- The European Championships concluded last weekend in Denmark. Team Sweden, led by Nik Edin, reclaimed their title from a year ago and finally went back-to-back at the Euro Championship. Sweden defeated Peter De Cruz’s Team Switzerland in the final. Undefeated in the RR, Team Norway (Thomas Ulsrud) unfortunately had to settle for bronze after a tough loss to Sweden in the SF. The Euro’s no longer use the Page Playoff but revert back to the old 1vs4, 2vs3 playoff format remember. Ulsrud defeated Aku Kauste’s Team Finland for bronze. On the women’s side, Team Russia (Anna Sidorova) took home the title defeating Eve Muirhead’s Team Scotland in the final. Bronze went to the surprise Team Finland (Oona Kauste, Aku’s sister), who defeated home nation hopeful Team Denmark (Lene Nielson). It was a tough loss for Nielson as this was her 4th consecutive 4th place finish at the European Championship.
- The big event (outside Europe) happened two weeks ago in Morris, MB at the DeKalb Superspiel. On the men’s side, Team Carruthers picked up their 1st win of the season, defeating the surging Charley Thomas. ICYMI, special notice goes out to Matt Dunstone and his rink for collecting two..yes 2!!...victories over Mike McEwen and qualifying through the B side. Dunstone would lose the QF to Team Thomas however. Team McEwen would regroup to qualify through the C only to come up short against Team Carruthers in the QF. The women’s competition saw Jennifer Jones and her defending Canadian champions pick up a spiel win beating Erika Brown’s USA team in the final.
- Also two weeks ago in Halifax, NS at the Mayflower Cashspiel, Team Gushue continued to dominate the field this season collecting another championship trophy, this time dispatching Sven Michel’s Switzerland foursome in the final. The women’s final saw Jill Brothers defeat Theresa Breen to collect her 1st win of the season.
- Last weekend’s big event on the women’s tour was in Lloydminster, AB and the Boundary Ford Curling Classic. The championship went to Casey Scheidegger after defeating Brett Barber in the final. Worth noting top tour teams Chelsea Carey and Shannon Kleibrink lost in the SF.
- The big event on the men’s tour was the Weatherford Curling Classic in Estevan, SK. The host province fans went home happy when Josh Heidt defeated Manitoba’s Willy Lyburn in the championship final. Props to Team Lyburn though as they have been playing the past few weeks on tour with only 3 players as skip Lyburn recovers from surgery. Making the championship final going #3mancurling is an impressive feat.
- A special #TwineTime mention this week as well goes out to good friend and supporter Kerr Drummond. Last name look familiar? Well it should, Kerr is the brother of Team Murdoch vice Greg Drummond. This past weekend in High River, AB at the High River Cash event it would be Kerr picking up his first victory on tour, playing with Team Kevin Park. Congratulations on that first win man. Perhaps this is a changing of the guard in the Drummond household on who is the best curler in the family? #DrummondDebate
- No surprise with Goo leading the way yet again. They played an event. They won an event. The world keeps spinning.
- Team Carruthers continues to make the climb up the rankings. Moving into the Top 5 a few weeks ago after their final appearance at The National, they follow up with their first tour win of the season. With #redpants on a bit of a slide lately, can #Reidarama make the push for Top 3 next?
- Nik Edin...I never lost faith in you and your Swedish champions. Clinging to a spot on the Hon. Mention list, Edin vaults himself back into the Top 5 after successfully defending his European Championship. Strong results from Team Ulsrud the past few weeks move Team Norway back into the Hon. Mention section as well.
- Homan has a stranglehold on the top spot right now and until she is defeated, and defeated on a regular basis not just 1 loss per event during a RR, it will be hard to see any team taking over top spot.
- Team Russia reclaims the coveted second spot after their Euro win. With Homan cemented on top, all other teams seem to playing for 2nd and right now Sidorova owns this spot.
- Muirhead and Jones rejoin the Top 5 after their stellar play at the European Championships and Dekalb Superspiel respectively. Both teams have been hot and cold this season so time will tell if they hold onto these positions. But for right now, we reward outstanding play and results on the ice as of late.
- Sweeting’s drop is more about the strong results from the teams who leapfrogged her combined with their team not playing. Sweeting is the defending Canada Cup champion this week so she has ample opportunity to climb back up the ladder.
Two teams had a virtual deadlock? Really? Why do I find this hard to believe given the crazy way points are handed out. Most events hand out points to the second decimal in number (ie: 30.45 or 300.67). And two teams were tied? Come on! Let’s say they had the exact same number points, no tie breaker procedure was developed for this? Instead, let’s make the other 6 teams who did qualify play an extra RR game. With an Olympic trials spot on the line! Yup, that seems really fair. It seems the Top 6 teams have been punished to allow two “deadlock” teams to play. Sure, let’s see this happen in other professional sports. Two teams tied for the final playoff spot in hockey or football...heck let them both advance to the playoffs. We can then allow the 2 tied final qualifiers to play a Survivor Series RR against the overall #1 seed to determine who advances. Yes, let’s do that...that seems fair to everyone involved. At least in baseball, if two teams tie they play a tie-breaker game. What if 3 teams were virtual deadlocks? Would we now see 9 teams competing and the Top 6 would be forced to play an extra 2 games now? Figure yourself out curling! You want to be considered a professional sport, not an amateur sport, right? Then stop pulling amateur moves like this. How do you have a qualification procedure in place for an event, especially an event with this type of significance, and not have a tie-breaker procedure in place? I don’t like it and am not supportive of saying “well they finished tied for the final spot, let’s have them both play and make everyone else play an extra game on top of it”. Yup, sounds like a professional sport to me!? Is this also the same governing body supporting relegation at the Brier and Scotties? So at a national championship we do not have room for all actual provincial/territorial champions, thus relegation. But at this event, sure let’s let everyone in because of a flawed points system. Pot meet kettle. And while you are at it, have your cake and devour it in front of us. I love you curling and I love the sport...but this kind of craziness is just unacceptable. #BeBetter
And now I will bounce off my soap box once again :) Let’s shift focus back to the action on the ice. A brief history lesson on the Canada Cup of Curling....get off your pen and paper kids, there may be a test on this later:
- From the inaugural year in 2003 up until 2010, teams would qualify for the Canada Cup through various mechanisms including: Brier/Scotties, CRTC points and qualifying events. This qualification system was abolished for the 2011 edition of the tournament when the number of teams accepted to compete was sliced from 10 to the current (minus this year of course) 7.
- Alberta teams have dominated this event on the men's side. From 2003 to 2009, Alberta produced the champion. In fact, in that same time span, only 1 non-Alberta team even made the finals (Glenn Howard, 2006). Kevin Martin leads the way with 4 titles and 3 runner-up finishes. The Ferby Four have 3 championships and 2 runner-up results. Glenn Howard finally ended the Alberta stranglehold with his victory over Kevin Martin in 2010. Overall, Howard has 1 title and 2 runner-up spots. Worth noting though, Manitoba has produced the previous 2 champions (Jeff Stoughton, Mike McEwen).
- On the women's side, Alberta once again leads the way with 4 titles. Saskatchewan (all won by Stef Lawton) comes in next with 3. To note, the first 2 years of this tournament were won by teams from Ontario (Sherry Middaugh) and Nova Scotia (Colleen Jones). Since then, only Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have produced champions.
- The 2015 field could see a similar trend in the statistics on the men's side. We have 2 strong Alberta teams very capable of reclaiming the win for the Wild Rose. Manitoba is backed by 2 strong teams as well to try and keep the title with the Buffalo for a 3rd straight season. Ontario will try to claim only their 2nd title, also having 2 teams competing. But perhaps all trends must end with the favorite for the event being from Newfoundland and Labrador and a trendy dark horse pick being from Saskatchewan.
- The 2015 women's field also sees strong provincial lines. We have 2 Alberta and 2 Manitoba teams looking to keep the title out west. However, leading the charge will be 3 teams from Ontario. And, similar to the men, the favorite is from a province with little success at this event in the past. Is this a year of #historyrepeating or #historyrewritting?
Men - Mike McEwen
Women - Val Sweeting
Format: 8 men’s and 7 women’s teams round robin. Top 3 advance to playoffs with top seed earning a bye to the championship final.
The Dark Horse
Gushue 5-2 Sweeting 4-2
Jacobs 4-3 Jones 4-2
McEwen 4-3 Middaugh 3-3
Laycock 3-4 Rocque 2-4
Simmons 2-5 Fleury 2-4
Carruthers 2-5 McDonald 1-5