Favorite Reporter

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

We want to Pump *clap* you Up!!!!

Okay. I just saw the latest commercial from the CCA for the Continental Cup of Curling (a made for TV even that features a bunch of Canadians playing a bunch of foreigners for some cash and a trophy). It shows curlers pumping iron in some gym - cleverly portrayed as curling rocks. Here is a link to it:


I am happy that curling has evolved from the perception that it is a sport for flabby old people. Having Ed Werenich as your poster boy admittedly did not make for a positive, healthy image for the game.
But have we gone a bit crazy with this? The Olympics became a homage to tight shirts and bulging biceps. If I heard another commentator say “The Jacobs rink is changing the face of curling” I was going to throw a dumbbell through my flat screen.  
The message we now seem to be sending is:  “I need to have huge pipes and make squinty faces after sweeping to be really good at this game.” And then there are the calendars. Shirtless curling hunks showing off their six packs (and I don't mean beers).

I love curling, and I work really hard to get better at it. But do I really need to look like Hans and Franz to play this game at a competitive level?

 I am going to say something that might seem like heresy these days, but here goes:
I have played with and against a ton of competitive players, and some of the best sweepers I have seen are relatively thin – relatively un-muscular guys. I am in no way saying that you do not have to be in shape to curl competitively (Cardio is essential for sweeping), but I am definitely saying that you do not have to look like a commercial for protein shakes to get the rock down the ice effectively. Savill and Laing, Sylvain and Elmalah. All are spectacular front ends, and are all in great shape. But none of them look like they need to turn sideways to get through a door.    

I think we can safely say that we have evolved the perception of curling from a drinking sport for old flabby people.  But has this perception change come with an increase in participation? I don’t think so. The sport used to popular because of the characters that played. I grew up watching Russ Howard, Ed Werenich, Kevin Martin, Pat Ryan, Hackner and Lang. The personalities sold the game. And they looked like cool everyday guys. The sport looked accessible. It made you want to go to the club and try. It looked fun.

Now we portray our top teams as uber athletes who would turn up their nose at a beer or an order of fries. We have made curling look like going to the gym!
And I really hate going to the gym. I hate everything about it:
  • I hate the smug look of the muscular dudes who make squinty constipated faces as they work out.
  • I hate the fact that I usually end up going alone to the gym.
  • I hate having to spray down the machines with disinfectant after I sweat all over it.
  • I hate getting onto a machine that some sweaty dude did not spray down after he used it.
  • I hate watching the shared TV with some other doofus who wants to watch CNN.
  • I hate having some 20 year old nutrition major try to sell me protein shakes or vitamin supplements.
I curl, and play soccer, and play golf, and play tennis and play whatever game I can find because I infinitely prefer playing any game to stay in shape rather than going to the f?%$%?$ gym.

So can we relax a bit on the recent fitness obsession in our curling promotion? I promise do my part. After every game I will repeatedly lift 12 ounce-liquid filled weights from the table to my lips. I might even make a squinty face while doing it.

Competitive preview:

So what is happening in Quebec Men’s Curling this year? Lots of changes. Here is your primer of the top teams. (They are listed in order of how they are seeded at the upcoming Quebec Curling Tour.)

Jean-Michel “Outturn” Ménard:  Quebec’s top team is back, and looking particularly fierce already. They won the Mac Ice spiel last weekend in Ottawa, and look ready to take on the best teams. Imagine how good they could be if they could throw an In-turn, or if Phil Ménard was in shape!!

Martin “Ferly” Ferland: Martin has taken over Phil Lemay’s team from last year. They have new jackets that look like the 80’s Houston Astros shirts, and seem ready to kick ass. They have looked thoroughly shitty so far this year, but will surely be tough to beat once they gel. And you do not want to get down to this team, as their peel weight makes you want to stand on the backboards.

Un bloque et 3 bleuets: My team is back for another kick at the can. We spent months in a Bhuddist monastery, learning meditation and balance. We went to Harvard to study probability theory and risk analysis. We went to Vegas to work on our gambling and our nerves. We are ready.

Robert Desjardins: Bob has once again had a busy off-season, switching his team around once again. He has kept Fred Lawton, and picked up a couple of youthful looking seniors to play; Louis Biron and Mo Caillouette. To quote Forrest Gump “This team will be like a box of chocolates”. Bob will pull out some tasty wins, but sometimes they will get stuck with a dried-up chunk of tasteless goop.  

Steeve Gagnon. The Steve with an extra “E” is always one of the toughest teams to play against. They grind and fight and never make it easy. Not sure how they will work now that they got rid of their lone Anglophone (Mike has gone back to his home planet).

Ghislain Richard. This is a new and solid team. Max Elmalah has put together this squad with part of William Dion’s former junior champion team. They will be tough to beat, especially when they bring out super-spare Francois Roberge!

Everybody else:  A few promising new teams, but will have to do a lot of hard work to catch up to the top teams.

btw I will talk about woman's curling some other time, when I figure out who is playing with who.

What is coming up?

The big cash season kicks off next week with the Challenge Chateau Cartier in Gatineau. This is one of the biggest spiels in Eastern Canada, and features a star-studded international line-up. My first game is against none other than David Murdoch, the Olympic Silver Medalist from Scotland! I plan on painting half my face blue – wearing a kilt and yelling “FREEEEEEEDOOMMMM” before the game. Cue the bagpipes.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An Ode to Fall

Some people complain about the end of the summer. Some gripe when the nights gets chilly, when the leaves turn yellow. But not I.

Some look mournfully towards a sky full of southward-flying geese. Some grumble about the leaves they need to rake, the windows they need to seal or the winter tires they need to install. But not I.

Some lament the period before Christmas, when the frigid winds howl, when the golf courses cover their greens with hay and tarps. But not I.

Some regret having to defer shorts and t-shirts and flip flops to the back of the closet, while digging for gloves and scarves and boots. But not I.


I love this time of year. 
I love rustling through a pile of dried up leaves on the sidewalk. 
I love when women put on leather boots and scarves. 
I love when TSN2 starts running old Brier games to fill content. 
I love sorting through my curling bag, unopened since the spring and sifting through my musty-smelling curling shirts.   
I love walking onto the fresh air of the curling ice, and seeing the freshly-painted rings. 
And I love talking about curling again, after a good five months of barely thinking about it. With anyone who will listen.


I don’t love seeing that I forgot to pay off my bar tab from the end of last year.

My season kicks off this weekend at Glenmore at the Equinox Open, and annual event that has served as the kickoff to many a curling season. It is a good chance to shake off the rust and get some good games in on good ice.
We are starting late this year again, I feel that we are already behind some of the other competitive teams. But nobody wins the province in September, and the curling of meaning is still many months away. For me the road to the Brier begins alone on a sheet of practice ice. 


It’s been a long time since my last blog, so here is a pile of updates and news that you need to know:

I Can No Longer Bitch About Curling Quebec:
As many of my loyal readers surely know, Curling Quebec has often been a target of my griping and ranting over the past few years. Well I can gripe no more…if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!
Yes I have joined the Dark Side. Not sure why I feel like Anakin Skywalker being lured by seductive power of the Empire (that was for you fellow Star Wars nerds out there), but I have been elected to the Board of Directors of Curling Quebec (yes there was an actual election!).
Now that I am a DIRECTOR, I now posses power over all things curling. I am now expecting free beer, an entourage of minions and some fanfare every time I enter a Curling Club. Worship Me Mortals!!!  
Some other big changes at Curling Quebec over the summer. Marco Ferraro has left the building. The embattled former Head of Curling Quebec stepped aside in early September, and was immediately replaced by Marc-André Robitaille (his friends call him Marco!). Marco is a great guy, and has been Director of competitions for a year. He brings some level-headed stability to the role that was somewhat needed at this stage.
So Goodbye Marco Ferraro! I will resist the temptation to speak ill of the departed. Suffice it to say that Marco always governed CQ with purpose and passion. Unfortunately his passion sometimes got in the way of building positive relationships with the curling community, but I do believe that his heart was always in the right place. Let us see what his replacement can do!
Marco Robitaille has been replaced by none other than Alanna Routledge as the new Director of Competitions. Alanna is of course most famous for playing 3rd for me at mixed Nationals, which of course means she is experienced at dealing with stupidity. This should serve her well!

My Men’s Team has an Awesome New Sponsor:
We have joined Team Hardline, and will be sweeping with IcePads this winter. We are excited to get some support from a great bunch of guys, and hoping that the magic sticks they will give us will make my excellent-sweeping front end even more proficient at dragging my draws to the right spot.

So the guys from Hardline will be on Dragon’s Den (the Canadian show where a bunch of rich investors audition potential companies upon which to heap cash in return for a piece of their company). I have no idea how it will turn out (the show was taped in the Spring, but the boys have been sworn to secrecy until the episode airs). However, since taping the show, Stan and Archie have been spending money like the guy who just won the half-and-half at the Brier! 
They have signed on Reid Caruthers and Mike McEwen, two of the biggest names on the Tour to play with their equipment, and seem to have really stepped up their marketing. Anxious to see what is next!

The CCA is Caving (a bit) on Relegation:
The Mixed and Senior championships will no longer feature the horrible idea that is relegation. They will now adopt the same format that the juniors use. It would take me a page to explain it, but it means that everybody who gets invited to their National Championship gets to play – so I like it. 
I like to credit my blog for having solved this one! It remains to be seen how this will play out at the Brier and the Scotties, which will both have their first ever relegation tournaments this year.

RIP Bruce Lerner:
The Curling World lost a friend this summer with the passing of Bruce Lerner, long-time Montreal-area curler. I was out of town when it happened, but I think it would be appropriate for us all to raise a glass next time we are in a curling club, and remember.