Joe’s Blog

Norweigian curling team loves Canadian ice at Navy Classic



Sander Roelvaag (centre) guided a Norwegian team to a gold medal at the world university curling championships. (World Curling Federation)

The just finished Navy Fall Classic Cashspiel boasted an international flavour with the inclusion of Team Mjoen from Oslo, Norway. The team third is Sander Roelvaag, who at 26 years of age has a myriad of curling experience. The young team is in the country for only two weeks.


“We are here for two main reasons, one is to play competitive curling and second to get inspired by Canada. It’s the mecca of curling,” Roelvaag said.

The affable third is an icemaker at two clubs in the Norwegian capital. (His boss is two-time world champion Dordi Nordby).

“Back home we just played a spiel and the ice was terrible — it was just no fun at all,” Roelvaag said.

“We just really have to come here where people put a lot more pride in ice conditions and curling and the aura of all the curling clubs and the plagues and the famous names up on the walls. It’s great.”

Besides the Navy event, they are playing in the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard that begins Thursday.

Between them, team members have won gold at the University games, gold in mixed doubles and bronze a couple of times at junior worlds.

Other than Roelvaag his teammates are all students so they could only afford a two-week stint both financially and for time.

“We were really strict with our money last season,” he said. “We ended up winning some competitions and we had some money left over. I told the guys we probably have enough money to make a trip to Canada. They weren’t very hard to convince. Two of the guys haven’t been here before. It was important as a team and individually to get re-inspired. “

Roelvaag makes his living from curling but from many sources. Besides being a two-club full time icemaker, he teaches many corporate rental groups. He is also a curling broadcaster for the World Curling Federation and sometimes for Norwegian television. He does the game coverage on the WCF YouTube channel and has been picked up by TSN occasionally. It helps that he speaks Norwegian, English, Swedish, Danish and some German.

Fellow countryman Pal Trulsen’s gold medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics made him take notice of the sport. His introduction to curling came late in life when he was 15 and he saw Mark Nichols play at the Torino Games. He was his first curling idol. Their first match at Stu Sells is against Nichols.

As to curling’s growth in his country, Roelvaag is worried that there aren’t enough youngsters coming up.

“But you’ll be hearing a lot in a few years,” he said. The son of Eigil Ramsfjell is making a name for himself, as are the sons of Trulsen’s teammates.

The Norweigians went 2-2 at Navy. Kingston’s Greg Balsdon defeated Ottawa’s Chad Vandermade for the championship.


The Rideau junior team of Hailey Armstrong, Grace Holyoke, Lindsay Dubue and Marcia Richardson took the top spot in the Ice Breaker junior spiel in Ottawa on Sunday. The squad is clicking, having won two events and getting a bye into the adult Stu Sells Tankard this weekend. They will be facing some prominent and strong women’s squads like Sherry Middaugh and Tracy Fleury.

Rachel Homan and John Morris once again teamed up in the Canad Inns Mixed Doubles championship on the weekend. They came from the C-side of the draw and defeated a team from China for the championship.


Thanksgiving weekend’s Capital Curling Classic begins Friday … The Ottawa Curling Club defeated the Cornwall Curling Centre to capture the Quebec Challenge Cup.


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Tim Hortons Brier pays off for Ottawa Valley Curling Association


Alberta skip Kevin Koe gazes down the ice as Newfoundland and Labrador counterpart Brad Gushue calls a shot during the Brier final. (Ashley Fraser/Postmedia Network)


They did better than they thought.

At the Ottawa Valley Curling Association annual meeting Monday evening, the proposed budget had a $25,000 entry to hold the spot for proceeds to the OVCA from the Tim Hortons Brier. That was the minimum amount of money Curling Canada guaranteed to a Brier host.

Then, Elaine Brimicombe of the OVCA made her announcement. The OVCA share of the ticket sale revenue will be $219,000.  Add to this, the Ontario Curling Association’s portion at $100,000 and there is an infusion of over $400,000 to support curling in the province.

“Until we heard that number today we had a $25,000 placeholder for it in our budget and now we realize that it’s a little over eight times the amount that we had earmarked.” said OVCA president Bill Woods.

So what to do with the money? There are some limitations proscribed for the funds raised by the 50/50 draw as outlined by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.  They issued the license. The money has to be used for specific populations such as youth. In so keeping, the OVCA is establishing a grant system so curlers and curling clubs can access the funds.

The surprising ticket numbers reflect how hard Brimicombe’s committee worked. The OVCA is going to get input from its stakeholders in how to distribute this money and will seek input from clubs, for instance. One thing the OVCA is not going to do is invest the windfall into the current capital fund they have.

“So this is a good problem to have because we know so many people need so much out of this,” Woods said. “After all, it is their money.”

At this same meeting, one of the reasons to support clubs financially was to hear the winners of the annual Ken Thain awards. The recipients were: Marc Bourguignon (RCMP club) for his work with the Ottawa Youth Curling League; Evans Harrison (Deep River) for more than 60 years of volunteering and composing funny limericks; Ken Waterman (Navy) for helping the club extricate themselves from rough financial waters; Kelly McNaull (Hunt) for starting the Curl for a Cause bonspiel and Tersh Doe (Manotick) for doing almost all volunteer tasks at that club over a number of years.

BRUSH OFF: The approved mustard coloured pads are causing some confusion as to when one has to use them. The OCA has joined the WCF and Curling Canada in determining when these pads have to be used, so check out their web page.  Not every one of their events requires use of the pad. The OVCA has not yet decided what they will do with their events.

Interestingly if a player breaks their broom in anger at an OCA event, they have to play the remainder of the game without a broom.

The Sun asked all OVCA clubs what each plans to do at their clubs about the yellow peril. So far clubs that responded have said at their members can use anything they want.

WINNER’S CIRCLE: Montreal’s Michael Fournier, with Felix Asselin, William Dion and Miguel Bernard, won the Moosehead Fall Open at RCMP. They defeated Greg Balsdon from Kingston 7-6.

END NOTES: The Navy is hosting their first Tour event this weekend. The event begins Thursday with the finals on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The winner earns $1,500…The U21 Icebreaker plays out October Saturday and Sunday at the Rideau, Ottawa and Carleton Heights.

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Curling still has broom concerns



Brad Jacobs’ teammates Ryan Harnden, left, watches Ryan Fry sweep during the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic at the Cornwall Curling Centre on Sept. 16. (Greg Peerenboom/Postmedia Network)

There seems to be peace in one land. But what about the other land?

During the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic in Cornwall last weekend all the athletes conformed to the new World Curling Federation pad mandate adopted by the Tour. Only sanctioned pads, mustard yellow in colour and using material from a designated single source, could be used.

But does this one designated pad only rule trickle down to that other land — the club level, where 95% of curlers play?

If it does, do all the other rules follow as well? In a nutshell those rules state — No pad change during a game and no switching of brooms between players. Hardline Curling president Archie Manavian (whose Ice Pad head was part of Broomgate) told the Sun at the Shorty “At the elite level there seems to be peace and I hope it carries down to the club level.”

When the WCF issued its broom pad ruling, it also indicated “For leagues, competitions or events contested primarily for recreation or fun, or for competitions or events contested primarily by novice or inexperienced curlers, it may be necessary to limit which sweeping equipment can be used as a condition of competition.”

Ryan Fry, the third for Brad Jacobs’ rink, had an interesting take on the new fabric at the Shorty. “It’s old material that doesn’t do a whole lot. It may hold the rock a bit straighter the better sweeper you are and drag it a bit further and that’s the way it should be.” Fry also said that in his opinion the controversy last season between teams wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be.

Brent Laing’s assessment of the new pads is “It looks to be back to the usual sweep when it’s light and sweep when it’s tight. Some teams are still sweeping to make it curl but I’m not convinced that that’s working yet but I haven’t seen enough shots to know for sure but yeah I think it’s fixed.” Laing also reports that mom (Jennifer Jones) and one-month=old baby Skyla are doing fine.

Scotland’s David Murdoch thinks “To be honest we’ve probably gone back nearly ten years with the sweeping now and you have to be super accurate with the throw and the sweeping holds a little bit of line; you can’t drag it a ton for weight so the percentage are going to drop or you got to play really, really well.”

The elite players all seem to be happy with the new ruling.

The conundrum for clubs is whom do you make unhappy with a pad ruling. Does everyone use them? The approved pads are upwards of $29 on average. One thing clubs might weigh is to set members up for success (especially less proficient throwers), they might have to allow them to use the previously allowed pads.

It may be prudent for the sport’s governing bodies to re-visit the new pad regime after this season and see if any changes have to be made.

The winners of the Shorty were Ottawa’s Rachel Homan and Alberta’s Kevin Koe.

Both rinks boasted undefeated records.


The inaugural Hogline U18 Cashspiel was held on the weekend at City View. The women’s team was Kayla Gray, Mikayla Gemmill, Chelsea Ferrier and Morgan Typhair. The men’s rink was Jordan McNamara, Lucas Houle, Brendan Laframboise and Alex Cousineau.


Russ Howard and Mary-Anne Arsenault are conducting a sold out clinic this weekend at City View … Swedish resident (and Ottawa native) Alison Kreviazuk announced her engagement to Fredrik Lindberg last week. Alison’s father reports that Fredrik formally asked him for his daughter’s hand last Christmas.


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Thanks to all the teams, parents, volunteers and the City View facility for a great weekend of spieling and creating so many memories.

U18 Girls – Team Gray

Morgan Typhair (Lead)

Chelsea Ferrier (Second)

Joe Pavia – Hogline Curlers Proshop Owner (Sponsor)

Mikayla Gemmill (Vice)

Kayla Gray (Skip)


U18 Boys – Team McNamara

Lucas Houle (Vice)

Jordan McNamara (Skip)

Joe Pavia – Hogline Curlers Proshop Owner (Sponsor)

Alex Cousineau (Lead)

Brendan Laframboise (Second)

Phil Bellissimo (Coach)

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by Joe Pavia

He kicked the hell out of his cancer. It’s now time to get back on the ice.

Craig Savill is making his debut this weekend at the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins spiel presented by WFG at the Cornwall Curling Centre.

The Manotick resident missed all of last season as he fought to get healthy from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “I really didn’t think about curling too much. I was concentrating on my health and my family.” His medical team declared him cancer free this past August.

While he doesn’t have a set team lined up for this season Savill is hoping to eventually play on a team whose goal is the Olympics. For this season he is sparing for various rinks on the tour. He is throwing vice for Wayne Tuck this weekend beginning Thursday evening versus the defending champ, Brad Gushue. Gushue is out with an injury however.

He’s also giving back to curling in a number ways this season. First off he is playing in the inaugural Shorty Jenkins Celebrity Golf Tournament this Wednesday at the Cornwall Golf Club. Curlers will be paired with celebrity curlers with all the proceeds going to the Alzheimer Society of Cornwall & District and to the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre on behalf of Craig Savill.

His next venture stretches over this curling season. In conjunction with the Ottawa Youth Curling League he is starting the Savill Curling Academy. With room for 40 young people a session (they don’t have to curl in the youth curling league) the four sessions key on one or two aspects of the game both on ice and off. “There are no camps that don’t spread out the learning throughout the year. All of these camps are one weekend and you get inundated with so much information you can’t retain all of it.

So why not spread them out over 4 different sessions.” He feels by doing this once a month curlers will have three or four weeks to practice what they learned.

On top of this he will also operate adult group lessons for five to six hours a session with topics and times yet to be determined.

Savill feels he is ready to play. “I’ve been going to the gym pretty hard the last three months. I’m in shape and I’ve been practicing a whole bunch, which I’m going to do throughout the year.”

He can’t wait to compete again. “One thing I miss the most is the competitive side. I’m a very competitive person. I love competing. I watched a lot of curling on TV last year and that’s probably what I miss the most is being with the guys and competing and challenging myself.”

There will be plenty of competition in the Seaway City as the field is studded with stellar teams of both genders. Mike McEwen, Reid Carruthers, Brad Jacobs, Glenn Howard, John Epping (with Cornwall resident Mat Camm), David Murdoch, Niklas Edin, Kevin Koe, Brad Gushue and Tom Brewster highlight the men’s side. Rachel Homan, Sherry Middaugh and Silvana Tirinzoni are just some the women’s side.

The Shorty entertains from Thursday September 15 to Sunday September 18 at the Cornwall Curling Center. The prize purse is $89,000 up from $66,000. The women’s top dog takes home $10K while the men’s winner earns $15K. The Shorty boasts the highest prize purse of any 24-team Cashspiel.

Action begins Thursday with the finals scheduled for Sunday at 3:30.


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The World Curling Federation Sweeping Summit was held between 23 and 26 May at the North Grenville Curling Club in Kemptville, Ontario near Ottawa, Canada.

This event brought together an impressive group of world class athletes, high performance experts, curling administrators and curling equipment manufacturers to conduct testing and research into the unusual and over-effective impact of sweeping reported during this past season.

The Athlete group included Olympic Champions, World Champions and World Championship competitors.

Testing was conducted under the supervision of the National Research Council of Canada, using
scientific methodologies and high-tech recording equipment.

The objectives of the Sweeping Summit were to:

* determine which existing combinations of materials, construction and design allow sweepers to have a directional influence on a swept curling stone;
* determine which combinations of materials, construction and design, enforceable sweeping technique(s), or both “eliminate or significantly reduce the ability for a curling broom to have directional influence on a swept curling stone”; and,
* recommend applicable standards for sweeping equipment and rules for sweeping to the WCF General Assembly.

The Sweeping Summit objectives took into account feedback from almost 5000 responses to the WCF Sweeping Survey about what influence brushing should be allowed to have on a swept curling stone.
The outcomes from the survey clearly identified that:

* the delivery should be the most important aspect of a successful curling shot;
* sweeping should never be able to slow a stone down or make a stone “fall back” against the curl; and,
* sweeping should have only marginal ability to directionally impact a stone.

Initial Findings

The Sweeping Summit tested almost 50 brush models supplied by six equipment manufacturers, both in their original forms and with alternative combinations of fabrics and constructions. These new concepts were provided by manufacturers with the aim of determining sweeping devices which produced little or no directional influence.

The public debate which occurred this past season included the suggestion that the unusual impacts of sweeping being observed were caused by a particular sweeping technique and if sweepers were made to sweep at 90 degrees, fully across the face of the stone, the undesirable effects would cease to be an issue.

Although the full data set from the Sweeping Summit is still being correlated by the NRC, it was
quickly determined that certain combinations of materials and constructions proved to be far too
effective in the hands of top sweepers of either gender.

Testing confirmed that regardless of the technique, even with sweeping at 90 degrees, certain brushes had the ability to manipulate the stone in ways that ran counter to the views expressed in the Survey, including slowing it down.

Sweeping Summit Recommendations

Following the conclusion of the Sweeping Summit, the participating athletes made the following unanimous recommendations to a joint meeting of the WCF Competition and Rules Commission and the WCF Athlete Commission:

1. Only WCF approved sweeping equipment should be allowed for use at WCF Championships and events.

2. A single fabric from a single source should be used on all brushes approved for use at WCF Championships and events. The preferred fabric identified at the Sweeping Summit is a woven product with no external waterproof coating or artificial texturing.

3. The brush head construction should include a hard plastic base of minimum and maximum dimensions, foam of a specific density and thickness and no other internal components or features, such as foil, inserts or ridges.

4. Three specific fabric type brush head constructions were extensively tested and unanimously recommended.

5. Each player should have their own brush and swapping of brushes between players should not be permitted.

6. Only one brush head should be allowed for use on each broom in each game, unless replacement is approved by competition officials in cases where environmental challenges produce less than ideal playing conditions.

7. The only sweeping technique requiring enforcement should be the rule prohibiting depositing debris in the path of the stone, or “dumping”.

After discussion and deliberation, the recommendations from the Sweeping Summit were supported by the two Commissions and forwarded to the WCF Board for consideration.

Following several weeks of consideration and consultation with stakeholders, including curling equipment manufacturers, the WCF Board also supported these recommendations in principle.

Further discussions are ongoing and work continues to develop the detailed proposals which will be voted on at the WCF Annual Congress in Stockholm in September.


Equipment produced under these recommended standards has been demonstrated to be capable of having a reasonable impact when used by elite athletes with a high fitness and skill level and this equipment is specifically intended for use in WCF Championships and events. It is also likely these standards will adopted by other competitions contested by the same elite athletes.

The recommendations from the Sweeping Summit were developed following performance tests conducted in controlled conditions and the keen observations of the resulting effects by some of the best curling athletes in the world.

There were a number of fabrics tested which performed within acceptable margins but the single recommended fabric produced particularly consistent results, regardless of which of the three recommended head constructions or techniques were used.

The recommendation for a single fabric from a single source is intended to add an additional measure of security to protect the integrity of the field of play in elite competition. By requiring all teams to have the same fabric on their brushes and for construction of the brushes to be within a particular set of specifications, any difference in sweeping performance becomes the difference in the athletic ability and skill of the sweepers.

The immediate focus for the WCF will be to continue to work collaboratively with the manufacturers to understand the implications of these recommendations in terms of creating equipment for elite level players in time for the 2016-17 season.

The NRC will produce reports on the testing outcomes from the Sweeping Summit and those reports
expected in the next month may assist organizers of other competitions and events, from elite level
tours to clubs, in choosing how best to apply the WCF standards for brush heads to their events or

That being said, ensuring equipment used by curlers at every level of play provides appropriate
effectiveness, enjoyment and safety is important to the WCF.

Therefore, based on the preliminary results from the Sweeping Summit which are still to be
confirmed by the NRC, the WCF has begun consulting with curling equipment manufacturers to
determine what steps, if any, should be taken regarding curling equipment intended for recreational

After the work of the NRC is completed and the full test results are presented to the WCF Board and
Members for consideration, a report will be made public.

Licensed Manufacturers

This past season demonstrated the need for clear standards and specifications for curling equipment and the importance of having in place an efficient and effective system for quality assurance and testing.
To that end, collaboration with curling equipment manufacturers has begun to develop a licensing arrangement for those manufacturers who wish to have their equipment approved for use at WCF Championships and events.

Approval of Recommendations

Under the terms of the WCF Constitution, it is the Member Associations at a General Assembly that have the authority to make decisions regarding Rules of Curling. The next General Assembly is in Stockholm Sweden in early September.

This timeframe would not allow sufficient time for manufacturers to produce equipment complying with these recommendations prior to the start of the 2016-17 season, thereby impacting WCF Championships and potentially other elite curing events.

Therefore, the WCF Board has taken the extraordinary step of advising the Member Associations of these recommendations, their intended impacts and the undesirable consequences of waiting until the General Assembly in Stockholm.

After asking for and receiving no objections from the Member Associations to proceeding at this time, the Board has taken the decision to proceed with establishing standards based on these recommendations so manufacturers can begin producing WCF approved equipment in time for next season.


The WCF Board would like to put on record its deepest gratitude and appreciation to all those involved in the Sweeping Summit.

The single-minded focus of this group to find a solution to the challenges faced by the sport over the past season has made a significant contribution to ensuring the fundamental principles of curling as a sport which demands a high degree of athletic performance and mental skill, are protected.

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Russell rink skipped by Bryan Cochrane captures Canadian senior title


Bryan Cochrane

Bryan Cochrane (Postmedia Network file)

Their mechanics won them a national title.


Skip Bryan Cochrane led his Russell team to the men’s title at the Everest Canadian senior championship in Digby, N.S., on Saturday. Cochrane felt that in all aspects of the game, their superior mechanics loomed large. Not bad analysis for a team sponsored by AC Mechanical.

Cochrane played with Ian Macaulay at third, Doug Johnston at second and Ken Sullivan at lead.

The team did a good job adjusting to arena ice.

“The ice was so good for our team and for me because I’ve really worked hard to understand how to curl properly on arena ice and throwing the rock properly. You deal with the late curl of the sharpened rocks. I felt our team was the best team to understand that all week,” said the skip with his famous nearly done-in throat rasping out answers.

Ottawa’s Jon Wall was the event’s icemaker, by the way.

Their record confirms the analysis. They suffered only one defeat in the round robin to finish at 9-1. Their only loss was a bad one against B.C. It was an 8-2 loss where B.C., took three before stealing one and three.

“I really did believe that B.C., was the second best team there all week. They were the team to beat,” Cochrane said.

In the semis, ironically an Ontario steal gave Cochrane a 6-5 win over B.C. Ontario went on to beat Manitoba in the final.

“Other than the B.C., game in the semifinal, we didn’t use up the old horseshoe luck too much,” Cochrane said.

They used the now new sweeping techniques as well.

“There’s no doubt we had the best sweeping,” Cochrane said. “We had the best technique. I think we used the new technology as much as I don’t like the fact that sweeping has taken over the game a bit much.

“Our team was throwing the right weight that allowed the brooms to help make the shot. We all felt really confident.”

The skip credits both Sullivan and Johnston with great sweeping prowess. After the final, members of Team Manitoba (who are leaving shortly to play in the senior worlds) asked the Ontario front-end for sweeping advice.

Ontario had a varied arsenal as well.

“The opposition knew what we could do,” Cochrane said. “I sensed that they were calling different shots because they knew we could hit and make run backs. We were the best team at that as well.”

Cochrane thinks the star of the final was his third.

“Ian Macaulay was unbelievable. First of all he didn’t miss a shot in the final game. Not one. So he shot 100%. But some of the shots he made were like you have to give him 115% in the game. He was unbelievable.”

Even though they scored two in the seventh end to make the score 6-3, Manitoba shook hands.

This was Cochrane’s first national title. He competed in the 2003 Brier. How does this national compare with the Brier?

“I don’t want to downplay the seniors that much. But the Brier was a special moment, a special week. That will always be the highlight on my curling career but it’s fun to win at any level.”

The team will represent Canada next April at the worlds in Lethbridge.

“I was happy for the boys,” Cochrane said. “It’s a pretty special moment. We’ve been runners-up at the provincial three times. Ken Doug and I lost three times together and the time I had with Ian at the Brier made it all special.”

This is this season’s last curling column. Have a stress free off-season.

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Homan’s team gets ready for mixed doubles event

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist


Rachel Homan

Rachel Homan during the 2016 Ontario Scotties at the Brampton Curling Club in Brampton, Ont., on Jan. 19, 2016. (Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)


A gold medal is a carrot.

The Canadian mixed doubles championship begins Thursday and a host of Canada’s elite players are competing in Saskatoon. The world championship in this discipline is the first qualifying event to determine the seven countries that will be battling for the gold medal along with host country Korea at the 2018 Winter Games

All members of Rachel Homan’s Ottawa rink are competing. Homan is teamed with Mark Nichols from Brad Gushue’s squad; Lisa Weagle will be playing with John Epping; Joanne Courtney is with Reid Carruthers and third Emma Miskew is paired with Ryan Fry of Brad Jacobs’ team.

“You pick you own partners,” said Miskew. “So people just talked and decided to team up. You never know who is going to work with you. Especially when there is only one other person, you have to make sure you’re a good team.”

Mike and Dawn McEwen are one of the few married couples competing.

“It’s just like an experimentation for a lot of the players that don’t usually play in mixed doubles to just feel it out and see who they need to play with and what kind of style of game they want to play.” Miskew continued.

There are four pools of eight teams each. Courtney and Miskew are in the same one. After a pool round-robin the four pool winners, plus the next best eight teams advance to a 12-team elimination playoff. This leads to a quarterfinal, semi and final.

What if Homan team members end up playing each other? They experienced that earlier this season in Oshawa. Homan played Weagle and Weagle played Miskew.

“You still want your teammates to play well because all in all our major goal is to win as a group of four,” Miskew said. “When I see Rachel or Lisa or Joanne playing well, it motivates me to play well against them so when we play as a team we all play well.”

She explains that there is a difference playing mixed doubles.

“It’s a lot faster.,” Miskew said. “You really don’t have a ton of time to just hang out, you’re on the go a lot and getting up and helping to sweep. You’re moving more and it seems to go by very quickly.”

Does a potential Olympic medal help fill the national field?

“Yeah, I would say so,” Miskew said. “It’s tough to say exactly why everyone is motivated to play. That it’s in the Olympics definitely helps people wanting to play in it. At the elite level, they still focus on four-person curling. The mixed double is something to do on the side because it’s fun and different.”

Other notable entries are Stefanie Lawton with Steve Laycock, Chelsea Carey with Colin Hodgson, Jocelyn Peterman and Brent Gallant and the defending champions — Charley Thomas and Kalynn Park.

The winning team will represent Canada at the 2016 world mixed doubles championship, April 16-23 in Karlstad, Sweden.


The men’s world championship begins Saturday in Basel, Switzerland. TSN’s coverage begins Saturday afternoon at 1 with Canada versus Finland.


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Might not be obvious but curling definitely growing in U.S.

Danny Austin mug

Erika Brown

United States skip Erika Brown calls a shot during a game against South Korea at the Women’s World Curling Championship in Swift Current, Sask., on March 22, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)


SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. — Playing with the American flag on your jacket at an international curling event doesn’t get you on ESPN’s Sportscenter or the cover of Sports Illustrated.

It probably never will.

Just don’t assume that a lack of media attention means the sport’s not growing in the U.S.

“I think (growth) is happening, but it’s just a long process,” U.S. skip Erika Brown said Tuesday morning after her team beat South Korea 10-3 at the world women’s curling championship.

“I’ve been saying this ever since the sport got into the Olympics, but it’s starting to snowball.”

The Olympics have been central to the sport’s growth in the U.S. ever since curling made its return to the official schedule in 1998 in Nagano, Japan. Every four years, the sport is broadcast onto the televisions of tens of millions of Americans, and it has paid dividends for local clubs.

During the 2014 Olympics, for instance, everyone from Steve Harvey to Arsenio Hall gave the sport a try on their TV shows, while a press release from USA Curling claimed curling was the most-watched Olympic sport on American cable networks during the Games.

Since, clubs have begun popping up across the country and events like the Continental Cup have attracted crowds in non-traditional markets like Las Vegas. USA Curling also has helped ease the financial burden of opening a new club with programs that loan out stones.

While it’s hard to get exact numbers — and no one is expecting curling to one day compete with the likes of the NFL and NBA — the American team at this week’s worlds say there’s no question the sport’s reach is expanding at the grassroots level.

“We know it’s growing, we’re building clubs at a rate that no one else in the world is building clubs,” said national team coach Ann Swisshelm. “There are clubs now in places like Charlotte and Phoenix and they’re looking at building a club in Southern California and Texas. We just had our national championships in Jacksonville, Florida.

“We have a really healthy curling population and at some point that will translate into more and more competitive play.”

Producing a team that can regularly compete with the best rinks on the international stage remains an elusive target, but it might be the key to sustaining growth. And it wasn’t all that long ago that the U.S. was regularly competing for medals at the worlds.

Debbie McCormick skipped her U.S. team to gold in 2003 in Winnipeg, while Cassandra Johnson led the Americans to silver in 2005 before McCormick repeated the feat a year later.

After a slow start this week in Swift Current, the U.S. team started picking up steam on Tuesday. First, they beat South Korea handily in the morning draw. A couple hours later, they produced a shocker, defeating heavily favoured Russia, 6-5.

“Everyone’s playing pretty darn good,” Brown said. “Our first couple of games I actually thought we played really well, we just didn’t end up on top of the scoreboard.”

Time will tell whether there’s a new generation of young curlers set to take over for the likes of Brown and John Shuster, but there’s reason for optimism at the junior level.

Earlier this month, Korey Dropkin led the U.S. to silver in the men’s event at the 2016 world junior curling championships, while Cory Christensen finished second in the women’s event.

“There’s some good young players who are working hard right now,” Brown said. “There’s reason for optimism.”


The rapidly changing ice conditions at the Credit Union iPlex may become more and more of a talking point as the week progresses.

Even as they picked up two wins on Tuesday, Team Canada admitted to struggling to adjust to changes in the ice between morning and afternoon draws.

“This morning we came up against a team that played really well and we had to be patient and wait it out,” skip Chelsea Carey said. “(This afternoon) it was like being in a different club. We were just really fooled by how hard we had to throw ends.”

Canada beat Germany 7-5 in the morning draw and followed that up with a 5-4 victory over lowly Italy in the afternoon. Wins are wins, but it was striking to see Carey needing a point in the 10th and final end to dispatch the winless Italians.

With a packed house for every draw, and temperatures that have generally been unseasonably warm, Carey wasn’t blaming the crew in Swift Current for the conditions. However, she said it was unlikely things were going to improve as the week wears on.

“I can’t imagine it’s going to be any better in the playoffs,” Carey said. “We’ve gotta prepare for it to be like this. If it’s better, that’s great, but this is how it’s been the last couple days and it’s just getting used to it.”

Canada sits tied atop the standings with Switzerland with a 6-1 record.


Every team talks about taking things game by game and improving as the week goes on.

But nobody’s putting their words into action quite like Eve Muirhead and her Scottish teammates.

After opening the event with a 5-3 loss to Sweden, Scotland has gone on a tear and was near-perfect while beating Denmark 9-3 on Tuesday morning and followed up with a 6-5 victory over Finland in the evening draw.

“We came out strong and played the scoreboard really, really well,” Muirhead said. “There’s still a long way to go, you’ve got to look at the big picture and we’re only half way through.

“It’s a long, long week.”

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Fundraising a reality

By Joe Pavia


It will be the first television show about curling.

The preeminent curling web site, Curling Zone, has launched at Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to produce a new documentary series called Far From Home – a show about curling. Gerry Geurts, the founder and driving force behind Curling Zone, will produce the series while Jesse Wachter will direct.

The show will follow the World Curling Tour exploring the stars, fans, and event people – many aspects of the game. According to the website “We want you to see what we see – this isn’t a show about us – it’s about the players, fans, event management and even mascots that we meet all over the world. Our stories will follow the daily routines of everyone from the game’s top players to the guy who shows up before everyone else to prepare the ice in the morning. This is a game of chess on ice with millions of dollars on the line and played by champions from all walks of life. Forget what you think you know about curling and where it’s played; we intend to show you where things get interesting on and off the ice from a uniquely Canadian point of view.”

Curling Zone had already produced a number of the Far From Home episodes but only for Internet viewing. He says he has some interest from a number of more mainstream broadcasters.

The site features their pilot episode Far From Home Karuizawa, Japan. The episode is well produced and interesting, telling the story of where Olympic curling began. Other planned episodes are Korea and the winter games, a summer bonspiel in curling crazy California, of course Scotland and finally the Brier.

What’s this entire series going to cost? According to the site “To do this right we need $65,000 CAD (approximately $48,000 USD) to produce 4 additional half hour episodes that document our stops on the 2016/2017 curling season.”

The two have added incentives to help attract backers to the fold. There are many levels offered from $2 to $8,000 with various gifts available from clothing to Executive Producer credit. They have a couple of $1,000 or more backers and plenty of backers for lesser amounts like $25. They even have an incentive where they pay your entry to the California spiel as front end. At this writing they stand at 60 backers at $8,954 and forty-seven days left in the campaign.

Wachter is the man behind the segments seen on Sportsnet for the Slams such as “Thomas Arbuckle”, “Pete on the Street” and “The Sheet Show” with Ben Herbert.

The way television ratings soar for curling events this may just prove to be a winner for the sport.

OCA RESULTS: In the Broker Link Mixed regions 1A – Dave Collyer, B – Don Bowser. In senior mixed regions 1A – Bill Adams, B – Paul Madden.

WINNERS CIRCLE: The team Joey Taylor, Mathieu Gravel, Darren Sutherland and Darren McEwen won The Over The Rainbow spiel on Sunday. In North Bay the Ottawa squad of the Swiffers captured the Caldwell Banker Open. They were Chris Rediger, Alex Birtwistle, Natalie Rediger, Jack Glover and Marion Unrau.




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Brier numbers are good

by Joe Pavia

Ottawa embraces Brier with numbers

With a sold out final assured Sunday night, Ottawa Tim Hortons Brier attendance should hover around the 115,000 mark. The last time Ottawa hosted the attendance was listed as 154,136. There are a few things to keep in mind however when comparing 2001 with 2016. Fewer and fewer people attend the event for the entire 11 days like they did in the past. The attendance figures also include comp tickets. In 2001 many people suspected that plenty of free passes were given out. Just like the concert industry that is choosing smaller venues Curling Canada is looking at smaller venues as well like Ottawa and next year in St. John’s.


It’s just not the glory

Brier participation means earing both Canadian Team Ranking System points as well as cash. The champion gets $225,000 that includes Sports Canada funding of $144,000 for two years and 88.679 points.; second gets – $61,000 (69.676 points), third- $51,000 (53.840 points) and fourth – $41,000 (38.005 points). Each team placing five to eighth gets $10,800, ninth to twelfth earns $5,800 each and thirteen to fifteenth leave with $3,200 each (3.167 points).


Patch closes early on final day

Usually open until late at night the famous Patch is closing at 8:30. Historically not many people actually watch the final in the Patch. The major reason is almost 2900 kilometers though. That’s the distance from Ottawa to Swift Current SK where the Ford World Women’s championship begins Saturday. However they start setting up the Patch March 16.


The escalation of beer

Beer plays a big part at the Brier in more ways that one.

The Patch purveys Molson products. TD Place sells Labatt products.

The stadium concession stands have sold beer all week long. Come the championship weekend TD Place added strategically placed portable beer bars. On the final Sunday barley sandwich sellers pulled large coolers on wheels behind them and held cans of beer in their hand while yelling “Cold Beer! Cold Beer!”.


Charities named

The sudden death of Patch volunteer Kirsten Maither just prior to the event’s start prompted volunteer bar manager Chris Walsh to ask fellow volunteers if they wanted to pool any tips they made and give them to charity.

The three charities were named Sunday-The Purple Ribbon campaign, to honour Craig Savill, the Kirsten Maither Tribute Fund and CHEO. The exact amount is not known yet.


Food and beverage

Well Ottawa curling fans you did it. According to Ken Lauzon, the food and beverage manager, the Patch’s initial 40,000 tallboy can order total was exceeded. The final won’t be known until the Patch closes. TD Place Chef Alain Bellemare said this event was unlike their usual events. The most popular items were mac and cheese and shave beef sandwiches., not pizza and dogs although they sold just over 4,000 hot dogs.



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Little Rocks finalists get big thrill at Brier


Rachel Homan

Ottawa skip Rachel Homan talks to one of the Little Rockers at the Tim Hortons Brier. (Submitted photo)

The excitement at Lansdowne Park seems to be growing. And there is excitement for all ages.

The two teams who are going to play in the Hogline Little Rocks championship are nervously waiting to get on the ice once the Page playoff game ends.

It’s Vankleek Hill against their big city rivals from the Rideau Club.

Rhett James, the fifth player for Vankleek Hill, said, “I am very excited.”

Does he think he will get to play? “I might trip a guy to do it. I don’t think there’s anything bigger.”

Jack Ragan, 11, from Rideau, throws second but is vice. He has a different take.

“I think this is just going to be a cool experience. I really don’t care if I we win or lose. I’m just excited to play on Brier ice.”

The Hill’s Jaxson Bigosgagnon 12, said, “Yes I’m very excited. It’s the biggest game of my life so far.”

Added Rideau skip Kai Collins, 11: “It’s Brier ice and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity although I hope one day I can represent Ontario.”

Sitting right near the young players is the second for Team British Columbia — Tyrel Griffith. He is waiting near the kids anxiously waiting to be introduced to the thousands in the arena as the winner of the Ross Harstone sportsmanship award, an award voted on by the players. He reflected on the start of his curling career.

“I got into curling probably 1999. I was a sign bearer for the P.E.I. team at the Canadian junior championships in my hometown of Kelowna. Jamie Newsome (P.E.I. skip) gave me his curling gloves and the whole team gave me a shirt. After that I was hooked on curling.”

Them That Can’t Teach

What do you do after you have been eliminated from the Tim Hortons Brier? If you are Wayne and Sherry Middaugh or Adam Casey and Dave Mathers, the latter two from Team P.E.I., you spend Saturday morning at the Granite club teaching Little Rockers.

Each player participated in a question-and-answer session with one recurring question — What is the highlight of your curling career? Wayne Middaugh’s answer was watching his bantam age daughter qualify for the provincials this season. He is the team’s coach

Lady of Spain

Former Ottawa resident and curler Melanie Robillard is in Ottawa for the last weekend of the Brier. She now lives in Madrid, Spain with her curling husband, Antonio de Mollinedo and their nine-month-old son Martin. She is expecting a second boy this summer. While in Ottawa she is paling around with her former bantam and junior teammate — Olympic champ Dawn McEwen.

Traffic Jam

Three members of Team P.E.I. were in an official van coming into Lansdowne Park when a car with its four-ways blinkers flashing stopped them in their tracks. On-coming cars halted their progress so the driver got out to inspect the car that seemingly had no one in it. Laying on the back seat was a woman breast-feeding her infant.

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Volunteers make the Tim Hortons Brier go

by Joe Pavia

Jean-Michel Menard

Jean-Michel Menard and Team Quebec at the Brier. (Errol McGihon/Ottawa Sun)

They come from near and far.

All major curling events run on volunteer power. This Brier is no different. About 550 people toil to pull off the event. But amazingly 110 of them don’t even live anywhere close to the capital.

Lisa Gamble resides in Vancouver. She’s in Ottawa for the entire event until she flies back on Monday.

“This is the event I look forward to all year,” she said.

Gamble has worked in accreditation and event services for three Briers

“That really makes it easy. I’m a veteran,” Gamble said.

She has done the same job in Calgary, Kamloops and now Ottawa. She used her husband’s points for her flights and accommodation.

Gamble doesn’t know anyone in Ottawa but “I enjoy meeting all the people, being able to see the players and being able to see the games up close.” She doesn’t do any other volunteer work because she curls lots.

Seeing the players is a thrill for her.

“It’s great, you know, just to be close to them. I have some stories but I have to keep them to myself,” Gamble said.

John and Noreen Wills are marathoners when it comes down to the Brier.

They have volunteered at 10 Briers and Scotties. Like all out-of-town people, they pay their own expenses and as Noreen pointed out “You have to pay $100 on top of that to volunteer.”

All volunteers pay for their uniforms.

The Pickering couple are now retired.

“We do it because it absolutely passes the time in the winter. The best thing is meeting people. It’s a holiday for us,” says John.

Adds Noreen “You meet all kinds of people and you get to know the towns. We are getting to know the Glebe in Ottawa, it’s a wonderful place.”

Jut a awhile ago, they donated their 26 event jackets to the club’s junior program. They have already put their names in to volunteer at the St. John’s Brier.

It’s her first Brier but by the twinkle in her eyes it won’t be her last.

Anna Cromwell, meanwhile, is from Yarmouth County, N.S.

“I guess we wanted to come to the Brier to help out in some way,” she said.

Her husband is with her but just enjoying the games.

Like many she’s here for the duration and having a blast. She volunteers in the Patch, bussing tables. The couple has also been exploring the town.

“We liked pretty much everything we’ve seen I guess. We’ve been to Parliament Hill, we’ve been to the shopping centers, the Ottawa Curling Club, we got to speak to Rachel Homan and get some autographs for my granddaughter.”

Many of the hundreds of local volunteers are coming in from far-flung reaches of the Ottawa Valley like Kemptville, Russell, Metcalfe etc. Not one of them has ever complained about expenses within earshot of this columnist. They are glad be a part of the Brier experience.

Maybe, just maybe, they will all be back for the Roar of the Rings.

Highlight of the Brier

The reception given to Craig Savill on Thursday evening was unlike anything witnessed in curling or any sport. It speaks to the true spirit of the game, where we all cheer for the good shots no matter who makes them.

This will always be Craig Savill’s Brier.

The Good

The Hogline Little Rock championships will take place Saturday at 5:30 p.m., on Brier ice prior to the semifinal game. Who didn’t get any sleep Friday night anticipating this?

The two skips in the last Little Rock championships held on Ottawa Brier ice in 2001 were Homan and Emma Miskew. The latter won.

The Bad

That the Brier ends Sunday. What will we all do with ourselves?


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Morning class part of the fun at Brier


It simply never gets old.

Set your alarm for 7:30 a.m., any day from now until this Sunday so you can attend morning classes. Just what is taught? The main lesson is how to enjoy a delicious concoction composed of gin, fresh squeezed lemon juice, ice and club soda.

But jumping juniper ,what does this have to do with the Tim Hortons Brier?

To distil the story, it goes back to the Second World War. Brigadier-General Colin Campbell from Ontario led a group of Timmins miners in the British enclave of Gibraltar. They were digging a tunnel. Campbell found a novel way to boost morale by providing the departing morning shift with a gin-based tonic. The incoming shift got the same treatment.

Later Campbell served as president of the Dominion Curling Association from 1947 to 1948. Induction into the Curling Hall of Fame came in 1978. He introduced morning classes at the Calgary Brier in 1948. The tradition hasn’t stopped.

Because of the Northern Ontario connection, a group from the Fort William Curling Club in Thunder Bay and, in a twist, a couple from Limburg, Sask., now host the tradition. Fred Coulson, 73, who is celebrating his 22nd year with this institution of “higher” learning, is their spokesperson.

“First timers get a chance to win a diamond pin. We got a little slot machine there and a lot of them gamble. If they get three lemons, they get a chance to win a diamond pin.” Coulson said.

Everyone gets a souvenir as proof they attended school.

Roles are defined for the group. Someone pours. Someone squeezes the lemons. Someone works the ice.

“We provide it all but a tuition fee is expected to keep the gin on the table,” explained Coulson.

Fifteen men called the Hawknesters augmented the original morning class people in 1952-53. The men went to every Brier to help the local committee out. They saw kindred spirits in the morning class people and amalgamated. Eventually they sported plaid blazers that according to Coulson look like “’52 Ford seat covers.” The men still wear them today but the original ones are all gone.

Why were they called the Hawknesters? Simple — one day sitting in his backyard one member saw a hawk fly to a nest and coined the term then and there.

Morning class memorabilia decorates the room. The venue for this Brier’s edition of the classes is the second-floor Sunset Room inside Novotel at 33 Nicholas St. With a dry sense of humour, Coulson related how “Some days we almost see sunset by the time we get finished.”

School is in session until 9 in the morning daily. Asked about attendance Coulson said in Ottawa, “Its been a little quiet so far but usually it averages anywhere from 25 to 60 people.

“The highest number, of course, is on the east coast where people really like to party it up — about 125 people a day.”

There is no need to call ahead or make reservations. Anyone who has reached the age of majority is welcome — curlers, non-curlers, vegetarians, beefeaters — anyone.

The best part about this school is that recess is at the Brier. And there is no homework.

Highlight of the day

How hard the ice-makers are working to maintain the ice with the excessive moisture issues.

The Good

One way the committee hopes to reap rewards for local curling is by pocketing the proceeds from the 50-50 draws. Ticket peddlers sell until the conclusion of the fifth end. At this writing, $29,881 has been distributed with the largest purse won in the first draw. The winner happily left with $4,177.

The Bad

Almost every other jurisdiction that stages a Brier is allowed to use electronic tote board for 50-50 draws. You can see them in action at Senators games, for instance. Their use allows sellers to use electronic hand held devices to print tickets and more importantly the sales total automatically updates on tote boards scattered around the building. This actually encourages sales. The Brier wasn’t allowed to use them because right now Ontario is testing them in only a few venues like Canadian Tire Centre. Timid Ontario.


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Junior Stars get full Brier experience at TD Place

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist



Cloe Bourguignon (left) and Finn Lean, both 15, got the nod as Junior Stars at the Tim Hortons Brier. (Jean Levac, Postmedia Network)

Remember their names. One day they may be the faces of curling.

Two young curlers were made honorary members of Team Northwest Territories at Tuesday’s afternoon draw. They took part in the Junior Stars program that sees selected youth curlers march out onto the ice with “their team” prior to every draw, then get introduced to the crowd by the arena master of ceremonies. They also watch their teammates’ pre-game practice.

The 12- to 16-year-old stars get a commemorative team jacket, tickets for their parents, an event pin, an official team photo and a tour of TSN’s production facilities as well as meeting the on-air commentators.

Andrea Weedmark co-ordinated the program here in Ottawa. She was amazed by the response. So many applied — 64 — that they had to conduct a What Curling Means To Me contest. Out of these multi-media presentations, 24 were chosen.

Some entries made the judges cry.

Alicia Bedford, 16, penned one of the most touching essays. Her father, her idol, mentor and coach passed away from cancer in 2015 but throughout his five–year battle he always made time for his kids and their curling. “So what does curling mean to me? It means that no matter what happens, I know my dad is still watching me from behind the glass and smiling, regardless of if I can see him or not.”

Some entries made the judges laugh.

Finn Lean, 15, wrote “The very first time I stepped onto the ice was this year and it was a moment that was surreal for me. I stepped into the hack and I was ready to make my perfect slide, just like I had seen curlers like Rachel Homan and Glenn Howard perform on some of their big shots. However, I fell down.”

Of the TSN tour Lean said, “There was so much stuff going on like video and audio and what to choose. It was very cool.” He was thrilled with being on the ice with the curlers. “It was fun. It wasn’t what I thought it would be.”

Watching the last Olympics drew him to curling.

Fifteen-year-old Cloe Bourguignon said, “For me curling is a privilege. It is a privilege in different ways. First of all I have my family willing to do everything to get me curling.

“Secondly curling is a privilege because curling can cost a lot of money but my parents are happy to pay for a tournament, bonspiel or camp. Third of all it is a privilege because my curling team is like my second family.”

Bourguignon loved being on the ice.

“It was overwhelming. It was very awesome.,” she said.

Bourguignon added she put a lot of work into her entry.

“I had to brain storm what I was going to do. It took a while,” she said.

The program began in 2000 as a way to interest youth in curling. It takes place at five Season of Champions events.

Postmedia asked Team Canada third John Morris about the Junior Stars program. “I remember I was a flag-bearer (at the 1993 Ottawa Brier) and got to meet the players. I was a bit of a rink rat. Doing that was one of the things that made me want to curl. To hang out with the players for a game is pretty cool. Nothing but good can come of it.”

And the kids must have played well. Their team upset Ontario on Tuesday.

Highlight of the day

Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard’s shot making ability.

The bad was made good

A Brier volunteer faced a jam-packed parking lot on opening day but persevered and squeezed into a spot. Not sure whether the space was legal he asked a parking attendant if the spot was kosher. He was told it was. Later he found he had been ticketed. But the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group quickly forgave him after he presented his case.

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Tim Hortons Brier features plenty of wild hats

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist



Ron Casey

Ron Casey, father of P.E.I. skip Adam Casey, is the leader of the Potato Patch at the Tim Hortons Brier. (Jean Levac, Postmedia Network)

Hats are normal. At the Brier, hats are special.

Anyone can have a baseball cap but only a few people wear a lobster hat well.

Sue MacLeod from PEI and her friend Lynda Howell from Saskatoon were resplendent with crustaceans on their heads on Monday at the Tim Hortons Brier at TD Place.

Howell has never been to a Brier. Her friend Sue told her “You got to get a lobster hat and come to the Brier with me.” So they are here and also volunteering.

Howell explained that they submitted their names last May to volunteer in the Patch but the staffing was complete. They subsequently got jobs selling 50-50 tickets.

Both paid to come to Ottawa. Both are paying for their accommodation. Both are volunteering. Why? Howell said, “Cause it’s a fun way to meet people.”

MacLeod said 50-50 tickets aren’t a tough sell.

“We could have sold many here today,” she said. “They were really popular.”

To put the clarified butter on the lobster, neither MacLeod nor Howell curl. “I don’t have a clue,” laughed Howell.

The real PEI cheering section, however, was the 44-person-strong Potato Patch. Their leader is Ron — the father of skip Adam Casey.

“We just wanted to have some fun. So we got some Anne of Green Gables hats and some bells and some noise and (the group is) just trying to have fun and enjoy the curling,” Ron Casey said.

While some of the contingent returned home Monday, they are still a vocal presence in TD Place, many times causing both the players and TSN crew to laugh out loud.

“I think the players enjoyed it. I think they get a few kicks out of it. It’s all for fun,” chuckled Casey.

Kyle Heyligen, from Ottawa, is sitting with the Potatoes. “I’m sitting here because Team PEI is awesome. Ron Casey is the loudest.”

Did beer play a part in his donning the chapeau? “A little bit, maybe. Let me put it this way. I wouldn’t wear this hat if it weren’t. I thought it might bring them luck.”

Smack dab in the middle of the arena, the Sou’westers stood out. But Nova Scotia didn’t survive the qualifying round.

Cyril McCormick said, “The distinction is that the Newfoundland sou’westers have a Newfoundland flag on them. They (the Nova Scotians) pick up the hats in Newfoundland and rub off the flag along the way.”

He’s at the draw cheering on Brad Gushue’s squad with his wife of 54 years, Julie, and their son-in-law from Ottawa — Russel Shearer.

“Oh yeah the hats brought them luck,” Shearer said. “The hats, bought in Newfoundland, were the big deciding factor in these games for sure, no question.”

The biggest hat in the group was a large, felt blue tinged hat scattered with many, many Newfoundland hats. When asked if the hat was called a sou’wester, Cyril deadpanned “It’s a Newfoundland flag hat.”

Although the head apparel might be worn to add a festive feeling to the arena, some hat wearers were much too engaged in the games to talk. A couple of rows of Saskatchewan fans wearing green everywhere — ribbons, cowboy hats, light blinking green berets, even green fingernails and green hair (being twisted and fingered) — during Saskatchewan’s tight game were all disappointed when they lost to Newfoundland.

One person’s hat head is another person’s headache.

The Highlight of the Day

Shots. They just keep getting better and better. Every draw.

The Good

A CBC French crew interviewed PEI’s Robbie Doherty after the 2:30 draw. He spoke French. The day before, Team Canada’s John Morris also did an interview in French.

The Bad

The weather is turning warm.

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Nunavut lead Bruce Morgan hurries hard to get ready for Tim Hortons Brier


Bruce Morgan

Nunavut lead Bruce Morgan. (Jean Levac, Postmedia Network)

He is a real NUbie.

Bruce Morgan, the lead for Team Nunavut, didn’t own his own curling broom until the day before the Ottawa Tim Hortons Brier began. His curling career began six months ago during the 2014/15 curling season.

“The first time I was ever on the ice or put a slider on the ice was November 2014.,” Morgan said.

He didn’t join a learn-to-curl program but was taught randomly by individual members of the club in Iqaluit. “There was a training seminar about four weeks after I started.” After three days of this current season he was asked if he wanted to curl in the Brier.

His journey to curling was circuitous. Born in London, England, he moved to the Bahamas with his doctor dad and nurse mom. “They saw an opportunity to move to the Bahamas to raise their family because Britain didn’t offer as many opportunities. They had four boys there.”

Eventually, the family moved to Ontario. He landed a food and beverage manager job in Kingston so when the 2013 Scotties were there he went to a few games. It peaked his interest but he never pursued curling. He even visited a friend in Ottawa to watch him curl.

“I never went on the ice. I just watched him,” Morgan said.”

He’s a 54-year-old single man who is now the chef manager of a catering company in Nunavut’s capital. He moved there for a reason.

“I consider London, where I was born, an island. I was raised in the Bahamas then I saw an ad in Kijiji and Iqaluit is an island so I moved there,” Morgan said.

He made history when he threw Nunavut’s first stone at the men’s national championship.

“I didn’t think about it at all but now that I seen stuff in the papers I guess I should have been a bit more nervous,” Morgan said.

With his team outscored 43-8 in its trio of games, he has a positive take on the predicament.

“Nunavut has never had one point,” Morgan said. “So every point we got — no matter which game —I just accumulated them altogether. We can only get better from here. If they are going ahead in 2018 to have everyone in the Brier, then we have three years to get more experience and bring up people behind us.”

Curling is now his passion.

“I really like the ethical values,” Morgan said. “I like the sportsmanship and how everyone — even those attending — and how people watching are appreciative of our first time here and we are not very known to anyone.”

He is impressed by both the skill of the competitors and their attitude. “Everybody has been amazingly supportive,” Morgan said.

He curls on three different rinks and skips them all. That’s one reason Morgan and his team are staying in Ottawa until the end of the Brier.

“I am staying and watching as many Brier games as possible,” Morgan said.

By the way he does have curling shoes. Two pairs. And a broom.

Koe and Koe

Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories defeated Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy 7-4 to advance to the round-robin competition. Koe’s rink played four games in three days in the pre-qualifier with an evening game yet to play on Saturday.

“My front end is bagged after playing five games in three days,” Koe said.

Meanwhile, Alberta’s Kevin Koe, Jamie’s brother, lost an extra-end first game to Ontario’s Glenn Howard.

Koe’s reaction: “I’m not going to let one close game get us down too much.”

Howard and Howard

In that extra-end game against Alberta the Ontario front of end of Scott Howard and Adam Spencer had to sweep the skips last shot to the four-foot to win.

Glenn Howard proudly said, “I got to give Scotty credit. It was probably the best game he played all year. I thought he played really solid. He’s fired up and he wants to play. We’re father (and) son — lets have some fun and play. It’s extra special playing with my son.”

Scott Howard stood alone near the media scrum glowing.

“That was probably the highlight of my life up to date,” he said.

“Watching my dad’s reaction was priceless. To sweep my dad’s final rock in the first draw of the Brier in front of thousands of people everyone cheering us on is something I will never forget.”

In the stands

There were plenty of celebrity curlers at the first draw — Blake MacDonald (formerly of Kevin Koe’s team), Emma Miskew (the third for Rachel Homan) and two new mothers with their children — Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones and Dawn McEwen.

The worst of the draw

A concession stand called Dog Willie with a graphic of a hot dog sells only pizza.

The best of the draw

There was a big crowd on hand for the opening draw.

Attendance was announced as 7,210. Capacity is 8,200.

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Brier Patch packs ‘em in


Brier Patch

The Patch is the place to be at the Brier, as evidenced from this shot at the 2015 event in Calgary. (Lyle Aspinall, Postmedia Network)

The Patch is as important as the curling.

The legendary Patch is where fans and the curling stars go have fun at the Tim Hortons Brier. It’s reputation for fun is well earned. What’s in this legend?

There are bars serving beer, spirits, wine, coolers and cider. There is a huge stage for live daily entertainment. A camera crew shoots a live closed circuit feed on giant screens when the curling is over. Energetic emcee Stuart Brown inflicts crazy stunts on fans and concocts outlandish contests much to the delight of the crowd..

His best contest sees four women donate their bras. Four shirtless men perform a fashion show wearing the bras accompanied by the Right Said Fred song I’m Too Sexy. The contestant who elicits the most fan reaction wins the better prize. Says Brown, “How’s that for being a little weird. That’s the best way to fly.”

Typical was the master of ceremonies’ interaction with Christine Lamothe, 40 of Ottawa and Andrea Gaunce, 38, from Saskatchewan at the end of the afternoon draw. Each wore, as Gaunce described, “some very stylish shirts that have strategically placed curling houses on them.” The crowd ate it up.

“The Patch is awesome. It’s so much fun,” said Gaunce. ”We are dancing machines, the music is good, the entertainment’s great and the people are great and the curlers have been terrific.”

Located in the Aberdeen Pavilion, the venue is licensed for 2,800 bodies according to Curling Canada beverage manager Ken Lauzon. His initial beer order was 40,000 cans of tall boys (You purchase tokens which you redeem for beverages). Barley sandwiches are 60% of sales volume.

Lauzon says the heritage nature of the building provides some challenges. Most Patches have food service outlets in them but food service isn’t allowed inside the Aberdeen because of a lack of HVAC. Creatively, they have made a six-unit licensed food truck court outside the south doors.

The Patch began in Brandon, Man., in 1982 and has been a feature of all big Curling Canada events since then. It is different in each city. The smallest Brier Patch was in Kamloops with the biggest in Calgary and Edmonton with 6,000 people capacity.

Roger Powell, the manager of entertainment and production explains the magic of the Patch.

“We got no big name bands here,” he said. “I think it’s more of the event than the act. It’s the environment. They know they are going to have a good time. They know it’s going to be safe and fun.”

Brown agrees.

“The biggest partiers I have ever seen are curling fans,” he said. “They have a great time regardless of what age they are. They are here to have fun.”

Brown, Powell and Lauzon also agree on how peaceful the crowd is. They have never seen a fight in the Patch.

“Up until lately, we never had a security force. They’ve never had a fight in the Patch. You get 2,000 people drunk and you don’t have a fight., observed Powell.

Lauzon went on.

“Everybody is here in a celebrity mood,” he said. “It’s not your average night club or tavern where some people have their daily issues and bring them into that environment. People are here to celebrate the game first and foremost, then come and have a few beers and be social at the event.”

Volunteer bartender Claire Zahab sums it up best.

“I am enjoying this. You get to see all the players. You get to see all the people here cheering them on during the game after the game. You gotta love it.”

The Patch is open every day at 11 a.m. It is open to the public. There is no cover charge

Patch Notes

The volunteer bar director found out that a young woman volunteer missed her first shift. The director found out the 23-year-old had died suddenly. The volunteer bar staff has agreed to pool any tip money they receive and donated to a charity on her behalf.

Powell told Postmedia that a Patch patron found a wallet containing $2,000 in cash Saturday night and turned it in.

Best of the day

The strong attendance — standing at a combined 23,052 — after Sunday afternoon’s fourth draw.

Worst of the day

The packed parking garage, which is probably caused by the best of the day.

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Tim Hortons Brier features two curlers from National Capital Region


David Mathers

Team P.E.I’s David Mathers. (Michael Burns, Curling Canada)


It is close to home for both players.

Gatineau’s Jean-Michel Menard and Charlottetown’s David Mathers will feel right at home at TD Place during the Tim Hortons Brier.

“This year now in Ottawa it will be special because it is the closest Brier for my family to come and see us play,” said Menard.

While he lives in P.E.I., Mathers is an Ottawa boy.

“This year it’s representing a different province but with a new team. But it’s in the town where I grew up and went to school so lots of people are going to come watch,” Mathers said.

In fact, the P.E.I. third’s girlfriend is Ottawa resident Lynn Kreviazuk. This will be Menard’s ninth Brier as the Quebec champion (10 as a alternate) and Mathers’ second. He played for Ontario last season.

Both are thrilled to be competing and both think the field is the best of any Brier ever.

“It will make it very difficult for us,” Menard said. “Like you say, it’s a Grand Slam. We will have to attack each game like it’s a provincial final. I don’t think we can we say that we have to win two out of three today. The field is too strong to do that. We have to focus on one opponent at a time.”

Mathers agrees.

“This is basically a Slam field,” Mathers said. “Some people are saying this is the best field ever. Top to bottom, you’re looking at every game is going to be a battle. It’s going to be awesome for the fans because you go to see a draw and you are seeing four heavy weight tilts.”

Menard is also thrilled that his father, Robert, is their coach and that his brother Philippe is the lead. Their fifth man is another Gatineau resident — Pierre Charette.

“My dad is more in charge of the psychological aspect of our team, making sure we are mentally ready for every game, that the way we react on the ice is the proper way, that we aren’t too tense but we’re not sleeping at the same time,” Jean-Michel Menard said. “When it comes to strategy, that’s Pierre’s job. He’s the man.”

Team Quebec is scattered throughout the province so not practising together is a challenge.

“What we have found in the last three Briers (is) that we are pretty rusty the first two or three games so that usually puts us in difficult situation for the rest of the round robin,” Menard said. He added, “If we were able to practise together the four of us it would be beneficial for us but at the same time that’s the reality of curling in Quebec.”

Members of Team P.E.I., on the other hand, all live close to each other. “After we won provincials we laid out a month plan on how we were going to get ready. It’s helped me and I am sure the other guys feel the same way,” said Mathers.

Despite his 10 Briers Menard said, “It never gets stale.”

Mathers knows there’s something special, too.

“You’re playing for your province and you’re not just playing for your team, your paycheck and your sponsors. That being said you just have to stay in your bubble and you have a bunch of support but you’re playing for a big crest on your back, which is kind of cool.”

Ottawa’s Greg Corrigan from the RCMP, meanwhile, is the Team Nunavut coach.


Pembroke is staging its annual spring Cashspiel with a skins game format beginning March 18. E-mail Carl Zieroth for details at Ottawa’s Bud Garrod has won the entry into the Everest Ferbey National Pro Am.

He will be in Digby, N.S., on April 2 and will be playing with Jennifer Jones, Brad Jacobs and Brent Laing.

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Ontario alternate Pascale Letendre keeping busy at Scotties Tournament of Hearts


Jenn Hanna's rink

From left to right, lead Karen Sagle, second Steph Hanna, skip Jenn Hanna, third Brit O’Neill and alternate Pascale Letendre will represent Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Grande Prairie, Alta. (Darren Brown, Postmedia Network)It is more work than she thought.


Pascale Letendre is the alternate for Team Ontario at the Scotties and is doing much more than sitting behind the scoreboard at each game skip Jenn Hanna’s Ottawa rink plays.

“It’s an important job I didn’t realize how much I have to do. I am not bored let me tell you,” Letendre said.

Letendre played third for Hanna during their amazing 2005 run at the Scotties. She sees her role this time as a scout, caretaker, logistician and even a coach.

“I’m here for the girls. I ran some errands for them,” she said. “I’m keeping them fed and keeping them on schedule and organized. The schedule is pretty jam-packed so I am trying to take that stress off their shoulders. Trying to keep them focused on playing and making shots and having fun.”

During the games, she keeps an eye on other teams and on the rocks along with coach Bob Hanna.

“We look at rocks and trying to match rocks and see what other teams are doing and what works for them,” Letendre said.

Prior to each game she practises with the team and every night she throws rocks with coach Hanna holding the broom. At this writing she has appeared in part of one game when second Stephanie Hanna wasn’t feeling well. That television appearance solved a family dilemma.

Letendre has a son, seven-year-old Samuel, and a daughter, five-year-old Stella.

“Before leaving I told them where I was going and I would be playing on TV and they could watch me if they wanted,” Letendre said. “They didn’t believe me. Sam was adamant that I was lying and that I was not telling him the truth. After seeing us on TV, I think he believes me now. He thinks it is pretty cool now.”

Letendre sees a contrast from 2005 to 2016. “We are being bombarded by messages and e-mail and social media is exploding, which is wonderful. It wasn’t as noticeable in 2005 as it is now. It’s so nice because we see that people are following us and just as excited as we are.”


This region dominated the senior championships of two provinces this week. In Quebec, Buckingham’s Richard Faguy with Guy Charette, Robert Periard and Wayne Ruggles captured the senior banner while the Catherine Derick squad from Thurso earned the women’s honours. Her teammates were Sylvie Daniel, Chantal Gadoua and Cheryl Morgan. In Woodstock, Ont., Russell’s Bryan Cochrane became the Ontario senior champ. He played with Ian MacAulay, Doug Johnston and Ken Sullivan. All three teams travel to Digby, N.S., for the Canadian Seniors beginning March 28.


Gatineau’s Pierre Charette and Ottawa’s Earle Morris will be inducted into the Curling Canada Hall of Fame during the upcoming Brier at TD Place. While much is known about Morris, Charette’s off-ice accomplishments are many including being the driving force behind the Grand Slams to the point of putting up money to save the tour if it was needed.


Bantam mixed winners were zone 1A — Cassie Allen, B — Mackenzie Comeau; 2A — Sierra Sutherland, B — Grace Wallingford; 3A — Richard Barrie, B — Cole Lacroix-Lyon.


Curling des Collines received a $1.946 million grant from Quebec’s Ministry of Recreation and Sport to help build a new four-sheet club in Chelsea. The building will be state of the art. It will be situated on land next door to the municipal building. The excess heat from the plant will help heat that building. The total cost will be $4.265 million with the opening slated for the 2017-18 season.


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Ottawa Rookies Pumped to curl with Hanna Sisters

By Joe Pavia, Post Media


They just want it to start.

Karen Sagle and Brit O’Neill (at lead and vice respectively) for Team Ontario can’t wait to start curling in Grande Prairie this Saturday in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. “All the fun and the parties has been a blast since we won but I am just looking forward to getting on the ice,” said Sagle. “We have never been before and we don’t know if we will get back again. It’s something that all of us have dreamed about doing since we were little kids,” she continued.

At 29 years of age each the two share a committed relationship in life as well as curling. Sagle is a professional development manager for the Canadian Bar Association and on the side operates a wedding and event planning business. O’Neill is in her last year as a dental hygiene student who graduates in April.

They do have national experience. The third has competed with Sagle in the Canadian mixed while the lead has mixed and two junior Canadians in her resume. “It has given us a bit of preview of what a national event is like. There’s so much more to the Scotties though. There’s more media at the Scotties. There’s the Ford Hot Shots didn’t exist there. I don’t know if anything can get prepare you for the Scotties.” explained O’Neill.

It helps that the Hanna sisters will be at their second Scotties. Both women are ecstatic that they are playing with Jenn and Steff. “It lets them go into it with more confidence. They know about the big show. They will be able to ground us too.” said Sagle. Both feel good that coach Bob Hanna and alternate Pascale Letendre will be there as well. The lead observed, “Both have been there as well. Bob is very good at keeping us level headed and keeping us grounded and not letting us thinking to far ahead. Pascale will help to keep us organized and level headed.”

The duo also think their provincial win has also re-invigorated their teammates. O’Neill explained that the Hanna’s last win was eleven years ago. “But they are re-excited. Things have changed. Curling has grown. It’s a whole new ball game for them also. They are excited about it.”

The two don’t want a repeat of their recent mixed national. They both feel their mixed team wasn’t themselves. “We went in with too high of expectations. Having the Ontario crest on your back it weights heavy. We weren’t ourselves, we weren’t joking and it threw us off. We want to try not be so consumed with the pressure of winning a game.” the third said. She continued, “We don’t look at the big picture right away. That’s what we did at provincials. So when we lost another one and it put our backs against the wall (Sagle interjected here ‘But that’s how Jenn loves to do it”) so we just take it one game at a time.”

While the duo agrees that they shouldn’t look too far in advance both agree that they want to take everything in. The Scotties begins this Saturday with Ontario playing Quebec at 3:30 our time.

BROOMGATE: On Wednesday Curling Canada banned hair brooms of any kind at the upcoming Scotties and Brier. Sort of. Athletes can use them to slide with throughout a game. And can use them in practice until the last rock. And thirds and skips can use them but only for behind the tee-line sweeping. The new CEO, Katherine Henderson, announced Tuesday, is going to have her hands full on this file.


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Howard sub relishing Brier trip to Ottawa

Howard sub relishing Brier trip to Ottawa

It’s ‘a dream,’ Guelph curler tells Joe Pavia.

He’s the 43-year-old rookie.

Guelph’s Adam Spencer, who stepped into Wayne Middaugh’s shirts at the Recharge with Milk Ontario Tankard last week, will make his first Brier appearance after Team Glenn Howard won another trip to the national championship.

“I honestly don’t know what to expect,” said Spencer, with an eye toward the March 5-11 event at TD Place. “It’s been a dream of mine since I started curling,” 33 years ago.

“I really don’t now what to expect other than to have a great time and to soak up every possible moment I can.”

Spencer is a production manager for the Farley Group, a company that makes air supported structures. The dome at the University of Ottawa is one of its products. His wife also works and they have two children, Hope, 8, and William, 6.

His regular team, on which he plays vice, failed to make the Tankard through regional play, so they competed at the Challenge Round. When his team failed to advance, Spencer got the call from Howard that night.

“He explained the situation they were in and (asked) would I be interested to put my name in the spare pool,” Spencer said.

Wayne Middaugh had broken his leg earlier. So off Spencer headed to his eighth provincial championship.

Spencer is no stranger to his new team. He played in two early-season Grand Slams when Middaugh couldn’t attend.

While they won all their round robin games, their three championship games were each won by only one point.

“I would be lying to say that there weren’t some nerves going on there, especially in the final game,” Spencer said. “I saw myself talking to myself a lot, trying to keep myself to the moment.”

During the Tankard, the second would wear Middaugh’s jerseys. At the Brier, “I am going to have my own shirt with my own name and it will fit.”

So far the Brier field includes Steve Laycock (Saskatchewan), Mike Kennedy (New Brunswick), Brad Gushue (Newfoundland and Labrador), Jean-Michel Menard (Quebec) and Adam Casey (P.E.I.).

The Brier field won’t be complete until this Sunday, when Manitoba, Northern Ontario, Alberta and B.C. play their finals. Jamie Koe (Northwest Territories), Jamie Murphy (Nova Scotia), Nunavut and the Yukon will play in the qualification round to add the final team to the round robin. Scotties: Team Jenn Hanna’s chance of making the playoffs in the Scotties might just be a good bet. Leading the field is Team Canada’s Jennifer Jones. Chelsea Carey of Alberta is most likely the second-strongest rink, followed by Kerri Einarson (Manitoba), then Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville. This Scotties just might make Russ Howard tread delicately when Saskatchewan plays. His daughter, Ashley, is the third. Winner’s circle: The winner of the main event in the Crystal Heart Curling Classic was Team Sandra Chisholm, with Maureen MacDonald, Heidi Rausch and Ruth Buckland. The tournament’s oldest player, at 92, won the senior section: Tedde Barker with Dawn Blackman Overton, Christine Henry and Myrna Latham. The event raised $60,400 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. End notes: The Canadian Vision Impaired curling championship is now in mid-week with the finals set for this Friday at the Ottawa. Team Hanna’s Brit O’Neill and Karen Sagle threw the first rock on Monday. … The 2016 Tim Hortons Brier Committee announced a Support Our Troops day on Monday, March 7. Canadian Forces members will get special pricing on tickets and special activities will take place during draws 6 and 7.

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Bowser fired up for Tankard


The little rocks team of skip Vincent Proulx, third Scott Fisher, second Emrys Moffette and lead Ryan Nethercott stole an eight ender at the City View little rocks spiel on Saturday.

The little rocks team of skip Vincent Proulx, third Scott Fisher, second Emrys Moffette and lead Ryan Nethercott stole an eight ender at the City View little rocks spiel on Saturday.

“Going to be a week of good games!! Love this stuff!”

Gatineau’s Don Bowser wrote that on his Facebook page as he played in his fifth Ontario men’s provincial tournament. This year’s Recharge with Milk Tankard is in Brantford at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.

The Peterborough native, 37, lives in Gatineau with girlfriend Lauren Mann. They faced a tragedy in the Mann family last week when her younger brother passed away in a drowning accident. The event is on his mind he feels.

“Lauren is doing OK, considering. I’m definitely thinking about my family back home,” Bowser said.

His curling family of Greg Balsdon, Jonathan Beuk and Scott Chadwick are playing as a team for the first time this season. Beuk, Chadwick and Bowser have played together for a few years with Bowser skipping.

“Scott, John and I sat down to decide what we needed to do to move forward to get a better fit on our team and see how we could improve,” Bowser said. “We thought having a skip might be a little bit more natural than to get me back to a position where I was more comfortable.”

Balsdon agreed and Bowser resumed his third position. They list Kingston’s Cataraqui as their curling club.

Balsdon, at 38, is no rookie. This is his ninth tankard. His first in 1999 was in Brantford. He was also the 2014 giant killer in Ontario when he defeated Team Howard in the tankard final.

This year’s field is rich with talent with John Epping and Glenn Howard the front-runners. But nothing is for sure.

Bowser says: “You probably have a record in your head where you come into the week and you think there are days you have to go 2-0 and days when you might have a rougher opponent and going fifty-fifty is OK.”

All teams play afternoon and evening draws. However, Wednesday is the three-draw day. Luckily for Team Balsdon, it has the bye in the morning draw.

Other teams have Ottawa-area players. Mat Camm from Navan and Cornwall throws third for John Epping. Mike McLean from Ottawa skips his own team with players from the GTA.

Sportsnet will be televising the semifinal and final on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.


In senior mixed the zone winners were: 1A, Dave Stanley; B, Bill Hogaboam; 2A, Paul Madden; B, Mike Johansen; 3A, Paul Madden; B, Mike Johansen; 3A, Bill Adams, B, John Wilson; 4A, Randy Hutchinson; B, Terry Corbin.


The RA team of Collinda Joseph, Doug Morris, Jon Thurston and Ross Nicholson captured the Ontario wheelchair curling championship on Saturday. They advance to the nationals beginning on April 4 in Regina … The little rocks team of skip Vincent Proulx, third Scott Fisher, second Emrys Moffette and lead Ryan Nethercott stole an eight-ender at the City View little rocks spiel on Saturday … Jason Camm, Matthew Hall and Curtis Easter of Navan’s Team Ontario won second team accolades at the just finished Canadian Juniors.


The World Curling Federation and Curling Canada are having a meeting today with curling equipment suppliers here in Ottawa … The Rideau is interested in starting a daytime women’s stick league next season. If you have an interest in Chicks with Sticks email or call 613 762-5803 … The Crystal Heart classic begins tomorrow at various clubs throughout the area … There will be a send-off for Team Hanna next Wednesday evening February 10 at the Ottawa club.

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brier tickets


The shop is offering a pair of tickets per draw to the Tim Hortons Brier. We will pick winners everyday. If you win choose the draw you want. So every time you make a purchase at the shop fill in a ballot to win!


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Chicks with Sticks – potential new league for next season
Hi ladies…the Rideau CC is interested to host a new ladies “stick” curling league (daytime) for next season and would like to find out the level of interest in the Ottawa area.  This would be a ladies only league.  Please email: to indicate your interest in playing in this league, or call 613-762-5803 if you wish to discuss.


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Ottawa curler Jenn Hanna beats the odds, downing Rachel Homan in Ontario championship


Team Hanna

Jenn Hanna’s team celebrates their Ontario Scotties win on Jan. 24. (Robert Wilson, OCA)

Losing to Rachel Homan might have been the key to beating her.

Jenn Hanna’s Ontario championship win on Sunday over Team Homan in Brampton was hatched in the team’s extra end loss to Homan on Wednesday night.

“Our goal in the round robin was to take Homan to 10 ends. And see what would happen,” Hanna said. “When we lost in the extra it gave us some confidence being able to go into the final and get that close and maybe even beat her.”

The Ottawa skip thinks that Team Homan is the best women’s curling rink in the world.

Besides Hanna’s extra-end loss, Homan played only one round-robin game to 10 ends and in that game versus Cathy Auld, Homan was up 7-3 in the 10th.

Her first and last Ontario Scotties title was in 2005. She says she’s happy winning both but her life has changed.

“In 2005, I was 25,” Hanna said. “Curling was pretty well my life. It was my first and foremost priority. Today clearly it’s far down the list of my priorities. I still love the game. I have three kids, a husband and a job. It slides down the list a little bit.”

As we talked on the phone, the mother of three children (two girls and a boy) had to say “Charlotte, mommy’s on the phone love.

“There’s a perfect example right there how life is different.”

Her sister and second Stephanie (also a mom) played with two younger athletes, 29-year-olds Brit O’Neill and Karen Sagle, third and lead respectively. Their busy lives make competing a challenge.

“It’s just much harder now to put in the time you really need to be good enough to compete with people like Rachel Homan and Sherry Middaugh and anybody else who plays at that level all the time,” Jenn Hanna said.

A huge part of the team’s success is their father Bob as coach, the same coach they had in 2005. “We were enjoying the week together,” Hanna said. “And we really did. We had so, so much fun together. We did the hospitality lounge. It’s rare now in our busy lives for the three of us to spend time together.”

Hanna thinks that setting realistic goals was the key to their success.

“We went there with the intent of trying to make the playoffs. I don’t remember a year when 6-3 didn’t get you at least a tiebreaker. The goal was to win more games than we lost.

“It was setting realistic goals and not looking at more than one game ahead that helped us all week.”

The skip feels her team was ready but its been a long time since her last championship win.

“It’s not that we didn’t believe that we were capable of winning but when you are away from it as long as we were and with 11 years since a win it becomes something that you just don’t allow your mind to get to,” she said.

Summing up that final game Hanna said “Regardless of the outcome they (Homan) are still best team in the world. They had an off day and that happens in sports sometime. On the other side of it we played really, really well. I’m super proud of the girls.”

Meanwhile, Gatineau residents and husband and wife, Jean-Michel Menard and Annie Lemay are heading to the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties, respectively. Menard is skipping his team and Lemay plays second for Marie-France Larouche.


Regional action took place in bantam, intermediates and stick curling last week. Those advancing to provincials are: Bantam: Hazen Enman, Ryan Hahn, Sierra Sutherland and Corri Burke. Intermediate: Dave Collyer, Bill Blad, Jennifer Harvey and Sheryl Dobenko. Stick curling winners were Jack Casserly and Bob Matheson.

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Carolina kids take to curling ice


carolina kids

They came north in winter to curl.

Fourteen high school junior and senior students from Columbia, S.C., are in Ottawa for a week to try a number of winter sports but the first one they all wanted to try was curling.

Chemistry teacher Adam Morris is leading the crew with mom chaperone Joey Godley.

“I have always seen curling on the Olympics and I thought it might be fun to do. They had a lot of fun,” Morris said.

They all attend the 700-student Ben Lippen international private Christian school in the state capital.

Every January they have a week of Winterim where students scatter all over the world or stay in the U.S.

Some of them have been to Ecuador, Nicaragua and other places.

“I figured some kids might want to be cold all week instead of hot.” said Morris.

The group spent two hours trying the sport. With high-pressure play downs, provincials, brush controversy and elite curling events going on now, it was refreshing to see people absolutely having a blast. And never stopping. Their instructor was longtime competitive curler and icemaker Rick Allen.

“They came in blind and they were excited to be out there. I like seeing people come out and enjoy the game,” Allen said.

Allen remained on the ice for the entire two hours because he was having such a good time.

Seventeen-year-old Mark Rew gushed about his experience.

“It’s a lot like bowling or golf back in the States and I loved doing it,” he said.

A number of the students are from South Korea. His hand clutching hot chocolate Minho Seo, 18, said “I was really interested in curling because it’s my favourite Olympic winter sport to watch.”

According to mom Joey besides the curling they will be experiencing “ice skating, skiing and shopping. They love the big mall here (the Rideau Center). That’s been a big hit.” They are also attending two hockey games.

The action never stopped as high fives filled the air wit the sounds of shots well made even if the shot was really a Plan Z.

“It was hard to adapt to it but after a few throws it was fun and I could reach the centre,” said Seo proudly.

The best summary was from Mark Rew: “I always wanted to try it. It was a lot harder than I thought but it was lot more fun than I expected.”


After the Challenge Round Sunday, two more teams head to Brantford for the Recharge with Milk Tankard — Wayne Tuck from the host city and Grimsby’s Pat Ferris. The Tankard begins Feb. 1 … Senior region skips advancing to the provincials are: 1A – Bryan Cochrane and Julie Jarvis, B – Dave Collyer and Sheryl Dobenko. The senior provincials are in Woodstock starting Feb. 17 … In bantam zones the winners were: 1A – Andrew Kelly and Mackenzie Comeau; B – Emma Lee and David Boswell; 2A – Joshua Luckett and Emily Deschenes, B – James Stonehouse and Sierra Sutherland; 3A – Ryan Hahn and Lyndsay Thorn, B- Jordan MacNamara and Corri Burke; 4A- Hazen Enman and B – William Smith and Jessica Thorne.


The Buckingham squad of Rick Faguy, Guy Charette, Robert Periard and Wayne Ruggles won Carleton Place’s Leatherworks spiel on Sunday.

The OVCA Mixed bonspiel open winner was the Emma Wallingford rink. The senior winner was the Stubbs squad while the Chad Stoffer team from Schenectady, N.Y., won the colt’s section.


The Rideau men’s classic is looking for teams beginning Jan. 29. Four meals are included in the three games guaranteed entry fee. Call 613-232-9665.

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Local rinks reign supreme

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist


This area captured two Ontario championships on the weekend. Veteran skip Bruce Delaney and his Russell curling club foursome won the Tim Hortons Masters men’s championship, while Navan’s Doug Kee earned the Pepsi junior men’s title by going undefeated.

Delaney has been eligible for masters (age 60 minimum) for two years and put together his very experienced squad. The second — Brian Henderson — is a past Canadian Masters champion with this his third Ontario title. Of his second and his work of daily practice Delaney said, “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone as dedicated even in the men’s.” Third Rick Bachand now claims two provincial crowns in this event. Lead Dave Stanley rounds out the roster.

The other side of the age spectrum saw the junior team of Kee, Jason Camm, Matthew Hall and Curtis Easter go 10-0 to advance to the M&M Meat Shops Canadian juniors later this month in Stratford. The Kee team almost doubled its opponents in total points scored. This is the second title for Kee, Camm and Easter.

While Kee might have scored plenty Delaney tells a different story.

“Almost every one of our games was nail biters. Most of them came down to last rock,” he said.

No stranger to senior curling (he’s a three-time Ontario senior title holder) Delaney feels the masters are as good as the seniors.

“Two or three of the teams I had played them in regular men’s provincials 25-30 years ago,” Delaney said. “They are the same guys; the same old faces but they haven’t lost much of their curling abilities.”

Richmond’s Jennifer Langley just missed out as women’s champ when she lost a tiebreaker. The Canadian Masters takes place in Nova Scotia in April.


They just might change the name of Brampton to Bytown. Ottawa players are invading the Ontario Scotties next week. Fifteen women from this town are playing on six of the 10 teams competing.

Most prominent is Rachel Homan’s team, but two other squads are composed of local athletes — skipped by Erin Morrissey and Jenn Hanna. Single Ottawans populate other teams — Lee Merklinger throws second for Sherry Middaugh while sisters Lynn and Cheryl Kreviazuk play for Allison Flaxey and Mallory Kean, respectively. All these women play out of the Ottawa Curling Club.

Jacqueline Harrison, Julie Tippin, Cathy Auld and reigning champion Julie Hastings round out the field. The competition begins Monday evening. The final is Jan. 24 at 2 p.m., with Sportsnet televising the game.

Meanwhile in Quebec two Gatineau women are competing in the Scotties taking place at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. Lauren Mann is defending her championship while Anne Lemay works second rocks for Marie-France Larouche.


The local committee requires bodies to sell 50/50 tickets during the Tim Hortons Brier You get free admission to the Brier on the days you volunteer and you do not have to purchase a uniform. 50/50 proceeds will eventually go to fund local curling. Contact if you are interested.


The World Financial Group Continental Cup from Las Vegas starts Thursday. In excess of 62,000 tickets have been sold so far. Team North America takes on Team World with Homan leading the pack for North America. They jet to Brampton right after Sunday’s final … Glenn Howard’s third, Wayne Middaugh, broke his leg Saturday skiing and will be lost for the rest of the season. No word yet as to the replacement for the Ontario Tankard next month in Stratford.

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City View excited for ‘new’ curling club

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist


City View

Last rock thrown at old City View Curling Club by founding member Carmine Luciani and swept by Conrad Uniacke and Paul Hennessey. (Submitted)

It is finally here.

The new City View Curling Club is staging its open house this weekend. The 660 members of all ages aren’t moving very far. They are inaugurating their new four-sheet facility only mere metres from their old building.

President Philip Mainville says the ice is ready. The Saturday Learn to Curl league will be throwing the first rocks on the new ice. They also had a formal farewell dinner including some founding members.

“We heard a lot of interesting stories,” Mainville said. “And there were tears of farewell.”

Some members volunteered to move the club’s many items from the old to the new over the Christmas season. The plan was to maintain the ice surface in the former club rink in case glitches happened to delay the opening. The president is happy to report that the old plant was turned off.

There are still a few items to be completed.

“We have some construction stuff still going on this week,” Mainville said. “The bar has been constructed but hasn’t arrived on site. It’s coming (Wednesday). We are hoping that it can be installed and functional for Saturday’s open house. That’s bearing on an inspection by the city for full occupancy.” The inspection that hopefully gives them the all-clear occurs Friday.

Mainville wants the club to maintain it small-club atmosphere. “Even though we have been that small little club — it’s kind of our motto — we are expanding and we still have that social atmosphere going with us.”

The old structure was beginning to deteriorate to the point Mainville says where some members were leaving because of health issues. “Some people were leaving to go to more modern facilities.” The new venue will also allow the club to seek new revenue streams. The new lounge is air conditioned for off-season use. “We can actually showcase the lounge.” They already have a few wedding receptions booked. City View is also working with a few caterers and sports groups to promote summer rentals. They may even be hosting kids sports camps.

The venue is the home of the Ottawa deaf curling league, a Special Olympics league and their is a plan to integrate competitive wheelchair curlers.

The weekend open house runs from 9 to 4 each day with a “soft” opening ceremony, ribbon cutting and first rock throw before the first league game Saturday morning at 10.

“The future is bright,” proclaims Mainville.


In the Refresh with Milk Tankard regional play downs the teams that advance to Brantford’s provincial championship are: Region 1 — Greg Balsdon and Jake Higgs; 2 — Mike Harris and Glenn Howard; 3 — Dayna Deruelle and Ian Dickie; 4 — Mark Bice and Scott Bailey. Two more teams will be determined beginning January 15 in Penetanguishene.


The Pinty’s All Star Skins Game is on TSN this weekend. Rachel Homan battles Val Sweeting Friday at 8. Jennifer Jones takes on Kelsey Rocque Saturday at 4 with the two semi-final winners meeting Sunday at 1. On the men’s side Brad Gushue plays Pat Simmons while Mike McEwen goes against Brad Jacobs. The men’s final is Sunday at 8.


The Pepsi junior provincials begin today in Mississauga. Representing this region are Lauren Horton, Marie-Elaine Little, Doug Kee and Mac Calwell. Midland is hosting the Tim Hortons provincial masters with Lois Copis, Jennifer Langley, Bruce Delaney and Ron Edgeley representing this area. The RCMP is gauging interest in a junior cash league. If interested contact


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Ottawa-raised Morris pumped to get a chance to represent Team Canada at TD Place Brier



Team Canada John Morris after winning the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier against Team Northern Ontario in Calgary, Alta. on Sunday March 8, 2015. Al Charest/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency


John Morris enjoyed Christmas in Ottawa.

He also enjoyed participating in an Ottawa Tim Hortons Brier photo shoot yesterday with his dad, Earle.

Morris, raised in Ottawa, faced Wayne Middaugh at the 2001 Ontario Tankard final in Woodstock.

“I remember losing the provincial final to Wayne Middaugh to get into the 2001 Brier (in Ottawa) and that was tough on me. I was really hoping to be able to play in front of my friends and family here that I’ve grown up with.”

Now that he is a Team Canada member and the defending Brier champ he gets that chance this March at TD Place.

“So to finally be allowed that chance, there’s a lot of people here that have never seen me curl live at a major event and finally to be here in Ottawa is such an exciting feeling and to play at the new Lansdowne is something I will definitely cherish,” Morris said.

Last year’s Brier wasn’t a sure thing for Team Canada. After starting at skip, Morris conceded the skip spot to his third Pat Simmons. That move helped earn the team wins in all but one of its remaining games.

About his “demotion” to third Morris recollected “People think ‘I can’t believe you did that.’ What a wild move. For me whatever you got to do on a team to get the W and to win and I felt we weren’t going to win that Brier if we didn’t make the change.”

And did Simmons ever deliver, especially in the extra-end final versus Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs.

“The fact that we made the change and it worked and the fact that Pat really came into his own and thrived in that position as well was great to see,” Morris said.

The Team Canada concept debuted last season at the Brier and Morris likes it.

“It was a very unique experience,” he said. “I’ve seen it in the women’s at the Scotties. I’ve always been an advocate of Team Canada for the men. To be part of that first team was pretty special and to be able to win like we did was special.”

Morris has scornful words for the recent broom controversy that has made headlines.

“I’m a purist. I’m a bit of a curling traditionalist. It just leaves a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth,” Morris said.

Morris thinks curling should be about skills, not fabric.

“I think that for the most part curling should still be about throwing the rock well and genuine raw talent,” he said. “The strength aspect of sweeping should be more important that to sweep in a certain direction to make a rock curl or not curl. It shouldn’t be about equipment.”


The Verve Grandmasters zone winners were: Jim Mullin (Ottawa), Bob Chick (Brockville), Rick Lomore (Pembroke) and Benny Brock (Trenton).


The Tankard region 1 play downs take place starting this Saturday morning at 9 at the Rideau.

The A side final is Saturday evening at 7.

Two teams will advance to the men’s provincials beginning Feb. 1 in Brantford.

Happy New Year to all.


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Ottawa ice maker takes China challenge

by Joe Pavia


China put him in the Christmas mood.

Ottawa area ice technician Jon Wall (he makes ice at Navan and Renfrew) recently returned from northeast China, where he installed and maintained ice for the Yichun International Ladies tournament. Wall was asked by the World Curling Federation to take on the assignment.

There were a few challenges. “They don’t know a lot about curling, especially on the ice making side of things. Trying to convey things about ice making was very hard even with translation.” Eventually body language, hand signs and comprehension of broken English got things done.

“It was a short time frame to get the ice in. There was a lot of experimenting.” He left Dec. 7 and returned Dec. 19. The spiel wasn’t in a curling club or even an arena. “It was in a hall like our EY Centre but it made it look small.” The surface got installed on a temporary floor.

The water quality was bad so “for our pebbled water we used manufactured water so we had something closer to what our Jet Ice tanks produce for us.” The ice scrapers weren’t very sharp so Wall and his crew took a long time honing the blades. When it came time to paint tools were scarce. “I had to go into the city to find tools to paint the rings. The hardware store was like a closet for us here,” he said.

That trip — like any trip — required that a government person accompany him. “It’s almost like you’re in witness protection when you’re there,” Wall said. He went on to explain that they accompany you so one doesn’t get taken advantage of.

The Christmas season was well represented there both at the hotel and the venue. “It’s winter there and pretty cold with lots of snow. It’s only three hours from the Russian border on the same line as Fort McMurray.”

He was amazed at the ice and snow sculptures they fashioned just for the event. “Winterlude got nothing on these guys,” he said.

Eight teams participated, with Regina’s Michelle Englot defeating the U.S., squad for the championship.

Manotick’s Jamie Sinclair, who Wall knows well, skipped the American team.

“It was nice knowing that you knew somebody there,” Wall said.

Wall has his sights set on 2020 when the Winter Games are staged in Beijing.

“An ice maker’s main goal is to get to the Olympics just like curlers. It is the highest stage you can get to,” he said.


Scotties east qualifying winners at RCMP on the weekend were Sherry Middaugh (with Ottawa’s Lee Merklinger) and Cathy Auld. In the west the winners were Allison Flaxey (with Ottawa’s Lynn Kreviazuk) and Julie Tippin. All advance to the Ontario championship in January in Brampton.

Men’s Tankard zone winners were: 1- Ryan McCrady and Willie Jeffries; 2 – JP Lachance and Jason Reid; 3 – Colin Dow and Mike McLean; 4 – Greg Balsdon and Dave Collyer.


Shorty Jenkins cashspiel organizers announced on Monday that the permanent location of the event would be Cornwall. The spiel moved there last September because of a compressor problem at the Brockville club.

“We believe that Cornwall offers a better chance for the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic to continue to establish its position as one of the world’s premiere bonspiels,” said Gord McCrady, the event chair.


Carmine Luciani, one of the club’s original members, threw the last rock Sunday at the “old” City View curling club.

The new facility opens Jan.11.


Curling’s newest sponsor (see their ad) is offering an impressive device just in time for Christmas. Merry Christmas, all.

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Road to Ontario Scotties and Tankard begins

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist




Sherry Middaugh. (Postmedia Network Files)

It’s the same but different.

The Ontario men’s tankard zones and women’s Scotties qualifiers take place this weekend. The women skip zones and play in four qualifying events with two rinks emerging from each and advancing to the provincials. The first are an east and west qualifier that take place in Ottawa and Guelph this weekend. Two more happen in early January. This is a change to better accommodate the sinking number of women’s entries in the quest for a national Scotties spot.

The most notable name appearing here is Sherry Middaugh. Besides the Coldwater skip, 10 other teams are in the fight including the steady Rhonda Varnes quartet, Jenn Hanna and Cathy Auld.

In the west, 16 teams are competing. The four winners will join last year’s provincial champion, Julie Hastings, and Rachel Homan, who gets a bye to the provincials owing to her Canadian Team Ranking System points. The provincial is in Brampton beginning Jan. 18.

A change in both events is the team self-seeding. All players were asked to rank teams within their zone or qualifier.

Teams did not rank themselves. The Ontario Curling Association tabulated the results then seeded the draws based on these tabulations.

The men’s tankard maintains its traditional zone; regions, provincial championship routing (the final event starts Feb. 1 in Brantford).

The young Colin Dow team from Huntley, which surprised many fans at last year’s Recharge with Milk Tankard, headlines the local field. The action begins Friday at RCMP for both Ottawa events.


The Pinty’s All Star Curling Skins game is slated for Jan. 8-10 in Banff, Alta. After the season Team Homan is having ($157,254 in cash in six tour wins) TSN should shake things up. Have Homan and Co., take on the men. Teams Brad Gushue, Mike McEwen, Brad Jacobs and Pat Simmons just might have their hands full.


Senior zone winners were: 1 — Jeff McCrady, Bryan Cochrane, Janet Lapierre. 2 — Howard Rajala, Bill Duck, Cheryl McBain and Sheryl Dobenko. 3 — Dwayne Lowe, Brian Yolkowskie and Debbie Potter.


After the outpouring of support for Ottawa curler Craig Savill, who revealed his cancer condition, the Manotick resident posted on Facebook: “Thank you so much for all the support. Karen and I were not expecting this overwhelming response to our news. I’ve always known how tight knit the curling community is, but in the last few weeks I’ve been reminded of how truly lucky I am to be surrounded by so many wonderful and thoughtful people on the ice and in the stands. The player’s shout out and purple ribbons blew my mind. Please know that I appreciate each and every message that was sent and will be sent. It is amazing what a short text, message, email, or tweet can do to lift a person’s spirits and motivate them. Thanks again for the continued support. I start chemo this Friday and I will be thinking of all your kind words as I start this journey. I’ll be back on the ice in no time.”


The OCA has stated it is following Curling Canada’s moratorium on certain broom heads.

However the OCA writes “with the following exceptions: recovered heads that have been recovered either at home or by a re-seller will be allowable if the fabric meets the intention of the moratorium. (This means the fabric must have a woven appearance that is visible to the “naked eye”).

This stipulation ends however at the end of an OCA event if competitors move on to a national stage.

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Strong show of support for Savill

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist



Ottawa curler Craig Savill has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer. (Postmedia Network Files)

The news of Craig Savill’s recently disclosed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer has sent the curling community into a loud voice of support for the Ottawa curler who is admired and respected around the world.

This is a tweet from Havard Vad Petersson, the lead on Team Ulsrud from Norway. @TeamUlsrud @CraigSavill 83,9% survival rate. Savill usually high 90″¦Sounds like an easy win!”

Typical of the support is the quick response from players, fans and even the TSN broadcast crew. “It’s a hard thing to comment on. It’s sad news obviously but knowing Craig over the years we know he will put his best effort in and beat it.” Don Bowser said. Bowser is the third for Savill in the Wednesday night cash league they both compete in at the Ottawa.

The illness has forced Savill to leave his Nova Scotia-based rink skipped by Shawn Adams. It was his best hope of winning the province then to play in the Tim Hortons Brier at TD Place in March. This illness scuttles the Manotick resident’s aspiration to compete in the Ottawa Brier. But maybe not. Already a few high profile players are suggesting that the veteran lead be their fifth man here next March.

Team Howard wants to ask him should it represent Ontario.

Team Adams feels the same way should it be the Bluenose province rep.

The Ottawa Youth Curling League, which has Team Homan, Lee Merklinger and Savill as namesakes for their three divisions, is already thinking of ways to send the good wishes of all the youth competitors to him.

Indeed, Savill has taken a keen interest in the league volunteering a number of times to present clinics.

Since this news came out, there hasn’t been a curler without a supportive word to say about one of curling’s best. And it will continue.


In Region 1, Tim Hortons Masters winners were Ron Edgeley and Bruce Delaney. The women victors were Jennifer Langley and Lois Copis. In Gore Zone 1 school playdowns, the winners were Mikayla Gemmill and Beth Misener. The boys winners were Hayden Richmond and Matthew Roach.


The Howard Rajala rink won the Renfrew Cashspiel on the weekend.


The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling resumed yesterday in Yorkton, Sask. The Meridian Canadian Open features 16 of the top men’s squads and 16 women’s elite teams. The triple knockout format has a purse of $200,000. The field includes the amazingly hot team skipped by Rachel Homan. Sportsnet coverage starts Thursday at noon with the finals Sunday. The women are on at noon and the men at 3:30… Homan just got engaged to Shawn Germain, 33, an electrician who lives in Edmonton where the Ottawa skip is spending a lot of time in school and practising with second Joanne Courtney. He’s a Team Canada slow pitch player … Ottawa ice technician Jon Wall is on his way to China to make ice for the annual international women’s invitational in Yichun, Heilongjiang”¦ Registration is now open for the Alexander Keiths City of Ottawa Men’s bonspiel.

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OCA addresses issues

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist




L-R: John Hammond -second, Minh Nguyen -lead, Marc Bourguignon -skip, Henri Monette – vice. Photo by Françoise Mcnicoll

The Ontario Curling Association is changing it up.

After its woes in the recent past the OCA has done plenty of reflection, re-examination and reform including a look at their many competitions.

A committee representing stakeholders province-wide come up with a report that changes how the competitions operate. Executive Director Steve Chenier explained the findings.

All their events followed the same formula. Your team started in zones where it hoped to fight its way to regions and make the provincials. Clubs donated their ice but lack of entries saw clubs open at times for only one game.

The committee addressed that predicament.

“We also wanted to cut the requirements of the host clubs,” Chernier said. “We want curling clubs to make money. That’s why you’ll see a lot of combined zones. A lot of stuff of that nature in an effort to have a more viable event at a curling club and eliminate the need for one or two team games.”

The report also broke down events into those that lead to a national and those that only lead to an Ontario title. No matter the event, guidelines have been set for the operations team whereby “if the entrants don’t reach a certain threshold then we don’t have to go back to the well every time. There are clear guidelines for the operational team. Do we do regions? Do we not do regions? Etc.”

The more high profile events (the men’s Tankard and the women’s Scotties) see two CTRS teams (Canadian Team Ranking System) per event getting byes to the provincials.

“Leading to national event we definitely want our best team playing at provincials to advance. It just makes common sense. “The men’s event will be set at ten rinks while the Scotties is pegged at eight teams.

The triple knock out format will be eliminated as well.

“Triples are just really tough. That’s because of the constraints of the size of the events and doing it at clubs and trying to get it done in a weekend.” Self-seeding will be introduced to events which lead to a national. Everyone ranks each other and not themselves. “You’re not going to get two of the top teams playing each other in the first round.”

The number of teams vying for provincial glory has decreased so most events will have fewer teams.

“We firmly believe putting more teams in the provincials isn’t going to make those team specifically better. Going 0-7 at the provincials isn’t technically making you better. There’s better ways to try and help you learn the process and get better as a team.”

The only competition that got sliced is the junior mixed. It will become mixed doubles.

Right now, the OCA is seeking input. “We are looking for everybody’s input then are modifying the document then going forward with an operational plan.” The changes take effect in the 2016-2017season.


Pepsi junior teams advancing to provincials are Mac Calwell, Doug Kee, Marieelaine Little and Lauren Horton. Tim Hortons masters men’s zone 1 results are Layne Noble and Bruce Delaney. Zone 3 winners are Andy Hall and Ed Warren.


At the Challenge Casino de Charlevoix Gatineau’s Don Bowser was on the Toronto team that took top spot defeating Jean-Michel Menard.

The local rink of Marc Bourguignon, Henri Monette, John Hammond and Minh Nguyen won the open section.


The Home Hardware Canada Cup from Grande Prairie begins today. At stake for these elite teams, including Team Homan, is a direct entry into the Trials. TSN covers all the action.

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Travelers event always a great time

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist


Team Alberta Skip Curtis Harrish watches the line of his rock during their game against Team Northwest Territories at the Travelers Curling Club Championship being held at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club on Tuesday November 24, 2015. Errol McGihon/Ottawa Sun/Postmedia Network

Errol McGihon/Ottawa Sun

No matter age or gender, the Travelers Curling Club Championship is always a refreshing event for some of Canada’s top amateur rinks.

Refreshing because the players are so enthusiastic and happy to be there.

Typical is Andrew Hackner, 29, whose two-year old men’s league team from Geraldton, Ont. is playing in his second national but first in curling.

“The Travelers is a special even. They treat us so well,” he said.

Andrew, a second, is the son of two-time Brier winner Al Hackner. When asked if his father gave him advice he said, “he doesn’t really give advice about pressure or anything like that. He just said ‘really enjoy it.'”

The Travelers, a national featuring 14 men and women’s teams, is on now at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.

“It’s pretty special,” said Andrew. “I was pretty emotional when I finally saw my name on a Northern Ontario sweater.”

The last time Hackner was at a national was in 2011, but it wasn’t in curling. He was playing basketball for Lakehead University.


The women’s team from Inuvik, Northwest Territories, may be the first all aboriginal women’s curling team to compete in the event. Skip Diane Baxter said, “it’s an awesome championship to come to. It’s pretty exciting.”

Her vice competed in the mixed nationals but her lead and second are sophomores. Because of travel they have only played six games together.

Baxter wants her front end to get the most out of their stay in Ottawa.

“I would like the two new curlers just to enjoy the experience and not get too frustrated,” she said.


This national is also special for Team Ontario second Erin Cook from Guelph. The squad’s lead is her mother Laura Davis-Cook and the vice is her sister Allison Singh. Mom last played in a national 40 years ago for Quebec as a junior.

“She knows why she took 40 years to get back to a nationals because she wanted to do it with her daughters,” Erin said.

She even brought her six-month-old daughter to cheer her on. And her father, who took time off work, is here as well to babysit.

She had nothing but praise for the event. “We had a nice banquet last night (Monday). We get shuttled back and forth from the hotel so we can enjoy ourselves. It’s been really great.”

The tournament has two pools of seven teams each who play a round robin. The top three squads from each pool advance to the championships beginning Friday at 1:30. It was opened on Monday with Craig Savill drawing the pin unaided. This was after Emma Miskew told Savill to not be light because it was better to stop the rock than push it to the button.

Draws run all day until the finals Saturday at 10 a.m.


Pepsi junior zones results are: Zone 1 — Doug Kee, James Stonehouse, Marieelaine Little and Cassie Allen. Zone 2 — Peter Stranberg, Scott Morphet, Kayla MacMillan and Sierra Sutherland. Zone 3 — Ryan Hahn, Richard Barrie, Lauren Horton, Jessica Thorne and Emma Wallingford. The Fairfield Marriott Challenge zone winner were: 1 – Allen McGuire and Bill Woods, 2 – Chadd Vandermade and Rob Kluke, 3 – Dylan Haggart and Dave Cormier.


The Navy senior invitational crown went to Randy Garland, Brian Edge, John Colquhoun and Cal Hegge.

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Ferbey the last of the beer-drinking curlers

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist



Alberta skip Randy Ferbey laughs during the 2005 Brier at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., on Sunday March 6, 2005. Curling was a more social sport back then, Ferbey says. Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency


Four-time world champion Randy Ferbey considers himself “the last of a dying breed” of curler.

The kind that would “go curl your game then go sit and visit with people and have a bunch of beers and stay up till midnight.”

“Teams don’t do that no more,” he said.

Elite curlers — those competing for an Olympic berth, for example — train more seriously nowadays as the sport becomes less social and more competitive.

“It’s not like it used to be. It was a much more social sport. It was a lot more fun to curl both on and off the ice,” said Ferbey.

Ferbey was in town this week to promote the Everest-Ferbey Pro Am that will take place in Digby, N.S., in April.

Ottawa is where he won one of his six Canadian championships, in 2001. The game has changed a lot since then, he said.

“(Teams) are spending their time in the gym which is good. I kind of get it,” he said. “I don’t begrudge them any bad things.”

He said he had the same conversation recently with another legend, Al Hackner.

“It’s not the way I would have done things back then,” he said.

Ferbey also got a look at how the directional broom controversy is affecting teams when he stopped in Oshawa on Sunday for the Slam.

“They are divided and I have never seen this ever before. Teams were friends and went out and had a drink together. That’s not happening no more. Everybody is calling these guys cheaters and these guys cheaters. And they use those brooms and we use these brooms but they’re doing the wrong thing and we are doing the right thing,” he said.

“It’s not good. It totally divided the teams. The CCA has to come in and take steps to correct this problem right now.”

He went on to say, “After talking to a few players, apparently it’s almost like you never miss. That’s not the way the game is meant to be played. When I played, you were wide you didn’t sweep. When you were narrow, you swept. When you were light you swept. When you were heavy you didn’t. And now you sweep to make them step. You sweep to make them curl. It’s not good for our game quite frankly.”

Because of the Brad Gushue incident, Ferbey is asked about helmet use. But he has a different take on their use. “Well we don’t need them, but we might need them cause there’s going to be fisticuffs out there.”

Ferbey thinks the junior ranks have also changed.

“They’re travelling with coaches and physiotherapists and psychology coaches. It kind of gotten ridiculous, you know.”

Ferbey wonders if the emphasis is right.

“Only one team is going to go the Olympics. I know it’s a great honour. You have to put things in perspective. You’re not going to have fun for four years because you might get a chance to represent Canada? Who is to say that because you socialize and have a bit of fun now it’s going to hurt your chances down the road? Which I don’t totally get. They are doing what they think they have to do I guess.”

Meanwhile, Ferbey will continue to champion the more relaxed Everest-Ferbey Pro Am. In its second year, it is aimed at seniors, whom Ferbey thinks are the backbone of many curling clubs. Players register to participate then take part in various competitions in their area. In March a draw is made to pick the seniors who will curl against Ferbey and guests.

Ferbey still curls in Edmonton in a Thursday men’s league and a Friday mixed league. Former teammate Dave Nedohin curls at the same club but in a Tuesday men’s league.

“I think he’s trying to avoid me,” Ferbey said. “He doesn’t want to go head to head against me.”


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New broom pads causing uproar

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist



Nova Scotia skip Mary-Anne Arsenault. (Postmedia Network Files)

Five-time world champion Mary-Anne Arsenault says she’s “done” with curling if controversial new sweeping techniques are allowed to continue.

The Nova Scotia skip was annoyed after her experience at the Royal Lepage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic in Kemptville last weekend. Her displeasure about the use of “directional material” on broom pads and certain sweeping techniques caused her, as she put it, to rant to Curling Canada and others after the spiel.

Her team lost an A-side qualifier to a team that used the pads in question but did not turn the fabric inside out, as many teams have done. This is a stopgap measure until the World Curling Federation issues a ruling about the pads in question. Both the WCF and Curling Canada, who both have national and international tournaments occurring now, dictated that the Ice Pad material have to be used inside out. There has yet to be a universal ruling.

“If they were wide on a peel, the skip would yell, ‘Really has to curl’ and voila; a miss becomes a make,” Arsenault said.

“They switched brushes depending on whether it was a hit, draw, in-turn or outturn, using different pad coverings for different shots. The manipulation was very deliberate and well planned.”

The pads in question are not illegal. While there is a “gentlemen’s agreement” to turn the fabric inside out, no one is forced to nor can spiel organizers mandate it.

But Arsenault is fed up.

“In my humble opinion, if we all play with the integrity of the game as we know it at heart, it’ll be all good,” she said. “If the new paradigm includes these brushing techniques, I’m done.”

Indeed, the fabric of curling may be torn asunder if this issue is not put to bed. Some have gone so far as to suggest the brushing technique is akin to cheating.

According to reports from the Grand Slam in Nova Scotia last month, some women’s teams were reduced to tears from taunts by other players about their choice of brooms.

Arsenault likened it to “taking a knife to a gun fight. Anybody playing fairly has no chance against these directional fabrics when used in this manner. I truly hope that there will soon be definitive rules put in place regarding brushing. Without such rules our game is going to the dogs.”

Spiel organizers are also getting frustrated. At least one — who spoke to the Sun on the condition of anonymity — threatened to cancel his event if the issue doesn’t get resolved.

Back on the ice, meanwhile, the three A-side qualifiers in Kemptville ended up in the final. Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni lost a close one to Mississauga’s Jacqueline Harrison 8-6. Both teams use the Hardline brooms in question. Harrison, who did not turn the pads inside out, won $5,500 while the Swiss, who did turn them inside out, banked $3,000. Local squads did well. Rhonda Varnes and Jenn Hanna made the semis while Lauren Horton, Lauren Mann and Cassandra Lewin earned quarterfinal money.


Gatineau’s Jean-Michel Menard earned a berth in the Quebec men’s provincials Sunday by winning the Finale du circuit. He defeated Guy Hemmings 4-3.


Four time world champion Randy Ferbey will be in Ottawa Nov. 17 promoting the Everest-Ferbey National Pro Am, a tournament designed for club level senior curlers who qualify for the national through regional tournaments. He’ll be at the Ottawa beginning at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome.


A group of Scottish women who are curling their way through parts of Canada are in town this week. They are in Ottawa Nove. 12 and 13 at the RA and the Ottawa, respectively.


Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling begins tomorrow with the National in Oshawa. Sportsnet game coverage starts Thursday at 9 a.m.

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Canada ‘second home’ for Swiss women

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist



Swiss skip Silvana Tirinzoni. (Postmedia Network Files)

They are the team to beat.

The Royal Lepage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic Nov. 5-8 in Kemptville features Team Silvana Tirinzoni, the Swiss squad that won the inaugural Tour Challenge in Newfoundland in September. That win plus their three playoff finishes this season have them sitting second behind Team Homan on the money list with just over $43,000 won.

They don’t get much of a break from curling. The team members all have morning part-time jobs then practise and work out in the afternoon and evening. “We really don’t have an off-season since we have ice in the summer from the beginning of June,” said Tirinzoni, a 36-year-old business development officer.

The team consists of third Manuela Siegrist, 25 (an economics student), second Esther Neuenschwander, 32, an accountant and another accountant lead Marlene Albrecht, 27.

They spend eight weeks in Canada.

“To be away from your family and friends all the time is not easy,” said Tirinzoni. “It’s a special life to spend so much time in hotel rooms and living out of a suitcase. But we love what we do. Canada has become our second home.”

This is all expensive. A quarter of their expenses come from the Swiss Curling Association. “The rest we have to come up by ourselves. There is always pressure to do well on events and win some money.”

They just came from the Masters in Nova Scotia where they earned $7,500 and next head to the National in Oshawa.

The Swiss will be facing lots of Sister Acts.

The tournament features a host of sisters either on the same team or potentially competing against one another. The Hanna sisters, Jenn and Stephanie, the 2007 event winners, bring their new team. The Toronto squad of Megan Balsdon features Jessica and Stephanie Corrado.

There are sister civil wars a brewing with two young skips — Celeste and Nicole Butler-Rohland. The other possibility is the Gannon sisters — Melissa and Kim on Team Varnes and Team Horton, respectively.

Tirinzoni will be tested by a number of teams including Lauren Horton’s rink that is fresh off their $4,000 win at the Broker Link OVCA Junior Superspiel. Mary-Anne Arsenault won $7,500 at the Masters. Marie-France Larouche is also in the hunt as is Lauren Mann with her Quebec Scotties squad. The defending champion, Cathy Auld, is returning.

This marks the 10th anniversary of the 24-team event, with action starting Thursday morning at 9:15. The finals are Sunday at 3:30 at the North Grenville Curling Club. Go to for info.


Lauren Horton, Kim Gannon, Lindsay Bell and Jessica Armstrong defeated Quebec’s Genevieve Laurier to capture their second consecutive Broker Link Junior Superspiel. On the men’s side, Scotland’s Bruce Mouat defeated Manitoba’s Matt Dunstone 7-4.


The World Curling Federation issued a statement recently indicating it would announce a decision regarding directional fabric broom heads by Nov. 8. Curling Canada has issued a statement to all the teams participating in the Canadian Mixed that they “must be able to “see” the “fabric weave” in any brush head fabric that will come into contact with the ice.” Curling Canada goes on to say this is an interim decision only applicable to the Mixed. The WFC’s pending broom head decision coincides with the opening day of the mixed in Toronto. Team Ontario is from Ottawa and consists of skip Mike McLean, Brit O’Neil, Andrew Denny-Petch and Karen Sagle.


The Pembroke Curling Centre is staging their Fall Spiel Nov. 20 to 22 with $5,000 in cash prizes. Contact Carl Zieroth at

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Scottish rink makes noise at Challenge Chateau Cartier

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist


For Bruce Mouat, it was a bonspiel he’ll never forget.

After losing its first game at the Challenge Chateau Cartier in Buckingham, Que., the young Scottish rink surprised the field rattling off six straight victories to earn a spot in the semi-finals.

Mouat’s rink defeated teams from Denmark, Switzerland, China and seemed to have Ontario rink John Epping’s number by defeating him in both a B-side qualifier as well as the quarterfinals.

The Scottish rink finally lost 6-3 in the semis against Brad Gushue (Newfoundland rink), who went on to win the event.

Mouat’s rink travelled to Canada to gain experience by playing in Gatineau as well as the Broker Link OVCA Junior Superspiel. “We wanted to gain experience playing top class teams like John Epping and Brad Gushue. Lucky, we got to play them both. It was cool even to be on the same sheet,” said Mouat, 21, who captured the bronze medal in last year’s World Juniors.

The Scottish skip is currently studying festival and event management at Napier University in Edinburgh.

Unlike most young curlers the sport didn’t run in his family. After seeing Scotland’s Rhona Martin win gold at the 2002 Olympics, his father encouraged him to try the sport.

“I loved it from the get go. I started when I was seven and loved it ever since I stepped on the ice.”

His team is scattered amongst three cities making team dynamics tough. “We try to get together as much as possible. So we have a team training session every Wednesday.” They play every weekend, go to the gym twice a week and each practices on their own. British curling funds them while the Scottish Sports Association provides personal training and strength and conditioning coaches.

“They are funding us to come over here and compete at a high level … to hopefully grow the sport and expand it by providing good performances in the worlds and the Olympics.”

When asked which curler Mouat most admired growing up, he said Jeff Stoughton. “I thought he was awesome. I used to watch shots of his on YouTube.”

His other hero was David Murdoch. “Hopefully I can have people look up to me if I ever get that far.”

The Challenge results saw the quarterfinal runners-up as Guy Hemmings, Epping, Jia Liang Zang and Shawn Adams. Gushue went on to win the spiel by defeating Sarnia’s Mark Bice 6-1 (Bice defeated Adam Casey from P.E.I. in the other semi).

In the Open section Buckingham’s Roger Bertrand defended his title against Steven Munroe.

As for the Superspiel, the Scottish men hope to qualify.

“I know there are definitely strong competitors. We are not underestimating any of the Canadian teams.”

Mouat will be facing a formidable men’s field headed by Braden Calvert, the defending world champion from Manitoba.

American Korey Dropkin is back to defend his title. Another ’Tobin is here, Matt Dunstone, who has a world junior bronze medal. Add to that mix six provincial championship squads as well as Tyler Tardi from B.C. with his Canada Youth Olympics team and the weekend has the recipe for some great curling.

The women’s field features defending champ Lauren Horton of Almonte as well as three provincial titleholders and the U.S. standard bearer Cory Christensen.

Tournament action will take place at six clubs with the championships set for Sunday at 4 p.m. at Carleton Heights. Go to for more info.


The Masters of Curling begins today from Truro, N.S. Sportsnet coverage starts on Thursday morning. Ottawa’s Team Homan is competing in it.

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Sportsnet Broadcast Schedule
*Note – As a part of a sublicensing agreement, CBC will broadcast the Men’s Quarter-Finals and Final. All Sportsnet broadcasts also available for streaming via, the Sportsnet App, and Rogers Anyplace TV™. Broadcast schedule subject to change.


Thursday, Oct. 29

·         Round Robin, 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific)

·         Round Robin, 2:30 p.m. ET / 11:30 a.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific)

·         Round Robin, 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific)

Friday, Oct. 30

·         Round Robin, 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific)

·         Round Robin, 2:30 p.m. ET / 11:30 a.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific)

Saturday, Oct. 31

·         Men’s Quarter-Finals, Noon ET / 9 a.m. PT (CBC)

·         Women’s Quarter-Finals, 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific)

Sunday, Nov. 1

·         Men’s and Women’s Semifinals, 8 a.m. ET / 5 a.m. ET (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific)

·         Men’s Final, Noon ET / 9 a.m. PT (CBC)

·         Women’s Final, 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific)

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Call it a super spiel

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist


svenSkip Sven Michel of Switzerland throws a rock during the fifth draw of the Syncrude Elite 10 Grand Slam of Curling event in Fort McMurray Alta. on Friday March 20, 2015. Robert Murray/Fort McMurray Today/QMI Agency



“It’s a great spiel in a great place.”

So says Sven Michel, the Swiss skip who is returning to the Challenge Chateau Cartier de Gatineau. His rink is one of the elite teams competing in the $55,000 prize purse World Curling Tour this week at the Centre sportif Robert-Rochon.

There are a number of European teams in the area anxious to battle for big bucks. Niklas Edin from Sweden is one although the squad could be termed as a local team since they have been living in Ottawa all season. (They leave in November). That team is joined by Scotland’s David Murdoch and Rasmus Stierne from Denmark. Add two Chinese rinks and a young Bruce Mouat team from Scotland and you have lots for Canada’s elite rinks to tackle.

The elite homegrown rinks are the surging Brad Gushue, Team Canada — Pat Simmons with John Morris — Adam Casey from PEI and Shawn Adams from Nova Scotia with Ottawa athlete Craig Savill.

Spiel organizers do a fine job of keeping the athletes happy. For instance out of town players who stay with their hotel partner (Double Tree by Hilton) not only get a good rate but receive money towards a car rental. Another aspect of the event curlers like is the venue. “Arena ice is a big one, one of two spiels on the WCT that is held on arena ice. Players love our ice conditions.” said Rick Fagay, one of the organizers. “This is also a great warm up for the Masters Slam in Truro, Nava Scotia the weekend after.”

The tournament features the 32-team elite division and an open section. The elite section plays all their games at the arena beginning at 8:30 tomorrow morning. The open division begins Wednesday at 8 p.m., at the arena and in the Buckingham curling club.

To see some of the best curling in the National Capital Region this season go to the Centre. The admission is $5 per day and a $15 event pass is available.


There is plenty of controversy over so-called directional fabric brooms and really no solution in site. Maybe it is time for an independent organization to test all pads and see what one is the problem — if any. With accusations flying back and forth between Balance Plus and Hardline Curling and with no independent verification of allegations, this could go on a long time.


The Broker Link Junior Superspiel qualifier was held in Almonte on the weekend. Those teams advancing to the Oct. 30-Nov. 1 spiel are: Emma Wallingford, Doug Kee, Marie-Elaine Little, Peter Stranberg, Sierra Sutherland and Ryan Hahn.


You can now purchase mini ticket packs that cover both the opening and closing weekends at TD Place. Individual tickets for select round-robin draws go on sale Nov. 19 while playoff single draw tickets will be available on Jan. 7.


Local curlers Cheryl McBain and Layne Noble were inducted into the Governor Generals Curling Club last weekend”¦. Registration is now open for the OVCA Mixed Bonspiel Jan. 14-17. Returning teams are guaranteed a spot until Dec. 1. This year’s theme is “East Coast Kitchen Party.”

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by Joe Pavia

The organizers of the Challenge Chateau Cartier de Gatineau have a stellar cast of characters who will be fighting for their share of the $55,500 prize purse plus world ranking points. Among those attending are Brad Gushue, Scotland’s David MurdochNiklas Edin from  Sweden, Pat Simmons and Jean-Michel Menard.

All in all the 32 elite division teams come from 7 provinces as well as Switzerland, Sweden, Scotland, the USA, Denmark and China. These elite rinks start sharp at 8:30 a.m. October 22. All these games as well as the October  25 at 3:30 p.m. championship games will be played at the Centre sportif Robert-Rochon.

The open division begins on October 21 at 8:00 p.m. with their matches at both the Centre and the Buckingham Curling Club. The open finals are at the same time as the elite final on October 25.

To see some of the best curling to take place in the National Capital Region this season go to the Centre. Admission is $5 per day and there is a $15 all event pass available at the door. Visit

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Ottawa-based foursome hits Autumn Gold on impressive roll


At the end of the day, Rachel Homan’s curling season will likely be judged by how she and her team perform at a select number of big events.

The Scotties looms largest, obviously, but the Canada Cup and Grand Slam events will likely be the biggest barometers of the team’s success.

A little more than a month into the season, though, and Homan & Co. have already put together a run that would have most teams beaming when the snow starts melting next spring.

Saying they’re the hottest team on the tour doesn’t do them justice. The Ottawa-based foursome — which includes third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle — has already won two events and sits atop the WCT women’s money list with $42,254 in earnings.

That number would have been enough for Homan’s crew to finish fifth on the money list at the <italics> end <italics> of the 2014-15 season.

But with the Curlers Corner Autumn Gold Classic set to kick off Friday morning at the Calgary Curling Club, no one around the Homan camp is resting on her laurels.

“I think this sport is always a game you’re constantly working at and (trying to) improve yourself,” said Homan, 26. “Everyone else is trying to do the same. The minute you think you’re No. 1, people are going to pass you.”

That’s the attitude that’s seen Homan’s team establish itself as one of the top women’s teams in the world over the past couple of curling seasons. They won the Scotties in both ’13 and ‘14 and went on to finish with a bronze at their first world championships and a silver at their second.

But with Olympic champion Jennifer Jones still at her peak and Valerie Sweeting’s Edmonton-based team emerging, Homan’s rink spent the summer hard at work both on and off the ice trying to gain whatever edge they can find heading into the season.

“The off-season is a lot of dry-land training, getting stronger in the gym and taking care of injuries and anything that’s happened during curling season,” Courtney said. “We’ve played three events and we’ve had a start that we’re happy with and a lot of good things are happening on the ice process-wise, but there’s a lot to improve on and it’s still early.”

This weekend’s bonspiel in Calgary will present another big test. Both Jones and Sweeting are in town for the event, as well as perennial contender Shannon Kleibrink and Stefanie Lawton. Homan opens the event Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. against Edmonton-based Jessie Kaufman.


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Situation critical for Curling Club

By Kevin Anderson, The Northern Times

The Kapuskasing Curling Club is facing financial hardship and desperately needs to increase membership by 20-30 members, or face the potential closing of the club.

This according to club executive member John Arnold, who recently spoke with The Times.

“We need to ensure the long-term stability of the club,” he said. “If we don’t get a bit higher membership than we have now, we may have to shut the club down. The situation is urgent.”

The club has been operating at a deficit for the last two years and coffers are running low.

“We’re getting close to insolvency,” said Arnold. “Hydro costs have gone up, maintenance costs are substantial and sagging membership is really hurting us.”

Arnold said historically, older members had been the backbone of the club, but with so many people choosing to winter in warmer climates (the club is even trying to create packages for those folks, who can’t commit to a full season), new members are needed.

“Look, we know curling isn’t for everybody, but we also know there are a lot of people, who have considered joining the club but for one reason or another have procrastinated in doing so,” said Arnold. “Well, if they’ve ever thought about it, now is the time.”

The Kapuskasing Curling Club has a long, rich history in the Model Town, having operated for 86 years since its establishment in 1929.

“I’ve been playing on and off, mostly on, since the early 1960s,” commented Arnold. “Curling has a very storied history in Northern Ontario and it would be a shame to see our club go because of a couple of off years”.

Arnold said curling is a sport unlike many others, combines athletics with social aspects, and is playable by people of all ages.

“We have our youngest members in our ‘Little Rocks’ group, right on up to seniors, who while the may not be able to get down in the hack and throw rocks anymore, can use one of the aids we have so that they can still participate,” he explained. “Anybody can play it. It doesn’t have to be a super physical sport and it’s not an expensive sport to play relative to a lot of others. It’s about having fun and getting together with friends”.

Registration for this curling season will be held on Oct. 18-23 at the Kapuskasing Curling Club. Regular league play is slated to being Oct. 25-30.

Furthermore, David Guay will be offering a clinic for prospective curlers at a cost of $50. Those interested can sign up for the clinic on registration day.

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Adult Learn to Curl
Even the best can use some instructing now and then…
The OVCA “Train the Trainer” session will assist your
Club’s ‘Learn to Curl’ coordinator to teach effectively
using the latest methods based on the Adult Learn to
Curl curriculum.
When: Sunday, September 27th, 9 am
Where: Ottawa Curling Club
Register at:
Cost: $55 per person Registration Deadline is September 22nd.
Limited to two (2) coaches from each club until September 20th.
Registration fee includes course materials, morning coffee, lunch & instructor name tag.

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TSN’s curling experts make their bold predictions

Take a look at’s 2015-16 curling previews: MEN – WOMEN


Vic Rauter

Vic Rauter’s Picks

2016 Brier Champion – Brad Gushue (St. John’s, NL)

I think it’s going to be a magical year for Brad Gushue. He will win the Brier and then go back next year as Team Canada when St John’s is named as Brier host in 2017.

2016 Scotties Champion – Val Sweeting (Edmonton, AB)

Val Sweeting will finally take the big step after losing last year in the final to Jennifer Jones. A full year with Lori Olson-Johns as her third will be big for this rink.

Men’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Brad Gushue (St. John’s, NL)

Team Gushue is always up early money and will play a lot again this season. My only question is whether he burns himself out, hurting his Brier chances.

Women’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Chelsea Carey (Edmonton, AB)

Throw stones and Carey On. Chelsea Carey, now skipping the team previously led by of Heather Nedohin, brings more bite to the team. She could give Sweeting a good run in Alberta.

Dream Mixed Doubles Pairing – John Morris and Joanne Courtney 

Morris loves it and has the ability to throw up-weight while Courtney (Rachel Homan’s second) is arguably the best brusher in the women’s game right now. Also, Cathy Gauthier and Russ Howard. They would simply win because the other team would die laughing.


Cheryl Bernard

Cheryl Bernard’s Picks

2016 Brier Champion – Kevin Koe (Calgary, AB)

As a second year team I think they will have worked out a lot of the kinks that all new teams have. They have all the talent, just needed a year to find common ground with regards to style of play and timing. Not an easy route out of Alberta, but if they make it, I pick them at the Brier.

2016 Scotties Champion – Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg, MB)

You can’t argue with her track record at the Scotties. She has won it five times in the past 10 years and the years she didn’t win, she was in the playoffs. And the other important element is that she is guaranteed to be at the Scotties as Team Canada from last year.

Men’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Mike McEwen (Winnipeg, MB)

McEwen was the overall money winner in the 2014-15 season, making $172,500. They have been the No. 1 money winner four out of the past five years. You can’t argue with that type of consistency or talent.

Women’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Rachel Homan (Ottawa, ON)

Homan was the overall money winner last year with a total of $91,000 in winnings and now a second year under their belt with Joanne Courtney as their second will give this team the benefit of knowledge and experience as a unit.

Dream Mixed Doubles Pairing – Val Sweeting and Marc Kennedy

He can do it all and she is a clutch skip that can draw. They’re a perfect pair to win Canada another medal in curling.


Russ Howard

Russ Howard’s Picks

2016 Brier Champion – Mike McEwen (Winnipeg, MB)

Finally, it is going to be Mike’s year. The new father will finally win Manitoba and the flood gates will open and he will win the Canadian Championship on his first try. They are the best all round team in the world right now.

2016 Scotties Champion – Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg, MB)

Now that Dawn McEwen has had the baby, the team will round into form for the Canadian Championship and defend their title. Amazingly enough, this team is still motivated, looking for a world championship.

Men’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Mike McEwen (Winnipeg, MB) 

Team McEwen has been the top money winner two years in a row. There is no reason to believe they won’t repeat as they are extremely consistent at all four positions.

Women’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Rachel Homan (Ottawa, ON)

She is very motivated after last year’s disappointing Scotties.  Emma Miskew has changed careers to dedicate more time to training which should only help this young team.

Dream Mixed Doubles Pairing – John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes

In mixed doubles you need a skip that can brush – John fits that bill. He’s a great team player, gets along with anyone and is not afraid to make the big shot. Kaitlyn is very similar. She has a great attitude as a team player, has all the shots and like John, the sweeping judgement is key for all the finesse shots required in mixed doubles.


Bob Weeks

Bob Weeks’ Picks

2016 Brier Champion – Mike McEwen (Winnipeg, MB) 

This is finally the year that the team not only reaches the Brier but goes on to win it. They’re just too good and too hungry.

2016 Scotties Champion – Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg, MB)

Being Team Canada gives them a leg up on the field and when this team gets the Maple Leaf on its back, there’s no team better in the game.

Men’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, ON)

These guys will be rolling again this year after a solid WCT season a year ago and looking to improve on the $100,000 they won in 2014-15.

Women’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Rachel Homan (Ottawa, ON)

There are no better money players in the game today than the four on this squad. They are truly pros.

Dream Mixed Doubles Pairing – Marc Kennedy and Emma Miskew 

Two of the best thirds in the game would be an awesome combination and a favourite for gold.


Cathy Gauthier

Cathy Gauthier’s Pick

2016 Brier Champion – Mike McEwen (Winnipeg, MB)

Mike and his team consistently perform well on the money tour and has been one of the best three for several years – just cannot get out of Manitoba. The arrival of the new baby will provide the all-important perspective (or sleep deprivation) needed to break through.

2016 Scotties Champion – Val Sweeting (Edmonton, AB)

She is consistently a Cool Hand Luke throwing the last rock. Getting as close as she did last year has shown her what they need to do as a team to take it that one notch higher. Team Sweeting will be one of the hardest working teams this year.

Men’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Mike McEwen (Winnipeg, MB)

They have figured out how to win at the highest of levels and this year should be no different. Team McEwen are being driven by the Olympic potential and there will be no change in focus in this season.

Women’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg, MB)

Jennifer will be close at the Scotties – she always is.  The Scotties is one week but the season is a long one.  Their incredible strengths throughout the lineup will generate a lot of high finishes and when Dawn rejoins the team when she is ready, look for an even bigger surge on the cash circuit.

Dream Mixed Doubles Pairing – Charley Thomas and Kalynn Park

There will be a big surge to mixed doubles now that it is an Olympic sport, but these two have worked hard at it and are very strong.  I watched them in Sochi at the World Mixed Doubles in April of this year and was impressed on many levels.  They are incredibly fit and have been great students of the European Mixed Doubles game in anticipation of the announcement of Olympic status.




Bryan Mudryk

TSN Curling Guru Bryan Mudryk’s Picks

2016 Brier Champion – Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, ON)

After last year’s disappointment in Calgary, Ryan Fry vowed to work even harder this season. He’s changed tactics and it’s paying off. Fry will actually drop his chin another inch closer to the ice this season ensuring chin burn and no broom missed. With the Brier returning to his home city of Ottawa, John Morris will win the Patch. Relegation or not, Jamie Koe will finish a close second.

2016 Scotties Champion – Stefanie Lawton (Saskatoon, SK)

Why not? She’s a lovely young lady and I bet none of my colleagues select her. Also, Saskatchewan will get a major event again eventually and this pick ensures me no line and no cover at the Patch. Rachel Homan wins best kitchen (Pinty’s) and Val Sweeting’s squad with best performance at a charity golf tournament this year. (It might have been mine, but never let facts ruin a good prediction).

Men’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Marc Kennedy (Calgary, AB)

During an event in Northern Manitoba, Marc will be scouted by a top European speedo model company and make $1.4 million alone this year. Vogue Magazine also has him in the running to be Mr. July in the “2016 Dreamboats of Curling.”

Women’s World Curling Tour Money Winner – Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg, MB)

Former World Champion. Olympic Gold. Scotties Champion. Married Lainger. The hits will keep on coming.

Dream Mixed Doubles Pairing – Kate Upton and Taylor Swift

We can all dream. Get them a broom.


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Annual FALL ROCK$ Novice
Open Ca$h-$piel
RCN (Navy) Curling Club
Sept 26th and 27th 2015
OVCA Colts Event #1
5 years and under – Open format
Any combination of male/female players
$ 260 entry fee
Maximum of 24 teams
3 games guaranteed
Saturday dinner
Additional Prizes to be won!
Finals on Sunday with lunch available for
Hosted by the RCN Evening Ladies Division in association with the OVCA Colts League
For information on rules, eligibility and to register visit
or contact Denis Carter

7,096 total views, 1 views today


For Immediate Release
Sept. 14, 2015
St. John’s named to host 2017 Tim Hortons Brier
Curling’s biggest rock stars will be heading to the Rock in 2017 for the Tim Hortons Brier, it was announced today by Curling Canada.

The 2017 Canadian Men’s Curling Championship will be played March 4-12 at Mile One Centre in St. John’s, and will be just the second time the Brier has been played in Canada’s easternmost province.

The 1972 Macdonald Brier was held at Memorial Stadium in St. John’s and won by Manitoba’s Orest Meleschuk.

Forty-five years later, after a rousing campaign put together by local organizers that saw Newfoundland and Labrador curling fans put deposits down on nearly 2,200 event passes, curling’s biggest show is making a long-awaited return.

“While there were some very attractive bids submitted to host the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier, the enthusiasm shown by St. John’s and Newfoundland and Labrador and the local organizers made this a natural choice,” said Pat Ray, acting Chief Executive Officer for Curling Canada. “St. John’s has wonderful facilities that will work perfectly, both for our athletes and the fans from across the country who will be eager to see what a St. John’s curling party is all about.”

Mile One Centre, with a seating capacity of around 7,000, opened in 2001, and is home to the St. John’s IceCaps — the Montreal Canadiens’ American Hockey League affiliate. It also played host to the 2005 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, won by Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones with a dramatic 10th-end in-off takeout to score four and beat Ontario’s Jenn Hanna.

“As a proud Newfoundlander, this really is a dream come true for all of us,” said 2006 Olympic gold-medallist and 12-time Tim Hortons Brier participant Brad Gushue. “My hometown will put on a great show for the curlers and curling fans from across Canada, and I know our team will be working extremely hard for the chance to be able to represent our province in 2017.”

The 2017 Brier will mark the 13th year of title sponsorship by Tim Hortons, one of North America’s largest restaurant chains in the quick-service segment.

“We are honoured to be back for the 13th year as title sponsor of Canada’s prestigious Brier,” said Peter Nowlan, Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Hortons. “The Brier is an exciting tradition for all of us curling fans and St. John’s will make a great home to what we’re sure will be another spectacular event.”

In addition to the curling action at Mile One Centre, the World Famous Patch will be set up in the adjacent St. John’s Convention Centre, which is connected to the arena by a covered pedway.

“We got it! The City of St. John’s is thrilled the Tim Hortons Brier will be coming to our capital city,” said Dennis O’Keefe, Mayor of the City of St. John’s. “Events such as these highlight all that St. John’s has to offer to a national and international audience, and we are proud to be an event sponsor. We believe in the importance of high-calibre sport and we look forward to showing Canada’s best curlers a fine time.”

The winner of the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier will represent Canada at the 2017 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship on home soil (host city and dates to be announced). As well, should the Brier champs win a medal at the Ford Worlds, they also will secure direct entry into the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials in Ottawa.

“Congratulations to the 2017 Brier Bid Committee and to STEP St. John’s on the successful bid to host this first-class sporting event,” said the Hon. Paul Davis, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. “Our government is proud to support the Brier, which will provide significant economic benefits to the region. It will also draw attention to the benefits of an active, healthy lifestyle, as curling is a sport that welcomes participants of all ages. This is a fabulous economic and athletic opportunity, as we showcase to the country, our province’s sportsmanship and love of curling.”

Tickets for the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier, the 88th edition of the championship, are expected to go on sale early in 2016.

The Brier has been played in 31 cities across Canada, from Victoria to St. John’s. Manitoba has won a leading 27 Briers, while Alberta is just behind with 26 victories. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut have yet to win.

Newfoundland/Labrador’s lone Brier championship was in 1976 when Jack MacDuff prevailed in Regina.

The 2016 Tim Hortons Brier is scheduled for March 5-13 in Ottawa. Tickets are available at

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15questions Ottawa Youth Curling League

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Joe Pavia – Owner/Operator

The Hogline Curlers Proshop is owned and operated by an experienced curler - Joe Pavia.

While Joe knows many renowned curlers, he’s most at home serving club curlers, rookies, children, youth and senior curlers who might not want to shop but just want to chat about the game we all love.

Joe has been involved with the curling world for decades as a player, organizer and curling commentator. He’s the weekly curling columnist for the Ottawa Sun where his Wednesday column is eagerly anticipated and is indeed available across the country.