Hope you all are enjoying that magical time when curling clubs are closed to enjoy what most people call summer, but what curlers call “the off-season”.
In case you missed it, some interesting developments in competitive curling over the past week:
First of all – relegation is dead. Oh joyous day!!! How did this happen? My blog worked!
No but seriously, it seems to have happened from the bottom up. A number of curlers apparently spoke to their regional associations, who then filed motions with the CCA (or Curling Canada), who then filed the appropriate procedures, and then presto - no more relegation. Aw who cares how it happened, the end result is that relegation will exists for the 2016 and 2017 Briers and Scotties and then will go the way of the dinosaurs. Not surprising that the changes could not come into effect until after the Olympic Cycle. A bit disappointing, but not surprising.
Speaking of extinction, it would seem that Greg Stremlaw, CEO of Curling Canada is also vanishing like a T-Rex after a giant meteorite strike. From what I understand, his last days will be this week. Not sure who his successor will be, but we can remain optimistic that the Curling Canada governors will hire somebody who fits the profile of Steward of the Game, as opposed to focusing almost exclusively on the pursuit of gold medals. I believe Curling Canada has the potential to truly capitalize on so many positive factors working in curling’s favour to truly grow the game at the club level, at the junior level to ensure the longevity of the sport.
Other changes of note, the residency rules have been both strengthened and relaxed; i.e. if you want to represent your province at a national championship, you need to demonstrate a clear residency in that province. However, each team is allowed one exception – i.e. one import from another province to play. I think this one makes sense, if only to avoid embarrassing situations like what happened with John Morris in BC, where residency rules were conveniently overlooked, to the dismay of many competitive curlers who were following the rules.
And juniors are now eligible to play down for the Brier or Scotties. This might make it a bit awkward when your team gets carded headed into the Brier patch, but it likely will not make a big difference in most provinces.
In other news, the Grand Slams appear to be adding some “Tier 2” events to the calendar to help promote the next level of curlers. The top 18 teams still get invited to the slam, and then the next 15 get invited to a B class event, with some significant money still on the table. Not sure how this will all work, or who gets invited, but it seems like a good outreach by the Tour to help develop the game. Now I have to figure out how to get an invite, given that I apparently forgot to register my team on the WCT order of merit last year! (oops L)
A golf story: was watching the US Open last week. It was a fun last few holes which saw Dustin Johnson 3 putt the 18th to blow his shot at his first major. I am always amazed in golf, and in curling, how fans are so quick to apply the “choker” tag to a player who misses under the pressure of the last hole. Spieth, who won the tournament, was hailed as a steely-nerved champion, and DJ was the choker. But wait, Spieth played the 17th hole like Sunday duffer, and missed about the same length putt for bogey that DJ missed on 18. Was that not a choke of equal value? Are they not both chokers? Let me tell you, as a guy who has missed his fair share and made his fair share of last end draws and hits, it is tough. Adrenaline courses through your veins and makes your heart pound like the drums at an AC/DC concert. Your hands shake, there is not a drop of saliva left in your mouth, and you can feel everyone watching. And you need to make a routine draw that you should make 99 times out of 100 (or a routine 4 foot putt).
Sometimes you make, and sometimes you miss. But I am always reluctant to put the choker label on anyone. Even poor Dustin Johnson.
My home club of Glenmore had the honour of hosting a night with Reid Caruthers and Mike McEwen, who came and talked about their seasons, life on the tour and about their love of all brooms Hardline (who hosted the evening). Some of the key learnings from an evening with Reid and Mike:
- Mike and Reid both like their Hardline brooms a lot – and are eager to talk about them.
- Some of the rivalries between competitive teams are as bitter as they look.
- Mike and Reid are both very cool and fun guys, and are very generous with their time.
- The Mike McEwen “Shot of the Year” for 4 against Gushue in Grand Slam was almost what Mike was actually trying to do.
- Beer Pong and Flip Cup are apparently universal pan-Canadian activities.
- Every curling club should have a pool - with a lifeguard.
- Mike McEwen likes my new Glenmore ladder team.
I feel somewhat remiss that I did not have a chance to take them out and show them downtown Montreal in the summer.
Most importantly – this reminded me that there is a need for a big Montreal cashspiel event. If we can put some decent money and organisation on the table, I think we will have no problem getting the big teams to enjoy a weekend in Montreal. Getting competitive curlers to pick Montreal over (insert name of small Prairie town here) seems like an easy sell. And events help put Montreal curling back on the map.
In the meantime, enjoy your summer boys and girls! In only a few months, we will be back on ice, wearing sweaters, putting winter tires back on the car. So Carpe Sunshine.