2011 Continental Cup of #Curling: Day 1

On my. What a day!!

So I slept in and watched the ladies draw from home, in my pjs. The benefit of this is that I get to have breakfast/lunch at home, which only leaves a couple venue meals. There's a Booster Juice so at least I'll get my fruit quota. Other than that options are burgers, pizza, and bad Chinese - plus pop, juice, coffee, chips, doughnuts, cookies, muffins, granola bars, peanuts and fruit in the volunteer lounge.

Anyways, I headed out to the arena to see the Mixed Doubles. People (media types) rag on mixed doubles all the time but I think it's fun to watch. We get to see it rarely, and it's still a novelty in my opinion. The rules are a bit different: two rocks are placed before the end starts, only five rocks are thrown per team, and of course there's no sweepers so the thrower or skip has to sweep the rock. The best part is seeing your favourite curlers pair up and play mixed together. There were plenty of seats so I sat in a couple different places, watched the action, took some pictures, blabbed on Twitter. It was a great afternoon, especially because team North America won all three games!

(Ok, so I'm not super pleased with how these iPhone photos turned out. The HDR is cool, but mostly they're a bit blurry. Oh well, there's no way I can carry my better camera around. I'm confined to what I can carry in my pockets while I volunteer. No purse.)

Let's get it started!

Well, what do you guys think? Isn't K-Mart hilarious when he tried to sweep his own rock?

The calibre of the curlers on the ice is mind boggling!

Sweep Carter Sweep!

A shot from the other side, so you can see the players bench.

Best hair on the ice goes to Ulsrud, Edin and Jones!

Plus I had my FM transmitter plugged into my iPhone and could hear all the TSN commentary. Not kidding, listening to tv curling commentary while watching it live is like the best thing ever!! Also, you could tell the curlers were having a good time. Everyone was laughing and joking - across sheets and over to the players bench. The Continental Cup is truly unique, and it's so nice to see all the curlers embracing it and having fun with it. It warms my heart really, as this is the spirit of curling.

It's also super neat to see international curlers live. I've seen the Mens Worlds ages ago, but wasn't very close. Other than that I've only seen the Canadian Olympic trials and provincials, so to see these skilled European and Chinese players in this format is really cool. Come on, I'm breathing the same air as the Norwegian Curling Pants!!

Right, so after the draw I went to the Patch (the pub) to eat and watch the Up Close & Personal session with all the ladies skips. It was funny, and interesting. They all did a great job answering the questions and kudos to them because some of the questions were hard (like "Hey Jennifer Jones, when are you going to start a family?" or "Cheryl Bernard,  how did you deal with the loss at the Olympics?"). It was also sad to hear curling is in a bit of a sorry state in Europe (few clubs = few curlers = no growth). It wasn't all emotional and uncomfortable though, at one point the host announced it was "Find a date for Bingyu time" and there were a lot of laughs as well.

I killed some time before my first volunteer shift. Mostly I chatted to folks in the volunteer lounge. The hockey game was on the tv and one of the volunteer's nephew was the goalie for the New York Islanders! Let me just say, curling folks are super awesome!! They are all friendly and everyone talks to everyone and the atmosphere is so lovely and welcoming. This is why I keep volunteering. Sure, I love watching the curling live, and sure I love seeing famous curlers, plus I always love to help - but I really love talking to the people. Love it.

I know you're dying to hear what my four hour shift was like. Here's the run down:
- meet partner (fantastic, super hard working woman - we got along great)
- tour lounges: Dispatch, Volunteer, Supply Room, Media, Sponsor
- note what snacks/drinks/supplies need to be refilled
- refill supplies
- hang out at backstage lounge to oggle curlers and commentators
- take out garbage/recycling
- go to arena, stand in standing area and watch Team Martin get there Olympic banner and rings (while Olympic silver medallists Team Ulsrud watch, really I'm not sure the timing of this was stellar)
- watch half of first end (cont...)

Banner and ring presentation for Team Martin.

Really wish I could've watched the action, these are like all my favourite mens curling teams (well, it's missing Team Howard).

- note what snacks/drinks/supplies need to be refilled
- refill supplies
- take out garbage/recycling
- find janitor and help clean up coffee spill in Dispatch
- note what snacks/drinks/supplies need to be refilled
- refill supplies
- take out garbage/recycling to the dumpster, which is really tall and involves swinging heavy bags and boxes in
- go home

Seriously, I am so exhausted! All of this involved walking around the venue, mostly backstage. I love going backstage at places and seeing how it all works and where everything is so this was really fascinating for me. We didn't get to watch much curling, but could hear it or catch bits on the tvs in the lounges or Patch when we walked by. Plus I was wearing a walkie talkie thing so I got to hear them relay the scores to the person who was updating the official stuff. And every so often when I had a minute I'd put my headphones in and listen to the FM TSN radio commentary. It was hard work and we didn't really take a break, but that's how I like it. I would rather work my butt off than just sit in a chair and do security or something.

Part of backstage. It's really cold in some parts, and hot in others, quiet, then loud in behind the Patch. It's fascinating to see how this all comes together.

I saw a ton of curlers up close: Officer, Jones and team, Chinese team, Ott, O'Conner, Koe, Thiessen, Edin, Trulsen, Lindholm etc, plus Vic, Linda and Russ the commentators. To me they are rock stars, and when I see then up close or pass by them in the hallway, well it's just thrilling. I'm not a fangirl so I'd never say anything or ask for a photo or autograph, but honestly, it's thrilling. I wonder if they realize how much we respect/admire them? I wonder if the novelty of this will ever wear off for me. I know they are regular people who happen to be good at a sport, but to me they are famous and sharing space with famous people is awesome. Awesome! 

So it was a good night. But it got better. 

(I don't know if I should write this out yet, but I'm too honest and have a big mouth and am dying to tell someone who realized the magnitude of this all, so here goes...)

On my way home I got a phone call from someone at the Canadian Curling Association. Apparently they've been following me on Twitter, and have been reading my blog (Hi!). They would like me to help out with getting the scoring etc out to Facebook and Twitter. Words like 'laptop', 'media bench' and 'media scrum' were mentioned.

It should be noted at this point I did not faint. 

Oh my goodness!!! This is like a dream come true!! 

No kidding. People  (colleagues, friends) make fun of me all the time because I have a strange hobby (I was actually told to  "get a life" by someone at work when I mentioned I was spending my vacation volunteering at the Continental Cup). So I don't tell many people in real life that my dream is to help organize a Brier - I figure this is a completely reasonable dream that I could achieve in the next decade or so. The people who do know this dream appreciate my parallel career as a curling volunteer. I figure I'm starting young and by the time I retire, well, the possibilities are endless. 

I've been harbouring a secret dream though, one I've never told anyone because I didn't think it was achievable: I want to blog/tweet for the Canadian Curling Association. I don't think my writing skills are quite good enough yet to be a blogger, but I'm pretty darn good at the whole tweeting thing. This is what I'll be doing for the 2011 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships, which I'm really looking forward too because it's everything I love to do rolled up into one event.

And now I might get to do it for the Canadian Curling Association at the Continental Cup?! You have no idea how excited I am. My hands are shaking as I type. It is a supreme compliment, and thrilling and scary and surreal at the same time. And part of me doesn't believe this actually just happened. 

I can't stop smiling.

Better go to sleep. Tomorrow is a big day.


  1. Excellent job, Lisa. I knew you'd eventually move into handling media relations/related details of events and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that someday you'll be one of the best-known off-ice organizers of the sport in Canada, maybe even for the CCA. You'll get your Brier; I just know it. Don't give up.

  2. Ah!! That's so cool & exciting! Glad you're having a great time volunteering & your upgrade sounds seriously cool, & excellent for all us on on Twitter :)

    Will be looking out for you today on Twitter, have fun watching the curling!!

  3. Have fun Lisa, although it sounds like you already are...so keep having fun! I'll be falling you on Twitter.


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