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Monday, 18 September 2017

#PowerRankings W3

#BetweenTheSheets: Week 3 Power Rankings
Big events in Cornwall and Edmonton cause some movement


Ah the week following a grand slam event....you never really know what to expect.  As mentioned in last week's prediction blog, some teams use momentum built from a strong grand slam and continue their success while others have the grand slam hangover syndrome and falter when back on the ice with little to no time in between games/events.

Week 2 on tour certainly produced a little bit of both.  We also welcomed to the ice a few teams making their season debut's....with strong results!  The season is officially in the mix of things as teams now have some competitive games under their sliders and either have some improvements to make or are currently building strong momentum heading into the all-important Fall portion of the season.

Who reached #IceWarmers status this week and who took the #BambiBumble slide down the ice?  Time to find out as we settle in the hack for the Week 3 Power Rankings.

#IceWarmers


1.  Jamie Sinclair - Sinclair follows up a strong Tour Challenge Tier II showing with a championship W at the Shorty Jenkins in Cornwall.  Some solid W's along the way to a perfect 6-0 record included: Chrissy Cadorin, Hollie Duncan (twice), Allison Flaxey and Krista McCarville.  In an Olympic year Sinclair has not only cemented herself as the USA favourite approaching the trials in November but she is distancing herself from the competition.

2.  Mike McEwen - Welcome back Team McEwen!  Curling fans were anticipating and excited for the team's return to the ice to start the season and the boys did not disappoint.  A strong run to the championship final in Cornwall, only to be derailed by Brad Jacobs.  McEwen did defeat Jacobs in the RR though as well as a surging John Shuster and strong playoff W's over Glenn Howard and #TeamUpset flag bearer of the season Steffen Walstad.  Sure the team didn't take home the title but they cannot be disappointed with this start to the season.

3.  Krista McCarville - Speaking of a welcome back party, Welcome back Team McCarville!  Another team making their debut on tour this season and another team who reached a championship final.  #TwineTime has been a regular fan of this team over the past few seasons so seeing them pull out a strong start to the season is a positive.  This team does not play as full a schedule as many of their opponents during the season but when they do compete, results like this will only help them build towards a trials spot.

#BambiBumble

1.  Silvana Tirinzoni - What happened in Cornwall?  Tirinzoni's 1-3 RR finish could just be the perfect example of a team suffering from the grand slam hangover, including the travel from Regina to Cornwall to compete in a matter of days.  But still, given the resume of this team, they should have qualified at least.  This will be a disappointing result for the team, considering they are also coming off back to back tough losses to Euro rival Team Hasselborg at the Tour Challenge.  We can probably assume this is a little blip on the radar screen...but we are watching more closely now!

2.  Niklas Edin - This pains me to write rock heads and stoners.  You know my love for the #SwedishVikings and #KingNiklas.  But the #TwineTime blog also needs to be fair and call a spade a spade.  Team Edin is struggling right now.  Yes they reached the SF of the opening slam but the regular consistency was off throughout the week.  Even the king himself commented to me about how the team is still finding its groove.  Last weekend in Cornwall was a set-back as well.  Finishing 1-4 is almost unheard of for this team, especially in the past year and a half.  What is also concerning, perhaps more mentally than anything, is all 4 losses came to Olympic qualified and/or contending teams: Ulsrud, de Cruz, Morozumi and Liu.  We know the team does not want to peak early....but you don't want to suffer too many losses early in the season either.

3.  Allison Flaxey - What is happening to Team Flaxey?  A disappointing run at the Tour Challenge, picking up only 1 victory, is followed up with another disappointing result this weekend in Cornwall.  The team finished 2-2 with losses to both American teams, Jamie Sinclair and Cory Christensen.  They missed the playoffs once again and have not looked like the same team as last season.  Luckily they have a trials spot wrapped up but they will want to correct these results sooner rather than later.

Here are the updated #PowerRankings entering this week's tour action:

MEN

1.  Team Gushue (LW: 1) - Stay calm Gushue fans....#TheGoo missed the playoffs this weekend.  Yes this is not a typo...Team Gushue failed to advance out of the RR.  When was the last time you saw that happen?  To be fair, missing the playoffs the week after winning a grand slam is not a huge cause of concern, hence why they retain the top ranking.  Small blip right?

2.  Team Jacobs (3) - The defending Olympic champs seem to be dialled in right now on not only defending their Team Canada spot but also their Olympic gold from 4 years ago.  A grand slam SF finish followed up with a tour title is a pretty solid way to start the season.  Watch out "The Other Brad", Jacobs is climbing up the mountain and climbing fast!

3.  Team Edin (2) - See comments above for the #SwedishVikings.  Small cause of concern but this is still a pretty solid team and you have to believe they are going to right the Viking ship soon and get back to those winning ways.  Remember they do have a tour W under their belts already this season.

4.  Team Walstad (5) - The #IceWarmers from last week continue to move up the rankings.  One could forgive them for a #gsoc finals hangover this week (See Gushue); however, the team from Norway continued to win in Cornwall.  Walstad went 4-1 in the RR, including victories over Balsdon, Carruthers (closely dipping into #BambiFall category here), Epping and van Dorp (who himself defeated Carruthers and Balsdon to start the event).  They defeated Kyle Smith in the QF before running into a red hot McEwen in the SF.  The strong results and W's are piling up though.  Can we not request a Walstad vs. Ulsrud Olympic trials battle?  It would be great for Norway and the sport! #growthesport

5.  Team McEwen (HM) - See above for the positive comments on McEwen's return to the ice this weekend.  We knew heading into the season this team would be a legit contender for the Olympic spot and the results so far are only supporting the pre-season praise.  It is only one event however but signs are pointing upward.

Hon. Mention:  Team de Cruz, Team Epping, Team Laycock, Team Simmons, Team Gunnlaugson

WOMEN

1.  Team Hasselborg (1) - Another event, another finals appearance.  Consistency is key here folks and continued strong results are rewarded.  However, these late game collapses are a real cause of concern for the team and Swedish curling fans.  From last season's Euro's and World Championship results to now the Tour Challenge and Shoot-Out finals results, closing out a game is very important.  Giving up 3 to Muirhead in the 8th and then allowing a steal of 2 for the title will be a tough pill to swallow (similar result against Muirhead at the World Championships for the bronze remember).  Are these results getting into the head of the young skip?  The revenge win against Sweeting in the QF was nice though.

2.  Team Sweeting (2) - Speaking of Team Sweeting, what a crazy event in Edmonton!  Sweeting suffers losses to Alberta rivals Nadine Scotland and Kelsey Rocque, dropping into an unheard of 5-team TB for 1 QF spot.  They emerge from the TB process with wins over Ogasawara and Hunkin (nee Kaufman last season) only to run into a revenge-minded Hasselborg in the QF.  They still qualified though and look like a strong contender for the Olympic trials.

3.  Team Muirhead (3) - Apparently Team GB is going to play things the hard way this season.  At the Tour Challenge they played their backs against the wall early and needed to defeat Rachel Homan (!!!) just to reach a TB.  This past weekend they were more consistent, going 4-1 in the RR (only loss to Wang) and avoided the difficult TB process.  Strong victories over Rocque and Robertson earned them the finals appearance where they came out on the winning end after a very slow start.  This team may want to make their team hashtag read #TeamResilient because they sure give their fans some heart stopping moments already this season.

4.  Team Paetz (HM) - Let's give props where props are due folks.  Team Paetz has been playing some great curling the past few weeks.  They went undefeated in the RR at the Tour Challenge and posted a 4-1 RR record last weekend in Edmonton, including W's over Fujisawa and Sidorova.  Now if only this team can find their playoff potential to match their RR success.  Another playoff appearance and another 1 and done result, this time losing the QF to #TeamUpset contender Darcy Robertson (#TwineTime told you to watch out for them though!!!).  I have a feeling the #HoppSchwiiz battle will go back and forth between the Big 3 all season...but for Week 3, advantage Paetz!

5.  Team Homan (5) - The current world champs took the weekend off, perhaps to lick some wounds from the disappointment in Regina.  But we cannot punish them in the rankings for a bye week....plus teams below (ie: Tirinzoni) failed to take advantage this weekend.  We await their return to the ice to see how they rebound.

Hon. Mention:  Team Tirinzoni, Team Sinclair, Team Jones, Team Einarson, Team Robertson

What say you rock heads and stoners?  Agree or disagree with the #PowerRankings?  Share your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on twitter.

#StayTuned for the preview of a busy Week 4 schedule sliding into your house shortly.

And ICYMI, the blog post on my brother's awesome first-time curling experience at the #TourChallenge in Regina can be found HERE.  I am quite proud of this post, given my bro became a rock star that weekend!  Thanks again to all those who said hi, stopped to chat and helped make sure he enjoyed his entire #gsoc experience.