So for Day 1-3 of the Roar of the Rings, I sat in my favourite flannel pjs, on my favourite comfy chair, in my warm house, and watched all the draws on TSN HD on my uncle's big tv.
Today I ventured down to Rexall Place to take in the action live-in-person.
And it was a fan-freakin-tastic day!!!
It started at the LRT train station, where I met another friendly volunteer who told me where to enter the arena. She also gave me some seating tips. Volunteers are allowed to sit in the third level, but she recommended moving down to the front rows of the second level, and sitting in the corner. She's working in the Patch (the 'bar/club') and had already served Wayne Middaugh, and Guy Hemmings. I entered through the pass doors, and then the fun started.
The first thing I did upon entering Rexall was enter a draw for something - and I got a free 'Go Canada' 2010 Olympic car flag. Off to a good start. I took the lady's advice and settled in to a seat in the third row of the second level in the corner. The view was really good. I could see the curlers and both houses (very important).
View from row 25
The mens teams/skips (row 25 zoomed in)
The curling was awesome! It was a men's draw (my favourite) with Howard (my favourite) vs. Koe (my favourite), Martin (my almost favourite) vs. Ferbey (the local favourite), Stoughton vs. Gunnlaugson (the crowd favourite), and Simmons vs. Middaugh. Twitter had tipped me off to the fact that the TSN commentary was available in the arena on FM 89.9, so I had brought a mini clock radio, which mostly worked, though I could hear jazz music on occasion. Thus I half listened/watched the Martin-Ferbey game (Martin rolled over Ferbey, so it wasn't even fun to watch), but mostly watched Howard-Koe. That was such a great game, and even went to an extra end, with Howard winning it with last rock. Howard and Koe are both playing really well, I hope they both make it far in the competition (I'm picking Howard to win it). Listening to the commentary and watching the curling live was like curling-fan-heaven, and I plan do do just that for the next four days.
Team Howard (red) discussing a shot while Team Koe (green) watches
Following the mens games, I had some time to kill before the womens evening draw, so I headed across the bridge to the Edmonton Expo Centre. First I went to the Oh Canada Lounge. There was going to be a Howard-Ferbey Q&A, but I quickly noticed an autograph line and stood in it, waiting for good looking male curlers with sharpies. I met a lovely older woman, and ended up giving her the 2dozen pins I had with me. My dad found a bunch of old curling pins, but I don't collect pins, and they were all old and of random small town clubs, so I had planned to donate them to a good home. She was very appreciative, and wanted to send me some homemade soap as a thank you so I gave her my address. She really was lovely.
Teams Howard and Ferbey doing a Q&A in the Oh Canada Lounge
I also met a woman about my age who was down from Fort McMurray for the whole event. She was alone, and I was alone, so we bonded pretty quickly. She loves Kevin Martin, and I also have certain curling crushes (mostly on team Koe), so we talked out our nerves about meeting all the guys. I'm not really a fangirl; I don't usually seek out autographs and never know what to say to famous people, but I'm super glad I randomly got in the line.
So I got to meet teams Middaugh, Koe, Stoughton and Martin. It was pretty awesome. Being totally unprepared for this whole thing, I didn't have anything for them to sign except for the back of my volunteer pass, which wasn't overly large. Scott Bailey and John Epping (front end of team Middaugh) were up first, and they turned over my paper to see what was on the other side prompting a "Don't turn it over! It's a terrible picture!" from me. They said their pictures were terrible too and John got his out to show us. Seriously, the ID photos are terrible, something funny happened to the cameras and they're all very yellow. I said good game/good luck to John Mead and Wayne Middaugh, and moved along.
Next up - my team - the Koe boys. I was super nervous, but it was all good. Nolan Thiessen took a look at my picture too, I made the same joke, he laughed (*sigh*). Kevin Koe wasn't in a great mood (he had just lost a tight game) but said thanks when I wished them good luck. Blake MacDonald was preoccupied, but Carter Rycroft was also really nice. The Stoughton team was next. Kevin Park asked me if I curled and I said "Not like you guys, I just show up to sweep." and he said that's all his front end did, which was agreed with by Rob Fowler. Jeff Stoughton was super friendly, as was Steve Gould who told my Fort Mac friend that K-Mart was a really nice guy.
Team Koe (l-r: Carter Rycroft, Blake MacDonald, Kevin Koe, Nolan Thiessen)
And lastly was team Martin. Kevin Martin was super friendly, he even shook my Fort Mac friend's hand. Mark Kennedy, John Morris and Ben Hebert were also super nice. Johnny Mo turned over my picture and tried to pronounce my last name. Jules Owchar was also signing, and then I took a photo of the whole team and my new friend. The whole experience was awesome! All the guys were super nice, and now I've got some nifty autographs. I'm sad I missed the other half of the guys teams (Monday) but am pretty stoked I got to meet these four teams.
Team Martin (l-r: Jules Owchar, Ben Hebert, John Morris, Mark Kennedy, Kevin Martin)
My Fort Mac friend was heading home for dinner and wasn't going to watch the evening games, so she gave me her ticket and we parted ways. I wonder if I'll run into her again this week? I headed to the Patch to check it out and get dinner. I'm not a drinker, and since I doing this event solo I wont be partying, but I can see why people would spend a lot of time in the Patch. It's a pretty great atmosphere, with concerts and dancing and big tv screens to watch the games and beer. I probably wont make it back there this week, but enjoyed my dinner, while listening to a rock cover band.
The Patch, listening to the Chevelles
I headed back into Rexall for the evening womens draw. First though I walked most of the way around the arena looking for my new seat. In the process I got two free brownies and a squishy curling rock stress ball thingy. My new seat was also awesome, row 13! I was in like row 25 for the afternoon games, and the view from row 13 was definitely - closer. I could see the curlers much better, but the opposite house was a bit hard to see. It was definitely warmer closer to the ice though (I had on 2-3 layers and wore my mitts up in row 25 and I was still chilly!). I met some lovely older ladies who were sitting behind me, and watched 6 ends of womens curling. I was super tired and hungry at this point (I had neglected to come prepared with snacks) so I headed home after that.
The ladies in action
The view from row 13 was pretty good (zoomed in)
As I was walking out of the arena, I passed by a booth with a list of named written on a whiteboard who won a prize or whatever. Well guess what, I found my name on that list!! It was from the draw I entered when I got the car flag! I won a black stainless steel waterbottle and a black fleece headband. Can you believe it! More good free stuff!
All my goodies!
Oh my, what a fantastic day. I watched some great curling, I met a bunch of nice people, I got some awesome autographs and met some mens teams, and I got good free stuff!
And the best part? I get to do it all again tomorrow!!!