Wednesday, 30 November 2016

#BetweenTheSheets: Pressure On For PyeongChang
Olympic trials spot on the line at Canada Cup of Curling

The realization the 2018 Winter Olympics are just over a year away will set in quick this weekend in Brandon, MB.  Seven of the top men's and women's curling teams in our nation will hit the ice at the Keystone Centre and compete for a coveted Roar of the Rings invite.  The Roar of the Rings will take place next year in Ottawa, with the winning men's and women's teams earning the right to don the Maple Leaf and represent Canada in PyeongChang, South Korea.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves quite yet.  There is still A LOT of curling to take place over the next year.  Let's just consider this week's Canada Cup of Curling event as the official "kick in the ass" start on the Olympic road.  Ok, yes I realize Team Homan, Team Jones and Team Koe already have their hotel reservations set in Ottawa.  One year out from the trials though, the realization for all teams should sink in quick now....the struggle is real and qualifying for Ottawa is no easy feat!

Of course the Roar of the Rings spot is not the only thing on the line this week.  The men's and women's champions also earn their spot on Team North America at the 2017 Continental Cup in Las Vegas this January.  Who doesn't want a trip to Vegas right after New Year's to have some fun and win some money? #TeamCanada  Speaking of money, the Canada Cup of Curling also has lots of that to go around with a total purse of $140K!!

Friday, 18 November 2016

#BetweenTheSheets: Curling Parity Around The Rings?
#TeamCanada, welcome #TeamUpset?
Ain't sport grand curling friends?  One reason I enjoy watching and following all sports is to see those upsets.  Just look at March Madness.  The NCAA basketball tournament draws hoards of fans for one main reason: #BracketBuster!  As sports fans we crave the upsets.  A 15-seed knocking off a 2-seed.  A sub-100 ranked player in the world defeating a Top 5 player at a grand slam.  An underdog story for the ages when a team defies the odds and takes home a championship.  We thirst for this stuff!

Curling has not been a sport where we see as many upsets.  Sure there are mild upsets every once and awhile at the Scotties or the Brier but in general I think we can all agree, for the most part, the rich get richer.  Ok maybe a Mark Dacey or Jean-Michel Menard Brier win gets us all excited for some upsets and finally seeing a few fresh faces in the victory circle.  But let's be honest, in comparison to other competitive sports the major upsets are not on par on the ice.  Until now perhaps?

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

#BetweenTheSheets: Surviving The Tour Challenge
Athletes weigh in on ice conditions, Tier II #growthesport & #Movember looks?

3 weeks.  2 slams.  1 Champion!!  Someone might have forgot to tell Sweden's Niklas Edin other teams on tour are interested in winning a slam this season.  Team Edin left Okotoks with their first ever grand slam title and the first title for a men's international team.  Well, see saw a bit of history repeating in Cranbrook as #TeamViking continued their winning ways in claiming the Tour Challenge Tier I title.

Upsets also continued to be a grand slam trend this season.  At The Masters we saw Allison Flaxey lead her team to a grand slam title.  In Cranbrook we saw a few more upsets in the finals.  Scotland's former world junior cahmpionship team of Kyle Smith reached the Tier I men's final while Michelle Englot led her "new to her" Manitoba team to the Tier I women's final, falling to Val Sweeting.  Some may say the upsets continued on the Tier II side of the house.  No, the upset wasn't seeing both the men's and women's Tier II finals being all-Ontario battles (although maybe that is a mild upset?).  The "upset" was the teams hoisting the shiny trophy as the end of the weekend when Greg Balsdon defeated pre-event favourite Glenn Howard and Jacqueline Harrison knocked off 2016 Scotties runner-up Krista McCarville.  The more things change (upsets, upsets, upsets), the more things stay the same (Team Edin domination) this season?

But the true highlight of the Tour Challenge grand slam event, other than the final victors, is the unique format of running TWO grand slam events at the same time: Tier I and Tier II.  #TwineTime was fortunate to spend some time in Cranbrook over the weekend and wanted to find out from the athletes themselves, both Tier I and Tier II, their thoughts on the sophomore slam.

Friday, 11 November 2016

BetweenTheSheets with Joan McCusker
Olympic and 3-time World Champ talks broadcasting, #growthesport and gender equality

As the second Grand Slam of Curling event is happening in Cranbrook, I want to take all of you back two weeks to The Masters in Okotoks.  #TwineTime had the opportunity to enjoy the #gsoc action and, thanks to Sportsnet, also had some time to sit down with one of the most recognized and successful curlers in Canada: Joan McCusker.

Being from Saskatchewan originally, I was a huge fan of Team Schmirler of which McCusker played second.  From their first Scotties championship in 1993 to winning their third world championship in 1997 to the iconic Olympic gold medal win in Nagano in 1998, McCusker and Team Schmirler brought the sport of curling into the lives of many Canadians.

McCusker has now shifted from a role on the ice as a competitive curler to in front of the camera as a broadcaster.  I was very fortunate in finding some time in between draws in Okotoks to sit down and talk with McCusker about a variety of topics, both personally and professionally.

Enjoy this special Grand Slam of Curling conversation as we go #BetweenTheSheets with Joan McCusker.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

#BetweenTheSheets: Who Will Survive Cranbrook?
60 teams set their sights on the #TourChallenge championship

The biggest grand slam event of the season hits the ice in Cranbook, B.C. this week as 60 teams (60!!!) vie for the #TourChallenge title.  This event is in it's sophomore season after proving to be a huge success last year in Paradise, NFLD.  The idea of hosting a Tier I and Tier II event at the same time is not only an excellent opportunity for the teams invited to participate but also for #curling fans.

While the Tier I winner will collect a #gsoc title, an automatic berth in the season ending Champions Cup and HUGE rankings points, the Tier II winner also has much, if not more, to play for.  The Tier II champion will also be recognized as a #gsoc champion but will also earn an automatic invite to the next grand slam event, The Canadian Open, in January.  To say there will be lots on the line and high intensity would be an understatement!

Monday, 7 November 2016

#BetweenTheSheets with Binia Feltscher
Two-time World Champion talks #growthesport, curling mentors & The Keg

Rock heads and stoners, fans of the #TwineTime blog, this is a special moment for me.  I am thrilled to welcome into the #TwineTime family one of the bright stars of the curling world: Binia Feltscher!  The Swiss skip is a two-time world champion (2014, 2016), a European Champion (2014) and an Olympic silver medalist (2006).  If you follow along with this blog religiously (and of course you all do right?!) you would know I am a huge fan of Binia Feltscher.

Having met the team last season at the World Championships in Swift Current, my admiration for Feltscher and the entire team only grew.  They were friendly to all media and fans, on and off the ice.  In fact, during their assigned autograph session they handed out free Swiss chocolates to everyone.  What's not to love there, right?  I am both honoured and a bit #fanboy excited to welcome Binia Feltscher to the blog and have the opportunity to get to know her a bit better.  My fellow #curling friends and fans, let's go #BetweenTheSheets with Binia Feltscher:

Friday, 4 November 2016

#BetweenTheSheets: Grand Slam History!
The Masters crowns first-time champs & stirs up the power rankings

In a season of unexpected results, dark horse tour winners and the resurgence of #TeamWorld, the results of the #2016WFGmasters should not have come as a surprise to any curling fan.  Sweden's Niklas Edin erased the monkey off his back in collecting his first, of hopefully many, grand slam title.  It has been noted in this blog over the past weeks how strong #TeamWorld has been this season and Edin has been leading the pack.

Edin played a game of consistency throughout the week.  While suffering an early loss to Brad Jacobs during pool play, Edin extracted his revenge in the championship final with an extra end steal to seal his maiden title.  #TwineTime called it in the event preview and Team Edin delivered on championship Sunday!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

#SwedishVikings + Fans = LOVE

#BetweenTheSheets: The Sights & Sounds Of The Masters
#TwineTime invades Okotoks to talk #growthesport with top athletes

The opening Grand Slam of Curling event of the 2016/17 season has wrapped up and history was the theme of the event.  We crowned two new grand slam champions and our first European men's grand slam winner.  The #TeamCanada vs. #TeamWorld theme still rang true, as expected, with both sides claiming a victory and setting up more plot lines and increased drama heading into the thick of the season.