By Joe Pavia
St. John’s, Newfoundland
Two local curlers raved about their Brier experience in this city.
Team Ontario second Dave Mathers said, “It’s quiet simply the best. Ottawa was special for other reasons obviously but this one just because of what it became is one that I’ll never forget that’s for sure.” That’s high praise coming from a three-time Brier athlete, having curled for Ontario twice and Prince Edward Island.
Team Quebec skip from Gatineau, Jean-Michel Menard has experienced eleven Briers. “If you take the overall package, the ice conditions, the crowd, the city, the area, the people it probably ranks as number one.”
Both “blame” the people for their high praise. “It was very, very special over here. People are super nice. It was nice to see they were behind Brad (Gushue) and company when they played. It was a noisy building but it was amazing to play in that atmosphere,” observed Menard.
Mathers agreed. . “But the whole Brier experience – it was pretty amazing, I‘ve never played in front of a crowd like that. That was so electric, so much energy, out of the three (Briers) that crowd was the loudest and most energetic I’ve played in front of.”
Both players experienced quite different records on the ice however. Team Quebec and Team Ontario sported identical records, just reversed. Quebec, at 7-4, was in contention for a playoff spot right until the last draw. Ontario’s 4-7 record disappointed them. “It was disappointing. I felt we deserved better in some games. By the end of the week you can only have 3 losses to get into the playoffs.”
On the other hand Menard was philosophical. “It was pretty good actually and we had a good time. We played some good curling. We are happy with the results especially with the quality of the field. I don’t think we can be mad at our performances.”
The Quebec skip got a surprise when the players voted him the Ross Harstone award for high ideals of good sportsmanship, observance of the rules, exemplary conduct and curling ability. “It was special, ‘recalls Menard. “ It was not something I was expecting. When it is something that is voted by your peers it’s even more valuable. I take it as a big honour. I still don’t know how I am going to take the painting home though.” The award is in fact a painting.
The noisy crowds that usually don’t come along with a game ironically called the roaring game didn’t bother either player. ”It was exciting when you’re on at the same time as Newfoundland because you know the place is going to be rocking.” enthused Mathers. “You sort of feed off their positive energy towards Newfoundland and I don’t mean that in a negative way. But it was very exciting to be the “road” team to play against a crowd that is that passionate for a team your playing against.”
One wrinkle that had traditionalists up in arms was the crowd booing missed opposition shots. Menard’s take? “Well quite frankly I didn’t really care. I kind of found it funny actually. When we played against them I was pretty mad when I missed a couple of draws. When people started applauding when I missed at least they were looking at me when I was shooting. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it.” And the Ontario second? “It didn’t bother us. It was different. It was something we aren’t used to.”
Both players have positive takeaways. Menard: “You just have to look at the four top teams. They are professional or almost. . I like to think we finished first in the country as an amateur team.” Mr. Mathers: “We had pretty high hopes going in to it. But for me it will be something I will never forget.”
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BY JOE PAVIA Rachel Homan skips Team Ontario in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, kicking off this week in St. Catharines, Ont. (Pete Fisher/Postmedia Network) Team Homan is giving back.
On Saturday at the Ottawa club a fundraiser is happening to support Peter Glover, a staunch Homan supporter, who has ALS. Many people have signed up to curl in this fun bonspiel called Team Peter.
Besides donating about $1,200 to the cause, the Homan team donated a Rachel Homan autographed Team Canada jersey for a bidding war on eBay. The bidding ended on Monday. The jersey went for $980.
MEN’S SPIEL WINNERS
In the Alexander Keith’s Men’s bonspiel, Rideau’s Bill Blad defended his title to win the Grand Aggregate shield by defeating Huntley’s John Steski. Curling with Blad were Iain Wilson, Devo Devine and Steve Demers. Richmond’s John Wilson with Kevin Lemenchick, Ken Wilson and Herb O’Heron earned the senior’s top spot. Frank Van Ryckegham from Manotick with Art Thornton, Mike Shultz and Scott Brewster took the senator’s section. Open section: Event 1 — Bill Blad, event 2 — Chris Gardner, event 3 — Dennis Elgie, event 4 — Ken Sullivan, event 5 — Blad, event 6 — Don Chandler, event 7 — Ben Miskew, event 8 — Gary Findlay, event 9 — Wayne Beamish, event 10 — Scott Hill. Senior section winners: Event 1 — Wilson, event 2 — Roger Bertrand, event 3 — Murray Pearson. Senator section winners: Event 1 — Van Ryckegham, event 2 — Rick Takahara, event 3 — Bob Matheson.
The Ottawa squad of Joey Taylor, Mathieu Gravel, Darren Sutherland and Darren McEwen captured the top spot in the Over The Rainbow spiel for the second consecutive year on the weekend.
The Russell club is staging two sendoffs to which everyone is invited. On March 30, there is a sendoff for Team Bruce Delaney as they head off to represent Ontario at the Masters national championships in Guelph. The Bryan Cochrane rink gets their sendoff on April 7 as they head to the world seniors beginning April 22 in Lethbridge, Alta. The Rideau’s team of Howard Rajala, Rich Moffatt, Chris Fulton and Paul Madden are currently battling in Fredericton, N.B. in the Everest Canadiansenior championships. The Hogline Little Rocks championship takes place this Saturday at the Rideau facility beginning at 9:30 a.m.
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BY JOE PAVIA Recreational curler Peter Glover (left), and teammates Mike Burke (centre) and Steve Bethune, take a break in St. John’s during the Tim Hortons Brier. A fundraising event will be held on March 25 to assist Glover, who has ALS. (SUPPLIED PHOTO) ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The Tim Hortons Brier is not just about curling.
Most of Team Peter Glover was in St. John’s, just not for the curling, but because this most likely will be their teammate’s last Brier.
Glover has ALS, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease the causes muscle weakness, paralysis and ultimately respiratory failure. Most people know it as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The Ottawa Curling Club team plays in a ladder open league. Prior to his diagnosis Glover threw second stones but now he holds the broom but cannot throw. Two teammates each throw three rocks instead. Third Steve Bethune says that all the teams have been very accommodating to the arrangement.
Glover enjoyed the 2016 Brier in Ottawa. “Last year the Brier was great and this year it will be great with lots of tight games,” says Glover, who now speaks with difficulty. Who will take the title? With excitement in his voice, he votes for Northern Ontario.
“Jacobs. I think he can do so much more and they work hard.”
Bethune and skip Mike Burke accompanied Glover to Newfoundland. Their lead Nicole Merriman wanted to attend, but could not.
“I came to hang around with Mike and celebrate Peter’s days at the Brier,” Bethune said. “It’s an awesome place, a great event and with a great person.”
Burke came up with the Brier idea four or five weeks ago. He had enough points to pay for Glover’s flight. The crew was on the Rock for the first weekend. “This might be the last time I see a Brier and I won’t be curling next year either.” Glover said.
Glover, 60, had excelled at swimming, skiing and windsurfing, but came to curling late — only ten years ago. He and his wife Pat were hooked by a getting-started league they joined. Peter especially sought out more curling experiences and made more and more friends.
Those friends are coming back to help him out on March 25. There is going to be a fundraiser on that day at the Ottawa club called the Team Peter Fun Spiel.
“The fundraiser is unbelievable,” Glover said. “More people signed up than we expected.” It originally was slated for 20 teams but has now grown to a 36-team tournament.
While we talked in the Patch, Bethune took Peter to the bathroom and a utensil of some sort appeared on the table. It was a special instrument for an ALS person to use to pull up his zipper after urinating.
Peter related that it costs about $150,000 to deal with ALS. He explained tthat, for instance, he needs a special chair that lifts him up.
Donations to the event can be made by contacting the manager of the Ottawa Curling Club.
Like many of their club mates, Glover was smitten by team Rachel Homan’s first appearance in the Scotties in 2013. He and his wife attended wearing special Homan’s Heroes T-shirts. The team saw them and told the couple they should sell those shirts. That stayed with lead Lisa Weagle.
The team is donating $1,200 to the Team Peter event. “It’s unbelievable what they are doing giving us $1200. It was Lisa’s idea,” said Glover, whose struggling voice still beamed joy at Team Homan’s gesture.
Glover left St. John’s happy on Tuesday morning. His Brier memories will stay with him forever.
Another Ottawa rink earned a provincial championship on the weekend. The Ottawa’s Spencer Cooper, Don Bowser, Steve Allen and Rick Allen took the Intermediates.
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CRAIG SAVILL, POSTMEDIA
Team Canada skip Kevin Koe has lost quite a bit this year, but is still considered a contender. (Michael Burns photo)
OTTAWA – Guest analyst and Canadian, world curling and Brier champion Craig Savill presents his predictions for this year’s Tim Hortons Brier in St. John’s:
With little tour experience and games under their belt, they will be hard pressed to win a game in relegation.
Skip Eddie MacKenzie, skip is one of the nicest guys but they will not get out of relegation. Their lead Robbie Doherty is a riot.
Skip Craig Kochan wins the award for the most kilometres travelled to get a purple heart. The Ontario native might just make them competitive to get through relegation.
The relegation winner. They will come just inches away from getting through this ordeal in Ottawa last year. When skip Jamie Murphy has some confidence the guy can play with the best of them.
The Main Draw
All experienced Brier players, Team Mike Kennedy is returning. However, this field is going to eat them up. If you are not willing to take your lumps on tour then you won’t be competitive at the Brier.
We all hope for a re-occurrence of 2012 when skip Jamie Koe made the playoffs. Although his team has improved with Chris Schille playing third, it won’t happen. Buy the skip a drink; he’s a Patch legend. #KeepCalmAndKoeOn
Skip Adam Casey wins second place for kilometres travelled for a purple heart although he wins if you include all their touring. Casey will have to stand on his head to keep this team competitive, but this team will upset some top seeds.
Brier rookies coming through! Skip Brendan Bottcher’s backend will be energetic and pumped for their first Brier. Their mid-season acquisition of third Darren Moulding paid off. They will have to play like they did at the provincials to stay relevant at the Brier.
Skip Jean-Michel Ménard makes it look easy punching a ticket to the Brier — seventh trip in a row. Menard is a master of getting rocks in play, which makes his games entertaining to watch. The over-under for number of in-turns thrown all week by Menard is set at 11. I bet you can’t make him throw one.
Always a crowd favourite, skip Glenn Howard is going to his 45th Brier (well maybe a few less). I’m ranking them low because this field is exceptional and they have struggled on tour this year. Howard and third Richard Hart always play well at the Brier so they will stay in the hunt for a while. Reading this will probably cheese them off just enough so they make a run. #Hotshotfinalist
It’s hard to bet against skip John Morris as he always seems to land on his feet. If he can get third Jim Cotter rolling early, they will be the dark horse.
Brier rookies no more, skip Mike McEwen and the boys will be setting their sights on winning and nothing less. Although they have had an average year on tour (by their standards), they got through the toughest province and are peaking.
The reigning Olympic Champs are back. They have shown small glimpses of brilliance on tour but will need to bring it together for a full week. Grab a red bull and watch. These guys play well when they play with passion. #doubleredbull
Team Kevin Koe has struggled and have actually looked normal. I don’t understand how but they lost lots this year. However these guys always play well at the Brier. Watch out if Koe catches fire. They should make the playoffs and earn a few all-star awards.
I’m going with the hometown favourites to win. It would be a pretty special moment to see skip Brad Gushue win at home. Team Gushue/Mark Nichols has been really good this year especially considering that Brad was out until Christmas with an injury. The building is going to be loud and very one-sided all week.
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BY JOE PAVIA, OTTAWA SUN Joe’s notes: At the end of this article are quotes from Adam that were too numerous to place in the article below. Adam Kingsbury, coach of Rachel Homan’s Ontario team, works with a computer as he monitors his team’s play during the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in St. Catharines, Ont..(SEAN KILPATRICK/The Canadian Press) OTTAWA – Adam Kingsbury is living a new dream.
Kingsbury has watched curling since high school, but never has been in the thick of it until last summer. His background, though, gives him plenty of insight into competitive curling.
Kingsbury is the coach of Rachel Homan’s team, which is representing Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this week. He is a change agent, which suits Homan’s team.
”Some of the stuff we do work on goes above and beyond the simple mechanics or the simply analytics of techniques,” he said.
“One of the things I am trying to provide is a data-informed approach to practice and performance enhancement. I’m never prescriptive. My job isn’t to go in there and say you need to do this. My job is to instead say to the girls: ‘Here are some tendencies that we noticed. When we play these opponents, maybe the performance is here, however when we play this team, performance might dip a little bit.’ Or: ‘In later games we seem to start well and have a typical dip a little bit earlier, so what can we do about that?’ ”
Kingsbury, 33, is a resident at U of O in clinical psychology, where his research thrust is performance under pressure and how the body responds in a competitive environment. He has been a 13-year competitive amateur golfer before finding his new passion for curling. His wife Mila has a Ph.D. in psychology, and works in the Department of Medicine at the university. While at the Scotties, he is missing “the reason for existing,” his 18-month-old son Jude.
Some curlers have a pre-conceived idea of what a coach should do. Kingsbury puts it into perspective.
“If you think about someone as legendary as (former coach) Earle (Morris) and then even someone with as much curling knowledge and experience of the game like (former coach) Rich (Hart) or (another former coach) Marcel (Rocque), what value do you think I could add above and beyond those three individuals even if I was a competitive, experienced curler myself?
“The reality is amazing people have trained them. I feel like I can add an additional layer that allows them to access all of the stuff they have learned by playing the game all these years.”
Many people ask him why he doesn’t make the trek out to the ice during timeouts.
“The reality is that the work that we do would be about how to make better decisions in those moments anyway,” Kingsbury said. His work happens before the timeout. “Instead, what we talk about in those moments when you have one minute is how the four can come together and each offer your input and your perspectives and make sure all the options are considered and assess each other’s confidence and abilities in that moment to execute.
“It’s just like in golf where we say we would rather you make a confident swing towards a conservative target, than a shaky swing to an aggressive one.”
Kingsbury worked with the team, as well as other top-level curlers who are part of the national team program, for a couple of years. But last summer, Team Homan approached him about coaching the squad.
What impresses him about the rink? “I don’t even know where to begin,” Kingsbury said. “Skill level, athleticism, dedication to constant improvement. Even after the season they had last year, they still believe that can get better. I wake up each day and am happy just to be doing what I get to do.”
Howard Rajala’s team, which includes Rich Moffatt, Chris Fulton and Paul Madden, earned the Ontario men’s senior championship on the weekend … Manotick’s Jamie Sinclair skipped her U.S. rink to that country’s national women’s title.
On why he doesn’t go out at time out periods: “There is often this mindset that there is only one right shot to play when you watch on TV. But the reality is that when you as an individual on the ice playing you have much more info not only first hand because your experiencing it but you also have an understanding of your confidence level, your tendencies throughout the week, you also have rock info, maybe you have a mismatched set, so having additional person out there saying why not do this isn’t necessarily going to add much value. “
On how little time there is between draws: “It’s unbelievable how chaotic this environment is. It’s just very busy is all.”
Leave for rink at 1.
Game at 2:30
Off ice at 5:15
45 min of media requests for girls
Rushed for food and have a quick snack
Then 15 minute meeting about the game
Just before 7 stretching then meet the junior stars
Practice and then game
10:30 off ice
40 minutes of media then finished at 12:30 with a meeting about the day.
“There just aren’t any spare moments.”
On his job: “To put it in perspective I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I love the game so much. It’s such a treat for me to be out there. The opportunity to wake up and get to use the skills that I’ve learned with my research and my own experience and be a part of this game I’m not taking that for granted.”
On the Team Homan autograph session: “The line up didn’t stop for the entire hour. I actually sat down and had a beer and took the whole thing in.”
On practice: “Part of being on the ice is obviously to provide an eye if needed but the reality is they are so good. Rather than using our emotions to inform our decisions making this whole season has been about being very systematic in making sure whatever we are doing has a very well thought out reason behind it. So if it comes to strategy, if it comes to certain performance on certain turns they aren’t gong to be out there throwing rocks for the sake of throwing rocks.”
On sitting on the bench: “The reality is one of my jobs is for every single draw and every single sheet to look for changes. I have a rock book myself. We are logging everything. How many points are we giving up in the first half of the game versus the second half? How many stolen points have we taken, how many stolen points have we given up.
The girls themselves know how to play the game. The girls themselves know are we going tight and around. One of the things that is really important is to make sure they are talking. A long as they are out there constantly communicating those things that they know that are intuitive about the game aren’t going to be taken for ranted because you know they are talking about it.
On how good they are: “People see a version of that team that’s covered on TV but people don’t see how much work is put in behind the scenes. Playing through aches and pains, the sacrifices they put in. All four of them are on the same page. They want to win. The formula is in place and we just have to make sure it is followed.
Their dedication to this is impressive. I’m so proud on how hard those girls work.”
On curling: “The last two years have been spent being a full time student of curling. I now know that for the rest of my life I will be twiddling my thumbs waiting for the rinks to open.”
“If someone told me tomorrow that I could work the rest of my life in curling that would be great.”
“I wake up each day and am happy just to be doing what I get to do.”
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Homan’s team perfecting practice
OTTAWA – Their first draw may set the tone.
Team Homan’s first game in this week’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts is against Team Canada — Chelsea Carey — the defending champion. But Team Ontario has never stopped working hard on its game no matter who the opponent.
They put a lot of work into making things look easy. Lead Lisa Weagle explained their methodology: “All our practices are planned ahead of time. We never go out just to throw rocks. It’s always a planned practice.”
With the team split between Ottawa and Alberta Weagle and third Emma Miskew practice together daily if they can. “We kind of have it all planned out that everyone knows what they need to do to get ready and we also need to trust each other that everyone is doing what they need to do to et ready to play,” Weagle said.
Weagle thinks that practice is important because of current playing conditions: “There’s no substitute for good practice. I think that especially with the way curling is right now, we had that fabric last year where the sweeping was making a big impact on the throws and now it’s gone back to the thrower having the most impact on the outcome that there’s no substitute for technical excellence and for having good feel and just feeling confidence when your playing that you’ve had all this practice behind you.”
But are there some days they just don’t want to practice? “There are certainly times where…well now I don’t know.” Weagle paused then continued. “I mean this is my job. I have taken a leave from work. Everyday I get up and I know that I go to practice. I really love it. I love curling. I love that I can be a full time athlete now. And so I never find it that challenging to get ready for practice. I really like it.”
The tick shot expert explained how they practice: “For example my practice will look very different from Joanne’s (second Joanne Courtney) just because of the nature of our shots. I don’t need to practise peels and she doesn’t need to practise ticks but those are both something we each individually have to practice for our positions.”
Weagle also feels it’s important not to practice seven days a week. “We do build in some days off to our practice. I think rest and recovery are also just as important as practice.”
Her rationale seems sound. “I think its kind of up to each individual player and team what they feel they need to do. At least for me as a player I feel like I can be sharper when I am really focused on what I am doing on the days I do practice and take my recovery seriously when I’m not.”
Starting this Saturday twelve teams will fight for the national championship. Four teams will begin play Thursday in the relegation round — New Brunswick and the three Territories. This is the final relegation year. Next year everyone is in the pool — well, two pools of eight teams each.
With two championship titles behind them Homan’s rink, not defending champion Carey, just might be the ones with the target on their backs. They should be very much in the hunt the final weekend. TSN covers all the draws beginning this Saturday at 2:30. Practice makes perfect.
The VoIP Defender World Juniors begins today in South Korea. Alberta’s Kristen Streifel and B.C.’s Tyler Tardi represent Canada. The Ontario Senior provincials begin Wednesday. Ottawa area teams are Bill Duck, Howard Rajala, Bryan Cochrane and Brian Lewis.
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By Joe Pavia
Photo by Neil Valois, Curling Canada
It’s a vision that’s lasted ten years.
The AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship is in town this week at the Ottawa club where six provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan) and Team Canada are fighting for national glory.
Louise Gillis is not only the National President of the Canadian Council of the Blind, the organization that organizes the tournament, but is the long-time skip for Team Nova Scotia.
With no vision in her left eye and only 2300 in part of her right eye her sight is very limited. “I can only see the close hogline. I can’t even call line really. It’s already too late by the time it gets to that point. I have to do my best with what I can see.” This means that her strategy involves plenty of plan B shots.
The competition rules are the same as any other curling event. Curling Canada’s rules are in force with a few exceptions. The athletes are divided into B1, B2 or B2 players; B1 players are completely sightless and tend to play lead. An on ice guide sets up their shots. B2 and B3 people have tunnel vision, peripheral vision only, sight in only one eye etc. There is also a designated sweeper per team.
How do they do? With each game timed (they have thirty-six minutes to play an eight end game) volunteer timers watch everything. Ottawa curler, Mario Larouche, times many games and thinks the curling is pretty good. “The big difference is not everyone has the same vision. So the lead is completely blind like 100 per cent blind. It’s really different from our perspective we are seeing. They have no idea where the broom is. So it’s hard for them to actually make the shot but as much as weight wise they are pretty good.” He continued. “They can do pretty much what we can do at a curling club level.”
Gillis didn’t curl before nor did any of her teammates. “It took a lot of convincing to get some team members together. Everyone was afraid. What me go out on ice. Yes you go out on ice but its different ice.” Ten years ago these rookie curlers took to the ice for the first time that October or November. “So with only five or six practices under our belt our goal was to win one end in the whole competition but we won fifteen ends and it gave us the drive to keep on going.”
Her squad plays out of the Sydney Curling Club where they play in two leagues and practice once a week. At first club members didn’t know how to take them. “First off they started taking pity and we told them we don’t want pity that we are here to play like any other player. So now they don’t take pity on us and they get kind of upset when the blind curlers beat them.”
This national continues until the 1 p.m. final Friday. Draws are at 9 and 1 daily.
WINNERS’ CIRCLE: In the weekend’s Crystal Heart tournament the winners were: Open division – Debby Ship from Montreal, second event – Dawn Rodney, third event – Kathryn Jessup and fourth event – Kim Wilson. In the Senior section the first event winner was Kingston’s Joanne Miller while the second event victor was Nicki Quintero. The event raised $62,000 for Heart and Stroke while the Sandra Chisholm rink raised the most money at $8,000. In the OVCA Mixed bonspiel a week ago the A event winner was the team skipped by Yvan Dubeau along with Gisele Dubeau, Luc Desjardins and Jocelyne Desjardins.
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BY JOE PAVIA
Left to right, skip Rob Bushfield, vice Kurtis Byrd, second Cory Cooper and lead David Kemp are off to the National Hydrant Championship. (Submitted photo)
National glory is great — and it can be a whole lot of fun, too.
Four area firefighters won southern Ontario on Sunday to propel themselves to the 58th National Hydrant Championship in March in Mississauga. Augusta Township volunteer fire fighter Rob Bushfield (skip), another volunteer from North Dundas, Kurtis Byrd (vice), and two Ottawa professional firemen from Metcalfe, Cory Cooper (second) and David Kemp (lead), won the province in their first outing as a team.
Bushfield, 29, and Byrd, 25, knew each other from their junior days where they experienced many provincials in curling and other sports. This is the team’s first national championship
But just how new is the team?
“I met two of them (the front end) when they picked me up in my driveway,” said Bushfield.
Both volunteers had competed unsuccessfully the week before in the qualification process for the Ontario men’s provincials.
“I thought I would be playing front end since I was the new guy but we figured out the lineup in the truck on the way to provincials. We hit it off — the four of us,” Bushfield said.
When asked about his teammates’ ages, Bushfield rattled them off except for Kemp’s age. “I knew him so well I didn’t want to ask. That’s how well I didn’t know him.” He’s in his mid-50s. We think.
Unlike major nationals, very little is paid by organizers. There is a fundraiser planned however. The skip they defeated to make the nationals, longtime area competitor and retired firefighter, Dwayne Lowe, is hoping to raise a few thousand dollars for the team. They are asking him to be their coach and fifth man.
Lowe also has been nominated to the firefighters curling hall of fame. Fans might have seen Bushfield’s father, Ray, on TSN on Sunday as he coached Team Ontario men in the junior final.
So to what are they looking forward? “The camaraderie of the fire association is pretty well known. You try to do well but you have to experience it all. It’s more in the spirit of the game than winning it all.”
The games begin March 25 with the finals on April 1 at the Dixie club.
JUNIOR WOMEN SHINE
To have an undefeated record going into the final of the Canadian Juniors is a remarkable achievement that the young women from the Rideau club pulled off with poise. While they earned silver, they were recognized in other ways. Skip Hailey Armstrong, third Grace (Runback) Holyoke earned first team all-start accolades while Marcia Richardson was recognized at lead with the Balance Plus Fair Play award.
IN AND OUT
The Ontario Tankard and Scotties are on now in Cobourg, but many jurisdictions have declared their champions.
Scotties; Michelle Englot, Manitoba, Marla Mallett, B.C., Penny Barker, Saskatchewan, Krista McCarville, Northern Ontario, Eve Belisle, Quebec, Mary Mattatall, Nova Scotia, Melissa Adams, New Brunswick, Robyn MacPhee, PEI, Stacie Curtis, Newfoundland and Labrador, and in pre-qualifying, Kerry Galusha, Northwest Territories, Sarah Koltun, Yukon and Geneva Chislett, Nunavut.
In the Brier hunt, Brad Gushue heads to his hometown national championship in St. John’s with Jean-Michel Menard (Quebec), Jamie Murphy (Nova Scotia), Eddie MacKenzie (PEI), Jamie Koe (Northwest Territories), Craig Kochan (Yukon) and Jim Nix (Nunavut). The latter two are in the pre-qualifying. Most of the provincial championships begin Feb. 8.
The team of Gary Rowe, Mike Stachon, Brian Benning and Jesse Ruppell won the Rideau Men’s Classic on the weekend. At City View, Team Liam O’Connor and Team Stella Armstrong were Little Rocks bonspiel champs.
The 19th Crystal Heart Curling Classic begins Thursday at various clubs.
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By Joe Pavia
Then you saw it. Now you see it differently.
Ontario fans have been used to switching on their televisions to watch the Scotties and Tankard on Sportsnet and Rogers. When those two events begin this Sunday January 29 you will have to turn on your steaming devices: tablets, laptops, smart phones etc.
The Rogers group of companies pulled out of their coverage at the end of last season citing costs and some other differences. In its place the Ontario Curling Association is paying a new company called TSL (Total Sports Live) to provide coverage. This is a new model of coverage to which some curlers aren’t accustomed.
Barry Rendall, their VP, Media Sales said that his company approached the OCA two and a half years ago with a proposal they gradually warmed up to. The plan was to start with the Recharge with Milk Tankard and the Scotties to showcase round robin play and add a few other smaller events.
This has now morphed into broadcasting a whole range of events that started with the Travelers, then the U21 from Russell but now includes almost all OCA provincials including seniors and masters. As to their first foray at the Travelers Rendall said, “We had some growing pains that we had to work out. We’ve added graphics, commentary and are able to follow the rock much better with our equipment.”
“The OCA was paying Sportsnet to cover their event. We are doing it at a substantially lower cost but because these are the premier events of the year (the Scotties and Tankard) they are a pay for view but the rest are at no charge. Other than the two events in Cobourg just log in and watch the events.” There is no charge to watch any other events.
Their business model is to attract advertisers so that eventually associations don’t have to pay TSL. “If we get enough funds in we are actually going to stream money back to the associations to cover costs, to cover whatever their needs are for the athletes. Unlike the others where it’s give me give me we are actually starting this program to give money back to the associations. Our ultimate goal is to get them down to a cost zero to cover their events. But it all comes down to the advertising revenue.”
With only two events under their belts so far they are learning from their experience. “No one heard of us a few months ago. Our premier event we had 3700 viewers. The U21 we had just shy of 7000 viewers.
We are anticipating that the Tankard and Scott Tournament of Hearts will double that.” Because the broadcast logistics for live streaming are a little less logistically complicated they can broadcast from smaller venues as opposed to arenas where most Tankard play happens. This has created a challenge however. “Some of the curling clubs that are given the hosting rights are going to have to be a little bit fresher, newer and brighter because it doesn’t lend itself well to being dark. Some of the venues have to be brighter. Its one of the things they (the OCA) have to address. We want curling to be put in the best light possible. No pun intended.”
Go to https://www.titlesportslive.ca/register/ to register. The cost is around $11.
Tankard Teams: John Epping, Greg Balsdon, Glenn Howard, Mark Bice, Dayna Deruelle, Wayne Tuck, Cody Maus, Scott Bailey, Mike Harris and Corey Heggestad. Scotties teams: Rachel Homan, Allison Flaxey, Cathy Auld, Jacqueline Harrison, Julie Tippin, Sherry Middaugh, Megan Balsdon and Heather Heggestad.
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BY JOE PAVIA
Jean-Michel Menard from Gatineau squeaked his way through the Quebec Tankard to advance to his 10th Brier. (Mike Drew/Postmedia Network)
OTTAWA — – The national stage beckons.
Ottawa-area curlers earned their way forward to national competition on the weekend.
Jean-Michel Menard from Gatineau squeaked his way through the Quebec Tankard but had to rely on help from others as well as win seven games in a row to make the final.
Two more curlers, one from Gatineau and one from Manotick, Lauren Mann and Trish Hill, respectively, claimed the Quebec Scotties crown after completing a seven-game undefeated round-robin run.
Meanwhile, the Russell foursome of Bruce Delaney, Rick Bachand, Brian Henderson and Dave Stanley took their second Ontario Masters title in Glencoe.
Menard did it “by the back door” as he put it. In the round-robin portion of the event his team was 3 and 3.
“We weren’t playing all that well but we weren’t playing all that bad during the qualification process,” Menard said. “Our luck factor was zero. Our opponents were making shot after shot.”
For instance in his last round-robin game against Robert Desjardins, Desjardins “took out 22 rocks in the game — two triples and six doubles and he also had to draw the pin a couple of times.”
The squad was ready to pack it in but the winless Dale Ness won his last game, which forced a tiebreaker.
“It gave us a new life. When we got that extra life is gave us new life,” Menard said.
They then rattled off seven straight victories to advance to their fifth straight Brier as a team. This will be Menard’s 10th Brier appearance. “I surprise myself.”
On the women’s side, the contrast couldn’t be more pronounced. Team Eve Belisle went undefeated to get the trip to St. Catharines. The rookie Scotties player is second Trish Hill. She says she is excited “just a little.” Mann and Hill drove back together.
“It was nice driving home with Lauren,” Hill said. “I kind of quizzed her all the way home about what’s happening next. Just the excitement and coming down and driving for four hours. It was nice to chat.”
According to Mann, “Oh my God, she’s going to drive us all nuts that one. She is so excited. She is just so excited.”
She’s looking forward to her Scotties experience.
“I think I will be more excited when we are ready for the experience to start when we actually get to the Scotties.”
Hill was married in September. Her new husband Jamie Shantz came and watched them before in other events but we never won a game she recalled. He went to Levis to watch the end of the week.
“He was really nervous coming to watch,” Hill said. “He didn’t even text me that morning to wish me good luck before the last game because he didn’t want to mess with anything we were doing before the game.”
Hill thinks this has been a big year for her.
Her friend Mann is looking forward to her second Scotties and just curling.
“I just like playing,” Mann said. “It’s an experience; there’s lot of fun around it. But I just like playing.”
There’s a contrast to her first time when she skipped.
“This time around, I am with people I know,” Mann said. “They were great people but I really didn’t know them that well. But this time I have played with Trish for years. And Brit and I was have played together for three years. Eve is new to most of us but we have gelled together.”
The Tim Hortons Brier begins March 4 in St. John’s, NL, while the Scotties begins Feb. 18.
In December, Team Gray from Perth won the TCA U18 tournament. They were Kayla Gray, Mikayla Gemmill, Chelsea Ferrier and Morgan Typhair.
INSIDE OTTAWA SUN.COM
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BY JOE PAVIA
Glenn Howard’s rink defeated Kingston’s Dayna Deruelle in the A final to earn a spot in the Tankard. (Postmedia Network)
Would you like revenge with that?
Team Hailey Armstrong won the U21 provincials on Sunday in Russell by defeating the only two rinks they lost to in the round robin.
Skip Armstrong works as an assistant manager at the McDonald’s in Carleton Place but on the ice she was dishing up victory. Armstrong and her Rideau Curling Club teammates, Grace Holyoke, Lindsay Dubue and Marcia Richardson played in this their first U21 provincial.
In the semifinal Toronto’s Courtney Auld gave them quite the battle. “We were down after five ends 7-2 and a miracle happened and we ended up winning 10-9 in the semi,” said the elated skip, in her last year of U21 eligibility.
Then came the final where an all Ottawa rinks showdown loomed. Carleton Heights Emma Wallingford played a strong game and led by two in the tenth. Armstrong took three in the last end. “That last shot was amazing,” said the skip. “We made some really good shots. When I saw Lindsay Dubue throw up her hands in the air I knew we won.”
Now the team gets set for Victoria at the end of the month. “It was our goal this year to go to Victoria and then to Korea,” said Armstrong. “We weren’t cocky or anything going in. Our goal was Victoria. We worked very hard with Earle (Morris) and Bill Rogers our coaches.”
It seemed more satisfying coming from behind. “We try to keep it interesting for our parents. We try to give them heart attacks.”
The Rideau is hosting a send off for the team on Monday Jan. 16 at 7 p.m.
On the men’s side, Toronto’s Mathew Hall went undefeated taking the crown over Guelph’s Kiernan Scott.
At the RCMP curling club, men’s rinks sought the three spots up for grabs in the provincial qualifier to advance to the Tankard in Cobourg starting Jan. 29. Team Glenn Howard third Richard Hart had his eyes glued to his phone on the ice even during his A-final game on Sunday, played at the same time his two sons, Joey and David were winning the province in Russell. Howard defeated Kingston’s Dayna Deruelle in the A final to clinch his Tankard spot. Howard was unsure if this was his 27th or 28th visit to the provincials.
“It’s scary all the time. All 27 or 28 have been hard. It’s never been easy,” said the skip after the game.
Howard praised the new system in place this year that eliminated zone play and gave byes to teams both to get to the provincials and in the first round of the regions. “I commend the OCA for making the changes. The byes were terrific. Guys who went out and played hard — played well Epping (John) and Balsy (Greg Balsdon). And then the next best teams get the byes to the region.”
He has this advice. “I would like to see a triple at some point. The hard part about the double is that if you lose one early you have to win four or five after that and that makes it tough cause your on your death bed.”
Others advancing through the B were Deruelle and Cody Maus. In the west region those who advanced were Mark Bice, Wayne Tuck and Scott Bailey.
game on in vegas
The World Financial Group Continental Cup begins tomorrow in Las Vegas. Six North American teams, including Manotick’s Jamie Sinclair’s US squad, will battle six World teams. The competition involves regular-team play, skins action and mixed doubles. Sixty points is up for grabs and the team that earns thirty is declared the winner. TSN will broadcast all the games in this competition that most pro curlers love. The first games are Thursday at noon.
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BY JOE PAVIA
Glenn Howard. (Postmedia Network file)
Local curlers could make dreams come true this week.
Winning these events gets them closer to the national stage. In Russell, beginning Wednesday, the junior provincials will eventually crown two Team Ontario rinks aiming to become national champions in Victoria, B.C.
What will it take to win? Kim Gannon will call the game and throw second for her team from the Granite club.
“A provincial is always a long week,” she says. “We got to focus on mental toughness and making sure we don’t let anything get under our skin is always very important in a week like this.”
Mac Calwell and Jordie Lyon-Hatcher join Ryan Hahn as local teams with the first two ranked in the top five in the province. On the women’s side, three area squads are in the top four in Ontario. Emma Wallingford is No. 1 followed by the Rideau’s Hailey Armstrong with Gannon at No. 4
Every team faces the same elephant — you have to be ready for every game because every game is important.
“We want to be just as ready for the final as we are for the first game and maybe even more,” Gannon said.
The junior event runs through Sunday. Admission is free to all. The finals are at Sunday at either 1 or 5 p.m., depending on tiebreakers.
Over at the RCMP club, a double knockout will determine three rinks that will advance to the Cobourg Tankard (combined with Scotties) beginning Jan. 29. At the same time other men’s teams will be fighting in Niagara Falls for the same goal. Fans in Ottawa will see the rare appearance by Glenn Howard (with Ottawa’s Dave Mathers at second) as he tries to claw his way back to the provincials.
Russell’s Bryan Cochrane and his reigning senior national team will also be trying to make it to Cobourg.
“What’s wrong with going one more time?” said Cochrane. If he makes the trip it will be No. 17. Their bye to the senior provincials has given them the opportunity to play this weekend.
Cochrane isn’t a fan of the format, though. A number of teams earned byes into the event. Those same teams even have a bye to the second round.
“They got a bye to get in and now they get a bye in the first round. Come on,” he said.
Cochrane also feels barriers are in place.
“At the same time it’s hard for new guys to break in,” he said. “I find curling in general is all stacked to the best teams. It’s hard for a new, young team to break in.
Ottawa area teams competing at RCMP are Colin Dow (who may be otherwise occupied by the delivery of his first child), Brian Lewis, Sebastien Robillard and Mike McLean skipping the Jake Higgs squad. In the Falls, Chris Gardner and Ryan McCrady from Ottawa are skipping their rinks and Jason Camm from Rockland is competing for Pat Ferris.
Mike Harris is supposed to compete here but he is stuck in the broadcast booth at the Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask.
That big money tournament in Saskatchewan is important for points for Ottawa’s Lynn Kreviazuk and her Allison Flaxey team.
“It’s great that we had so much success at the beginning of the season in order to guarantee our spot in these events,” Kreviazuk said. “We are not taking them for granted though. Our main goal is to qualify directly into the Olympic trials.”
Other Ottawa area players in the Open are Rachel Homan’s team, Mat Camm (John Epping’s team) and Craig Savill (Charley Thomas’ team)
Sportsnet coverage begins Thursday with the finals on Sunday at 12 (men’s) and 4 p.m. (women’s).
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BY JOE PAVIA
Jamie Sinclair. (Rich Harmer, USA Curling)
Her dreams are all coming true.
Manotick’s Jamie Sinclair is now a professional curler and will skip in the World Financial Group Continental Cup next month in Las Vegas.
“It’s really good to be able to live the dream. That’s what I always dreamt of when I was a kid going around and competing on the tour,” Sinclair said from her apartment in St. Paul, Minn., where she now resides.
As a youngster, she remembers seeing a Continental Cup shirt on the prize table.
“It had the Canadian and American flag on it so it was perfect. I need it … I am beyond excited to play in it. I don’t even have words to describe how excited I am. So to have my name on that jersey is exciting.”
Sinclair holds dual U.S./Canadian citizenship. She was born in Anchorage, Alaska, where her father Graham (a two-time Ontario senior curling champion) was on a military exchange for two years. After a three-year streak where she won back-to-back Ontario junior titles (2012 and 2013) and the national women’s university championship in 2014, she headed for the U.S.
She finds curling in the U.S. challenging in some respects — such as acquiring sponsors.
“We go out and try to find our own sponsorship to pay for things not covered,” Sinclair said. “It is definitely a challenge as far as sponsorship goes because it’s not such as big a sport as it is in Canada.”
Ironically, the fact that the sport isn’t as big as it is here has given her opportunities.
“Everything is paid for by the U.S. curling association,” Sinclair said. “We are part of the high-performance program. They sponsor three women’s teams and three men’s teams. It sounds bad but if I stayed in Canada I wouldn’t have as many opportunities as I do down here — and the Continental Cup being one of those.”
The 24-year-old skip is working with her first-year team which has not done badly on the tour this season so far. They have amassed just over $10,000 in prize money through qualifying, three semifinals and one runner-up appearance.
The squad also features Alexandra Carlson, Vicky Persinger and Monica Walker.
“It’s our first year together as a team so we are taking it slow and kind of a building year for us. We are trying to see how the team works together. Our goal is the Olympic trials in November 2017,” Sinclair said of a squad with an average of 26.
Sinclair wants to help grow the sport. She is impressed how many facilities and clubs are opening in the states. “
There’s curling clubs opening everywhere, even in places you wouldn’t even expect it,” she said. “It’s awesome.”
Sinclair also makes a series of videos about curling fundamentals called Curling Up With Jamie.
“One of the highlights is reading the comments from people thanking me for putting those out there. It blows my mind even how people from other countries watch them,” she said.
Sinclair really lives out of a suitcase.
“I have my apartment here but it’s really just kind of like a home base. I come home after a spiel, I do laundry and sleep and repack what I just washed,” she said. “I kind of love it, though. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Senior men’s winners to advance to provincial qualifiers were: Brian Lewis, Howard Rajala, Dwayne Lowe, Rick Soucy and Bill Duck.
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BY JOE PAVIA
Brad Gushue. (Postmedia Network file)
There’s a lot of cash to be made this weekend but that’s not the point. Points are.
The Boost National Grand Slam that started Tuesday boasts 15 men’s and women’s teams split into three pools of five teams for round robin play. Eight teams qualify for the playoffs to determine the two winners.
But its Canadian Team Ranking System points they want. The $250,000 cash prize purse is nice, but there are still spots left in the nine-team (per gender) field destined to entertain crowds at the Canadian Tire Centre. Alison Flaxey is best positioned to earn a berth at the end of the season but she has to continue to play well. Brad Gushue is also in a tremendous position to grab a spot. He is making his return to the wars at this event if all goes well. Gushue spare for most of the season, Charlie Thomas will be piloting his own team, which includes Ottawa’s Craig Savill.
Cathy Overton-Clapham is subbing as a super spare for Switzerland’s Team Tirinzoni owing to an injury to her regular third. Two sponsor exemption rinks are competing. With the tournament taking place in Sault Ste. Marie, two northern teams have been included — Thunder Bay’s Krista McCarville and 18-year-old Tanner Horgan from Sudbury. His sister Tracy is very much in the hunt for a trip to South Korea.
Sportsnet and CBC are sharing the TV coverage. The men’s final is at noon on Sunday on CBC. The women play their final on Sportsnet at 4 p.m. later that day.
Jean-Michel Menard took first place in the WFG Jim Sullivan Curling Classic in Saint John. Menard drew attention to mental health issues as the spiel was dedicated to the popular curler who took his own life a few years ago. And Menard’s brother and lead won the fully stocked beer fridge. Ottawa’s Don Bowser helped power his Kingston-based rink, skipped by Greg Balsdon, to the championship of the new Secker Ross & Perry inaugural Cashspiel on the weekend.
In area Masters qualifying for provincials those that advance are Jennifer Langley, Diana Favel, Ed Warren, Randy Garland and Bruce Delaney. In Mixed Doubles, those moving on to provincials were Ryan and his mom Christine McCrady who captured the A-side, while Lauren Horton and Cameron Goodkey took the B. The Best Western and Fairfield Marriott Challenges saw these people advance: Luc Brazeau, Bill Woods, Ryan Shillington, James Cave, David Cormier, Leo Buckley, Rooke Meiklejohn and Jake Attfield.
CURLING AND THE SENS
Despite being displaced from their arena next December by the Tim Hortons Roar of the Ring, the Senators have allied with curling to give the sport a prominence on Feb.19 when the Sens take on the Winnipeg Jets. Curlers can get specially priced $20 seats when using the promo code “SWEEP.” All curlers will be seated together and there will be a curling meet-up at the Molson Fan Deck during the first intermission. Non-curlers can also try Street Curling. Go to ottawasenators.com/SWEEP.
HOMAN GIVES BACK
The Ottawa Youth Curling League just announced the recipients of Team Homan/ Pacific Exploration and Production grants of $300 each to 10 youths who attended curling camps: Emma Artichuk, Emilie Lovitt, Jessica Thorne, Meesa Lydiate, Jack Ragan, Jessica Guilbault, Kieran Bisson, Cloe Bourguignon, Ben Whitehouse and Lucas Bourguignon.
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BY JOE PAVIA
Team Ontario celebrates its Canadian club curling title. (Submitted photo)
They went out in a blaze of glory.
The Team Ontario men, with Ottawa’s Graham Rathwell at second, defeated Team Saskatchewan 6-3 in the final of the Travelers Curling Club championship Saturday in Kelowna, B.C.
Ontario controlled the game by stealing deuces in two ends, the first pair in the second end.
“We were forced to one in the first end. Our skipper (Wesley Forget) made a couple of beauties in the second end,” Rathwell said. “We ended up stealing two in the second and that was really a big turning point. To go ahead 3-0 after two was a big deal. We felt more comfortable being a little bit ahead. We could just play our game and go from there.”
Although they went undefeated, they had some close calls.
“It wasn’t like we rolled through everybody,” Rathwell said. “Certainly in our pool we had four really good teams. We really had to focus and come back in two games. I think that kept us honest. Yes we went undefeated but it wasn’t for lack of trying by other teams.”
Their pre-game draws to the button in the round robin earned Ontario the hammer in the first end of the final.
“We had a really good draw to the button score all week,” Rathwell said. “I think it was 60 centimetres or something in total.”
The final ended early. Saskatchewan shook at the end of seven rather than play the last end.
“We just looked around and we were a little surprised initially because we were up three and we had the hammer but we kind of figured especially in a game that big that they would play the last end,” Rathwell said.
Rathwell related how his teammates all shook hands and just started smiling because we realized “We were national champions and we all breathed a sigh of relief.”
The team was surprised when it got to the Ottawa airport.
As the squad got off the escalator, family and friends were there to greet them, holding a large banner touting their accomplishment.
With the second now living in Ottawa, the team is no more. Even the Kingston residents are all playing on different teams in the men’s league at Cataraqui. But they will always have Kelowna.
RACE IN THE HOUSE
This Thursday and Friday, CTV’s The Amazing Race Canada is in Ottawa and visits the Ottawa Curling Club for some on-ice teammate rescues.
Two Ottawa teams won events on the weekend. In Hamilton, Team Allen won the Glendale Cashspiel. The team features Steve Allen, Brett Lyon-Hatcher, Rick Allen and John Steski. In Charlevoix, Que., Team Lewis won their senior tournament. The players are Brian Lewis, J.P. Lachance, Graham Sinclair and Mike Johansen. They defeated defending champion Serge Reid.
The U21 challenge round rinks that advance to the provincials in Russell this January after the weekend’s challenge were Ryan Hahn, Jacob Delisle, Courtney Auld and Hailey Armstrong.
OTTAWA IS THE PRIZE
The Home Hardware Canada Cup begins today in Brandon, Man. At stake for the 14 teams competing (seven rinks of each gender) are berths in the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings next December at the Canadian Tire Centre. There is also $140,000 at stake. Ottawa’s Rachel Homan, the defending champion is back. Ottawa Brier winner Kevin Koe also is competing. TSN covers every draw.
The Dominion-Chalmers Curling Club three-member team of Jeff E. Gregory, Tom Kennedy and Rob Joye scored an eight-ender at the RCMP facility on Nov.19.
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BY JOE PAVIA
Team Ontario at the Travelers Curling Club championship. L TO R: Wesley Forget, David Staples, Graham Rathwell, Sandy Staples. (Curling Canada photo)
It just might be their only chance.
Ottawa’s Graham Rathwell, 25, is playing at the Travelers Curling Club Championship for the first time and maybe his only time. It is a national. It is hard to get there.
“I am very excited and the whole team is excited and raring to go,” the Team Ontario second said from his hotel room in Kelowna, B.C.
It’s been a frantic fall for the squad. Zone action for Travelers was mid-October followed by the provincials a week later. The team plays out of the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club in Kingston, where the team won its club championship.
Wesley Forget is the skip and David Staples is third. They also are 25 years old. Their lead is 58-year-old Sandy Staples, who according to their second “is quite a strong sweeper.”
While studying for his masters at Queen’s University, Rathwell scouted for a team in Kingston. By coincidence Forget had played David and Sandy Staples in club play and wanted to form a team with them. The Ottawa players said, “I just so happened to come along at the right time.” They played together for two seasons before they won their club. Rathwell has admiration for their home club, which has offered equipment and even financial support.
“They have been supportive at every step,” he said.
So far the Ontario men (Ontario’s women’s team is from Lindsay) are impressed. Most of their expenses are covered by Travelers, including airfare, accommodation, many meals and other goodies. There is even a high-performance clinic. Paralympic gold medallist Sandra Gaudet threw the first rock that was swept by two-time national champions and world champions Sasha Carter and Pat Ryan while 1977 Brier champ Jim Ursel held the broom.
Every province, territory and northern Ontario is represented. The 14 men’s and 14 women’s teams are split into two seven–team round robin pools. The top three teams in each pool advance to the playoffs. The first-place teams will be seeded directly into the semifinals on Friday. The second- and third-place teams will meet in crossover quarterfinals Friday, with the winners moving into the semis. The semi-final winners will play for gold, and the losers will play for bronze on Saturday
The second says all his teammates “believe in the grassroots level of things — providing opportunities for teams that don’t have a lot of experience or who haven’t been able to break through to the next level — to get experience to be able to play under pressure in a bigger event.
“I think it’s contributing a lot to curling on the grander scale — hopefully seeing more teams say ‘you know what, I have a chance to make a national.’”
The Ontario team has an added incentive to do well in B.C. Its home club is hosting the 2017 Travelers.
The former Ontario Curling Association has a new name and new logo. The OCA is now CurlON. In U21 provincial qualifiers, winners were Emma Wallingford, Mary-Elaine Little, Jordie Lyon-Hatcher and Mac Calwell. They advance to January’s provincials in Russell.
TSN is broadcasting some of the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships from Glasgow, Scotland. The women’s final is Saturday morning at 5 and the men’s is at 10 a.m. … Manotick’s Jamie Sinclair and her USA team just qualified for the upcoming Continental Cup… The Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling from Brandon, Man., begins next Wednesday. The winners get berths in the Roar of the Rings, the Olympic qualifying tournament to be staged here in Ottawa in December 2017. Tickets go on sale Dec. 1.
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BY JOE PAVIA
Allison Flaxey and her rink are off to a great start to the curling season. (Dave Thomas/Postmedia/Files)
She has been an overnight success since 2001.
Allison Flaxey was Allison Nimik back then when she won the Manitoba junior championship. Now her team is ranked No. 1 nationally in both CTRS points (the points needed to get an Olympic Trials berth) and the money list ($46,700).
The rest of the squad is composed of Clancy Grande at third, Ottawa’s Lynn Kreviazuk second and lead Morgan Court. Together the four have a wealth of experience with both skip and lead at 31 years of age and Grande and Kreviazuk, 25. All have played at the national and international levels.
They have won money in every event they entered so far including two runners-up as well as a Grand Slam championship.
“It’s a nice start to the year for sure,” Flaxey said. “I think it’s something we worked hard on. This is a second-year team. We got off to a really good start last year and we were just kind of coming together. Now that we have gotten the dynamics and our strategy and game plans solidified we are just ready to go and you can just see it week after week with our team.”
Much of their success is due as much to off-ice work as on ice.
“We work with sports psychologists; we look at the rest and recovery side of it, it really is as much off ice as it is on ice these days,” she said.
Off ice includes talking about game plans and “tailoring your game to your strengths and that’s always changing. It’s not about going out there and throwing a million rocks,” she said.
The team’s coach is Caleb Flaxey, Allison’s husband. He’s also the coach for Team Jacobs.
“He has really helped steer us in the right direction and helping a second year team get a little more of an idea of the recipe that makes us successful,” she said.
“I think the more that we can re-create that the better off we are. It all ads up to being successful.”
All work full time or go to school, so free time is a much sought after commodity.
“We been looking at rest and recovery this year making sure that we are showing up to events,” Flaxey said. “I mean the travel is so significant especially with these Grand Slams, so your always going and making sure we show up to every event ready to play.”
Flaxey’s job has seen her move from Manitoba to Alberta, where she competed in three Scotties. She then moved to Ontario (Caledon is her home) where she won the 2014 Ontario Scotties. She is also a 2009 mixed national champion.
Her main sponsor is Canada Malting, for whom she works. They provide ingredients to the craft brewing industry.
“They are so supportive of curling,” she said.
Flaxey sees new teams emerging as well: “It’s changing these days and I think you can see it by the difference in teams in slam finals.”
She is a firm believer in the Slam series.
“They’re so wonderful once you get in. It’s such a great experience,” she said.
“If you can kind of do well and break out then the points that your going to get can propel you to more events.”
For this time, curling is not a full-time job bit is a full time occupation.
“It takes up a lot of your day for sure when you’re still working 8-to-5-type thing then you’re trying to go to the gym and trying to throw rocks then trying to have a team call then hopping on a plane.”
This may just be a great year for this team.
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BY JOE PAVIA
Craig Savill salutes the crowd after the opening ceremonies during the Tim Hortons Brier held at TD Place in Ottawa on March 10, 2016. (Jean Levac/Postmedia/Files)
Buckle up cause there’s a lot to see.
The Tour Challenge, which began Tuesday, showcases sixty top teams – thirty of each gender – in a big bucks round robin spiel in Cranbrook, BC.
The sixty squads are divided into two tiers of fifteen men and women’s teams who compete in a round robin. Tier 1 teams are after the $200,000 available while Tier 2 goes for $100,000 in prize money.
This is the event where Craig Savill marks his return to the ranks with Team Charley Thomas in Tier 1. He says he’s excited and he will be playing all his former opponents like Koe, McEwen and Jacobs.
The Tier 2 teams include Glenn Howard, Tom Brewster and Jean-Michel Menard.
The women’s Tier 1 contingent is strong featuring Rachel Homan, Anna Hasselborg and Jennifer Jones. Krista McCarville, fan favourite Kerry Galusha and Stefanie Lawton head up Tier 2.
Sportsnet coverage begins Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. with the women’s and men’s final at noon and 3:30 p.m. respectively.
HOW’S YOUR PAD
The approved fabric curlers now have to use in certain events comes from the J Ennis Fabric company in Edmonton. They are the sole source as deemed by the World Curling Federation. Called Oxford 55 Sport Yellow, the fabric has been in that company’s inventory since 1992. According to Ennis buyer Kevin Cornell the material was originally made to fashion bags but has more been used to make hockey pants. Asham, Balance Plus, Goldline, Hardline, Moen and Performance all have to use this material. How have sales been? Cornell said, “Sales have gone through the roof. That was caused by the increase in the use of the product for curling. Our sales have definitely skyrocketed.”
By the way the product comes in twenty-four colours just not yellow.
The Japanese team featured in this column last week had an undefeated run in the Royal Lepage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic before suffering a defeat at the hands of PEI’s Robyn MacPhee 6-2 in the final. Japan’s Ogasawara breezed through the A-side while MacPhee emerged through the B. The winner left with $5000 and the runner-up with $3000.
The Huntley U21 bonspiel crowned two local teams as champs. Team Jessica Thorne and Carp’s Ryan Hahn won their respective divisions. The two Chinese squads that were in town for the annual Broker Link OVCA Junior Superspiel hung around to play in Huntley. The boy’s were in the final. Sources say together the pair of Chinese teams has a $50,000 budget for their current Canadian trip.
EIGHT IS GREAT
The team of Myrtle Blinn, Sandra Herage, Doreen Larouche and Lynn Pratt scored the ever-elusive eight-ender last Wednesday evening at the RCMP club.
Brian Lewis, JP Lachance, Mike Johansen and Graham Sinclair won the Navan Men’s spiel on the weekend.
The Governor General’s Curling Club inducted three new members Saturday. Ottawa’s Wil Thurlow and Elaine Brimicombe as well as London’s Peter Inch join the body. Brimicombe is the twelfth woman to be inducted…Registration is now open for January’s OVCA Mixed bonspiel. Register at http://www.ovcaevents.com/…The Pembroke Cashspiel is also seeking teams for their November 25 to 27 event. $4000 is up for grabs… The Mixed Nationals begin Monday in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Ilderton’s Wayne Tuck is the Ontario rep. Ottawa’s Jon Wall is fashioning the ice…Bryan Cochrane’s Senior team received their national and provincial banners on Thursday.
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BY JOE PAVIA
The Japanese team (left to right) of skip Ayumi Ogasawara, alternate Sayaka Yoshimura, second Kaho Onodera, lead Anna Ohmiya and third Yumie Funayama will compete in the Royal LePage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic. (Submitted photo)
It’s a long way from Tokyo to Kemptville .
This Thursday’s start of the Royal LePage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic sees Japan’s Team Ayumi Ogasawara start its fourth of five events for the current season. It is an experienced team now in its third year together.
The team earned the country’s women’s title in 2015 and placed third last season. They have to win their 2017 nationals in order to represent Japan at the South Korean games.
They are not strangers to the Olympics. The skip and third, Yumie Funayama, competed in the Salt Lake City, Turn and Sochi games. Lead Anna Ohmiya played in Vancouver while alternate Sayaka Yoshimura also saw action at Sochi. They just missed the playoffs in Sochi, finishing with a 4-5 record.
This season, the team has travelled the world, starting in a Japanese tournament Aug. 4 then over to Sweden, Switzerland and now North Grenville. They were quarter-finalists in Stockholm, where they just missed the semis in an extra end game.
But why play Kemptville? Their usual routine is to compete in either B.C. or Alberta. Through their translator the team said,
“We just wanted to try new things. We feel the west side teams and east side teams have different strategies. So it is our challenge to compete with not familiar teams and a new city. We are super excited to go to Kemptville.” Their last event will be Grand Slam Tour Challenge next week in Cranbrook, B.C.
The Sapporo based team has six sponsors that help with expenses, the main one being the Hokkaido Bank, where second Kaho Onodera, 24, Ohmiya, 27, and Yoshimura, 24, all work at the bank.
“We are lucky so lucky. Curling is not a major sport in japan,: they said.
The skip who is 37 and third Funayama, 38, are both mothers and housewives
“Anna’s father played curling at the Nagano Olympics and they all work hard to play well,” they said.
While they all respect curlers, the skip likes David Murdoch while the second likes Pat Simmons.
“She still remembers his last draw at the Brier,” said the translator.
Ogasawara begins Thursday after noon against the Rideau’s Charlene Sobering. The field at this year’s event includes Sherry Middaugh, Mary-Anne Arsenault, Marie-France Larouche, Winnipeg’s Barb Spencer, one of two Manitoba squads, and teams from Quebec, PEI and all over Ontario.
The action begins Thursday morning at 9:15 and continues all weekend until the championships on Sunday at 3:30.
The winner earns $5500. Weekend passes are $15 and a daily pass is $10.
ANOTHER SAVILL IN ALBERTA
Craig Savill is now a member of Charlie Thomas’ Calgary-based team. Assured a spot in Alberta’s men’s provincials, the new squad makes its debut next week in Cranbrook. Savill’s grandfather and father are Alberta natives. The regular lead is injured and out for the season.
The women’s winner of the Broker Link OVCA Junior Superspiel was the Ottawa rink skipped by Emma Wallingford. She defeated Marie-Elaine Little’s squad also from Ottawa. Curling with Wallingford were Dayna Cullen, Hanna Wallingford and Jillian Page. On the men’s side Tanner Horgan from Northern Ontario got the best of Maryland’s Hunter Clawson.
Ottawa’s Graham Rathwell reunited with some Kingston teammates and won the Travelers provincial championship on Sunday. His team of Wesley Forget, David Staples and Sandy Staples advance to the nationals at Kelowna, B.C.
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By Joe Pavia
There is no brush lock up this time.
With the immanent start of the WFG Masters of Curling Grand Slam event next Tuesday in Okotoks, Alberta, competition director, Gatineau’s Pierre Charette, is a happy man. At the 2015 Masters Charette had to lock brooms up between games so players couldn’t fiddle with the brush pads. “It’s going to make my job a lot easier.”
He continued, “It will be quite a change – a welcome change. From what I hear from a few spiels across Canada and in Europe it’s kind of back to normal. And I have received some good feedback that the teams are pretty happy that it’s back to hitting the broom and throwing the right weight.”
There are seven Slam events this year with every indication they will continue to grow. According to the recently inducted Curling Hall of Famer, Charette says: “The purses are up $300,000 this year. The 4 majors (events) get the bulk of the money.
We got more and more sponsors and a presenting sponsor for all the events this year I believe. We are going to more places this year. We have more and more communities that want our event.”
This season’s roster of events spans the entire season. Besides the Masters there’s the Tour Challenge (begins November 8), the National (December 6). The Canadian Open (January 3), the Elite 10 (March 16), the Players’ Championship (April 11 and the Championship Cup (April 25). All of them use the five-rock rule format.
Sportsnet owns the series and has devoted plenty of capital, both human and financial, at the series. According to Charette “We went from televising the semi and the final to now in some weeks we have 11 games on TV starting on Thursday afternoon. Then we have separate finals for both the men and the women. It’s great for the teams.”
The increase in coverage helps these teams attract national sponsors, more so than in the past. “We had four slams and two games televised. So that was eight times you had a chance to be on TV if you were the best team. Now we have seven events with eleven games televised now you got seventy-seven chance of getting on TV. Most teams will be on TV if you had a successful year so there is more of a chance of attracting national sponsors.”
Teams are invited as per their standing in the Order of Merit list compiled by the Tour. For the Masters the defending women’s champion and three-time winner is Team Homan. The lady’s roster, like the men’s side, is a stellar field. The newest addition is Allison Flaxey who at one point were ranked number one this season. Ottawa’s Lynn Kreviazuk is second.
Charette thinks that the Slams are a good incentive for tier two rinks. Although players pay for all their own expenses a losing team can even make money. “Just the round robin games are worth $2,000 (a win) now. So even if you don’t qualify lets say you go three and two and lose in the tiebreaker you won $6000 so it will probably cover your expenses. Even a new team if they win one they get $2000 so it pays some expenses.”
Over and above this one spot is available in the Canadian Open for the Tier 2 winner of the Tour Challenge with all expenses paid.
WINNERS’ CIRCLE: The winners of the OVCA Junior Superspiel qualifier in Almonte Sunday were Jordie Lyon-Hatcher, Jordan McNamara, Pascal Michaud, Kayla Gray, Marie-Elaine Little and Emma Wallingford. They now advance to Broker Link OVCA Superspiel beginning October 28.
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BY JOE PAVIA
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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BY JOE PAVIA
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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BY JOE PAVIA
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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Monday 27 June 2016
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.
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.
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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BY JOE PAVIA
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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BY JOE PAVIA
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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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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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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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!”.
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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BY JOE PAVIA
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.
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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by Joe Pavia
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 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.
That the Brier ends Sunday. What will we all do with ourselves?
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BY JOE PAVIA
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BY JOE PAVIA
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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BY JOE PAVIA
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.
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 weather is turning warm.
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BY JOE PAVIA
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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BY JOE PAVIA
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.”
“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
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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BY JOE PAVIA
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.”
“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 email@example.com. 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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BY JOE PAVIA
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.
CHELSEA GETS GRANT
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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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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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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BY JOE PAVIA
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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BY JOE PAVIA
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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BY JOE PAVIA
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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BY JOE PAVIA
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 email@example.com 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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