Wednesday, 24 May 2017

J.D Lind

#BetweenTheSheets with J.D. Lind
We talk coaching, #TeamJapan, PyeongChang and Britney Spears!! 

It has been awhile since the #TwineTime blog added a new face to the place.  A little wham to the fam.  Worry no longer #curling fans, I am hear to put some more yak in your hack!

Ok, I may have been spending some time with school age children at work playing rhyme apologies.  But I do think you should be excited about our newest #TwineTime fam member: J.D. Lind!  J.D. is a curler.  J.D. is a coach.  J.D. has been to one Olympics and is preparing for another in only a few months time.  The unique story behind J.D. though is his coaching and Olympics experience do not come with a maple leaf on his back but rather the "Circle of the Sun".

The #growthesport theme has been elevated this season with #TeamWorld stepping up their game on the #gsoc circuit.  #TeamCanada owning the world stage.  And #TeamUpset making history along the way.  While at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships in Lethbridge this season, I had the opportunity to sit down with #TeamJapan coach J.D. Lind and talk about his transition from curling athlete to curling coach, his new role with a new nation, how he has seen a #growthesport movement and the excitement surrounding the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Get ready to see the sport through the mixture of a curler/coaching lens and welcome the first coach to the #TwineTime family.  Let's go #BetweenTheSheets with J.D. Lind!

TwineTime (TT): Welcome to the #TwineTime blog family J.D. and thank you for taking the time to sit down and chat.  Let's hope you enjoy becoming part of this very exclusive collective group. *laughing*

J.D. Lind (JD): *laughing*  Thank you.  I am very happy to be here.

TT: To start things off, you began your career at a very early age.  You competed at Canada Games.  You had success in junior curling.  Even fellow #TwineTime fam member Ryan Sherrard mentioned beating you back in the Canada Games days *laughing*

JD: *laughing*  Yup he sure did.

TT: *laughing*  So you have left a lasting mark on many of your competitors apparently.  But let's talk about the importance of junior curling in helping to #growthesport for yourself playing in Canada but also what it can do for the future.

JD: Most Canadian kids to start out in juniors.  For me I was so lucky to have such great teammates, some great coaches growing up.  I played a bunch of sports.  Curling wasn't my first sport.  I played hockey.  I played baseball and golf in the summer.  Because I had great teammates and it is such a great game, that is what really turned my passion towards curling.  I think a lot of Canadians can relate to that.  Once you get involved in the sport and start playing and notice the community, people become more involved.  For me, looking into the future, it is something we need to develop.  Curling is starting to get very serious, obviously with the Olympics but also with juniors.  A lot of the junior events are serious.  We used to go and kind of have fun, be out all hours and enjoy *laughing*  Now it is more serious, which is fine.  I think early on I stuck with it because of how much I was enjoying being with my friends. 

TT: For sure.  We are seeing U18 Canadian championships now.  U-Sport has been involved on the university level.  Do you think those are the avenues we need continue to support to help grow the future generations?

JD: The more events the better!  When we were juvenile, we played in the first-ever Western Optimist.  Now the U18 is a national event.  Before Optimist ran it and there was a spot for the provinces.  To see this grow is great.  When we were that age, 13 or 14 years old, and playing 20 year old guys we would get crushed.  But back then that is all you would have.  You understood you had to learn.  Now to get the different age groups going and playing against the peers of a similar age is always a good thing.  The U-Sport curling, we played in the very first official U-Sport (formerly known as CIS) event with 30-some men's and women's teams.  Now they have it where you have to play out West and in Ontario and bring it down.  To see that grow from where we played to what it is now is great.  That is really an age group where, once out of juniors, it is tough to play men's and women's.  A lot of the young athletes, Kelsey Rocque is a great example, see the transition can be tough especially in women's.  She and her peers have used university as a stepping stone to ease their way into women's curling which is great.

TT: In talking about U-Sport, what do you think the difference is when education is thrown into the mix as well?  You mentioned Kelsey Rocque.  We also saw Mary Fay recently step away from curling to pursue her education.  Where do you think we can find the fine balance for junior curlers?

JD: Everybody is different.  Obviously I don't know Mary and the situation specifically but if you have aspirations of pursuing education and working towards a specific job, you have to dedicate time to it.  The same if you want to be a top curler, you have to dedicate time towards it.  It is not really for anyone to say what your priorities should be.  I applaud her for wanting to go after her goals.  Curling is still a sport where you can't really make a living off of it.  Some people do but you can't really bank on it.  I think it is always important for people that age to put their life as a priority and, if curling can fit and is your passion, you can always find a way to make it work if you want it bad enough.  It is tough.  It was tough for me and a lot of the guys I used to play with.  A lot of them don't curl as much because of jobs.  It is part of life though.

TT: Talking about finding your passion, you have switched over to coaching now.  I believe you started coaching when you were only 21 years old with Charley Thomas.  And you coached Shannon Kleibrink when you were only 25.  Very very young to be coaching.  What got you down that route and was coaching always a path you wanted to take?

JD: No *laughing*

TT: *laughing* No?

JD: No. I first started with a camp in Alberta called the Alberta Rocks camp.  I was a participant and loved it.  My first chance was when they brought me in to help coach and I was 18 years old.  I was an assistant instructor.  I really did it, honestly, to get closer to a lot of the coaches and just learn to make myself a better curler *laughing*  I wanted to be around them and try to learn.  I have always been a sponge, especially with curling.  I always want to learn.  At the camps I would always be the last one to go to bed, staying up late, because I wanted to be the one to pick everyone else's brain.  The only reason I coached Charley's team when I was 21 was because I played with them and I aged out.  They had one more year and they didn't have a coach.  I had some levels, I knew them really well.  I know how they throw and know the team dynamics.  It was the first time I considered coaching.  I did it more on whim.  I got to hang out with my buddies.  I really enjoyed it.  We did really well.

TT: *laughing* I'd say REALLY well...

JD: *laughing*  Yeah we ended up winning a world junior championship.  I think I got offered with Shannon and Team Chyz and now with Japan was because of that initial success with Charley's team.  Ever since then, every team I took on and every experience I have had, has improved me.  I try to learn a bit more with every team I work with and here I am now!

TT: Obviously coaching has been a great success and you are doing quite well.  What is it about coaching that continues to draw you into it?  You are still very young and you could still go right back into curling as a player but you are sticking with coaching.  What draws the other side of your passion?

JD: This specific opportunity is really unique.  For me the opportunity to go to Japan was really a chance to do it full-time, which a lot of coaches do not get to do.  For me, at my age, to live abroad and see other parts of the world was a real draw for me.  I didn't do this with the intention of thinking I would do this forever but in the present stage of life this was a great chance to do it.  Once I got there and saw the state the sport was in, this was an excellent opportunity.  They have a ton of great athletes and have come so close so many times in the past to truly break through on the world stage.  Once I saw that and saw that I could help this country actually do something they had never done before, it was really motivating and awe-inspiring to see how hard they work.  Obviously as a Canadian when you get to a world championship you are one of the top team and expected to do well.  To win gold with a Canadian team, with Charley, is an amazing accomplishment.  But, for instance, what we did with the women's team last year, to be a part of the first medal the country has ever won is always something I will look back on and be really happy to have been a part of that history.  It is really what keeps driving me now.  It was a huge goal and now the next goal is to see what we can accomplish next.

TT: Excellent.  Speaking of going off to Japan, how did that come into play?  Did you seek that out?  Was it something someone approached you about and you pounced on?  How did it come to be?

JD: Yeah, with Charley's team, I got a call from Paul Webster who works with the national team here in Canada.  I had worked with him at the National Training Centre in Calgary and he called me one day to say there is potential the Japanese government is looking for Canadian coaches to go over and help the program and he was asked to put together a list of people and wanted to know if I would be interested.  It wasn't a guarantee of a job or anything.  I just put my name on a list and then didn't hear anything for a month and didn't really think anything of it.  Eventually I got a call saying this is a real thing.  I interviewed for it with skype and they offered it to.  It became a real thing.  It wasn't just an easy decision either.  I had my wife, well girlfriend at the time.  I had to talk to her and say this is the adventure being offered, are you up for it too?  Luckily she was and off we went.

TT: That's awesome.  And how old were you when that happened?

JD: It was 2013 so I would have been 28.

TT: Wow...still very young to make such a huge decision.  A huge position with lots of responsibility you are taking on at, really, what is still a very young age.

JD: Yeah for sure.  For me I was excited and anxious and unsure what I was getting myself into.  The contract was for two-years.  I said I would do the two-years and then we can assess from there.  It was 2013 and the year of the Olympics.  Japan hadn't qualified yet so we had to go to the Olympic qualifier.  The Olympics was such a huge draw for me to go and do this.  I knew it was going to be tough to qualify and Japan was ranked 13th or something at the time.  Once we got into the Olympics, that was huge.  And just getting to meet the athletes motivated me to keep going.  Now I am signed on through to the next Olympics and we will see how that goes.

TT: That is so awesome!  Congratulations on the extension as well, well earned with the success you have had of course.  Let's talk about the Olympics.  Every athlete, regardless of sport, dreams of being in the Olympics.  What was it like to be part of the entire experience and just walk the ceremony?  Was it a complete blur because of everything going on or where you able to soak some of it in and enjoy?

JD: It was really interesting on so many levels for me.  As a kid, as a curler, obviously I wanted to go to the Olympics but as a player and, as a Canadian, with the maple leaf on my back first and foremost.  So to go as a coach, I think I turned 29 during the Olympics, and be a part of Team Japan was not how I pictured it.  But it was so unique.  Every moment I was there I had to pinch myself.  It was so outside of what I ever imagined for myself.  I really tried to enjoy it but it was a blur.  I was still trying to learn the language and get to know the team.  But I also was trying to enjoy the Olympic experience.  I think for PyeongChang, knowing now we have qualified, the first was a whirlwind of an experience with so many new things but now I have Sochi to draw on and 4 more years with Team Japan, PyeongChang will be much different.  It will still be great and amazing but I am also excited to see how different it will be in comparison.

TT: *laughing*  Well you are kind of the old experienced man now.  How many people get to go to one Olympics let alone two now?  

JD: *laughing*  Yeah!  After Sochi there was no guarantee we would be in PyeongChang.  It was a huge goal of the Japanese association to get the women back but also have the men qualify for the first time.  To go with the two programs together, it is really exciting.

TT: Yeah that will be very exciting.  Plus this is an Asian games, hosted by a fellow Asian country.  Have to think the excitement level alone will be more intense, more dramatic then perhaps you saw in Sochi?  I would guess way more Japanese fans.  More Japanese media.  It is going to be intense.

JD: The media in Japan is crazy...they love curling!  The Japanese people over the last few years as well, the sport has really exploded.  Once the women won a silver medal at worlds, the level of the sport in Japan has really increased.  I know once we get to PyeongChang the expectation level on them is going to be intense.  There will be a ton of media.  There will be a ton of support from fans.  It will be different from Sochi for sure.

TT: Now talking about the amount of teams in Japan, we have noticed on tour an increase in men's and women's team competing.  Have you noticed the growth since Sochi and how is the sport looking long-term?

JD: Yeah that was a big goal of mine to try and make sure we were not just funnelling all our time and attention towards just one team.  I think one of the strengths Japan has, which is similar to Canada, is we do have some depth.  We do have some strong established teams.  The fact they have to play off against one another only makes them stronger.  This is also why we have seen the women's program take off faster than the men's is because we do have 3 or 4 or 5 even the 6 down to 10 teams can play well and compete.  On the men's side, Morozumi has separated himself a bit more from the other teams.  But it does encourage these teams to go abroad and play more.  It is bringing in more corporate sponsors in Japan to not only get to know their own team but get to know other teams and understand there is a chance to have a few compete on an international level.  The teams are starting to travel a lot more and that is excellent.

TT: Now is that one of the aspects you bring over in your current role?  An advantage you have is knowing the Canadian circuit on tour.  Do you sit down and kind of look at the schedule and plan it out for the men's and women's teams?

JD: Yeah that is a huge part of my job.  Because I am not a team coach but a national coach, I work with half a dozen or so teams on different levels.  A big part of my job is to plan out their season and make sure they feel comfortable in Canada.  A lot of them have been to Canada now but for me to go with them and help them with simple things like do something fun on off days and go to places they have never seen before and just make not seem like hotel to curling rink, make it more enjoyable.  It is a fun experience for them.  The season is so long and to be so far away from home, to make the experience more broad and fun helps them curl well and take away more positives.  We try to go to places where there are things to do and the teams can have some fun.  

TT: It almost is becoming full circle isn't it?  You went over there with a bit of a culture shock and now you are bringing more of the teams over here.  A great example of 360 mentoring.

JD: Oh for sure.  When I first went to Japan I was with them all the time every day.  Even for them to just speak English with me and be around a Canadian makes them a bit more comfortable when travelling here.  When I used to play, Morozumi's team is the same age.  I have played them a bunch of times over the years.  They were always really shy.  As a Canadian you weren't sure if they spoke English and how to engage and hang out with them as a team.  Now having the teams be around me when they come over here, they will see Jennifer Jones and I'll introduce them and help ease the comfort.  Canadian curlers are just like them.  Be themselves around these people and just have fun and make new friends.

TT: Excellent to hear.  For the upcoming Olympics, people are very familiar with the Canadian system but what is the Japan system?  Is it similar?  Are there trial events?

JD: It is a bit more complicated.  They take the Japanese champion from 2016 and the Japanese champion from 2017.  Both of those are 10 team events, similar to our national championship with the Brier or the Scotties.  If the same team wins both, there is no trials.  For the men, Morozumi won both so they will be the Olympic rep.  On the women's side, Fujisawa won in 2016 and Matsumura beat them in the final in 2017 so because of that we will run a trial, best of 7, in September.

TT: Ok wow.  Sounds like it is going to be quite intense.

JD: Yeah it will be.  They will also be having the games broadcast live on national television in Japan.  It is going to be a big event with tones of media!

TT: And you mentioned earlier you have seen that steady increase in media attention since you have been with the program.  Is that a steady increase across all media channels?  More broadcast?  More games being covered and events shown live, similar to what we see in Canada?

JD: Yup.  For the men's worlds this year in Edmonton they broadcast every game live except one.  For the women's worlds last year in Swift Current it was the same thing.  Not only do they broadcast live but they send crews to Canada to commentate live and after the games in the media mix zone there are at least 10 to 12 media who come to Canada from Japan.  When they compete domestically, it will be triple that.  The media in general, for all sports, is just on a different level in comparison to Canada.  But for curling, I have seen a huge growth which is great.

TT: And you can't really ask for anything else, it is exactly what you want to see.  Very cool.  Now going back to you, which is harder: coaching vs playing?

JD: They are very different.  A lot of established curlers, when going into coaching, say it is a lot harder to coach because you have a bit less control and I get that.  For me, I have done it longer and understand what the role brings, I know if I do my job correctly in preparing for an event once we get there I do not get too nervous now.  I know I did all I could to prepare them.  I think it is also my personality.  Others may get a bit more stressed out *laughing*  When it comes to playing, it is a different type of stress.  For a coach, to prepare the athletes is a different mindset.  I can't really say one is harder than the other.  Both have their challenges and are nerve-wracking in different ways.  I just try to stay in the moment, it's the only way to really get through in either of those situations.

TT: Is the long-term J.D. Lind plan to stay in coaching or do you want to throw a slider back on and get into the hack?

JD: Honestly I get that question a ton.  I miss it.  Doing this job, one of the biggest sacrifices I knew I would have to make is that I knew I couldn't play.  I knew that going in.  Now that I have done it longer I am ok with not playing.  Initially it was very difficult.  Even when I was coaching before, I was still always playing and coaching at the same time.  I do see myself playing again.  I don't know when that will be but I do my best to stay in shape.  I am still on the ice a lot and I throw a ton (of rocks).  The athletes in Japan are on the ice 10 months out of the year so I am actually on the ice a lot.  My whole goal with coaching is, if coaching does end, I want to keep myself in a position where if I do want to play I still can.  A lot of people when they stop playing is they maybe get a bit out of shape and stop throwing.  One of my own goals when I moved to Japan was to stay in shape, throw stones and, if I do want to play, I give myself that option and I think I have done that.

TT: For sure.  Your coaching resume is really impressive.  Perhaps a bit of the #MidasTouch even?  The Japanese men won the Pacific-Asia championships for the first time.  That is a huge win and a major accomplishment for the program.  If you do have a #MidasTouch it could bode well for you heading into the Olympics, you never know?

JD: For me I have had a lot of fortunate coaching with some great teams.  I don't know.  For me I have managed to take these teams and have good success and keeps me engaged.  I love seeing athletes improve and come to the rink excited.  It motivates me to keep going but it is not the full reason to why I do it.  It is a product of every day enjoyment.  I get to travel and work with the teams and be around these amazing athletes, it's a lucky situation I get to be in.  

TT: Well spoken like a true coach and being perhaps a bit more humble than you need to be.  I think your passion fuels them and vice versa.  It is a give-take and is working on both sides.

JD: Exactly.  I have learned a ton from the athletes in Japan.  The way they learn the game.  The way they look at the game.  The way they approach it.  It is in someways similar but in a lot of ways different.  There is not one way to do things, not one perfect way.  Being around passionate athletes and students of the game only improves when you have an open mind.  Let's throw it all on the table and learn how everyone wants to do this and try to make the best out of what everyone wants.

TT: Well just sitting here talking with you now I can see why they would love you as a coach because I am completely drawn into your coaching technique *laughing*  I think it is that calm demeanour and passion that resonates through.

JD: *laughing*

TT: Ok let's talk more about you.  Let's tackle some rapid fire questions and let the blog family get to know J.D. Lind a bit better.

JD: *laughing*  Ok!

TT: Do you have a team nickname?

JD: Ahhh yeah in curling, I curled with the same guys for a lot of years so we all had nicknames, and the nickname they gave me was #JDeazy!

TT: Nice!

JD: They said that was because it was easy to play with me *laughing*

TT: *laughing* Wow...ok!

JD: That is their words not mine.

TT: And the humbleness continues I guess.  Have any of your Japan counterparts or players picked up on your nickname yet?

JD: No.  They don't know that one.  They call me Lindoson.  When my Canadian friends back home hear that one, they like it too.

TT: Very nice.  Both work well for you too.

JD: Exactly.  I response to either of them. *laughing*

TT: *laughing*  Perfect!  Do you have a curling rival?

JD: A curling rival?  Like right now?

TT: Sure.  Well let's go with when you were playing and right now?

JD: Oh!  When we used to curl in juniors, in Alberta curling, there were a lot of very strong teams.  We would play in all the same events.  We used to play two brothers, Ben and John Elder from Red Deer.  We used to play them all the time.  We would have many great tight battles with them.  It was a rivalry on the ice.  There was another set of brothers from Medicine Hat, the Everly brothers.  We kind of had this SACA (Southern Alberta Curling Association) rivalry between the three groups.  Tom Sallows as well up in Peace.  He always had a great team.  There were so many great teams in Alberta.  Honestly now, with coaching, you don't really see as many rivalries, it's different.  But for me, one of my goals was to be the best coach in the world but there is no way to really measure that.  When I see other coaches that are at a high level, I always think how I can improve myself.  Guys like Marcel (Rocque, Team China) who I see all the time in the Asia region.  He is someone I always look up to try to think what can I do to try and get my guys to one up him.  He has done such great things for the program.  It isn't really a rivalry but more what can I try and do to make myself as good as them.

TT: That makes sense.  It also goes back to what you were saying earlier, always being a sponge and always trying to soak in something new and be better and learn.  

JD: Always trying me best!

TT: It seems to be working.  Playing off your answer though, who would you say is your curling mentor, either growing up or now?

JD: My curling mentor?  I had some great coaches when I was coming up and playing.  The coach I had in juniors that had a huge impact on me was Lorne Umscheid.  He was never a high level curler but he had a great demeanour.  He was a master of getting to know the curler, getting to know the team and trying to get everyone to work together as a group.  He knew we maybe had a higher level of curling play knowledge than him when we were 18 and he didn't try and tell us we had to do things this way or that way because he knew we were in the right direction.  He tried to teach us to work as a team and support one another.  It was something never lost on me and something I understand even more now that I have got into coaching.  It's not just about in turns and out turns, it's about working together as a team.  For me, he was the biggest mentor.  Now, being at national coach and at a level I never really thought I would be a coach at, I look to guys like Paul Webster who has helped me a lot.  He gave me the opportunity to work with some high level teams and my relationship with Kleibrink's team stemmed from my relationship with Paul.  He looked out for me over the years.  Even to this day, if I ever need anything I can reach out and call him up, even with competing nations, he is a great resource and a great friend!

TT: That really goes with the curling community family aspect.  Even if you are competing on the ice, you can still be close.

JD: Definitely.  I think that is a testament to the community.  Anyone who knows the community knows it is serious but the sportsmanship side behind it and the comradery behind it is what keeps the sport going.

TT: For sure and I think that is what keeps people loving the sport too.  Do you have an embarrassing ipod song you love?

JD: Hmmm, let me think here.  Well, we went to Continental Cup this year and the Japanese girls team are big Britney Spears fans.  Britney does a live show in Vegas at Planet Hollywood.  So to get fired up for the concert, I had a Britney Spears playlist fired up on my ipod.  Back when I was young, she was THE pop star.  I'm not going to lie, I was excited for the concert.  We had a blast.  It was me and the team and my wife watching Britney in Vegas.

TT: Wow!  I would have never guessed you to be a closet-Britney fan. *laughing*  Do you have a favourite song too?

JD: Not really.  Honestly all of them sound the same *laughing*

TT: *laughing*  That's fair.  A little side note, how was Continental Cup for you?  You were on the "other" side, #TeamWorld.

JD: Yeah it was interesting.  The event is great, especially for our groups.  Being from Japan, they are a little shy with their English and sometimes don't get to meet other teams and get as close to the other teams, especially Europe.  The European teams are really close and play one another all the time and have known each other since they were kids.  For the girls to be playing with the European teams was great.  The European teams, the other teams part of #TeamWorld, were great.  They invited the team out and included the team.  For me to meet the other athletes, they made me feel like a part of #TeamWorld even though I was just a coach for the girls and really helped to translate.

TT: Similar to the Olympics, was it weird to be walking into a big event and on the back of your jacket is no maple leaf? *laughing*

JD: *laughing*  Yeah it is still weird but I've been there longer and used to it.  I am representing Japan and I want everyone in Japan to be proud of the team and I am part of that team.  Sochi, like I said, was so new and I didn't really get to appreciate it.  The silver medal win though really hit it for me.  I may not be Japanese but I did something as Team Japan.  If I ever finish coaching in Japan I will always have a connection and I will always be watching to see how they are doing.  It is like my second home.

TT: For sure.  I first met you last year in Swift Current and just watching the dynamic you have with the girls on that team, you guys were always laughing and having fun.  They were having fun on the ice too of course but I got to see you and the team a bit behind the scenes and it did look like a family.

JD: Exactly.  That is why I stay, because of the people.  The athletes are great, not just in terms of being great at curling, but as people.  We mesh really well, all the Japanese athletes I have a good relationship with.  It makes my job super easy.

TT: As we say with any job, the people can make the real difference sometimes.  Now, out of the 7 dwarfs, which one would you be?

JD: *laughing*  The 7 dwarfs hey?  

TT: *laughing*  Can you name them all?

JD: There is a Happy.  A Sneezy.  A Sleepy.    

TT: Doc. Dopey.  Grumpy.

JD: Doc is the leader isn't he?

TT: He is the hard working one.  I think the older guy.

JD: Ok yeah I don't know if I want to be him.  *laughing*  I'm not old enough.  Maybe Happy?  I try every day to wake up and be happy.

TT: I can see you as being Happy.  *laughing*

JD: *laughing*  With the girls laughing and smiling and giggling all the time, they make me giggle a lot too.

TT: Well every event I have seen you at now I have always seen you with a smile on your face, whether with the men's team or the women's team.  I think Happy is a good fit.

JD: I get so tired with travelling and the job but I try to wake up every day feeling lucky I get to do what I do and try and be happy.

TT: How many languages do you speak now?

JD: One! *laughing*

TT: *laughing*  Still only one?  I am going to go out on a limb and guess it's English considering we are doing this interview in English.

JD: *laughing*  Yup, English.  

TT: How is your Japanese?

JD: Ummm...improving?!  I think I could live in Japan my whole life and never be fluent.  It is a really difficult language.  People think I can speak two languages but I can speak one and maybe a quarter or less.  I will say in my time my Japanese has improved but so has their English.  Between my Japanese and their English we are even.

TT: *laughing*  So maybe a half a language between both sides?

JD: *laughing*  Exactly.

TT: Very fair.  What is your favourite Japanese tourist spot?  I am sure you have lots of people come visit you or come to Japan, what is a cool Japan place to check out?

JD: We have been fortunate enough to have friends come visit us.  We lived in Sapporo, that is where our training centre is at.  I am very biased because I lived there for three years.  As a tourist it is maybe a little quieter than some other places in Japan.  There are so many amazing things in Sapporo.  If you have a chance to visit Sapporo, I highly recommend it.  For the tourist, our friends we always do Sapporo, Kyoto and Tokyo.  My wife and I have been to all of those places many times so we have a rotation of places to go to and take people to.  Tokyo is an amazing city, incomparable to any other.  Kyoto is old traditional-style Japan where the Emperor used to be.  Tones of beautiful artistic designs.  You have the modern with Tokyo and the traditional with Kyoto.  And for me Sapporo is the mountain town where you can live life in a slower pace.

TT: Wow, sounds amazing.  Ok, there you go people, get to Japan!!

JD: Japan is an amazing country.  If anyone ever has thoughts on going I would highly recommend it!

TT: That is awesome!  On the flip side, what do you miss most about Canada?

JD: Now I am living in Canada and I go back and forth.  For the first three seasons I was living in Japan and there were stretches where I didn't get back for awhile.  The hardest thing for me honestly was the English.  In Sapporo where I lived it was very Japanese.  There were not a lot of foreigners there, not a lot of English spoken.  My Japanese is kind of good enough for me to get around it's hard to be around people and only catch half a story.  When I come back to Canada, just being able to comprehend everything is nice.  The food in Japan is amazing.  I come back home though and have a steak.

TT: Nice.  An Alberta-beef steak of course.

JD: Oh for sure!  Honestly Sapporo has similarities to Alberta.  Hokkaido is similar to Alberta as a province and there was not a ton of things I really missed except family of course.  The great thing about curling is we go to Canada to train so I was never really gone for a long time period.  As soon as I maybe start to get home sick I would find myself back home.

TT: That is true I suppose.  You are always travelling around anyway and the schedule is intense.  

JD: Yeah it is.  It is one of the hard parts of the job.  It is a fun part getting to see crazy places all over the world I never thought I would get to go.  But being jet lagged all the time can take it's tole *laughing*

TT: *laughing*  Oh I bet.  Speaking on travel, with all the places you have gone, what is your favourite place you have been to?

JD: You know what?  We had a week to go to Taiwan.  We went to Taipei.  That was a place where we never really planned to go, my wife and I.  We have a friend from Japan who is from there and they were going back and invited us to stay with them.  We did it on a whim and those unplanned trips can sometimes be the best ones.  Taiwan was a beautiful country.  One of the best parts of the trip was having someone who could take us to all the best places where maybe tourists don't go.  It was a great trip that came out of the blue.  Thailand was a great trip too.  We went a bit of the beaten path and did some rock climbing in the middle of the jungle in the middle of the summer, staying in these tiny huts.  We have had some unique trips.  We didn't really know how many opportunities we would have to travel to that part of Asia again so we tried to see as many parts of Asia as we could.  We did a lot of great trips.

TT: That's awesome.  You really have to seize the opportunity when you get it too, right?

JD: Exactly.  To fly from Japan to those place is really quite cheap.  To fly to those places from Canada is so much more difficult and we tried to take advantage.

TT: Nicely done.  Ok my last rapid fire question for you is if you could put a curling event anywhere in the world that you could go with the team, where would you put the event?

JD: Where would I love to see a curling event?  Hmmm.....that's a great question. 

TT: *laughing*  Finally I stumped you a bit.  You have been doing so well with these answers.

JD: *laughing*  Yeah you did.  You know there are so many new countries.  Just being here (at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship) and seeing the sport expanding is really cool.  One day hopefully one of these countries can maybe host one of these bigger events.  Today we played Brazil.  I would have never imagined Brazil playing in a world event like this.  I can only hope one day some of these countries can host events we have never been.  I feel like a lot of the world championships are in curling stronghold nations.  I think some of those countries that are developing could maybe host and I could travel there for an event.

TT: Maybe like a Rio Open or something like that? *laughing*

JD: *laughing*  For sure, exactly!  Somewhere where maybe it is not so cold.

TT: Exactly.  And another side track, you being here with the mixed doubles team and the 39 nations competing, what do you think about this event?  Is this too many?  Is it great for the sport in helping to grow in these countries?

JD: I think having an inclusive event is great.  Having all these countries play the sport is amazing for sure.  I think this event itself could be fine tuned a little bit.  I think if we keep adding more teams it might not be feasible, we could get to 60 teams who knows?  But where mixed doubles is right now, still new and coming to the Olympics, the chance to have all these teams compete against one another and see what all these teams are doing is really helpful for the developing teams even if they do maybe have some games where they aren't as competitive.  That is part of growing!  If you have an A, B or C maybe you can still have these countries competing and learning and grow off that.  It is a long event but there are tones of positives.  I am supporting of whichever way they decide to go with the event as long as mixed doubles remains a priority for the World Curling Federation (WCF) and still in the Olympics.  It is really nice to see these athletes from all these countries under one roof.

TT: Even from the Pacific-Asia perspective, those championships have really grown over the recent years.  Kazakhstan has men's and women's representatives.  Qatar has been there.  Hong Kong is fielding teams.  Even within one region we are seeing huge growth.

JD: Exactly.  Qatar is a great example.  I met their coach and team this year.  They also went to the Asian Winter Games in Japan this year.  They have some money to develop the program.  They are literally in universities asking people if they want to curl and try out the sport.  They brought players who have curled less than a year and they are playing on terrible arena ice and the conditions are difficult.  But to see the passion from the athletes and coaches for me, as a Canadian, you are always playing against Canadian teams who are learning the game a similar way but now this is eye-opening to see athletes from completely different backgrounds try and learn the game and get better.  At the Pacific-Asia Championships, I get to see some of the issues they face that as Canadians we don't really see.  We live in a bit of a bubble.  It is really interesting for me to take my viewpoint and my experience and try to help and give feedback to WCF on the Pacific-Asia region on what those challenges are.  The WCF is really taking the information in and trying to #growthesport and make it equitable for all the zones.

TT: You bring up a great point that we don't think about perhaps in Canada is we always know Canada and USA are consistent on the World Curling Tour and World Curling Championships but you are representing Japan but also representing a developing region for the sport.  The sport is still in its infancy stage in many ways within the region.  Does that weight on you at all or is that just exciting?

JD: It is exciting!  I think the region has really grown a lot very quickly.  Even 10 years ago you would not have had this many countries from the region as strong as they are.  The WCF recognises there are a lot of areas of growth around the world and we need to make sure a playdown structure is in place to get those teams into the world championships.  I know this year for the women's worlds, they were hosted in China meaning that only leaves one spot for Pacific-Asia and there are many strong teams.  South Korea is really strong.  Our girls are really strong.  New Zealand, Australia.  There are lots of really good teams competing for that one spot.  It is a grind and a difficult event.  The WCF understands we always need to do what is in the best interest of the sport for all the teams and all the regions.

TT: 100% for sure!  Now I always end my interviews with an #AskACurler question taken from the last person I interviewed, which would be Ryan Sherrard.  He had many questions he wanted to ask you.

JD: Did he know he would be giving me a question?

TT: Yup he did.

JD: Oh no *laughing*

TT: *laughing*  He did narrow it down and I think he did give you a really good question.  If you could pick a classic curling game to broadcast on Japanese TV to help further #growthesport, what game would you pick?

JD: A classic game in Japan?  Oh man, that is a tough one.  

TT: I assume it was not a classic game when he beat you?  *laughing*

JD: *laughing*  We were like 17 so probably more misses than makes.  Definitely NOT that one.  I don't want any of them seeing a game of me playing at 17.

TT: *laughing*  That's fair

JD: *laughing*  They would be like, "This guy is our national coach?"

TT: *laughing*  "We trust our sport with this dude?  Really?"

JD: *laughing*  Exactly.  Hmmm, let's see.  A really good game.  As a coach you know all those nice shots and great makes, I'm actually really bad at remembering all of that.

TT: Really?

JD: If I don't take notes and chart the game, I have no clue.  

TT: Is there maybe a specific team perhaps?  There are a few teams out there that when you throw one of their games on the TV you know you are generally going to get a good curling game to watch.

JD: For sure.  In Japan the fans are really into curling.  They really turn Japanese teams but there are also some international teams they really cheer for.  One curler who is really popular in Japan is Mirjam Ott.  She coached Alina Paetz at the worlds in Sapporo, all the Japanese fans and media wanted to talk to Mirjam Ott and get a picture with Mirjam Ott.  I guess because of her style and her wild hair.  Japanese people like people a little bit different from what they always see.  Maybe one of her games from the Olympics (two-time silver medal winner).  If you wanted a Japan game though, Ayumi (Ogasawara) beat Shannon Kleibrink at the 2006 Olympics in Torino.  A Japanese team beating a Canadian team.  They probably do show that game somewhere.

TT: I would hope so, that was a huge win!

JD: Ayumi has the cheer at the end and the broom in the air.  It was nice.

TT: That would be a good classic game to show.  I like it!  Now you get to turn the tables and ask a question to my next interviewee, Korey Dropkin.  It's your turn to pose the #AskACurler question.  

JD: We have talked a bit in this interview about the transition from junior curling, maybe from his perspective and coming from a hot bed of curling in the states, Minnesota, what are the pro's and con's of growing up and curling in Minnesota compared to perhaps Japan or Canada or somewhere else in the world and how has it helped get him to where he is now? 

TT: Perfect!

JD: Maybe he can give a shout out to one of his coaches too.  *laughing*  Tell him to make do that.

TT: *laughing*  What a perfect coach question.

JD: *laughing*  Show your coaches some love.

TT: I will see if he goes there and if he doesn't I will totally call him out on it for you. *laughing*

JD: Yeah, exactly.  *laughing*

TT: Awesome.  Well Mr. Lind, thank you for sitting down and talking with me and being the newest willing member of the #TwineTime family.  Best of luck heading into the new season and with the Olympics right around the corner.

JD: Anytime.  Thank you!

There you have it rock heads and stoners.  The #TwineTime blog now has it's first national coach initiated into the family.  A great perspective on the sport from both a player and coach point of view.  I know I certainly learned a lot from just sitting down and talking with J.D. and hopefully you did as well.

J.D. raised a few great points on how the sport of curling is growing and developing in many nations around the world...and not just the stronghold traditional nations.  ICYMI, the #TwineTime blog published a blog post on this exact topic with input from many of those curling developing nations competing at the #WMDCC2017.  Check it out HERE!

The 2016/17 #curling season is slowly grinding to a halt at the back of the house....but not before #TwineTime unleashes a few more surprises on all of you.  #StayTuned for another addition to the #TwineTime family this season and find out who takes home the final big awards of the season when a special guest joins the blog to hand out the 2nd Annual #GoldenGranite Awards!

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