Monday, November 28, 2011

#Curling Book Review: Open House

Open House
Canada and the Magic of Curling
By Scott Russell
337 pages

"The goal is to arrive under the glare of the spotlights on a big stage, but the starting place is almost always more humble."
(p. 189)

Scott Russell is one of the faces of curling (and other sports) on Canada's national TV network, the CBC. If you watch Canadian sports, you know his voice. Besides commentating, he's written two books about hockey.

This book is a very personal journey through the sport of curling. The author retells his own curling story, and discusses or recounts conversations with top curlers. He visits small town curling clubs and big competitive venues and tells their stories as well. There's also some curling history woven throughout each story (chapter) - and a healthy smattering of black and white photos.

The organization of this book was sometimes jumpy (from place to topic to person and back to place) and I on occasion found it a bit slow. But I did enjoy the personable writing style - Scott takes you along on his journey and sometimes you do feel like you're there watching the action. I really appreciated his insight into some of curling's big characters (Guy Hemmings for example), but also that he took the time to visit small town clubs to tell their previously unheard story.

Again, the unfortunate part of this book is that it's quite out of date. It is interesting to follow the careers of the junior curlers Scott writes about (who are now famous rockstars, or not). As a point of time piece in history though, it's an interesting look at our sport.

I would recommend this book to curling fans who have followed curling for awhile and who want an insider's look at the sport. If you're new to the sport and don't know some of the big names from history you might find it lacking, but then again, the other chapters about clubs or Scott's curling story might make up for that. This book used to be in my library, but it found it's way onto Bookmooch and to a new home with another curling fan.

#Curling on TV - Canada Cup

Wow, time is flying by - it's almost time for the first televised Canadian Curling Association event - the Canada Cup!

Held in Cranbrook, BC, the event runs from Nov. 30 - Dec. 4. It's a men's and women's event and many of the top teams will be there:

Men's Teams: Koe, Martin, McEwen, Howard, Stoughton, Laycock, and Jacobs.

Women's Teams: Holland, Kleibrink, Lawton, Jones, Carey, Nedohin, and Homan

Take a look at the qualifying process. Pretty stacked event! Unfortunately, even though the draw schedule is busy Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, TSN will only be televising the semis and finals on Saturday and Sunday:

All games TSN (MT)
Saturday Dec. 3
1pm - Women's semi
6pm - Men's semi

Sunday Dec. 4
9am - Women's final
1:30pm - Men's final

If you can't watch the games, they might be online afterwords - although I can't remember if TSN shows games live or archives them. The later I think?

You can also follow along using the new Canadian Curling Association mobile app! I used it a bit during the Canadian Mixed and the Dominion Curling Championships and it seems to work pretty well, but I haven't tested following line scores to check the update frequency. My only complaint so far is that there isn't a 'Teams' tab for each event (unless I can't find it).

And I'm assuming the CCA will have Curlcast going online - I noticed it looked differently for the Dominion so I'm curious to see what it looks like for the Canada Cup.

My picks? Eh, it's early in the season but I'll go locally with Nedohin/Koe or out to Ontario for Homan/Howard. Could be anyone's game though!

This event falls at a good time for me to take off work, so while I'm following this week I'll be considering if I should drive (?!) out to Moose Jaw next year for it. Crazy? Probably!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

2012 Scotties: #Curling Volunteering Goes On The Road

Now that the curling season is in full swing, I can't help but look forward to my next curling volunteering gig. This season I'll be volunteer at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts (aka Canadian Women's Curling Championship) which runs from February 18-26, 2012. This will be my third Canadian Curling Association (CCA) event, and my first time volunteering at a Scotties.

This will also be the first time I've travelled to volunteer at a curling event. The 2012 Scotties are in Red Deer, Alberta.

Ok, ok, so that's not really travelling - Red Deer is only a couple hours south of where I live in Edmonton. It's far enough away though that I wont be able to come home every night. I spent some time in the summer looking for hostels etc, but my Wednesday Night Ladies skip and "curling mom" has family near Red Deer so I think I'll be staying with them. An awesome bit of luck - thanks Cathy!!

Obviously the volunteering process is a bit different when you don't live in the city where the event is held. Like at the Continental Cup last January, the CCA web team is going to let me hang out with them again (which I'm really looking forward to - is it February yet?). Because I'm volunteering for the CCA directly and not necessarily the local organizing committee, the communication has been a bit different. For the other events I've done I applied online, and got an email or phone call a few months later saying I was accepted and telling me what crew I was put on. This time I applied online and was told via twitter by the CCA web guy that I'd be working with them. The online volunteer system classifies me as an 'office volunteer'.

As a local volunteer, I then attended two volunteer rallies. One rally (held in the Fall) was to get the uniform sizes sorted out and accreditation photos taken. The other (held closer to the event) included a meal, a meeting with our volunteer crew and leader (who was in email contact with us leading up to the rally and event), and pick up of our uniform/miscellaneous other bits. I also received a volunteer shift schedule at this rally. The next step was to show up for my first shift in uniform and get to work (or watch some curling!)

Obviously I wont get to go to the volunteer rallies this time. That means I have no idea what the uniform looks like! After receiving notice of the first rally (via an emailed volunteer newsletter) I contacted the office admin person to let her know I would miss the rally because I wasn't local. As per her directions, I sent her a cheque to cover my volunteer fee (yes, we pay to volunteer, mostly it goes towards the uniform), a cheque for my parking pass and my guess of what uniform size I would be. We decided that I would just show up for the first draw the first day of the event, upon which I'm supposed to go to the 'office' to pick up my mystery uniform (which may or may not fit) and get my accreditation photo taken. And that's that. Nothing more for me to do until February I guess.

Hopefully I'll hear from the web team closer to the event for more specific directions like when/where to show up the first day. Until then, I'll just keep counting down the days until February!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

#Curling on TV - First of the Season! World Cup!

It's finally time to watch curling on TV!!

These days you can often watch early season events via a variety of live streaming sites - but curling on TV season really starts when CBC and TSN start broadcasting the slams and the national events.

It runs from November 2-6, and is taking place this year in Sault Ste Marie. 

Teams include: Balsdon, Cotter, Edin, Epping, Ferbey, Fowler, Gushue, Howard, Jacobs, Kean, Koe, Laycock, Martin, Matchett, McEwen, Schlender, Stoughton and Ulsrud.

Wow. Quite a field! Wish I was there to see it live! I really really really want to get out to watch a slam one of these days. This year there are none local-ish, but maybe next fall. I really really really need to take some time off work in advance next fall or even this spring to see a slam!

All the slams are CBC events, and while the whole competition isn't on tv, the finals on the weekend are. The Grand Slam folks reported on facebook that they are planning on live streaming games online (like the European events and the Cactus Pheasant Classic) - but they wont have the technology ready for this event. I'm looking forward to that in the future though (and hope it's free!). Until then we'll have to watch the scoreboard - it's a bit easier to do that at work anyways.

For now, the only place to watch this event is CBC. Here's the schedule in Mountain Time (as usual because that's where I live!):

Saturday Nov. 5: Quarter Finals - 10am

Saturday Nov. 5: Semi Finals - 5pm
CBC Bold 
(Gah! I hate when they put them on Bold - I don't get that channel. That's Hockey Night in Canada for you - Oilers are on at 8pm by the way, so it's not my fault. Who has Bold? I'll bring snacks...)

Sunday Nov. 6: Final - 11am

Who am I picking to win? Tough call, could be anyone's game but McEwen is on a roll. You have no idea how excited I am to finally watch some curling on TV!!