Except one main difference: Top 10 lists! The last week of the year produces Top 10 list after Top 10 list after Top 10 list until all of us want to give 10 reasons why we hate Top 10 lists. The Top 10 songs/albums/club hit/collaborations of 2016. The Top 10 newmakers. The Top 10 moneymakers. The Top 10 movie stars. Top 10 internet hits. Sports are no exception. The Top 10 goals. The Top 10 upsets. The Top 10 championship moments. The Top 10 hits/shots/misses. It almost feels like a Grinch moment where you cover your ears and say "all that noise, noise, noise!"
Well this blog will not do that to you sporting friends. No Top 10 list here. Rather I give you the Top 6 of '16! Creative right? Ok, maybe I am being a bit hypocritical to bash all the Top 10 lists and then release one of my own...but I truly think you all care what the Top 6 TwineTime blog posts of 2016 were right? Right??? Hello??? Meh ok maybe not but I know I actually was interested in knowing which blog posts garnished the most attention and hits over the past year. With many player profile posts and tackling some of the biggest events of the year, which post really did get readers clicking on the blog? And remember, at least I am saving you those boring number 10-7 countdown spots. Who cares about #8 anyway? It's all about #6 to #1!! If you want a summary of the season so far, check out the #TwineTime First Half Report Card post HERE!
Without further adieu, and because I still need to go shower and pick out clothes and get ready for my own New Year's Eve house party, here are the Top 6 #TwineTime blog posts of 2016:
#6: A Champion's Cup Rewind (May 7) - The inaugural Champion's Cup took place in Sherwood Park at the end of the 2015/16 curling season and I was fortunate enough to head north and attend the event. I am a HUGE supporter of this event, bringing together pre-determined event winners from the season together for an ultimate battle of the best tournament to end the season is perfect. While in The Park, I was fortunate to talk to many of the athletes competing and ask them to weigh in on their thoughts of the new event. I was able to get some amazing quotes from 2016 World Junior champion Bruce Mouat, Val Sweeting, Niklas Edin, Steve Laycock and champion-winning skips Jennifer Jones and Reid Carruthers. The topic of #growthesport also came up, as it has been a common theme of this blog for two years now. A few all-star skips, such as Stef Lawton, Allison Flaxey, Krista McCarville, Peter de Cruz, Greg Drummond and Reid Carruthers shared their thoughts on how to #growthesport from both a national and international perspective. On a pure selfish note, this was the first big opportunity for me to get to know a few of the players and, after attending a few events this season, it was truly humbling to have many of the players I first met at Champions Cup remember me when we chatted this season. A blog post I am very happy with, both from a blogger and personal perspective!
#5: Handing Out The Golden Granite Awards (June 24) - I am very pleased to see this blog post make the list. This was something totally different for me to try last season and, honestly, I didn't know if people would actually be interested in a post-season awards blog post. These were the inaugural Golden Granite Awards and you never forget your first! This blog post had an added special attraction to it though with special guest John Cullen. As many know, Cullen plays lead for Team Joanisse out of British Columbia but is also an outstanding stand-up comedian. Cullen has been a huge supporter of the this blog since the beginning and I can never thank him enough for the support. It seems only natural to invite him as a special guest for a special awards-theme blog post. We handed out awards in numerous categories: Hit of the Year, Miss of the Year, Underachiever, Surprise Team, Rookie of the Year and Team of the Year. We agreed on some and disagreed on others. It was great to have a curling athlete perspective coupled with a curling fan/blogger perspective in handing out the awards. #StayTuned friends, the Second Annual Golden Granite Awards will be handed out again in 2017! But who should be the guest host this season? Any suggestions?
#4: The #RoadToOttawa Enters The Home Stretch (February 11) - I must admit this one surprised me a bit, ranking this high on all the blog posts made in 2016. And I don't mean surprise in a bad way either but in a very good way. This blog post welcomed back a guest blogger/supporter, Rebecca, as she shared her experience working and curling with the USA Wheelchair Curling team. This is a true #growthesport article and while wheelchair curling has been around longer than many know (it is in the Paralympics remember), the sport does not often generate the buzz and interest it very much deserves. The wheelchair curling athletes from around the world are tremendous athletes and deserve the recognition and media coverage as every national and international curling event. Rebecca did an outstanding job sharing her experience working with Team USA coaches as they put together the team that would be competing at the World Championships in Switzerland at the end of February. In addition, this blog post also provided preview/predictions for the remaining provincial tankard championships in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and Northern Ontario as well as national championships for USA and Scotland. This was a very special blog post and one I am happy to see resonated with curling fans! Thank you Rebecca for being part of this as well.
#3: First Half Report Card Time (December 21) - The most recent blog post sure seemed to resonate well with all of you....so much so it cracks the Top 3 for the entire year! This was a fun blog to write up. Getting to look back at the first half of the current 2016/17 curling season is always exciting. It was a bit more exciting for me this season given the fortunate availability I had to attend the opening two grand slams of the season: The Masters and The Tour Challenge. This post handed out A, B, C, D, and F grades based on results of the first half of the season while also discussing the new theme for the year, the development of #TeamCanada, #TeamWorld and #TeamUpset! It is never easy having to be critical of teams and athletes, you never want to offend or hurt someone's feelings. I can only ever hope people understand it is never personal (assuming of course any of these top elite teams read the blog). I have had a few teams/players voice their disapproval of my comments in the past, which is ok, at least it means they read the blog right? But it is never meant in a spiteful way. This was even more difficult with this post having to give low grades to Team Homan and Team Canada. There were some pluses though of course, celebrating the outstanding results of Team Edin and the emergence of #TeamUpset this year. Plus the final #PowerRankings of 2016!
#2: BetweenTheSheets with Matt Dunstone (May 18) - HUGE numbers for this blog post and, until recently, held the all-time #TwineTime blog record for page views. #DunnyIsMoney indeed...if I was getting paid for this that is. This player profile interview was one I had been looking forward to all season. Matt is one of the top notch grade A nice guys on tour and his interview felt more like we were having a conversation at a pub then me asking him questions and him answering them. Dunstone has also been a huge supporter of this blog since the beginning, in addition to being a shoulder to lean on personally over a tough part of 2015/16. During the interview we discussed a variety of topics, including his two Canadian Junior championships, off-season team change, free agent frenzy and his ability to do self-reflection. We also learned some interesting facts about Mr. Dunstone such as his love of skittles, the #CanAmCup friendly rivalry with USA's Korey Dropkin, his love of karaoke and becoming a small "Belieber". I am proud and honoured to have Matt Dunstone be a member of the #TwineTime family and continue to wish him nothing short of great success on his curling career!
#1 Blog Post of 2016: The Sights & Sounds Of The Masters (November 1) - Not only is this blog post the #1 post of 2016...this is the #1 post all-time for the #TwineTime blog. I have over 180 blog posts since the start of this blog and this is #1 OVERALL! How crazy and awesome is that? I really enjoyed this blog post as well. It was the opening grand slam of the current season and took place in Okotoks, AB (nice and close to Calgary where I currently live). Again, I was fortunate to talk to many of the top athletes about the #growthesport mentality from a national and international perspective. The opportunity to chat with world champions like Niklas Edin and Binia Feltscher (both #TwineTime family members now I might add) is always special. But also speaking with fellow international skips John Shuster, David Murdoch and Silvana Tirinzoni truly helps bring perspective in looking at how the sport is doing in other countries around the world and continue to discussion on how to optimize the growth of the sport in ALL nations around the world moving forward. This blog post also had two very special moments. One, I was able to have a chat with Brad Gushue. As many know, Gushue had been sidelined for the first half of the season only returning to the ice at the most recent grand slam event. The chance to talk with Gushue while he just finished watching his team battle on the ice was a special moment for this blogger. Gushue was open and honest discussing his injury and recovery while also showing his eagerness to return to the ice and excitement for the 2017 Tim Horton's Brier coming to his home province of Newfoundland & Labrador. On a side note, Gushue even remembered me from the first time we chatted back in January at the TSN All-Star Skins Game in Banff, AB. That was humbling in itself! Second, the superfan moment with Niklas Edin will probably take the cake in special moments of the season for me. Standing on the concourse level watching the men's final with her, hearing her cheer on every Team Edin shot and the elation she had in seeing them finally win a grand slam was special and what makes attending slam events in person that much more special. But then, after my interview with Nik following his win, him and his team agreeing to come meet her and take a few pictures with her was truly special! From the special good luck ring to the pictures to the hugs to the "You are even cuter in person" comment...it all added up to one special moment! It is no wonder this blog post is also #1 for 2016 (and overall) because it will certainly remain number 1 in my memory.
2016 was a good year for the #TwineTime blog. We added a few new members to the #TwineTime family. We had special moments for the memory bank. We had guest bloggers and guest hosts join for special blog posts. In the grand scheme of things, what more could a little blogger ask for right?
Thank you all, from fans to players to athletes to media members, for supporting and reading the blog. Whether you have been with me since the very beginning or just started following and reading along in the past week or two, I am always thankful and humbled by your support and interest. This may be a side "fun" project I do but it is one close to my heart and one I enjoy doing throughout the year.
Thank you for making 2016 so memorable! I truly wish all of you the best in 2017....I hope you come back for more #BetweenTheSheets fun in the new year. Enjoy your celebrations tonight...wherever you are in this wonderful world.