Thursday, December 29, 2011

#Curling Book Review: Between the Sheets

Between the Sheets
Creating Curling Champions
By Guy Scholz and Cheryl Bernard
336 pages

Between the Sheets
The Silver Lining
By Guy Scholz And Cheryl Bernard
480 pages

"Everyone feels the tension, the pressure, the nerves of a big shot, or a big game, or a big event. The best players have learned how to manage their emotions."
(p. 95 - 2005)

Guy Scholz is a curling writer, having previously written "Gold on Ice: The Story of the Sandra Schmirler Curling Team" (1999). He's also a super nice guy and a great curler. I met him when he volunteered with us for the 2011 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship, and we both played in the first ever Jasper Place Curling Club Spring Doubles League. My double never played him, thank goodness, his double was good and I think they might've won the whole thing.

Cheryl Bernard is a rock star curler. She skipped her team to provincial and grand slam titles, and most recently won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

First I should mention I read the 2005 version first because that's what the library had on the shelf when I went in. I later took a look at the updated 2011 version. What's the difference? The updated version has some revised chapters, photos of Team Bernard, and an extra section all about their Olympic journey - well worth the read to get an insiders view.

Aimed at serious curlers, this book is about the mental aspects of curling. Not so much sweeping technique or shot strategy, this book covers topics such as:
  • teamwork
  • leadership
  • focus
  • dedication
  • practice
  • coaching
  • disappointment
  • pressure
  • consistency
  • character
  • trust
  • technique
  • fitness
  • nutrition
  • winning
  • and generally just being a champion
There's lots of name dropping and lots of advice from the authors as well as the rock stars they name drop. Also, if you collect curling (or sport in general) quotes which are either clever or from famous folks, this is your book. They're everywhere. The quotes help to make the book less daunting though, because it can be heavy on psychology.

A lot of the advice in this book was lost on me because I'm not a serious curler. It was super interesting to read about what serious curlers should (need to) consider if they want to be the best. I was able to take a few things away (a lot of the content in the book applies to general life as well). If I really wanted to be competitive, I would study this book and learn to be awesome. I'm not overly competitive though, so instead I enjoyed the general message and reading advice and stories from top curlers.

I would recommend this book for serious curlers (who will take it seriously) or avid curlers who want to learn more about what it takes to compete with the best.  Armchair curling fans might especially enjoy the updated version as the Olympic journey part of the book gives extra insight into how the team felt after winning the silver medal at the 2010 Olympics. This book is not part of my library, but I do know where you might be able to buy a signed copy if you want one!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Volunteering for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship: Part 1

Tis the season to...

...volunteer for another big sporting event! And this time it's not curling!

Way back in the spring/summer (I think? It was awhile ago anyways.), not long after I heard Edmonton would be sharing hosting duties with Calgary for the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship, I immediately got online and applied to volunteer. The event runs from December 26 to January 5 - perfect timing for me to hide from the guilt and family drama that comes along with Christmas. Plus I'd be off work anyways. Perfect.
The application was pretty lengthy, and once submitted I doubted it actually went through because the system seemed buggy. Oh well, I thought, how could they not accept me? I have three pretty solid curling event volunteer experiences to boast about, and I'm a librarian - come on, I should be a shoe in for some sort of info desk position. And hey, I've emptied garbages as an event volunteer before so I'd do anything. They were obviously going to accept my application.


In October I had a possible chance to go to Ghana, so I inquired about my application status. I already had doubts I had gotten in as I'd heard on twitter about someone else who was already accepted and getting her security check done. I figured I had missed the boat. The email I received back noted they couldn't tell me the status of my application, but that most accepted volunteers were already notified and I would receive an email declining my application at some point in the near future.

That email never came (don't promise something you can't deliver on), but I can take a hint. Turns out I'm not going to Ghana, so I figured I'd have to sleep away the Christmas holiday in my pjs having LOTR, Band of Brothers and Firefly marathons while overcoming academic librarian burnout.

Imagine my surprise then when my Wednesday Night Ladies curling team skip said she knew someone who was looking for 50/50 sellers for the hockey games. Sign me up!!

Of course by this time, the event was only three weeks away. She gave my name to her contact, a few days later I received an email telling me to a) pay my $50 volunteer fee, b) give my team leader my availability, c) fill out an application form (already done obviously) and d) come to the office to fill out a form to get a security clearance done - oh and do all this NOW!

So I did. When I went to get my security clearance form filled out I picked up my uniform:

The black long sleeve shirt will be perfect for curling and I'll definitely keep the scarf after. I'll never wear the toque so it'll be donated. And the puffy vest is too big, as in it makes me look like I weigh 250lbs. So either I'll exchange it for a smaller size before my first shift (?) or I'll donate it too. I'll probably never wear it, at the event or afterwards. I also got a transit pass. I'll admit though, that's quite a lot of volunteer gear for $50!

Since picking up my uniform, I've been in email contact with the 50/50 leader. They're using this site to coordinate shifts, and it's pretty nifty: it'll show all your shifts, everyone's shifts, and there's a swap board too. I figured there's 11 games, so I'll probably pick up 4, right?

Ha. Wrong. I'm working 9 games. That's pretty much the whole week. For four of the days I work the afternoon game, then have a 30 minute break, then work the evening game. Crazy. Unreasonable. When will I eat.

I asked for the Canada vs. Sweden exhibition game off because I'm going with a friend (while the actual games are impossible to get tickets to and if there are tickets they're crazy expensive - the exhibition game is cheap cheap and there's tons of tickets left). I also asked for another game off, which my leader has said is approved but the change hasn't been made on the site, so I'm bound to piss someone off at some point when I don't show up.

It's curious to me that the volunteer committee went from rejecting perfectly capable volunteers, to being so short on volunteers I'm going to end up working 36hrs in 6 days!!

The first game is boxing day. I'll have to go in early to try exchange my vest and get last minute accreditation photos done. Apparently I have to sign in and out for all shifts, which is something I've never had to do at a curling event before. There should be snacks available, but snacks aren't dinner so it's a good thing I don't mind Rexall's hamburgers!

Despite being a bit sad I'm giving up all of my relaxing holiday, I'm pretty excited. I worked a 50/50 game at an Oilers hockey game before and it was really fun. I'll get to see the exhibition game so wont be too sad about missing all the others. I love making small talk to strangers, so as long as it's not a case of "too many volunteers with nothing to do" I'll have tons of fun. I expect the atmosphere will be pretty awesome and I'm looking forward to meeting people from all over the world!

I'll write up part 2 after the event. Only a few more days to go...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#Curling on TV: Canadian Open

There's more curling on tv this weekend! It's time for the Grand Slam of Curling BDO Canadian Open.
It's on from December 14-18 in Kingston, Ontario. 

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

This is the point in my post where I remark how stellar the line up is and then lament that I can't be there due to some sort of location/work excuse but that one of these days I'll finally make it out to a slam event. Yeah. 

The Grand Slam folks previously reported they were going to start live streaming online as soon as they got the tech side of it all work out. No news on that yet, but it's a CBC event so the final 3 games will be on the tube/net.  

Here's the schedule in Mountain Time (as usual because that's where I live!):

Saturday Dec. 17: Quarter Finals - 12pm

Saturday Dec. 17: Semi Finals - 5pm
CBC Bold 
(This is the point in my post where I annoyingly mention I don't have Bold but will bring snacks if you do. Last time I ended up watching with two of my favourite ladies and I brought puffed wheat squares. This time, well I'll keep you posted...)

Sunday Dec.18: Final - 11am

Until the weekend arrives, I'll be watching the scoreboard and following along on Twitter.

Who am I picking to win? Again, hard to say. Edin and Martin are coming off good events. I usually lean towards Howard though. Follow along to find out!