Favorite Reporter

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Two tickets to the gun show

Twas the blog before Christmas...
First of all; please excuse my lack of blogging for the last couple of weeks. I could make up a lame excuse about being busy with pregnant wife/kids/holidays whatever...but the truth is I just did not feel like it.
The season competitive cash season was long and not particularly fruitful this year...the team account finished well in the red. And we definitely lost some extremely frustrating and disappointing games. When things are not going well, competitive curling almost feels like a job.
To sum up our season - we had some good moments, but we lost 3 C-qualifiers, which all together total about $10,000 worth of defeats. But more importantly, we lost games that we should not have lost. If we had lost to teams curling 100%, it would somehow feel a little less painful. But that is not how we lost. We lost by making mistakes - by choosing the wrong shot, by missing the wrong shot, by miscalling line. With all due respect to the teams that beat us: we beat ourselves. 
So, in short, I needed a couple of weeks to not think about competitive curling - to not think about the fact that we now have to play down in a very tough west regional playdown to get to provincials - to not think about what we need to do different next time we step on the ice to keep from defeating ourselves.
So I tried to remember that curling is fun. I played some ladder games in the club. I practiced. I remembered why I love this game so much. I made some shots, I missed some shots. We won some games, we had some drinks. It is good to remember that curling is about making shots, at whatever level you play at. There is an understated elegance to a perfectly executed curling shot; it feeds the ego with a sense of accomplishment. I think this is why the “On purpose” CCA commercial works so well. It just feels good to make shots.
I believe it was Pitbull (an honorary member of Team Fournier), who while providing backup vocals to Enrique Iglesias, so wisely stated: “You gonna like how it feels”.
Oh Pitbull, will you ever cease to provide us with your eternal wisdom?

So what has been going in the curling world since I last blogged?
First of all, Jean Michel qualified in the Grand Slam. For those who do not follow curling that closely, let me tell you that this is HUGE. The Slam features a who’s who in World Curling. And JM proved that he belonged there, losing a tight game on a measure to eventual winner Mike McEwen of Winnipeg in the 1/4 finals. This is a great result for these guys, who now are by far the favourites heading into Quebec provincials this year.  (by the way - shame on the CBC who missed the opportunity to show the McEwen-Menard game, instead of yet another Stoughton/Martin game).
Joëlle Sabourin also had a big win. She is playing 2nd for Jennifer Jones, filling in for Jill Officer while she is in the family way. They won the Canada Cup of Curling – a big CCA event that features most of the top teams in the country.
And it’s always nice to see Joëlle on TV. And check out those biceps! Christmas gift suggestion: 2 tickets to the gun show!

5 rocks?
Other big news in curling is the 5-rock rule. The Grand Slam experimented with the 5-rock free guard zone, meaning that the team with the hammer gets to put a 2nd unremovable guard up if they so choose.
The big impact of this is a team with a lead will have a more difficult time peeling out a game, as the opposition is guaranteed at least 2 guards per end if they choose. I think it will reward teams that can make runbacks and freezes.
Predictably, at the Grand Slam it amounted to a lot more rocks in play and some more offensive curling – which is all good news as far as I am concerned. It definitely makes it harder to play defence, but here is a bold prediction: the best teams will find a way to win with this rule as well, just like they did with the 4-rock rule.
Suggestion to all curling clubs: play the last round of your league with the 5-rock rule this year – it is surely coming soon – and it will give everyone something to talk about.
So what is next?
Regional playdowns are set for Jan 6-7-8 at Glenmore and I believe Etchemin. This year's participation is at an all time low (which I will talk about in a later blog) - with 12 teams at Glenmore and 8 at Etchemin, playing for 4 spots in each region. The low particpation does not make it any easier for us; the West playdown features 12 pretty strong teams (if you include us!).   
A very Merry Christmas to all of my loyal readers.
I will surely blog after the holidays as we head into regional playdowns and then provincials. In the meantime, wish us luck! Or more importantly, wish us fun.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Screw you Charlevoix part deux - featuring Pitbull

Back from Charlevoix...and looking forward to over a month off from competitive curling.

Once again - Charlevoix provided me with disappointing results - lost the C-qualifier to Serge Reid in a very disappointing and frustrating game. We gave up a brutal steal of 4 in an end that looked very promising, and quickly turned into a nightmare.

I won't go as far as to say that I will never go back, because, deep down, I know I will.


Speaking of frustration  - I was thinking about this...
Is there any sport that can match curling in terms of sheer ability to frustrate you?
Golf can be frustrating  - and I have wanted to fling a putter or two in my life - but for my money - curling wins hands down. I think its because the difference between glorious success and complete failure is so small:
A takeout that ticks a guard by 1mm is completely useless - but if it gets by it is a perfect shot...
Golf seems far less arbitrary.


Johnny the Hammer Chow (aka Terence Yip) was in Charlevoix this year. He stars in a cool ad campaign that the CCA has come up with to try to get people curling...


Apparently these are also available in French  - and we will be seeing more of these...


Charlevoix was surprisingly won by Brad Gallant from PEI. This is poetic justice for all of us that made fun of Eddie Mackenzie, the horrid 1-10 PEI team from last year's Brier. I think we got the Islanders mad at us...Gallant knocked off Brad Gushue in the finals.


Here is some random venting. To all tournament organizers out there:  First of all - thanks for all of your hard work - BUT

Every spiel we play in now seems to start earlier and earlier. Charlevoix started teams at 7:30am Thursday this year. More than half of the teams were out by Friday night - Saturday morning at the latest. Only four teams play Sunday.
I did not study the open draw - but I hear it was just as awful.

I like curling - but if every spiel costs everyone 2+ days of vacation - then don't be surprised that participation is down. Charlevoix has been getting away with it because they do so many things right - but I heard a lot of complaining this year.

I seem to remember a few years ago, curling was an activity that you could play on weekends.


Curling on TV.

A new era is starting in Quebec this week. RDS2 will begin broadcasting curling - and lots of it. RDS2 is set to broadcast over 100 games this year (I did not know there were more than 100 games to watch)
The Canada Cup kicks off this weekend, and will feature the usual suspects curling for cash this weekend - and RDS will cover the semis and finals.

This is a new opportunity for curling in Quebec - where the sport is - let's admit it - in rapid decline.

While the Olympics have given curling a great deal of exposure in the last decade - this exposure has not translated into participation. Curling needs a boost. And a bunch of people watching on TV has potential.

Here is hoping that Guy Hemmings and whoever else broadcasts the game can add colour and excitement to draw in viewers - and to convince them that they should try this sport.

The art however lies in getting people to join, not just try. Curling Clubs are very good at setting up "Come try curling for a day" events, but are notoriously bad at converting trials into memberships. It is easy to get people in the door - but clubs are not set up to get them to stay.
Too often - new members get thrown into crappy leagues on crappy teams with people who suck at curling, and are left to try to figure out the game for themselves. Not only that - if somebody walks into a curling club now - they will likely be told that the leagues have already started for the year, so come back in September.
(I am speaking in generalities of course - some clubs integrate new members very well).

So tip for curling clubs - don't try to organize "Come try Curling" days until you have seriously thought about how to seal the deal. Curling on TV presents a real opportunity to grow our sport. Let's not screw it up!


Okay - not related to curling at all...
Why is it that every song you hear these days is featuring Pitbull? Who is this Pitbull? Where did he come from?
I was watching TV with my daughter - and I swear I saw Barney the Dinosaur - featuring Pitbull.

So from now on - our team is no longer Team Fournier - we are now Team Fournier featuring Pitbull. I will get him do do a little rap before we start each game.

"Yo - all you mother F&?&*ers on the curling sheet -
Took me all season to get my life unstuck-
Now Team Fourniers gonna run over you like a Tonka Truck."

Monday, November 21, 2011

You stay classy, Charlevoix

Yes, I am curling in Charlevoix this weekend. For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, after a humbling 1-3 performance in last year’s event, I wrote “Screw you Charlevoix” and vowed never to return to the place that has brought me so little success in recent years.
Well, like a strung-out junkie returning to his dealer for another hit, I am back for more. Hit me one more time Charlevoix.
The unavoidable truth is that Charlevoix is simply the best spiel in Quebec. We start Thursday morning against Dan Petryk, an affable dentist from Calgary. Should be fun.
And of course- we will hear from my favourite band in the world, the 2-person band that plays the party every year at the Curling club. They do not speak a word of English – but bravely perform a mostly English set of songs, often mangling the words.
Classics from the past:
From ACDC: “She was a fax machine, she kept her motor clean...
From the Black-Eyed Peas: “Tonight gonna be a good night”
This year I am expecting:
 “Hive got fashion in my pants hand I hate afraid to schewitt - Hi m’sexy and Hi know it” by the Black Eyed Peas
And of course “Honda Floor” by JLo
When did I become an old curler.
This week I will be playing in Charlevoix, and on Thursday I turn 40.
For years – I always felt like a young kid in the curling world. I always felt like I was just out of juniors – throwing big takeouts and challenging the old guys. But somewhere along the line I became an old guy.   I still feel like I curl the same, if not better than when I was 30, or 20. My wavy Stoughton-esque hair used to billow behind me as I effortlessly threw peels, whereas today I find myself wearing hats to keep my head warm.  I fully expect to have to start rubbing Tiger Balm or some other vile-smelling cream on my joints to continue toe-tucking in the next few years.
I am definitely smarter than I was then, although it does not seem to help me win that many more games. Maybe being young and foolish has its advantages on a curling sheet as well. Oh well, here’s hoping my forties bring me as much pleasure and fun as I’ve had curling up ‘til now.   
I curled in Brantford this weekend in the Sun Life Classic. It was a great spiel, and a fun experience. I just wish I would have curled a bit better. We lost 3 out of 4, and were out by Saturday night.
Strange set of winners on the men’s side – despite all the big names present the finals featured two underdog European sides. The spiel was eventually won by Niklas Edin from Sweden, a great guy who does not let his lack of English language skills limit his ability to hit on women. I remember not too long ago you would look forward to playing the European teams, as they were an easy win. But no more.
While our curling was not top notch – Brantford did provide a great reminder of what makes competitive curling great. Saturday night I shared drinks, laughs and fun with people from Saskatchewan, Sweden, Minnesota, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Newfoundland and all places in between. While there are a few assholes in every group, for the most part competitive curlers are fun, nice people.
 Our drive up to Brantford sucked. We got caught behind an accident on the 401 in Trenton, and spent almost 4 hours not moving on the highway. It was only made liveable by the fact that we watched Anchorman – the Legend of Ron Burgundy on my laptop while waiting . You stay classy San Diego.

Btw - my Movember moustache currently looks very Ron Burgundy-like.
The other Quebec teams also fared pretty poorly in Brantford, JM Menard was out on Saturday, as was Marie-France Larouche. But fortunately, this provided an opportunity for Eric Sylvain (Jean-Michel’s 2nd) to put on an indescribable display of dancing prowess in the hospitality room at the hotel. Jean-Michel is in serious danger of losing Eric to the next edition of So You Think You Can Dance Canada.  Let’s hope the tryouts don’t conflict with Provincials.

The Dominion kicks off this week in Richmond Hill, BC. Good luck to all participants.
The Dominion is quickly becoming the most talked about event in Canada. It is a national competition for club level curlers - a sort of Amateur Championship. It is a great reminder of what curling should be about. It’s social, it’s fun and it is a sport for everyone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Circuit Wrap-up, Numbers on Jackets and Super Mario!

I am just coming off another glamorous weekend of curling - this time at Glenmore for the Quebec Curling tour championships.

On the men's side - (and the seniors) - the event serves as a preview of men's provincials. The same teams will inevitable clash at provincials 2 months from now - so the Circuit serves as an advanced scouting of what provincials will look like.

It was a rather draining weekend - we somehow managed to lose the right combination of games so as to have to play 9 games between Thursday night and Sunday afternoon - before losing a tight game in the semi-finals to eventual winner JM Menard.
Today I have a sexy 2-pack-a-day smoker voice, I feel like crap , and I didn't even have to sweep anything for more than 6 feet. Imagine how bad my front end must feel.

So here are some random notes and observations from the event:

* JM Ménard has not lost a lot of games this year. They again won a tournament undefeated. They are playing very, very well and seem to be focused on becoming a top Canadian team. They will face a good test in Brantford next weekend - at the Sun Life Classic - where they will face the top teams in Canada.

* Simon Dupuis lost the final - somehow managing to sneak into the finals with some bizarre comebacks in both the 1/4 finals and semi-finals. He was down 3 playing the last end against Francois Roberge in the semis, and somehow managed to pull off an ugly victory. sadly the final was an ass-kicking - it lasted about as long as one of Simon's smoke breaks- not surprising given that it was their 10th game in the tournament! It looked like they just ran out of gas.

* Not a great weekend for Serge Reid, Team Hemmings and Robert Desjardins, all surprisingly eliminated before the playoffs. Surprise of the weekend was JF Royer from TMR - who qualified B-side before they managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory in the 1/4 finals against Dupuis.

* On the women's side, Kim Mastine beat Laura Thomas in the finals. Surprising run by Laura. A good win for Kim who was having a rough season so far.

* In Seniors - Robbie MacLean looked kinda dominant  -winning without seemingly having a close game.

Speaking of seniors, they were especially grumpy this weekend. They are complaining to Curling Quebec about the fact that there are no longer money spots at Seniors Provincials...(the 12 teams at Provincials will be the 12 teams that win their respective regional qualifiers). I think they definitely have a point. I am guessing that CQ might rethink this for next season.


Off to Brantford Ontario this weekend for the Sun Life Classic!

Can't wait. Our 9 game curling marathon this weekend will definitely have prepared us well...still need to be a bit more consistent.

The draw is available at http://www.sunlifeclassic.com/ and actually looks pretty cool.


Numbers on jackets.
Possibly the lamest trend in curling these days is to put numbers on curling jackets. It is actually a requirement now to curl in a Grand Slam event that your team have names AND numbers on the backs of their shirts and jackets. Not sure if the World Curling Tour thinks that this will lead to people actually confusing curlers with athletes...
But my team is jumping on the numbers bandwagon - our jackets are in the shop as we speak getting numbered.
For my countless fans - I will now be number 21, in case you were planning on having it tattooed on a body part, shaving it into the side of your head or planning on buying a Team Fournier jersey for your loved one for Christmas.


Thanks to those of you who entered my "favorite curler for a laptop contest"...

And the winner is:

Andrew Ouellette!
Andrew is an all-around nice guy and longtime curler at Lachine Curling Club, who actually taught me how to curl on my first time on the ice - some 26 years ago.
I will get in touch with Andrew this week about claiming his prize.
Thanks again to the folks at HP for this generous giveaway.

Big thanks to those who entered. There were some interesting choices:

I especially enjoyed the Dale Ness flatulence story. Few in Quebec competitive curling have not experienced Dale's ability to change the momentum in a game by producing a think, green gaseous cloud that makes concentration and shot making impossible.
Strangely, the only person to have matched Dale's intestinal prowess over the years is a prominent competitive female curler (who shall remain nameless) - who took pride in making opposing teams suffer.

My moustache is only 2 weeks old - and I already want to shave it. It is getting itchy, bushy, it smells like the chili I ate yesterday and my wife no longer wants to touch me. So far I have been told that I look like a pedophile, a Nazi, Dupont et Dupont (from Tintin), a French police inspector and my personal favorite:
Super Mario if Super Mario was also bald. (although it is hard to tell if he is not really bald - he always wears a hat in the video game.)

So you need to give generously to make this hardship worthwhile!!!

To donate - follow this link:

You even get a tax receipt for your generosity. its very easy - a few clicks and done!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Free Laptops and 70s Porn Star Moustaches

Busy weekends of curling these days...While Team Fournier has been taking some time off, there has been lots of curling.
Grand Slam – World Cup of Curling
The first Grand Slam was this weekend, with Glenn Howard beating John Epping in the finals. It was a great run by Team Epping – who I boldly predicted would have a big year.
There was some interesting TV – I enjoyed the McEwen-Howard quarter-final on Saturday afternoon.
For those of you who missed it – McEwen was one-down playing 8 with last rock. On McEwen’s last rock – he was faced with a choice: a really tough in-off on a rock 6 inches from the boards for 2 points and the win – or a simple draw to the 4-foot to force an extra end.
I think McEwen is the only big team in the world that would have tried shot A. He tried it, just missed it – and lost. Most wise older curlers would surely make the easy draw and take their chances in the extra end...but McEwen is so sure that he will make everything that he tried a seemingly low % shot for the win.
So what was he thinking? Was he sure that Howard would beat him in the extra end? Or was he sure that he would make a really tough in-off?
Who knows – but you have to respect a guy that goes for the big shot – even if he ends up looking like Tin Cup sometimes.
Crappy Moustaches:
It’s November, so that means it’s time for many male (and sadly a few female) curlers to grow some tragic facial hair in support for Prostate Cancer research in the increasingly popular Movember movement.
I too have joined this trend, as evidenced here:
I believe I either look like a bus driver, or a 70’s porn star. Not sure which one is better.
Sadly, I am growing this to support a former club mate and friend at Lachine who I recently found out is fighting the big C. He is one of the most positive and optimistic guys I have ever had the pleasure of curling with – and I am sure he will fight this fight the same way.
So give generously...here is the link:
Free laptop for one of my readers!
The good folks at HP have donated a free laptop for me to give away to one of my readers! As I mentioned last week – they are sponsoring Team Gushue, and are throwing some love my way as a result of my ever increasing on-line blogger popularity.
Here it is:
So – if you want to win a notebook – here is what I need you to do:
Post a comment here or on my Facebook Link saying who your favourite curler is (past or present) and why.
Example: “Eve Muirhead is my favourite curler because of the way she holds her bagpipes”. Or “Hec Gervais is my favourite curler because of his kick-ass sideburns and because he was the Gentle Giant”. Be creative. The contest is open for one week.
I will randomly pick a winner from entries.
Special consideration will not be given for those who shower me with free drinks – although you are welcome to try.
(To my mother: please do not enter the contest by saying that Mike Fournier is your favourite curler)
Thanks to HP for this cool giveaway – and keep sponsoring curling teams and curling in general!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bonus Blog: Free tickets for the Grand Slam!!!

Hello loyal readers -

Due to the enormous popularity and notoriety of my blog - I have been offered a pair of passes for next week's Grand Slam in Sault Ste-Marie!
Here is a link to the event:

The tickets come to me courtesy of the good folks at HP - who might also be throwing me a prize for a future blog contest. HP is also sponsoring Brad Gushue's team this season.

(Note - I am talking about HP the computer/printer people not the steak sauce.)

I realize driving to the Soo might be a bit of a stretch  - as I suspect most of my readers are more likely from Quebec or Eastern Ontario - but if you are interested - post a comment on my blog saying why you are the perfect person to receive free tickets - and I will arbitrarily pick a winner and get back to you ASAP.

The Grand Slams are monster events - usually featuring better curling than you will see at the Brier or Olympics -and the parties around the events are pretty good as well.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why does my hotel room smell like a wet dog?

It was a big week in Quebec curling this week - with the Casino Lac Leamy Challenge held in Buckingham this past weekend.

Jean Michel Ménard won the spiel in dramatic fashion, stealing 2 in 8 and one in the extra end to snatch victory away from Brad Jacobs.
I was not there, but in general when I have given up steal of 2 in the last end - it was usually that my team screwed up as opposed to the other team making brilliant shots. But wow - pretty impressive comeback nonetheless.

For those keeping track - JM is on fire.
They are hotter than the first sip of Tim Horton's coffee that scalds you and leaves you with that pasty dead skin on your tongue and pallet all day.
They are hotter than the Women of Curling Calendar. (I think - I am eagerly waiting for mine to come by mail - side note - I hope the calendar comes in a discreet brown paper packaging - don't want the mailman knowing that I order curling porn).
They are arguably the hottest team in Canada right now.


How did we do? Lost the C-qualifier after playing some pretty good curling.
For those who do not know - losing the C-qualifier is the shittiest game to lose in curling (apart from a provincial final). The C-qualifier is the last game before you make money, which means you spent as much time as possible in hotels and out of town without winning anything. We lost to Rob Rumfeldt, one of the hotter teams in Ontario this season.


Speaking of hotels...we stayed at the luxurious Hotel du Parc in Buckingham. I believe we were the only customers of the hotel not driving an 18-wheeler.
The exquisite odour as we entered our rooms was reminiscent of wet dog. I am thinking that a wet dog might have in fact been part of the cleaning staff.
There was a $20 deposit in order to get a TV remote - but as an added feature our remote actually changed the channels in the other rooms of the hotel as well.
But it was cheap.
So for those of you who think the life of a tour curler is all swimming pools and luxury hotels - THINK AGAIN!!! (Although I am guessing not a lot of people thought that in the first place)
Here is our room:

Oh well, it will make us appreciate the Manoir Richelieu even more.


Speaking of hot teams...Mike McEwen won in Winnipeg this week, making him the new #1 ranked team in the world, unseating Kevin Martin who has been in the #1 position for as long as I can remember.
I am waiting to hear if Mike and team will be back in Charlevoix to defend their title again this year...


We received our draw for the SunLife Classic in Brantford Ontario in November.
We start against none other than K-Mart himself, the illustrious Olympic gold-medallist Kevin Martin. The field at this spiel is ridiculous, with most of the top 10 teams in Canada in attendance. Should be a blast.
Hopefully we can start off well in a game surely to be billed by organizers as "the Battle of the Baldies". My only goal is to get a shout-out from TheFakeKevinMartin on Twitter.



                                                 NOVEMBER 18 - Brant Curling Club

The women's final in Gatineau was also eventful, with MF Larouche losing to Jenn Hanna. Again, I was not there, but Hanna took 3 in 7 and stole 8 for the win. Ouch.
Without seeing the game, I am guessing that team Larouche (along with Brad Jacobs) will be practicing peels this week...

Next week I will talk about the upcoming Circuit Provincial Finals - played at my home club of Glenmore Nov 10-13.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chickens, Virgins and Curling Porn

What have I done to incur the wrath of the curling gods?
We lost out in the C-semis at the Mac Ice, tantalizingly close to qualifying, as my final draw to win in an extra end mysteriously picked up some piece of crap and spun haphazardly into the guard (despite the fact that my front end was sweeping it at the time).
Argh. (as I write this, I am flipping the bird to the curling gods).

I think my team needs to perform a ritual sacrifice of a live chicken or a virgin (although virgins are hard to find in a curling club), in order to earn the favour of those Gods of Curling that decide the fate of mere mortals.
The sad fact about curling is - that as much as we practice, prepare and perform, sometimes you lose anyway. And often in a seemingly unjust manner. I guess this is true in life as well as in curling.

On the bright side, we are curling pretty well. Results will come. I like to think that over the course of a season - good luck and bad luck always tend to even out.

The actual tournament was won by JM Menard. A good result for those guys - who are looking strong and determined so far this year.
Not a lot of strong performances from other Quebec teams - apart from Ferland and Kim Mastine who managed to make some money in Ottawa as well.

As promised, the draw for the weekend was horrible, we often had ridiculous layoffs between games. In the end, we played 5 games in 4 days, and had massive amounts of time to kill off in Ottawa. I keep swearing that I will not go back to this tournament, but the money is good, the competition is good and the ice is good, which is why it always seems to draw the top teams from Quebec and Ottawa despite the draw.

Next weekend is the casino Lac Leamy Challenge cashspiel in Gatineau, arguably the best and biggest event East of Ontario. Some notables will be there: Gushue, Matchett, Menard and all of the big Quebec, Ottawa and Maritime teams.
Should be a fun weekend. Dany Beaulieu and friends have done a great job building a top-notch spiel in a short period of time.

Draw and results are at:

The 2012 Women of curling calendar is out (  http://www.womenofcurlingcalendar.com/ ). This is a fundraising calendar that features relatively naked curling babes set in seductive yet tasteful poses.
I have not seen the content yet, but the cover features the exquisite Eve Muirhead of Scotland posed seductively in a tartan skirt, with a curling broom, golf clubs and - wait for it - a set of bagpipes.

(I am thinking the calendar will surely inspire some to play their pipes as well,  if you know what I mean.)

Definitely a must for those of you with a fetish for all things Scottish  - all that's missing from the pic is a bottle of single malt scotch, a big Haggis and some sheep.
Seriously, the calendar is for a good cause (which makes you  feel slightly less guilty about ordering curling porn for $30).


By the way - Dear Curling Gods: 
I sincerely apologize for my flippant remarks earlier - they were a joke! - and I sincerely hope it does not influence You to allocate any more bad luck in our direction.
I am currently searching on-line for a live chicken - and inquiring as to the sexual experience of people at our curling club in order to perform the necessary sacrifices to pay homage to You.
Thanks for your continued support!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Discount Viagra and Ottawa Tourist Attractions

Argh. My e-mail account was hacked today...My Yahoo sent my entire distribution list a link to get discount Viagra and Cialis, including most of my work colleagues, golf buddies and casual acquaintances.

I am attributing this e-mail intrusion to curling - as I am guessing the hackers scanned my PC and found the phrase "Hurry Hard" a few too many times, and figured I must be selling Viagra.


Not much curling to speak of yet...curling clubs around Montreal are opening their doors for open houses.
There was a spiel in 3-Rivieres, won by Phil Lemay who is having a hot start to his season.


Coming up on the Thanksgiving long weekend is the Mac Ice bonspiel at the RCMP club in Ottawa. It is the first real test for most of the Quebec and Ottawa competitive teams, as the field includes the usual regulars.
All of Quebec's top rated men's and women's teams will be there, including Ménard, Ferland, Lemay, Hemmings (or whoever fills in for Guy and his ailing back), Westphal, Desjardins and Larouche and  Mastine on the women's side. We will be there as well.

Here is a link to the draw:

This spiel is well known for its awful draws and unusual times; and this year is no exception. The spiel runs from Wednesday to Monday, despite having only 20 men's teams in the Elite section and a dozen women's teams. There are some ridiculous delays between games; you very often find yourself with a day off (or even more) in the middle of the spiel.

So I will likely be visiting Ottawa tourist attractions this weekend; I wonder if I can convince the boys to go visit Parliament! Or 24 Sussex! Or some museums! Maybe we can have a Beavertail along the Rideau canal.

Ah - who am I kidding - we will end up in a bar.

Either way, I promise some pictures for next week's blog.


Speaking of Ottawa - Golf Now (a travel show on the Golf Channel) just did a show on golf in Ottawa, and had a 3 minute segment with Craig Savill (lead on Glen Howard's Uberteam) teaching the foxy blond host how to curl. She is a far better golfer than curler, but she gets an A for Effort.


For the non-curling readers of this blog (and there actually are surprisingly quite a few of you, even excluding my mother):
Now is a good time to try curling, if you are so inclined.
Curling clubs are holding open houses, and are very accommodating to beginners wishing to try the sport. If you are looking to try - drop me a line I can point you in the right direction.

In the meantime: here are some tips for taking your non-curling friends out on the ice for their first time:

1. Make sure to tell them to never step on the ice with your slider foot first.
2. Make sure there is alcohol waiting when they get off the ice
3. If you are teaching some obnoxious doofus who insists on making fun of curling as you teach them (with such witty comments as "usually I get my wife to do the sweeping at home haha"), make sure to tell them they need to wear 2 sliders, one on each foot; "just like the pros".
4. Get them to follow a rock and yell at the sweepers at least once. And get somebody to yell at them.
5. E-mail them a cool curling clip before they try: like this one featuring Johnny "the Hammer" Chow
On Purpose!
6. For the love of God - tell them not to wear tight jeans.
7. Make sure you tell them one story about curling that involves a great curling party or a curling club sex scandal - anything to reinforce the idea that curling is not for geeks.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Karaoke and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Random Rant:
Curling? WTF? It’s 25 degrees out and beautiful. Why am I spending weekends in curling clubs instead of on a golf course? Or camping with my kids? Or drinking beer on a terrace?
Curling in September just seems wrong. All competitive teams these days are looking to get a jump on the season, searching for an edge – and trying to accumulate CTRS points – so you pretty much have to start in September. But it just seems wrong to me.  I thought curling was supposed to be a winter sport.
I walked into a curling club Friday wearing flip flops and shorts, and put on my sweater, gloves and jacket and went and stood on ice for 2 hours. It’s just WRONG.
So here is my thought for competitive curling: We need to move everything later. Start curling in mid-October – but finish in March-April. I look at my last season, my competitive season ended in January. JANUARY! For most teams, competitive curling ends in February, and for a select few – March. Last time I checked, winter officially lasts until March 22.
Furthermore, April is a boring month; there is no golf – the weather is crappy – and the curling clubs are still open - why not more competitive curling then, instead of now?
Moosehead Fall Open
Having said all this, I had a pretty good weekend at the Moosehead Fall Open at the RCMP club in Ottawa.  This is very much a tune-up spiel, with only a few big teams deciding to play.
It was my first spiel with the new team – and it went pretty well. We had a good weekend, lost in the ¼ finals against Brian Cochrane, an ageless guy with immovable hair from Ottawa who always seems to find a way to win. We knocked out pretty much every other Quebec team that played in the tournament – except Phil Lemay who was in the finals.
In Quebec curling news, Guy Hemmings was supposed to be playing with Brier rep Francois Gagné this year, but is out indefinitely with a bad back. Guy was apparently moving furniture or something, although I find it hard to believe that Guy actually tried to move something heavy. My theory is its carpal tunnel syndrome from too much video game action. Seriously - we wish him a speedy recovery, whatever his injury.
I was in Brockville 2 weekends ago at the Shorty Jenkins spiel, and had a great time. Played 27 holes of golf, went 3-2 on the curling ice, and came 30cm or so away from qualifying for the ¼ finals. Damn shootouts. They are worse than penalty shots in soccer.
We played against John Epping and his new team, who eventually won the spiel over Glenn Howard and Brad Gushue.  If you have not heard of Epping before – you probably will. Bold prediction – they will be the next big team to come out of Eastern Canada. These guys are good.
We also saw Glenn Howard's new team - with Wayne Middaugh playing 3rd instead of Richard Hart. Of course they will be good, but they just seem to be a little bit harder to cheer for now.
Only complaint about Brockville: Saturday night Karaoke. Didn’t Karaoke die 5 or 10 years ago? If it didn’t, it should have. It always ends up being the same few microphone hogs belting out tunes that you normally don’t want to hear, and it always seems to last about 2 hours too long. I love Earl Morris – but just not as a singer (although admittedly he was pretty good).
Let’s leave the singing to the professionals, people.
It was a tragic party killer – (although I was still there at 1:30AM).
Next on the schedule for most big teams is the Mac Ice Classic in Ottawa at the RCMP curling club on Thanksgiving weekend - with pretty much every big Quebec men's and women's team in action.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pink Cowboy Boots

Let's get it started.

I will be heading up to the Shorty Jenkins Invitational this weekend to kick off my 2011-2012 curling season.

For those of you who do not know who Shorty Jenkins is:
He is the patriarch of modern ice-making in curling. He figured out how to make ice that was fast and that curled, and was thus revered by curlers around the world.
He did the ice for the Brier and TSN Skins Games - and countless events.
I think his masterful technique relied heavily on a piece of sandpaper - but it does not change the fact that he did it better than anyone, and did it before anyone else knew how.
He also likes to wear Pink Cowboy hats and boots, (Insert Brokeback Mountain joke here) - and wore pink well before it was fashionable for guys to do so.

 Sadly, Shorty has gotten old, and is no longer actively making ice. But he is the uncontested hall of fame ice king in Canada (and was even made into a great Tim Horton's commercial in the 90s - sorry I could not find a link!)

The Shorty bonspiel in Brockville is a great event - solid competitive curling mixed with golf at a quaint little country club.
Gushue and Howard will be there, and are the heavy favorites, as well as defending champion Jean-Michel Ménard who is in our group in the round robin.

The Shorty is kind of a pre-season event - it serves to help switch over your thinking from golf, or camping, or biking - or whatever else you do all summer to curling. Even the the most experienced competitive curlers, there is an adjustment period - where we struggle to get back to the mental discipline required to stay focused for 2+ hours of curling.

So curling season starts now. I am excited - but for some reason I found myself asking "why?". Why do I try to curl competitively? Why do I love it? Why do I dedicate so much time, money and mental effort to a sport that is often the subject of ridicule? Why keep pushing to excel at a sport where my success or failure will likely never mean much to anyone but me and my teammates, and maybe those close to me?

I am sure many of you will say - "you do it for fun." You do it to get away on weekends - and drink and be with friends.

But this is increasingly not the case.

First of all - I really can't drink like I used to. I have become a lightweight when it comes to alcohol consumption. A few Rum and Cokes and I am done. And as I age - hangovers seem to get worse. (I barely survived a poker night with friends recently after unwisely bringing a bottle of Jack along. ugh.).

Second of all - as sappy as it sounds - when I am away curling I miss my family. Curling takes me out of town, often in mediocre hotel rooms  - away from my kids - who are remarkably cute.

So, if not to get away and have fun, then why?

The answer is that to be good at curling makes you better at life.

Competitive curling, like golf (another addictive pastime) gives us the opportunity to make ourselves better. Winning at curling usually involves confronting the inner demons that can haunt us all; self-doubt, fear. To win as a competitive level - your need to conquer these. You need to fight the voice that says you can't do it. You need to be confident - you need to know that you can make any shot. You need to not be intimidated.
You also learn the value of practice and preparation.
Not surprisingly - confidence, self-assurance and practice are the keys to success in a lot of other endeavours as well.

I think this is why I love curling, and keep curling competitively despite a number of reasons to quit.

Anyway - please excuse the self-reflective nature of this blog. I will get back to being a farcical curling reporter next week.


On another topic, Prince Jaber of the Ivory Coast has not yet answered my request for sponsorship for team Fournier.  Therefore - will need to find another source on funding for the season.


Next week:  Psychic Predictions for the upcoming season that will amaze you!

Link to the Shorty Jenkins web page - for those of you wishing to follow along on-line (my mom):


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Team Fournier seeking sponsorship from Ivory Coast Royalty

Dear Prince Jaffer Nabaroo of the Ivory Coast;
I am writing in reply to your e-mail dated July 17th, asking for my banking information to help repatriate funds frozen in your country’s central bank. My apologies for the late reply, but for some reason your urgent request mistakenly found its way into my spam folder. I will add you to my contacts list to ensure no further delays in our communications.
I will gladly provide you with my banking information and credit card numbers in a subsequent e-mail, so as to facilitate the transfer of the $8,000,000 of funds.
In the meantime, I would like to discuss an exciting opportunity with you; the opportunity to sponsor my competitive men’s curling team.
While I am sure the Ivory Coast has little access to curling, I am quite confident that you would find this sport appealing.  There would be numerous advantages to sponsorship for you:
- My team would be an excellent vehicle for transferring funds into the Canadian banking system. We have a team account (currently with a zero balance).
- Having your name on our team jackets would surely help create a positive image for you in Canada, facilitating your eventual immigration here at some point in the future.
- We would be happy to represent the Ivory Coast in the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi. This would help raise the international profile of your country. We would even let you be our 5th man; you could be the next Prince Albert of Monaco!  
We are only seeking $10,000 in sponsorship, clearly only a drop in the bucket for a man of your wealth and influence, and only a fraction of the $8,000,000 you have in waiting.
 I look forward to a positive reply to this e-mail. To facilitate the transaction, could you please send me YOUR banking information and address, so as to expedite the transfer of funds.
Mike F, skip of Team Fournier!

Monday, April 25, 2011

One last blog: Juggling Chainsaws

The last official Blog of the season!
Stick a fork in me, I am done!
Curling season ended unceremoniously for me on Saturday at the Intermediate, putting a merciful end to a frustrating season of granite heaving. This season was the ultimate tease; letting me believe that we had talent, that we could compete with the best, and then having our game fall short at a critical time. We were up and down more than a 50 year old man with a fresh Viagra prescription.
Highlight – of course beating Gushue in Gatineau.  
Lowlight – too many to choose. Although going 1-2 in Regionals seems like a good pick.
But alas, it is spring. My curling bag is sentenced to its summer sleep in the attic; and having a few drinks at the curling club is replaced with having a few drinks at the golf course. Time to look ahead to next year!


So what is going on next year?
Rumours have been a-plenty of late, with a number of new and surprising moves setting up what should be an interesting season in Quebec.
So who is around next year? Quick look at the top 4:
1.       JM Menard – with Super Phil Menard now at lead. JM is always tough to beat. The only question seems to be are these guys still ready to do what it takes to be the best. They are the top ranked team in the province, but have not been playing in the Slams. They have been proven to be beatable, at least  for the last couple of years, and they have not been that far out ahead of the other Quebec teams. JM and the boys definitely have the highest potential – now let’s see what they can do with it. The only big question now is which pants will they be wearing next season?
2.       Marty Ferland – team unchanged. A top team in Quebec choosing to stay together after a 3-6 provincial? Inconceivable!!! But they have proven the cynics wrong. Apparently they agreed to a “contract” that they are honouring. I thought contracts were only binding for cell phones, but apparently they work for curling teams as well. This is a very good team – but they need to find a way to be more consistent. And I think Marty and Frank need to find a way to stay a little calmer on the ice. Valium? Pot? Yoga? This team needs to do some summer training in a Nepalese monastery.
3.       Serge Reid – has flushed his lead (Steeeeeeeve V.)  – not sure who he is picking up (probably not Bob Desjardins). I predicted tough times for Serge this year, and all he did was win a pile of cash and finish 3rd at provincials despite a nagging neck injury. Will he do better next year? – I would have to say no - but this guy has consistently exceeded my expectations so who knows. These guys are not the prettiest team around, but they have stuck together long enough to know how to get the job done. They are becoming the Jim Furyk of the curling world; ugly to watch but strangely effective.
4.       Brier rep Francois Gagné will be dropping down to play 3rd for the effervescent Guy Hemmings, with Ben Vezeau at 2nd and Chris Bouchard playing lead. Not unexpected, given that Frank and Guy have been friends for a long time. Could be a good team, but playing with Guy lately is a little like juggling chainsaws; very entertaining for a while but has the potential to end badly.

Some other teams to consider:
- Phil Lemay + new team (Matt Beaufort, JM Arsenault and Erik Lachance). Phil was a hugely successful junior skip back in the day, and now will try his luck with a strong team of young prospects.
- I hear Don “Good Shot Bud” Westphal is back, with Simon “Nicotine” Dupuis, Louis Biron and Big Mo. Interesting team (usually on a team the old guys play back end!)...Definitely good to see Don back in the game.
- What about me? Sadly, I guess Glen Howard and Brad Gushue lost my phone number, as neither of them called me despite both needing a new 3rd for next year. Instead, I will be playing next year with Dwayne Fowler and the Lejour brothers. Hopefully Dwayne and I can rediscover the magic we had a few years back...eager to see how that works out. Danny B is stepping back for a little while.
- I think I heard some other rumours while at the Intermediate, but I was kinda drunk on the Saturday night and seem to have forgotten a few, so you will have to figure out the rest yourselves.
So who will win?
Sadly, as my investment portfolio will surely attest, I am not Nostradamus.
The reality of Quebec is that few teams have really tried to step up to the plate to try to be the best. While some teams have been competitive, few seem willing to do what it takes to be at a level where they could be dominant in Quebec, and a top 10 team in Canada.
 The fact is, to be in the top 10 in the world, you need to be playing against Stoughton, Howard, Martin, McEwen, Gushue et al often – at least in 7-8 weeks per year. That means you need to travel.
And you need to practice. Practice, practice, practice. The fact is, you can no longer afford to miss the broom anymore. To curl 90% is today’s game, you can’t get away with throwing a single bad rock.
So I have no idea who will win. Smart money is on Menard, but as the last few seasons have proven, Quebec men’s curling is more wide-open now than ever.

I am just not as in the loop as I should be here. However, I have heard that a number of the main elite players are stepping aside. Eve is taking a break, and Chantal Osborne announced before provincials that this would be her last season.
So what remains seems like a one-woman show. Marie-France has been ahead of all competitors, and with Chantal and Eve not back next year, it is difficult to see anyone posing a serious challenge.
A few young teams have the potential to step up and take a run; the question is: are they willing to do the work and put in the time?

BIG FORMAT changes:
Last year’s merging of men’s and women’s provincials seems to have been a success, but the format will once again likely change next year. A proposal is on the table; although nothing is final.
Curling Quebec is exploring the possibility of having Men’s and Women’s together, but in a curling club (instead of an arena) using a modified triple-knockout format. The event would change from 10 men’s and 10 women’s to 12 men’s and 8 women’s. This format would be the same as what they are now doing in Alberta, where the A, B and C winners end up in a page-playoff.
Is this good?
·         I think the move back to a curling club is essential. Finding hockey arenas that are willing to give up 9 days of ice in February has been a challenge for years, and pretty much forces CQ to hold the event in remote locations where arena-time is easier to get.
            Remote Locations = Less People, less sponsorship.
·         Holding the event in a club will create a better atmosphere, and will help reduce the expense involved in running a provincial.
·         8 women’s teams instead of 10? This is a no-brainer. CQ is having a tough enough time filling 10 spots.
·         Modified Triple: makes sense – the event can now be held over 5 days instead of 7-8 days.
·         And no more meaningless round-robin games! Every game you play means the same thing to both teams.
Overall, seems to make sense to me. Let me know if you think otherwise (I think I am still the Competitive Players rep). Anyhow, nothing is final. But credit to Curling Quebec for having the guts to look to make positive changes. I am sure there will be a lot of debate on this, but debate is healthy.


Summer Blogs? I don’t think so. This will likely be my last blog until the fall. I might write here and there if I find something interesting to write about.
But a big thanks to those of you who were reading me this year, especially those who took the time to write to talk to me in person to tell me they were enjoying the blog. I am still amazed by the amount of people who read the blog.
 I think curling needs more talk – it needs to grow outside of the small community of hard-core competitive curlers and volunteers that devote so much of their time and energy to the game.  So I will keep writing if you all keep reading.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New reality show: Building the Squad

I can see the grass on the golf courses...I think its time to take my clubs out of their winter hiding place.
Ok - I have to admit - I have not really given a damn curling since losing in the playdowns in early January - so I should not be surprised by my less than-stellar record since then...
But since the playdowns - I believe I am 7-16. (including club games, Laval, Rosemere and Toronto). Ouch  - that is a pretty brutal streak of curling. I am not even winning 1 out of 3 games.
No wonder I am eager for golf season.

- So I played in the Toronto Men's Invitational last weekend. Had a fun time, despite the fact that the event was played in Toronto.
People have pitched me this tournament saying that it is the best event of its kind in Canada, and it is certainly a well orchestrated weekend of eating and drinking. But I have to admit I was a little disappointed.
It seemed like a bunch of guys who were desperate to get away for their wives for the weekend.
Not that I am adverse to such pursuits - maybe my expectations were too high.
It had moments, but mostly it was just an expensive drunk.
Not that it is not a good tournament - but as a party spiel I greatly prefer Etchemin, Keno¸or the Intermediate.
I would tell some more stories - but apparently Toronto is like Vegas; whatever happens in TO stays in TO.

(I am willing to bet that the previous sentence is is the only place in history that Toronto has ever been likened to Las Vegas)

- The Mixed provincials are going on this weekend in Baie Comeau. It should be a 2-horse race, with Ferland and Fowler likely to meet in the finals (even though Fowler will not win his section...). Tough to pick a winner.
Marty should have won last year, but came up short on an open draw to the 8-foot in the last end.
I think I will drive up and watch the final, since it is so close to home.

- I would expect a VERY strong mixed field next year, with the provincials likely not as far away, and the Mixed Nationals at TMR in 2012.
I am already contemplating how to build a super-juggernaut mixed squad. I am thinking of holding an "American Idol / Star Academie" reality show to pick my team. I think it would work. I could be like Donald Trump - and fire a potential teammate every week - or give a rose to the candidates I want to keep. I will call it: Building the Squad.
I am currently accepting applications - please submit your curling CV, a picture, and a 500-word essay on why you are God's gift to mixed curling to michaelrfournier@yahoo.ca. Please note that only serious applicants will receive a reply.

- One event left on the calendar for me before golf: the Glenmore Intermediate - on Easter Weekend. Back in the day, the Glenmore Intermediate was THE party spiel of the year. We would start partying Thursday evening, and pretty much not stop until Sunday afternoon. The spiel always had great bands, a great DJ, some decent curling and Jello Shots.
The spiel kinda went through a down period in the 2000s, but has been revived of late by some energetic just-out-of-juniors curlers who are trying to recapture the wild abandon and debauchery of a great party. Many teams from Toronto make the journey to spend a weekend in Montreal - and even have t-shirts made for the occasion.
There are still spots available, as they will accommodate up to 40 teams (I think they have 35 or so signed up already). Don't miss it. If you can't curl - then at least come by for the band on Saturday night.

- So everyone is asking me about rumours for next season -

So here is what I know so far:

- Francois Gagné's team is history. Amazingly, after having gone to the Brier, these guys don't even want to be seen in public together anymore. I guess it was kind of expected, given the motley nature of their personalities, but you would think that winning the province might make you want to keep at least a guy or two together? Apparently not.
I would like to bring back my quote from my 2nd blog last October...
"This team is like women who claim to be impregnated by space aliens...you don't know how it happened and you don't know what will come out in the end."

- Jean Gagnon (who plays lead for JM) has apparently "retired" or is taking a break, or was fired, or whatever - I really don't know. But he is being replaced by the younger Ménard brother, fresh off his 1st Brier.

- Amazingly, Marty Ferland and team are sticking together. There was speculation that this team was as dead as disco after a brutal showing at provincials.
How bad were they at provincials? They were so bad - I am not sure they could have won PEI!
But they are doing something very unusual for a Quebec team - they are sticking it out and trying to build instead of starting over. Good for them.

- Philippe Lemay will be skipping a strong young team - with JM Arsenault, Matt Beaufort and Erik Lachance. Good to see a team of younger guys starting to build something. Seems to me Quebec needs some new faces to compete. And great to see Phil back after taking a couple of years off. Phil has got game, and a good temperament for a skip.

- Don't ask me about women's curling - I don't know much. I hear Allison Ross is coming back after a year off, skipping a strong young team out of Glenmore. But that is all I know. Really.

- As for me - don't know yet. Ask me at the Intermediate. I will be the guy at the bar, most likely looking like the picture on the right.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Curling Withdrawal

- It is officially springtime in Montreal:

The winter dog poo is peaking out majestically from its blanket of snow; the Libya-like potholes cover the roads like acne on a teenager; and curling season begins its slow and agonizing journey into summer repose.

- The Brier is over. I must say - I already miss good curling on TV.
The finals were a bit of a yawn-fest- with Stoughton and team curling a ridiculously good game. The game was not even as close as the score indicated.
You have to feel a little sorry (just a little) for Glenn and the boys, who can now corner the world silver market with all of the 2nd place trinkets they have amassed.

The World Curling Champinships are not nearly as entertaining as the Brier and the Scotties - although Women's Worlds certainly has a number of very watchable teams- but not for the curling.
The World Men's is usually somewhat exciting, but Stoughton will likely be boringly better than most teams there. Given that the event is being held in Regina, likely with the same rocks as the Brier and on similar ice conditions - look for a relatively easy win for Canada this year.
The World's have produced relatively few memorable moments over the past few years, with the exception of the infamous Martin throw-through that surely will go down as one of the worse curling calls in history.

- The silly season is definitely in full swing. A number of rumours and strange team configurations are being discussed in Quebec and elsewhere. I will provide an update when the dust settles - but some big surprises are coming. Spoiler alert: apparently, making it to the Brier is no longer enough to keep a team together...

- I will try to blog a bit from the road this weekend in Toronto. I am heading up to curl in a drinking, eating and joke-telling festival (I think there is also curling...) with some guys from Glenmore. This is definitely not a competitive venture. Goal will be to not injure myself. The event is held at the Royals, organized by bunch of characters who usually make the trip to Glenmore at Easter for the Intermediate. Reciprocation is what I am all about.
You gotta love a spiel with a steak BBQ night and an Oyster party.
(Although the combination of raw Oysters in a men's only spiel seems somewhat homeoerotic and misplaced to me. Hope I am wrong) 
Theme song for the weekend:  Spirit of the West

- The Seniors is on in Digby - last time I checked the Quebec team was 3-2, and leading in their game against PEI. Robbie and the boys are a solid team - would be nice to see them near the finals.

I noticed Brad Heidt is in the field. For those who do not know Brad Heidt, he is a Shrek-like character from rural Saskatchewan (I guess all of Sask is pretty much rural) who is famous for chewing out his 3rd in the 10th end of the Brier final. I have played against Brad only once, and it is as close to a curling brawl as I've ever been. This was especially scary given that his neck is about the same width as my chest. Too bad the seniors are not televised.

- I need to go shoe shopping. I know this sounds horribly lame, but I need a new pair of curling shoes, my Asham's are coming apart at the seams. Anybody have a good recommendation? Keep in mind that I am a toe-tucker who uses about 2 inches of his slider...I am seriously considering buying a decent pair of shoes and making myself a pair...
On a related topic, I am not a big fan of the $300 curling shoe movement that has emerged in the last 5 years. I think curling is going the way of the $500 driver and the $60 per dozen Titleists in golf, with some ridiculously expensive "innovations", that really don't help people curl or golf any better.
Having said that, I slice and pull hook with a $500 driver and hit my Titleist Pro Vs into the lake/woods as well. I blame marketing.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Brier: Bronze Zombies and Geek Shuffleboard

More random Brier thoughts:

- Smart money would have bet the farm on Kevin Martin not winning the Brier this year. Rumours of their impending breakup are likely true, and teams about to breakup never play well together.
Just look how well Martin did in the Brier just before he broke up with his previous team...(I believe that was the year JM won).

- So I am watching the bronze medal game on TV. Looks like a funeral. You would think these guys would at least try to put on a show for the fans...instead of an extract from the zombie curling league.
I have seen more adrenaline and passion in the day ladder at my club. There might be a couple of hangovers on the ice...

- I have little sympathy for these primadonnas not wanting to play a bronze medal game. Most curlers have had to get up on Sunday to play the C-Semis in some crappy open spiel for the chance to win a toaster in the finals - we all did it. they should have to do it to!
I mean they are playing for 10K...you would think you could extract a little excitement.
Play it up for the crowd. Play it like an exhibition. Show the fans that you are capable of having fun. Have a guy from the crowd come down and call a shot...Have fun. The game needs it. I think it will become a good addition to the Brier.

- I think PEI should not be fined for quitting early. C'mon. It must have been painful to watch. They could have passed a hat around the crowd to pay the fine. Nobody wants to watch Howard throw 2 ends of peels....Put them out of their misery. I think they should have fined them if they had kept playing...for cruelty to spectators! It was bad enough people had to watch 5 ends of that "game".

- 3-8 - not a great performance form the Quebec team. I know they are rookies, but I think we all expected a little better. Let's see where these guys go from here. At least they looked good at the banquet, which apparently had a 70's theme.

I am still a bit peeved that the Toronto Sports Network never saw fit to show any of their games. I know they were never in contention, nor one of the favorites, but at least a morning game...I mean C,mon. I had to watch Gratton twice (snooze), Gushue, Martin and Howard more times than I could count and they even featured Shawn Adams at least once.
Thankfully, they did not show any PEI games. Those guys were truly awful. I have played some good teams from PEI before. Apparently, they were all unavailable this year. Seriously, they would be no better than 4-3 in this round of the Glenmore A ladder.

- Shot of the week - the double raise double that Kevin Martin made to beat the Territories. He deserved to lose that game...that was an amazing shot! That must have made the guys from Northern Ontario throw up a little bit..

- Prediction for the final: Manitoba squeaks out a win. I think they are due - especially Mead who still loses sleep from the Olympic Qualifying final in 2005, where they lost to Gushue in part due to a missed sweeping call from Mead.

- So rumour is that JohnnyMo is leaving Martin, and Nicholls is leaving Gushue...could we see a JohnnyMo / Brad Gushue combination taking a run at the next Olympics? You heard it hear first.

- Just saw Nicholls' tear-soaked final interview...Christ the guy is barely 30. Give me break. He is taking a couple of years off...he is not retiring forever.
I don't doubt the sincerity of his tears, just feel a little perspective is in order.
Maybe he is vying to be the next Scotties spokesperson.

- OK - I am a big fan of developing curling...but if I see that Rocks and Rings commercial one more time I am going to go JohnnyMo on my TV set.
Will shuffleboard and sweeping on a gym floor actually help create a positive image for curling? - or will it just make the sport seem geekier? The kids in the commercial look happy, but maybe its because they got to play shuffleboard instead of climbing the rope and doing sit-ups in gym class.
If you want to get kids curling, my experience is that you have to get them out on ICE. I have seen  (and participated in) a number of programs run at curling clubs by volunteers for local schools that surely create a more positive impact on the game than a one-time visit from the shuffleboard nerds with the signs and the plastic rocks with wheels. Glad to see our CCA contributions are so well spent.

- So what happens to Kevin Martin if JohnnyMo leaves the team? What about Stoughton if Mead is done...will Howard take another run at the trials? Expect the announcements to come out in the next month or two, fast and furious, as the Olympic qualifying run starts next season. If the big guys are going to change teams, now is the time.

- I will miss fakekevinmartin on Twitter after the Brier. I wonder if he will keep it up.