on to the ice by a well-endowed stripper, while Marilyn did a cartwheel. The men easily defeated the women, but the score was incidental. This was curling camp. There had been nothing like it since, and nothing has come close to matching it.
Neil always made me laugh – and many others – with his jokes. Neil’s high-pitched laugh, compared to Eddie’s cackle, was part of his charm and personality. Occasionally, he made me laugh at myself. It was all in good spirit, in particular when he videotaped with his “Harry Cam”. Neil also wrote curling columns, and I appreciated his prose.
But it was his funeral which allowed me to see Neil in a different way – a composite way – particularly as it applied to his career as a fireman, something he did for 30 years before retiring as a captain. Tried as I did during my years covering Eddie and Neil, who was the fifth for Eddie on many occasions, I didn’t picture them as being anything but curlers. I never envisioned them driving trucks at high speeds to tend to a fire or climbing a ladder to get to the second story of a house or a high-rise building. Neil looked far more athletic than Eddie. Then again, everybody did. I’ll never forget the fuss The Wrench and Paul had to go through one year to prove their fitness levels to the Canadian Curling Association for purposes of competing in the Trials for the Olympics before it was an actual full-medal sport. This was what I called the famous/infamous Fitness vs. Fatness debate. Long before curlers were made of muscle and sinew, they had big bellies and exercised by pounding a corn broom. The game was so different then – and in some ways better. It certainly was more fun and entertaining.
But listening to the chaplain at Neil’s funeral and watching how ceremonial it was, I gained a full appreciation for Neil Harrison the firefighter, not Neil Harrison the curler. He received full department honours for losing his life as a result of an illness incurred in the line of duty. Even though it had been a few years since his retirement, it was proven that the cancerous brain tumour that caused Neil’s death was directly related to his work. This allowed him to have his casket draped in a Canadian flag, which was rolled up and presented to his wife, Jane, and receive the highest medal of honour. His cap rested above the coffin. The service included bagpipers, which reminded me of the many curling events I have seen, and drums. During the rendition of Amazing Grace, I found myself close to tears. The service also included the ringing of the bell for the fallen firefighters and the firefighter’s prayer.
These are things you see dramatized in movies or in a real-life televised funeral of a firefighter or policeman. Now I had come to see Neil in his “real” job away from curling; of being a husband and father of two, one of whom, his daughter, Amber, I found out was married at Neil’s bedside knowing he did not have much time to live.
Neil loved the song American Pie by Don McLean and a portion of it was played during the service. I saw some people moving their heads to the sounds of the music and thought I heard some singing. And as I listened to the chorus, the words took on a different meaning. The song was written as a tribute to singer Buddy Holly, who died in a plane crash, but some of the words applied to Neil – indeed the Chevy had been driven to the levee and the levee was dry because this was the day the music of a world champion curler had died.
And much too soon at that.
Eddie and Paul were among the six honourary pallbearers, along with Neil’s brother, Ross, son Sean, son-in-law Andrew Chard and nephew Steven Yourt.
Many in attendance for the jam-packed service were firefighters, and towards the end of it they were instructed to leave and take their coats. I didn’t see what happened afterward because I was among the last to leave the church, but six carried the coffin and placed it on an antique pumper, while the rest followed behind in a procession towards the nearby reception hall where family, friends and colleagues joined together to remember Neil.
I saw Eddie, wearing his signature pin, holding a beer in one hand and wearing the spats that he and his teammates that won the 1990 Canadian and World Championships dressed in to celebrate their win. They looked like mob gangsters from the ‘20s, but they styled and profiled. And seeing Eddie and Paul and many others brought back a flood of great memories.
Paul told a story at the reception of his memories of Neil, who called him Saul. Some of the stories loosely touched the surface of some of the wild antics that made Eddie, Paul, John and Neil renowned in the curling world for their tremendous skill and penchant for partying. They were world-class players in both categories.
Following his speech, Paul encouraged others to walk up to the microphone and share their stories of Neil, but no one did. How could you possibly follow that?
A video of the 1983 World’s played and I finally had a chance to see Harry in action. It’s been 31 years, can you believe it?
I hadn’t seen Neil in years and had no idea of his illness until I read of his recent passing at the age of 65 – which is far too young.
I knew I had to be at the funeral. I knew I wanted to say good-bye.
I saw many from the curling community, some who had battled against Neil, others who were friends.
The chaplain spoke of the legacy we leave behind when we die. He spoke of how it didn’t matter if you were a world champion curler, but rather what you did to enrich the lives of others. While he said this was a time to mourn and to feel the hurt and loss, it was also a time to think about how Neil had touched us, and that even though he is physically gone he is still alive in our hearts and minds.
Neil Harrison made an impact on my writing career and my life – and more than anything he made me laugh.
HALIFAX, Canada – The World Curling Federation (WCF) and Canadian Curling Association (CCA) announced today that Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada will host the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship in 2015.
The Championship will take place between 28 March and 5 April 2015 at the 10,500-seat Halifax Metro Centre – the first time the world men’s championship will have ever been played in the province.
“We are delighted to be returning to the province of Nova Scotia for a World Curling Championship, the first since the World Junior Men’s Curling Championship was held in Dartmouth in 1986,” said World Curling Federation President Kate Caithness. “The World Curling Federation, Canadian Curling Association and our partner Ford of Canada are looking forward to welcoming the world’s best men’s curling teams back to Canada after witnessing an extremely exciting men’s World Championship in Victoria, British Columbia, in 2013. We invite curling fans from around the world join us in Halifax and experience one of the highlights of the 2015 curling season.”
CCA Chief Executive Officer Greg Stremlaw added: “Halifax has delivered the goods in the past when it comes to hosting CCA Season of Champions curling events, and I see no reason why the 2015 Ford Worlds would be any different. The Halifax Metro Centre is an outstanding facility, and the volunteer groups always rise to the occasion to make these events memorable.”
“Ford of Canada is honoured to be title sponsor of the 2015 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship,” said Sarah Rae, Partnerships and Events Manager for Ford Motor Co. of Canada. “At Ford we are proud of our 20-year partnership with the Canadian Curling Association, and events like this are a perfect opportunity to bring our joint commitment to community and sport to the world stage. On behalf of Ford, I want to thank the City of Halifax, the host committee and all the volunteers who we know will make this event a great success.”
It will be Canada’s 22nd opportunity to host the World Men’s Championship, and the fourth time it will be played in Atlantic Canada.
Moncton, N.B., hosted in 2009 (won by Scotland’s David Murdoch) and 1980 (won by Canada’s Rick Folk), while Saint John, N.B. hosted in 1999 (won by Scotland’s Hammy McMillan).
“We’re extremely proud that the WCF and CCA have decided that Halifax should play host to the 2015 Ford World Men’s Championship,” said Mat Harris, who along with brother Graham Harris will serve as co-chairs of the Host Committee. “Our city’s curling volunteers and fans can’t wait for the opportunity to show our hospitality to the world’s best curling teams.”
Halifax Mayor, Mike Savage, welcomed the news. He said: “Halifax is a curling town with a proud tradition of welcoming competitive curlers and filling stands with enthusiastic fans. The Ford World Men’s Championship is a wonderful opportunity for our city and its people to play host to athletes and visitors from around the globe.”
“Nova Scotians have a proven track record of hosting successful events, and in 2015, we will welcome participants and curling fans with our renowned hospitality and good cheer,” said Michel Samson, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. “Events like this are one way we can boost tourism and our provincial economy, and we’re pleased to be a supporter.”
“With our long history of successful events, the Halifax Metro Centre offers a perfect backdrop for the Ford World Curling Championship,” said Scott Ferguson, President and CEO of Trade Centre Limited, the Crown corporation that manages the Metro Centre. “We look forward to working with the World Curling Federation, the Canadian Curling Association and the local host committee to make 2015 a memorable experience for the athletes, organisers and fans.”
Tickets for the 2015 Ford World Men’s Championship will go on sale later this year. Check www.curling.ca/tickets for updated information.
The 2014 World Men’s Championship, presented by Ford of Canada, will be staged in Beijing, China, March 29-April 6. You can find out more information about this event here: http://www.wmcc2014.curlingevents.com
Meanwhile the 2014 Ford World Women’s Championship, presented by Booster Juice, is scheduled for March 15-23 at Harbour Station in Saint John, N.B. Find out more information about this event here: http://www.curling.ca/2014worldwomen-en
The World Women’s Curling Championship 2015 will take place in Sapporo, Japan between 14-22 March 2015.
Great news on a couple of fronts as the North Bay Granite Club will be hosting the 2015 Canadian Mixed Championship, in a club that is seeing a resurgence in exposure due to the hard work of it’s manager Bobby Ray. The club has recently hosted a successful summerspiel event for the second year and it’s great to see them take on an event like that mixed that I expect to see them do an amazing job with.
The other thing this announcement means is that the national mixed championship is not going away and this is great news for the curlers who love to play this event. There’s been concern that with the mixed doubles becoming the national championship, that the Canadian Curling Association (CCA) would do away with the mixed and so far that’s not the case. I would expect that as long as enthusiastic clubs like the North Bay Granite Club step forward to host the mixed will remain.
While the travel costs limit money making opportunities for the CCA, this event does make it possible for host committees to generate revenues for their clubs, and exposure and experience in hosting a major championship and we hope to see it continue going forward.
The announcement below:
The 2015 Canadian Mixed Curling Championship will be hosted by the North Bay Granite Club in North Bay, Ont., it was announced today by the Canadian Curling Association (CCA).
The traditional four-player team championship will be staged Nov. 8-15, 2014, with the pre-qualifier to take place Nov. 6 and 7 at the Granite Club.It will be the eighth time the Northern Ontario Curling Association (NOCA) has played host to the Canadian Mixed Championship, and the second time the event has been played in North Bay. In 1988, an up-and-coming skip from Manitoba named Jeff Stoughton won his first national championship“The Northern Ontario Curling Association has a longstanding tradition of hosting the Canadian Mixed Championship,” said NOCA president Stephen Chenier. “The North Bay Granite Club will do a superb job with this event, and we look forward to welcoming Canada’s top mixed curling teams to Northern Ontario.” Thunder Bay has hosted the Canadian mixed on three occasions (1966, won by Manitoba’s Ernie Boushy; 1972, won by B.C.’s Trev Fisher); 1991, won by Manitoba’s Stoughton). Timmins hosted in 1982 (won by B.C.’s Glen Pierce) and 2004 (won by Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink), while Sudbury played host to the 2012 championship (won by Saskatchewan’s Jason Ackerman).
“This is going to be an exciting way to showcase both mixed curling and the North Bay Granite Club,” said Host Committee Co-Chair Dave Bennett. “Our club has a dedicated group of volunteers ready to make this one of the best Canadian Mixed Championships that has ever been staged.”
Ontario’s Cory Heggestad captured the 2013 Canadian Mixed Championship last November in Montreal.
The 2014 Canadian Mixed is scheduled for Nov. 14-23, 2013, at the Rideau Curling Club in Ottawa.
Canadian curler Matt Dumontelle has been suspended for two years from competition after an anti-doping rule violation during the World Men’s Curling Championship in Victoria.
Dumontelle, the alternate player for the team skipped by Brad Jacobs, tested positive for the banned substance Methandienone Metabolites in a test following the gold-medal game.
The result does not affect Canada’s silver-medal finish at the World Championship, nor does it have any ramifications for the Jacobs team.
“We are disappointed to hear this news,” said Canadian Curling Association (CCA) Chief Executive Officer Greg Stremlaw. “We take the issue of doping in sports extremely seriously, and we stress repeatedly and emphatically to our athletes how important it is to respect the rules set down by the World Anti-Doping Agency. We respect the findings of the tests, and will pursue no further action on behalf of the athlete in question. In the end, regardless of the circumstance, our athletes are solely responsible for everything that enters their body. Having said that, we are firm in the belief that our athletes respect the rules and will continue to display a high standard of following them. As well, the CCA will continue to provide educational resources to our athletes on the subject of doping. Players who compete in national and international events are told in advance, and in clear language, of the anti-doping rules and the importance of following them.”
Dumontelle informed the CCA, World Curling Federation and the World Anti-Doping Agency that he has acknowledged the violation and has waived his right to appeal the finding. His two-year sanction ends on May 6, 2015 (two years from the date of the provisional suspension being assessed), and makes him ineligible to participate in any sport that is part of the Canadian Anti-Doping Program during the time of the suspension.
“I take full responsibility for the findings of the positive test at the World Championship in Victoria. I am truly sorry for letting down my teammates, the Canadian Curling Association and curling fans across Canada,” said Dumontelle. “I was taking a workout supplement that I believed was safe; clearly, it was not and I regret that decision. I had no intentions of trying to ‘beat the system.’ I was made aware by our Canadian Curling Association High Performance staff of my responsibilities to respect and follow the rules as set down by the World Anti-Doping Agency. At the end of the day I accept that it was, and is, my responsibility to make sure that I am playing by those rules.”
“We have been informed of the positive finding for alternate player Matt Dumontelle, and while we remain friends with Matt, we in no way condone his actions,” said E.J. Harnden, the second for Team Jacobs. “We respect the rules of the the World Anti-Doping Agency, and we also respect the process and the resulting penalty. Our team has undergone various in-competition tests this season with no adverse findings. As well, we are fully aware that as high-performance athletes, we are subject to random testing at any time. This is as it should be, because in no way, shape or form do we think that doping has a place in sports. We believe that this is an extremely isolated incident, and in no way should it be a reflection on our team or our sport.”
Dumontelle was added to Team Jacobs following its victory at the 2013 Northern Ontario championship. He did not participate in any games at the World Championship.
OTTAWA — Curling fans around the world will be able to access the rich history of the Roaring Game in Canada with just a click of the mouse.
The Canadian Curling Association (CCA) announced today that it has launched a new web site for its Canadian Curling Hall of Fame. It can be accessed at www.curling.ca/hof.
On the site, fans and media will be able to get information on the 385 members of the Canadian Curling Association Hall of Fame, including 2013 inductees Cathy King, Sonja Gaudet and Laura Lochanski, through a virtual tour.
“So much of the attention is paid to the here and now when it comes to curling, but it’s due to the work of the athletes and builders in the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame that game is thriving, healthy and prominent today in Canada,” said CCA Chief Executive Officer Greg Stremlaw. “Our Hall of Fame web-based platform is a wonderful and comprehensive tribute to those people, and a terrific way for fans to find out more about the game and the people who’ve made it so great by exploring the virtual Hall of Fame.”
The online Hall of Fame features pictures and biographies of most of the inductees over the years, although the site will continue to evolve as pictures and information on some of the early inductees are submitted.
“We’re hoping our great curling fans can supply some more background details and photographs of our inductees,” said Glenn van Gulik, the CCA’s Director, Information Services and Technology, who oversaw the Virtual Hall of Fame project. “It’s a great way for people to get involved with, and contribute to, the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.”
Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Curling Association
Office: 613-834-2076 x117
Director, Communication & Media Relations
Canadian Curling Association
The reigning champions will get a chance to defend their title in their home province at the 2014 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship, it was announced today by the Canadian Curling Association.
The 11th edition of the national wheelchair championship will be played April 28 to May 4, 2014, at Club de curling Boucherville in Boucherville, Que.
At the 2013 championship at the RA Centre in Ottawa, Quebec’s Benoît Lessard and his team from Magog — Carl Marquis, Sébastien Boisvert, Johanne Daly and coach Germain Tremblay — claimed their province’s first Canadian wheelchair title.
“Curling Quebec is excited that the country’s top wheelchair curlers will be in Boucherville for the Canadian championship,” said Curling Quebec executive-director Marco Ferraro. “It’s going to be a wonderful season of curling in our province, with both the Canadian wheelchair championship and the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Montreal. Quebec’s curlers and curling fans couldn’t be happier.”
The 2014 Canadian Wheelchair Championship will be organized and operated by Défi sportif AlterGo, a Quebec-based organization focused on raising awareness of sports for athletes with a disability.
“We have an extensive background in running competitions for athletes with a disability, and we know there’s a passion for wheelchair curling in this country,” said Maxime Gagnon, the director for Défi sportif AlterGo. “We’re truly excited to be a part of this championship as it’s staged in Quebec for the first time. We’re confident that the curling community in Boucherville and around the province will embrace the 2014 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship and make it a big success.”
The Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship began in 2004 and has previously been won by Team Canada (skip Chris Daw) in 2004, 2005 and 2006; by British Columbia in 2007 (skip Darryl Neighbour), 2008 and 2009 (skip Jim Armstrong) and 2010 (skip Gary Cormack); by Manitoba (skip Chris Sobkowicz) in 2011; and by Saskatchewan (skip Darwin Bender) in 2012.
For more information:
Director, Championship Services & Curling Club Development
Canadian Curling Association
Office: 613-834-2076 x116
Director, Communication & Media Relations
Canadian Curling Association
Director, Défi sportif AlterGo
Tel.: 514-933-2739, x213
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