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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

#PowerRankings W4

#BetweenTheSheets: Week 4 Power Rankings
The kids are alright folks!

Photo Courtesy: Blue Monday Volume 1
Well we have all been focused on the Olympic season and the #TeamCanada vs. #TeamWorld rivalry becoming the theme of the season.....we may have overlooked another team for the season.  No, not even #TeamUpset!

How about #TeamMovingOnUp!  Week 4 had some high profile "elite" teams competing on the ice across the country but the biggest wins of the weekend came from recent past and current junior contenders making a name for themselves on the men's and women's tour.  The sport is evolving and evolving quick as these once junior-contenders (and in once case still a junior contender) are sweeping through the house at a rapid speed.

From a pure #growthesport perspective, is this not what we want to see happen?  While it is great to cheer on our favourite grand slam teams and see them succeed, we also want to know the future is bright and the next generation is ready to take the broom by the handle and continue to sweep the sport forward with success.  After seeing the results of this past weekend, I think it is safe to say (and I mean this in a very respectful way considering how old I am and how young these teams are), "The kids are alright!"

Who are the #IceWarmers for Week 4 and which teams fall under the #BambiBumble this week?  Did we see changes to the #PowerRankings?  Let's settle in the hack and find out....


#IceWarmers

1.  Shannon Birchard - So you beat defending Olympic champion Jennifer Jones not once but twice en route to an undefeated weekend claiming arguably the biggest W of your young curling career....how's that for a weekend?  Birchard is no stranger to strong results, winning the Manitoba junior title in 2012 and 2013.  But she is also no stranger to heartache, losing the Canadian junior final in both years as well.  The curling world has been waiting to see how Birchard evolves from the junior to women's ranks and it has taken a bit longer than maybe many would have hoped.  But this weekend in Saskatoon has to be the coming out party for the young team.  They went a perfect 3-0 to qualify A-side, taking down Jones in an A-final.  The winning didn't stop as they rolled through the playoffs upsetting Jones once again claiming the Colonial Square title.  Other victims along their path included Amber Holland and Allison Flaxey.  Welcome Team Birchard....it's great to see you living up to the potential we all expected to see.

2.  Matthew Hall - #TeamMovingOnUp has a male leader as well....hello Matthew Hall!  Now, to be clear, #TwineTime did warn all of you to keep your eyes on this team this week and...BOOM...they not only were a team to watch, they were THE team to stay standing on championship Sunday.  It wasn't a walk through the house though.  Team Hall lost their opening game and went 1-1 in B to quickly drop to the C-side at the KW Fall Classic.  The #CSideGrind proved to be the Hall-way though as they went 2-0, including defeating defending champion Richard Krell in the C-qualifier.  Come playoff time, the winning continued knocking off junior rival Tanner Horgan (again!), China's De Jia Zou and finally Rob Retchless in the final.  Watch out for those frat boys on the ice folks!

3.  Jason Gunnlaugson - The winning continues for Team Gunnlaugson.  The Manitoba boys took home the Tour Challenge Tier II a few weeks back and hit the ice at home this weekend to claim the Mother Club Fall Curling Classic, knocking off another hot streak team in Pat Simmons.  Gunner went 7-0 at the event, including a SF W over Tier II finalist Willy Lyburn.  The curling world has been waiting for the real Jason Gunnlaugson to please stand up and live up to the potential we have all been believing in for many years now....and the 2017/18 season seems to be Gunner Time!  This team is on fire folks.  #TwineTime has been calling Jason a skip to watch out for over the past couple years....but this season I think the whole curling world is taking notice.  Pre-trials favourite?  100%!

4.  Michelle Englot - Props to Team Englot on finding the victory circle once again...especially against a strong Manitoba field.  Many wondered if last year was a fluke for this team or if they had the staying power to remain a Manitoba threat this year.  Yes, Jones wasn't competing at the Mother Club Fall Classic but the other strong Manitoba teams were and Englot emerged victorious.  The team went 7-1 overall and knocked off perennial Manitoba challenger and Tour Challenge Tier II winner Kerri Einarson in the championship final.

#BambiBumble

1.  Yusuke Morozumi - This past weekend at the KW Fall Classic has to be a concern and perhaps viewed as a step in the wrong direction for the Japanese Olympic team.  Morozumi entered the event the #1 seed and strong favourite to win the title against a perceived under-matched field.  Well....this is why we play the games and what we love about sports.  Morozumi struggled all weekend, going 2-3 overall and lost the qualifier matches in A, B and C.  This is now back to back events where the team failed to qualify.  Should Japanese curling fans be concerned about the Olympic contenders?  Maybe not yet, it is only September after all.  But they should probably be breathing a bit heavier than they were when the season started.

2.  Saskatchewan Women - Big swing and a miss for the home province this weekend in Saskatoon.  At the Colonial Square Ladies Classic, Saskatchewan women had a great opportunity to reclaim their spot on the curling map.  The province has struggled a bit on the women's tour and at the Scotties the past few years.  With a province calling home to arguably one of the greatest female, and overall, curling teams of all time Team Schmirler, the results drop-off and competition level decrease has been a concern for the curling rich province.  This weekend they sported 50% of the field, with 8 of the 16 teams entered having home ice advantage.  By the time the ice was pebbled clean for the playoffs, only 2 were left standing (Amber Holland, Robyn Silvernagle) and both lost in the QF.  What is perhaps even worse for Sask curling fans was watching a final comprised of two teams from rival province Manitoba.  The Saskatchewan women curling landscape is already out of the Olympic conversation, are they already out of the Scotties talk too?


Here are the Week 4 #PowerRankings:

MEN

1.  Team Gushue (LW: 1) - Week off, no movement for the team topping the mountain.

2.  Team Jacobs (2) - Sitting tight as Brad 2.0....for now!?

3.  Team Edin (3) - #SwedishVikings made some great lasagna back home on their off week.

4.  Team Walstad (4) - A much deserved week off for the most consistent team on tour this season.

5.  Team Gunnlaugson (HM) - Welcome to the coveted #5 spot Team Gunner!  Follow up a #gsoc W with another championship run and #TwineTime takes notice.  Stone is back in your house though on whether you can hold off the challengers below you.

Hon. Mention:  Team McEwen, Team Simmons, Team de Cruz, Team Epping, Team Laycock, Team Hall

WOMEN

1.  Team Hasselborg (LW: 1) - Another event, another deep playoff run.  However, a SF appearance will still be a minor disappointment for a team craving a tour title this season.  Although there is nothing to hang your head on when you lose to Jennifer Jones in the SF.  The team did qualify through the A-side though so the consistent results are still coming along.

2.  Team Sweeting (2) - Enjoying a much deserved week off after back to back intense weeks of competition.

3.  Team Muirhead (3) - #TeamResilient or #TeamHeartStop or whatever you want to call them deserve some time off the ice after grinding out the W's the hard way the past few weeks.

4.  Team Paetz (4) - #TwineTime doesn't punish a team for enjoying a week off....especially when those sitting right below them either don't compete as well or fail to capitalize on the opportunity.

5.  Team Homan (5) - We certainly cannot bump down the world champions for not competing this week.....more so when the reason for not competing on the ice was due to hitting the ice as role models in hosting a Team Homan camp.  Who doesn't love seeing curlers give back? #growthesport

Hon. Mention:  Team Jones, Team Englot, Team Tirinzoni, Team Einarson, Team Sinclair, Team Birchard

Ok it was a pretty quiet week for the top teams on tour with many taking the week off....or hosting a curling camp as in the case of our current world champions Team Homan.  Overall we see only one change in the rankings, welcoming Team Gunnlaugson into the Top 5 after their victory.

The choice of moving Team Jones and Team Englot up was a tough call.  Had Jones pulled off the victory in 'Toon Town, she may have knocked Homan out of the Top 5 and stole her spot.  However, the #TeamUpset loss (twice!) could not be ignored.  But the gap between the honourable mention teams and the Top 5 on the women's mountain is closing in now.

#StayTuned for the Week 4 preview sliding into your house later this week.  We will see 5 events on the men's tour and 3 events on the women's tour.  Many of the top men's and women's teams will be back on the ice so be ready for the primer on who is competing where and a few more #TwineTime predictions.