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Wednesday, 2 May 2018

FINAL #PowerRankings 2017/18

#BetweenTheSheets: The Rock Stops Spinning for 2017/18
PLUS who finished atop the curling season Power Rankings mountain?


The time has come.  Cue the Incredible Hulk walk away credits theme music.  Grab the tissue to catch the tear slowly cascading down your cheek.  The rocks are being put away.  The ice is melting into the history books.  The 2017/18 curling season has come to an end!

Are you ready for it?

Well I am sure we are all ready for fun in the sun and nice weather and being active outside but part of you always has a small feeling of sadness when the final event of the season wraps up and the rocks stop spinning for the final time of the year.  It is inevitable of course.  We know it was going to happen.  We are sad.  We are happy.  For some, we are tired!

Our season of champions wrapped up with the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships in Sweden and the Grand Slam of Curling's Champions Cup in Canada.  Before sliding out of the hack with our final winners and the big reveal of the FINAL #PowerRankings, let's clean the ice surface with a quick Curling Champions Roll Call of the 2017/18 season:


World Mixed Curling Champions: Scotland
Pacific-Asia Curling Champions: South Korea (men and women)
Canadian Mixed Curling Champions: Ontario
European Curling Champions: Sweden (men) and Scotland (women)
Roar of the Rings: Team Koe and Team Homan
Canadian Junior Curling Champions: British Columbia (men) and Nova Scotia (women)
Scotties Tournament of Hearts: Manitoba
2018 Winter Olympics (team): USA (men) and Sweden (women)
2018 Winter Olympics (mixed doubles): Canada
Tim Hortons Brier: Canada
World Junior Curling Champions: Canada (men and women)
World Women's Curling Champions: Canada
Winter Paralympics: China
Canadian Senior Curling Champions: Ontario (men) and Saskatchewan (women)
U Sport University Champions: U Alberta Golden Bears (men) and U Alberta Pandas (women)
Canadian Wheelchair Curling Champions: Saskatchewan
Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Champions: Laura Crocker / Kirk Muyres
World Men's Curling Champions: Sweden
Canadian U-18 Curling Champions: Nova Scotia (men and women)
World Senior Curling Champions: Canada (men and women)
World Mixed Doubles Curling Champions: Switzerland

Tour Challenge Tier I: Brad Gushue and Val Sweeting
Tour Challenge Tier II: Jason Gunnlaugson and Kerri Einarson
Masters of Curling: Brad Gushue and Jennifer Jones
Boost National: Bruce Mouat and Jennifer Jones
Meridian Canadian Open: Peter de Cruz and Chelsea Carey
Princess Auto Elite 10: Mike McEwen
Players Championship: Kevin Koe and Jamie Sinclair
Humpty's Champions Cup: Brad Gushue and Rachel Homan


What a Season of Champions folks! Congratulations to all the nations and all the teams mentioned above who found the top of the podium in the biggest events of the season.  Each of the teams/nations listed above have earned the right to call themselves a #1 team on the season as claiming top prize in each of those events is not easy!  Bring on next season to see how many, if any, can actually defend these titles now?!

With the results in Calgary still fresh on the ice, who were this week's #IceWarmers to close the season and who are the teams who took the final #BambiBumble down the ice?


#IceWarmers

1. #HoppSchwiiz - We crowned our final world champion for the season in Sweden on the final weekend of the season....and once again it was #HoppSchwiiz ruling the house.  At the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships, the Swiss duo of Michelle Jaeggi and Sven Michel ensured Switzerland would add to its mixed doubles domination in claiming the title over Russia.  Swiss Curling pick up their 7th world championship in 11 years!  Yes, this is officially a complete domination.  As this blog mentioned in the #WMDCC2018 preview, if the Swiss make the SF round they are winning the entire tournament.  In every edition of this event, if the Swiss have a shot to play for a medal they only come home golden!  For Michel it is his second world mixed doubles title.  Props to Russia though on winning a silver.  Hopefully this will help erase the dark cloud surrounding Russian curling from the Winter Olympics.  Props as well to Canada, one half being #TwineTime fam member #MrSmiles Kirk Muyres, claiming the bronze medal over Korea.  Mixed doubles could easily be considered the ultimate winner of the season after the success in PyeongChang and the record number of 40 nations competing in Sweden over the past week.  The discipline continues to grow...and with it as does the #growthesport movement as a whole.

2. Team Gushue - How else do you want to end the season than picking up a slam title and going out as victor?  Well only one team was going to lay claim to ending the season with a W and last week in Calgary it was Team Gushue!  And what a way to do it, going 7-0 and knocking off some pretty big names along the way such as Jacobs (RR), Gunnlaugson (QF), Koe (SF) and Howard (F).  Team Gushue also completed the career grand slam, having now won every event on the annual #gsoc calendar at least once.  Sure the Roar of the Rings were a disappointment but still a pretty solid season for the boys representing The Rock.  And, staying together in the future, means they head into next season with a ton of momentum and no learning curve of playing with new teammates, like some of their competitors will face.  Early favourites for starting atop the #PowerRankings for 2018/19?


3. Team Homan - Silence the haters the best way possible....winning!  Team Homan has faced immense scrutiny since their Winter Olympic performance.  They had a tough go at it in Toronto at the Players Championship where we saw them fail to win a game, something we never thought we would see.  They arrived in Calgary looking to erase those memories, quiet the doubters and build momentum towards next season.  Mission Accomplished!  It wasn't an easy road though for Team Canada Olympic reps.  They went 2-2 in the RR and needed a TB win over Alina Paetz just to qualify for the playoffs.  And even then, the playoffs were a battle.  A QF game vs Jamie Sinclair where they looked in trouble for the entire game until a big score of 3 late saved them.  They started slow in the SF as well vs Eve Muirhead, spotting her a 4-0 lead early before battling back.  And the final vs Kerri Einarson went back and forth the entire game before Homan came out on top.  Maybe we should say "survived" the playoff battle as a better fit.  Either way, the theme of this team right now has to be resiliency!  They battled back all week.  No W was easy.  They faced elimination a few times.  But the fight was still there, even after the long season.  This is the Team Homan we have been wanting to see and this sure gives the team, and their fans, lots of positives heading into next season now.


4. Scottish Pride - Scotland may have only had one men's and one women's team competing in Calgary but they sure did a great job showing Scottish Pride at the Champions Cup.  Team Muirhead and Team Mouat were threats the entire week for the title and, at the mid-way point of SF Saturday night it really looked like we would see both Scottish teams in the finals on Sunday.  And then the wheels came off.  Both teams were up 4-0 in their SF games early and both would allow their opposition (Homan and Howard) back into the game and would ultimately suffer surprising losses.  While the losses may have stung for a bit, the overall result from the final #gsoc event has to be a huge positive for both teams and Scottish curling in general looking towards next year.  Combined the teams finished Champions Cup with a 9-3 record.  Plus props to Mouat who himself battled back from an early 0-4 deficit in his QF vs McEwen before pulling out an extra end victory.


#BambiBumble

1. Rama (Break) Time - Well no team may be looking more forward to ending this season than Team Carruthers.  What a finish to the year for these guys....Yikes!  They wrapped up their season in Calgary finishing a disappointing 1-3.  In fact, their past three events since the Brier have all been #gsoc events and the best they could do in each was collect one W along the way.  Combined, their record sits at 3-10.  If you add in the remainder of their games at the Brier they are a combined 8-16...and remember they started the Brier 4-0.  4 wins in your past 20 games is not a great way to end the season.  Ok sure they played the last few slams with super spares like Jeff Stoughton and John Morris due to the "mutual decision" of former vice Braeden Moskowy leaving the team.  But still those are two guys with quite impressive resumes.  But even without the spare issue, if we look at the #gsoc record alone of this team this season they are sitting at a very under-performing 13-20 and qualifying in only 3 of the 7 played (Tour Challenge, Masters, National) and all in the early stages of the season.  Ah the point/ranking structure we have in place...lets not dive back into that debate here but this does raise the question of perhaps #gsoc events have a promotion/relegation system in place where under-perform the previous event means no invite for the next while then promoting perhaps a local #wct event (local meaning if the slam is in Saskatchewan, the local #wct event would be the highest SFM champion leading up to the event) a wildcard berth into the slam?  And Rama's team is not the only team who has under-performed at numerous slams in a row either...they just happen to have earned this justification at this time based on their recent results on the ice.  Lets be honest here, if any team is more ready to welcome an off-season and team dynamic change it is the newly formed #TeamBFF.

2. #BetrubtSchwiiz - Sad Switzerland! It was not a great week for Swiss curling in Calgary and not a great way to close down the season (at least from the team discipline).  Switzerland qualified four teams for the season-ending #ChampionsCup but walked away with mixed results.  Silvana Tirinzoni ended up with a 3-1 record and reached the QF before succumbing to the world champions Team Jones.  But she would be the only team still playing come playoff time.  Ok Alina Paetz did qualify for the TB round with a 2-2 record but she would be defeated by eventual champion Rachel Homan.  As for the other two teams, Team Feltscher and Team Pfister, both would fail to advance out of the RR stage of the #gsoc event as Feltscher finished 1-3 and Pfister went 0-4.  Overall the combined record for the 4 teams competing was an underwhelming 6-10.  Sure it is the last event of a very long season but you have to imagine Swiss curling fans were hoping for a bit of a stronger finish to the year.  Hey, at least the mixed doubles team took home a 7th gold medal in Sweden right?

3. Blue Time for the Bluenosers - First things first.  How great was it to see two teams from Nova Scotia compete in Western Canada at the season-ending event?  This is why I love the Champions Cup format.  We get to see teams we normally would not likely see compete in #gsoc events throughout the season and possibly not even see compete in Western Canada #wct events.  And yes I recognize one of those teams, Team Jones, qualified based on winning the world junior women's title but that is quite a remarkable feat and more impressive than winning a few of the #wct events other teams won to qualify here.  Unfortunately the joys of seeing #TeamBluenose on the ice could not help propel either team to victory last week.  Both Team Jones and Team MacDiarmid would finish 0-4 resulting in Nova Scotia going 0-8 on the week.  There is a flip side though as both teams had some strongly competitive games, namely young Jones looking like she would take out experienced Jones in their RR encounter.  Nova Scotia is a damn good curling province folks and the future still looks very bright for the Bluenosers going forward....but this was still a bit of a disappointment.


The long wait is finally over. Team have been pushing and shoving and clawing their way up the #PowerRankings mountain all season hoping to reach the apex and be crowned the season-ending #TwineTime Top Team for the 2017/18 season.  Without further adieu, here are the FINAL #PowerRankings:


MEN

1. Team Edin (LW: 1) - World Champion. Olympic silver. And, perhaps most important with the #TwineTime blog ranking criteria, consistency, consistency, consistency.  Now sure they failed to qualify in Calgary at the Champions Cup but it was the final event of a very long season for the #SwedishVikings.  Even a Viking gets tired every once and awhile.  You would be hard pressed to make a stronger argument against Team Edin in this Olympic year as being the #1 team on tour.  Congratulations #SwedishVikings!  The mountain top is all yours for 2017/18.

2. Team Gushue (3) - Gushue certainly made a run for the top of the mountain.  You have to wonder if he would have won the Olympic bid and competed in PyeongChang, would he have perhaps overtook Edin for top spot?  The repeat win at the Brier combined with 3 #gsoc titles (Tour Challenge, Masters, Champions Cup), another #gsoc final (Elite X), a world championship silver medal performance and 2 #wct titles....hmmm am I almost talking myself into moving them to #1? It is a close race for the top but Edin still just gets the edge having hit the podium at the Olympics and knocked off Gushue in the world championship final.  But, similar to last year, these are the two best teams in the world once again.  And neither have line up changes for next year so we should probably assume them both to not give up their mountain spots anytime soon.  Great season Team Gushue....cannot wait to see what you do next year!

3. Team Koe (2) - Speaking of PyeongChang, Team Koe did represent Canada and, really, their only major blip on the resume this season was failing to medal at the Winter Olympics.  Now this is not to throw shade at the team, they played great and just ended up on the wrong end of the spinning rock.  It happens.  It's sport!  But fact are facts and results are results.  The Olympics have an extra weight to them this past season, hence the advantage of Edin over Gushue.  Koe is without question a Top 3 team of the season though.  They have a #gsoc title to their credit (Players Championship) and a #wct title for the season resume.  The Roar of the Rings victory was huge against perhaps the toughest field of the season.  It will be sad to see Marc Kennedy step away from the game next season but, lets be honest, we all already assume he will be back on a team after next season when the real Olympic push starts right?  Strong final season for this group of guys though.

4. Team Mouat (4) - Perhaps the #TeamUpset of the Top 5?  Going into the season did anyone expect Scotland's Bruce Mouat to land on the #PowerRankings mountain at year end?  Ok the #TwineTime blog knew early on in the season this was looking like the start of a magical run for the young team but nobody saw this coming.  A world championship bronze medal win.  A #gsoc title (The National).  4 #wct titles.  A Scottish championship.  What a season!  And the boys are sticking together next year pushing towards the 2022 Winter Olympics.  A great rookie campaign...but the question will be if they can avoid the sophomore slump next season and continue the strong start?  They certainly are not going to be underestimated by any teams in the future.  And #StayTuned folks.....this blog may have some more info to come soon on the young skipper?!

5. Team Gunnlaugson (NR) - If Team Mouat is the #TeamUpset flag bearer perhaps Team Gunnlaugson becomes the dark horse team of the year.  Heading into the season people were all too familiar with the skills and capabilities of Jason Gunnlaugson.  The curling world has been waiting for him to really stake him claim on the ice as one of the top skips in the game and I think this season was his official coming out party.  Sure he has competed in big events in the past but this was his year to put the rest of the world on notice.  Gunner is coming for you!  The 49-34 overall record does not look as impressive based on winning percentage alone but when you drill a bit deeper down into the resume, the eyebrow starts to raise a bit more.  The Tour Challenge Tier II title to really kick off the season seemed to light the fire under their butts and they rode some momentum.  5 #gsoc QF appearances are pretty impressive.  But there were also hiccups along the way.  The Manitoba provincials were disappointing.  QF results are great but you really need to be able to take the game to the next level in the playoffs and win some playoff games.  You feel like this team is teetering on great success.  Hopefully next year is not only a continuation of this season but the team is able to truly elevate their results to make a move up the rankings.  Still, solid season for #TwineTime fam member Gunner and the boys!

Hon. Mention: Team Shuster, Team McEwen, Team de Cruz, Team Kim, Team Bottcher


WOMEN

1. Team Jones (LW: 1) - The Jennifer Jones - Jill Officer era has come to an end folks.  The long-time teammates and best friends saw their joint curling careers reach the finish line in Calgary in the Champions Cup SF loss to Manitoba rival Kerri Einarson.  But what a swan song season for Officer.  The team won the Scotties, erasing the shocking disappointment from the Roar of the Rings.  They completely dominated the competition in North Bay to claim a second World Championship.  Add in 2 #gsoc titles (Masters, National), a Players Championship finals appearance and a few impressive winning streaks and the summation is 2017/18 was the Team Jones season (plus vice Kaitlyn Lawes did win Olympic gold in mixed doubles).  The end result was an impressive 90-24 overall season record as well.  Sure they failed to make it back to the Olympics but they sure were able to win a heck of a lot of their games throughout the season and ending the year as World Champion is a pretty awesome accomplishment.  All the best to Jill Officer in the future and, who knows, maybe we will see her back on the ice someday soon (Mixed Doubles?!!?).



2. Team Hasselborg (2) - Our 2018 Winter Olympic gold medal winners, the #SwedishVikings!  Hasselborg has the reverse results of their compatriot #SwedishVikings, winning Olympic gold and World Championship silver.  Consistency, consistency, consistency.  The only real knock against Hasselborg moving past Jones for the top of the mountain is the small detailed comparisons, which happen at this level.  The team did qualify in 4 of the 5 #gsoc events played, reaching one final (Tour Challenge) but still lack a grand slam title.  They also reached the European final but fell in the championship to Scotland's Eve Muirhead (more on her in a second).  But lets not discredit those results either.  Qualifying in slams is never easy but Hasselborg consistently does so.  Reaching a European final is also never easy yet Hasselborg has multiple Euro finals under her belt now.  Nobody can question the fine season the Swedish team has put together.  And they are staying together next year as well so expect them to continue to push for the top of the mountain in 2018/19.

3. Team Muirhead (4) - Our 2017 European Champions!  3 #gsoc SF appearances (Tour Challenge, Masters, Champions Cup).  A #wct title as well.  You betcha the theme rings though once again here: consistency!  While Muirhead may not have claimed top prize in many events, they were qualifying and pushing for championships in almost every event entered this season.  In fact they only failed to qualify for the playoffs once all season!  Yes the Olympic bronze medal loss will hurt.  And not winning a slam title sucks when you reach the SF round so many times and come so close.  And of course the Scottish playoff loss to earn the spot at the World Championships may have stung a bit but it was right after the Olympics and the Olympic hangover is no joke folks!  But Scottish Power is still on full display with the results compiled all season long.  If we can expect anything from Muirhead each season she steps on the ice it is to expect her to be playing into the weekend each week on tour and always a threat to win a title regardless of the event.

4. Team Einarson (5) - Well isn't it unfortunate this team is not staying together next year?  I cannot lie.  Of all the team changes going on this season, Team Einarson's decision to break apart is one of the most disappointing.  This team really did seem to find their footing on the ice this season and really looked like the long-term threat.  A Scotties final.  A Tour Challenge Tier II title.  A Masters and Champions Cup final appearance.  A Players Championship SF appearance.  How many teams around the world would kill for their resume?  And they are splitting ways?  Hey things happen and players need to make decisions best for their future so no shade against the members of the team...but we can still slightly mourn the decision for a few months right?

5. Team Homan (NR) - The Champions Cup win this weekend in Calgary was just the push needed from Team Homan to take the final spot in the Top 5.  Perhaps the best word to describe the Homan season would be polarizing?!  The team looked great early in the season, picking up #wct titles in Vernon and Calgary.  But the slam season was a complete bust, reaching on 2 QF (National, Canadian Open) in the first 5 #gsoc events of the season.  The Roar of the Rings were a huge success, winning the right to represent Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics....but of course we all know what happened in PyeongChang.  The first post-Olympic event was the debacle at the Players Championship where the team went 0-5.  But then they end the season picking up the final event, and slam, of the year winning the Champions Cup (and earning an invite to next year's season-ending event in Saskatoon).  Some positive moments.  Some not to positive moments.  Yup, it has been polarizing!  But the blog cannot ignore the Roar and Champions Cup wins against strong fields.  They earned their spot on the mountain but it was a claw fight to just inch up above a few other teams.

Hon. Mention: Team Sinclair, Team Tirinzoni, Team Kim, Team Carey, Team Moiseeva


What say you rock heads and stoners?  Agree with the final rankings?  Disagree?  Who would be YOUR #1 team atop the men's and women's ranking mountain?  Share your thoughts in the comment section or through social media.

Well the official season may be over but the #TwineTime blog is not putting his rocks away quite yet.  We have a few new members of the #TwineTime blog family to introduce AND maybe a few more surprise blog posts along the way.

As I am sure you are well aware by now, I will be participating in #StrandedWaterValley this upcoming August.  This is an excellent fundraising event for Kids Up Front Calgary.  Thank you to those curling fans and blog supporters who have already generously reached into their pockets to make a donation!  For more information on the event itself and my personal pledge on why I am participating (and to make a donation please), visit my Participant Page.

But the work is not complete!!  The #TwineTime blog will have a VERY SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT coming shortly on how the curling community has come together to show their support for the cause.  You will not want to miss this....and perhaps win yourself some pretty sweet curling swag!

The curling season for this blogger is not quite over folks.....

#StayTuned