Sunday, 31 December 2017

Top 7 of '17

#BetweenTheSheets: Top 7 of '17
The countdown to the top #TwineTime blog posts of 2017

It is almost time folks.  Time to say goodbye to 2017 and celebrate the anticipation of 2018.  Don't you just love the week between Christmas and New Year's?!  Every sports media outlet is releasing their Top 10 stories of 2017.  Or Top 10 athletes.  Or Top 10 plays.  Or Top 10 blunders.  Every music outlet has their own Top 10 songs of year.  The news outlets all release their own Top 10 stories.  Or Top 10 disasters.  Or Top 10 hits and misses.  It is countdown season!

And #TwineTime is no different.  Last year the blog released the Top 6 of '16 and it seemed to be met with great interest and high praise.  So why not do it again this year right?  And lets up the list one shall we?  Time to unveil the Top 7 of '17!!!!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Casey Scheidegger

#BetweenTheSheets With Casey Scheidegger
Olympic trials experience, grand slam champion and....Christmas rapid fire

The sport of curling has been an interesting one to watch during the 2017 calendar year.  We have seen favourites go on storied runs towards championship glory.  We have seen a few teams stumble along the path to success.  And we have have watched the evolution of the #TeamUpset movement.

A skip serving as flag bearer for the movement and waving the #TeamUpset flag with pride is Alberta's Casey Scheidegger.  What a 2017 this team is having!  As the 2016 year came to a close the team had competed in the Tour Challenge Tier II event and picked up a few big wins on tour.  When the calendar flipped over, Team Scheidegger planted the #TeamUpset flag on the button picking up their first grand slam title, The Meridian Canadian Open, in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.

The win catapulted the team from Roar to the Rings Olympic pre-trials dark horse conversation to Roar of the Rings team to watch out for.  And now, Casey Scheidegger is welcomed with open arms into the #TwineTime family.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

#PowerRankings W19

#BetweenTheSheets: Week 19 Power Rankings
The 2018 Winter Olympics field slides into place

The close of the 2017 calendar year is fast approaching and with it brings a mixed bag of emotions.  We have reasons of celebration.  We have reflection on the ups and downs of the previous 12 months.  We have tears of joy and tears of sorrow over the events in our past.  We also have excitement towards the unknown of 2018.  And we have anticipation for milestone moments.

A big cause of excitement and anticipation for athletes, nationalists and sports fans will be the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics.  From a curling perspective, the end of 2017 brings an end to the 4-year qualification cycle.  A select collective curling family will emerge from PyeongChang as Olympians.

The family filled out the remainder seats at the celebratory table this past weekend but not without a bit of drama, intensity, disappointment and....head scratching?  Just like a normal holiday family get together for most of us right?

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

#OQE2017 Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: Who Claims The Final Olympic Tickets?
The final curling spots in PyeongChang will be decided in Pilsen

The time for talking is over.  The preparation and build up towards the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang has been focused on who will qualify and who will compete for Olympic gold.  It truly has been three years down the #Roadto2018.

But the end of the road is now within clear and visible sight....almost as easy to see as staring across the entire province of Saskatchewan on a beautiful summer afternoon.  The twists and turns along the road are now in the rear view mirror.  We knew the host nation, South Korea, would be awaiting at the end of the road but who would be joining them at the station with punched Olympic tickets?

The field in PyeongChang is close to being finalized and the final two nations will pick up their official invites on Sunday December 10.  We have arrived curling fans.  The final Olympic Qualification Event is here!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

#ROTR Women's Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: Roar of the Rings Women's Preview
#PolarPower returns to #TwineTime to sort out the women's draw in Ottawa

Hark how the rocks,
Sweet granite rocks,
All seem to say, 
Throw well today.

Roar of the Rings is here,
Bringing good cheer,
To young and old,
Meek and the bold.

Hurry hurry hurry hurry,
Skips all yell with furry,
With intense feeling,
This is Curling Caroling!

One seem to hear, 
Words of good cheer,
From everyone,
Filling in the air.

Are you ready curling fans?  While Christmas music starts to fill the airwaves, the screams of skips, the yells of sweepers and the cheers from adoring sports fans are about to fill the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The beginning of December may be meant to officially kick off the countdown to Christmas but for the next week the focus will be on crowning the next #TeamCanada representative for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Bring on the roar....the Roar of the Rings!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

#ROTR Men's Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: Roar of the Rings Men's Preview
Special Guest Jason Gunnlaugson helps preview the race to crown #TeamCanada

Hello December!  The temperatures are dropping.  The snow is falling.  The hours of sunlight are declining.  Christmas anticipation is rising.  The holiday season excitement is increasing.  And the time to crown curling's #TeamCanada representatives for PyeongChang is happening!

The past 3 years have built up to this moment.  When the first competitive rock slides out of the hack on Saturday afternoon, all the anticipation, hard work, dedication, commitment and drive from the athletes competing in Ottawa will become a reality.  Butterfly's will swell and swarm in each athlete's stomach, especially leading up to that first game of the event.  There will be moments of pressure.  There will be moments of disappointment.  There will be moments of pure joy and exhilaration.

Welcome to the Roar of the Rings 2017!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Daniela Jentsch

#BetweenTheSheets With Daniela Jentsch
Olympic excitement, being a mom, Andrea Schoepp regrets?

When living in a curling hot bed nation like Canada we sometimes take for granted the fine luxuries our athletes are provided.  We have a plethora of curling clubs across our nation where our athletes can fine tune their skills, whether at home or on the road.  We have stiff competition where our athletes can challenge themselves to play against and compete with the top teams and players in the world.  We have media coverage where our athletes can promote the sport through TV coverage or social media or interviews with journalists covering an event.

But the world around us does not live in the same utopia curling environment Canadian athletes and curling fans have become accustomed to.  Some nations have little to no dedicated sheets of curling ice for their athletes to practice on.  Others have only a handful of competitive curlers to compete against and hone their skills.  And few have the media attention and fan excitement where a team returns home from a strong performance at a world championship and has journalists and fans awaiting their arrival at an airport.  To truly understand the sport of curling, we need to look outside our own national boundaries and learn more about how the sport functions, grows and operates around the world.

In doing so, please help me in welcoming the newest member of the #TwineTime family, representing Team Germany, Daniela Jentsch!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

#CMCC2018 Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: Canadian Mixed Curling 
Championships Preview
The Season of Champions continues in Swan River, Manitoba

Curling fans around the world have been fixated on the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics this season but let us not overlook the Season of Champions.  For Canadian curling fans, the Road to the Roar pre-trials will conclude in perfect time for us to slip on our sliders and clean our rocks in preparation for another Canadian big-time event.

Welcome to Swan River, Manitoba and the 2018 Canadian Mixed Curling Championships!

For those unfamiliar, the mixed curling championships should not be confused with the debut Olympic mixed doubles curling event.  Mixed curling is a full team of 4 players, comprised of two men and two women with each position alternating between men and women.  And the Canadian Mixed Curling Championships have a rich curling history in our fare nation.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

US Olympic Team Trials Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: USA Olympic Trials Preview
Who takes Gold to wear Red, White and Blue?

"O-ma-ha! O-ma-ha! O-ma-ha!" No you are not suffering flashbacks from the days of Peyton Manning yelling for an audible at the line with the Denver Broncos.  Rather, these are the chants of USA curling fans heading to the great state of Nebraska ready to crown their PyeongChang representative.

The U.S. Olympic Team Curling Trials are set to begin Saturday November 11 and wrap up with the crowning of their Olympic men's and women's representatives on Friday November 17 or Saturday November 18, depending how the finals play out (more on that below).

With similarities to Manning letting his team know time was running out and the shift to Plan B was needed, teams heading to Baxter Arena may be calling an "Omaha" of their own as the time for preparation is over.

Welcome to your Olympic dream.....or Olympic heartbreak?!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

#RTTR2017 Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: Road To The Roar Preview
Olympic dreams continue for some and end for most in PEI

Oh how I love the month of November.  We anticipate the arrival of snow...lots and lots of snow!  We reflect on those who have fought for our country.  We prepare for the upcoming Christmas season.  We celebrate personal milestones (it is the #TwineTime birthday month after all).  And, for 2017 at least, we start the dog fight known as the Olympic trials.

November will either go down as a month of joy or a month of heartbreak for numerous curling athletes around the world.  The US Olympic trials are set to go this month.  As are the European Championships, which hold some Olympic dreams based on results.  And of course we start the path towards naming the men's and women's representatives for Team Canada in PyeongChang.  The #Roadto2018 will end for many within a week's time while curling fans are left salivating over the process.

Welcome to the 2017 Road to the Roar curling fans!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

#PACC2017 Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: Curling Down Under
The Pacific-Asia Curling Championships hit Aussie ice

The World Championships.  The Brier.  The Scotties.  The European Curling Championships.  The grand slams.  These are often the big events attracting the most interest among curling fans during the season.  This year add in The Olympics.  But aren't we forgetting the largest growing region within the sport?  It might be time we add the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships to the list of exciting championship events every year.

Curling is taking off within the Pacific-Asia region.  There are more curling clubs being built in nations like Japan and Korea.  Most of the nations within the region are seeing an increase in curling registrations, whether it be just simple Learn to Curl sessions at the club or signing up to compete in fun spiels and events.  And, on a competitive level, we have seen a steady increase in the number of #PACC teams competing on the World Curling Tour.

Teams from the Pacific-Asia region are not only growing annually on the #wct but they are competing and winning.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

#PowerRankings W9

#BetweenTheSheets: Week 9 Power Rankings
Who's peaking?  Are you peaking?  What is peaking?

It's close to midnight
Something evil's lurking from the dark
Under the moonlight
You see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream
But terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze
As horror looks you right between your eyes
You're paralyzed
                                          -  Michael Jackson's Thriller

Of course you are all familiar with the opening lines of Michael Jackson's iconic Halloween-themed song Thriller.  And if you aren't, WWWHHHHAAAA?  Is that even possible?  HERE check out the really it's ok.  For the first time, and in honour of today being Halloween and in the memory of the iconic pop star, I will actually encourage you to leave the #TwineTime blog (for a moment) to relive this amazing mini-movie.  But come back ok....

Welcome back....did you enjoy a little scare?  Epic dance moves right?  But now you are asking, what is the relevance other than the holiday posting of these lyrics to the #TwineTime blog and, more specifically, curling?  I am glad you asked dear reader....

Let us do some creepy Halloween peaking into the topic of sports peaking....

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

#MastersGSOC Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: Rings Run Green With Envy
Who will step up and claim the 1st major of the season?

Happy Halloween curling fans!  No, I am not dressing up as Slider this year.  And no the curling rings will not drip with Orange and Black...but rather the theme of this week on tour will be green with envy!

It must be time for The Masters to hit the house of the curling season.  The season's second Grand Slam of Curling event and first major will take over the Llodyminster Centennial Civic Centre from October 24 to October 29.

The build-up towards PyeongChang becomes more real with every passing week of the season and while some teams are seeing gold....others could be seeing green by the time The Masters wraps up on Sunday evening.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

#PowerRankings W8

#BetweenTheSheets: Week 8 Power Rankings
Money, money, money, money....Sponsorship's are keys to success

I love money!  You love money!  We all love money!!  Right?  Well sports teams also love money....but in a slightly different way than perhaps you and I do.

Travel, spiel entry fees, food, equipment....all of these things add up in the world of sports.  Whether a small town hockey team to an amateur athlete with Olympic aspirations to a professional athlete playing in the biggest league in the world, the costs associated with being the best still add up regardless of your level of play.

Enter the world of Sponsorship!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

#PowerRankings W7

#BetweenTheSheets: Week 7 Power Rankings
Controversy stirs debate...what a week?!

As our curling season starts to pick up steam and the rocks start sliding closer and closer towards the pinpoint of the year, the 2018 Winter Olympics, the intensity meter seems to be turning up week in and week out.

Some teams are handling the pressure of the Olympic season quite well.  Some are revving up their game in the early part of the season and look to move from a "what if" possibility to an Olympic title contender.  And some have felt the 352lbs of weight crash in on them.  Pressure and stress are interesting emotions that can bring out the best and worst in people.

But what about controversy?  We have had a relatively quiet season on the controversy front, especially compared to year's past.  No allegations of cheating.  No major falls and injuries.  And changes were brought in to the sport from the governing federation with major approval.

Who knew #TwineTime would be the one to get people riled up?  Well it happened folks....

Thursday, 12 October 2017

#Curling S1718W6

#BetweenTheSheets:  Rankings Revamp Required!
2017/18 season has taught us the current system is not working

In this week's updated #PowerRankings blog post, the featured topic of discussion was asking the question of whether or not parity has hit the curling house.  Are we seeing more teams compete for tour championship wins on an annual basis or are the same teams continuing to dominate?

The results fielded a mixed response bag but, when looked at over a two year period, it would appear we are seeing the needle move forward on the parity issue.  As mentioned in the blog post, parity is good for sport in general.  More competitive teams means more competitive events meaning more competitive action on the ice resulting in an increase in fan excitement and ultimately an increase in game play from the athletes themselves.

But if parity is truly hitting the hack nowadays, does this finally mean a warranted review or even revamp of the current Order of Merit (OOM) points structure needs to be brought to the forefront?

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


Hello October 11, Welcome! 
The day is here, today is #NCOD

"It's hard to trust people, you know?  You kinda get used to being alone and you feel like you're strong enough to do it all by yourself but that's not true.  I do want somebody to believe in me and I want to believe in someone else."

Wiser words may have never been spoken on a television program than the quote above.  No this is not from Will & Grace or Ellen.  Don't jump right into the stereotype already based on the topic of this blog.  This quote was spoken by Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon on the hit TV show Empire in last week's episode.  As soon as I heard the quote I quickly melted into a pan of emotion.  3 lines.  3 lines from a TV show.  3 lines from a TV show that sum up my personal emotions on a regular basis.  Who knew?

October 11 is National Coming Out Day.  A day where those who identify themselves within the LGBTQ community celebrate coming out and those who are community allies can stand up and show their support.  October 11, 2017.  A day of celebration.  A day some of us have also dreaded for an entire year.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

#PowerRankings W6

#BetweenTheSheets: Week 6 Power Rankings
Is #TourParity the new #TeamUpset this season?

Often sports fans grow tired of seeing the same names celebrating with championship wins year after year.  Perhaps call it the "Patriots Syndrome" from the NFL or, right now, the "Penguin Problem" in the NHL or the "Yankees Issue" with MLB.  These same teams seem to either win or be right there in the thick of the championship race season after season after season.

Now if you are a fan of these "dynasty" teams you are probably all for this and are asking yourself, "What's the problem with that? I don't see an issue here!"  And you are right.  But what about the fans of all the other teams in these leagues?  Don't they grow tired of watching the same teams in the playoffs year in and year out?  You better believe it!  Everyone loves an upset.  Everyone loves seeing a team with a playoff drought fight back and make a deep playoff run for a season or two....or more.  Sports is fun because of competition and the same teams coming out on top drops the interest in the sport for the casual fan.  Your diehard fan will always be there of course.

But what about smaller sports or individual sports?  What about those sports still technically classified as "amateur" sports?  Do these sports suffer a "dynasty" problem or are they seeing more parity?  What about curling?

Friday, 6 October 2017

#Curling S1718W5

#BetweenTheSheets: We Want Canada!
Brazil challenges the title holders for a world championship berth

The curling world, especially fans in Canada, received a slight surprise this week when Brazil formally challenged the powerhouse nation for a 2018 World Men's Curling Championship berth.

The best-of-five series will take place in January in London, Ontario during the 2018 Continental Cup.  Canada may be the #1 ranked nation in the world but even they are not protected from a world challenge.

How did this all happen many fans asked this week?  It is quite simple really.  The America's Zone is granted 2 spots at the world championships.  Due to USA acting as host (Las Vegas, NV) and the host nation receiving an auto berth, Canada dipped into the 2nd spot.  This opened the door for Brazil, another member association in the zone, to issue the challenge to Canada for the second spot.

From a #growthesport perspective, this is great!  But some feel this is unfair......

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

#WMxCC2017 Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: World Mixed Curling 
Championship Preview
Who takes home the first world championship of the season?

While tour events and Olympic hype generates much of the buzz around this curling season, there are still numerous world championship events on the curling calendar for fans to be salivating over.  The first championship of the 2017/18 season is about to get underway in Champery, Switzerland: The World Mixed Curling Championship.

With mixed doubles being added to the Olympic roster for 2018, mixed curling has been left in the hack with less emphasis and discussion.  To the layman sports fan the two terms "mixed" and "mixed doubles" may seem like one in the same.  Let's be clear here, the event starting this week will feature teams of four, similar to traditional curling, consisting of 2 men and 2 women.  Hence the term "mixed curling".

The World Mixed Curling Championship are still in their infancy stage as 2017 marks only the third time this event has been held.  Before we dive into the record-setting 2017 field, let us take a quick #GunnerRunback on the brief history of these championships:

Monday, 2 October 2017

#PowerRankings W5

#BetweenTheSheets: Week 5 Power Rankings
The future dominant nation in curling? Korea?!

Week 4 was certainly a busy one as curling action heat up the ice from Vernon, B.C. to Saskatoon, SK to Stockholm, Sweden to Basel, Switzerland.  It truly was an international week of excitement!

With so many events taking place, you knew there would be various teams and story lines to keep your curling eyes on all weekend.  However, one story emerged that perhaps many people did not predict would.  And not just one story but one nation.

How many of you dear readers were ready to proclaim Korea the rising nation of curling?  How many of you were ready to predict Korea would field 3 championship final teams over the weekend?  Not seeing a lot of hands up in the air am I?  Well, with the numerous events taking place and plethora of top teams competing, the nation of South Korea may have stole the show....and put the rest of the world on notice!

Friday, 29 September 2017

#Curling S1718 W4

#BetweenTheSheets: U-S-Agghhhh
USA Olympic trials debacle raising questions and concerns

The Olympics.  The dream of every kid who has picked up a stick or raquet or club or broom or ball and the goal for athletes around the world today.  Regardless of sport and/or discipline, if your sport is a recognized Olympic sport your goal is to one day suit up in your nations colors and flag and compete on the grandest sports stage of all and represent your country.

But as some teams around the international curling stage are discovering, earning an Olympics spot is not quite as black and white as one would think.

The recent legal debate between USA Curling and Team Todd Birr has sparked a variety of differing opinions and emotions on how national curling governing bodies are deciding who earns the right to compete for an Olympic spot....or if they are allowed to compete at all.

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....

Friday, 22 September 2017

#Curling S1718W3

#BetweenTheSheets: A Change Will Do You Good!
Curling to undergo major enhancements heading into next season and beyond

Who knew Slovenia would be the centre of the curling world?  Well, last week all eyes in the sport were drawn to the lakeside town of just over 6,000 people in northwestern Slovenia for the World Curling Federation's Annual General Assembly.

The 56 member associations of the WCF gathered and had an action-packed agenda discussing some important decisions for the future of the sport and vote on proposed changes....and potentially welcome a few new member associations into the fold.  A change can do you good curling world and changes they are a coming!  Cue the Sheryl Crow music in the background now.

Let's take a look at the decisions, changes and votes conducted in the historical mediaeval Slovenian town last weekend.

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 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.

Friday, 15 September 2017

#Curling S1718W2

#BetweenTheSheets: The Tour Challenge Rock Star
#TwineTime Bro steals the spotlight in Regina

The #TwineTime blog is always feeling very fortunate, humbled and thankful for the opportunities provided from organizations like Curling Canada, Sportsnet, World Curling Federation and Grand Slam of Curling.  I know my role at events.  I stay in the background.  I try to linger more around the concourse level of arenas to talk to fans and feel the environment as best as possible.  I try to make sure if I do request an interview with an athlete after a game, it is after the rest of the media have had their chance.  And I try to be as respectful with their time as possible.  When one is provided an opportunity to be part of something bigger than oneself, you soak in the moment, enjoy the ride and say thank you.

But this past week in my hometown of Regina a slightly different side of the #TwineTime blog came through.  I watched games from the stands and in a regular seat.  I did not venture backstage after games and talk to players and conduct interviews.  I did not even try to hide behind the bigger scenes.  Nope, at the #TourChallenge I made my presence known.  And for a great reason....

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

#PowerRankings W2

#BetweenTheSheets: Week 2 Power Rankings
Tour Challenge winners move up, some big names slide down

When you kick off the season with a huge grand slam event you never truly know what you are going to get.  Will the regular big names from last season continue to power their way to the top of the standings?  Will a few surprise teams emerge and knock off the "big boys"?  And which teams will take a Bambi on ice stumble in their first event of the year?

The #TourChallenge in Regina certainly provided answers to all those questions and more as the opening slam of the season rocked the house next to the new iconic Mosaic Stadium in #yqr.  We had a few #TeamUpset results.  We saw history made on both Tier I and Tier II women's sides of the draw.  And we saw a few big name teams fail to live up to expectations early on.

As we head into Week 2, here are the Ice Warmer teams, the teams with replicating Bambi on ice and the updated #PowerRankings:

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

#TourChallenge Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: It's Grand Slam Time Baby!
The Tour Challenge takes over the Queen City

Can you believe we are in the first week of September and already preparing for a curling grand slam event?  The season is barely a week old and in less than a week we will celebrate the first #gsoc champion of the 2017/18 season.  Crazy right?

Perhaps this is the perfect tone to the season though.  We already know the Golden Season is going to be magical and exciting and dramatic and intriguing....and a plethora of other descriptive words.  Why not slide right out of the hack with the largest grand slam event in the calendar?  Let's bring together 60 of the top teams across the globe to one city, one venue and let them kick off the season with an epic grand slam battle!  It may be tough for some of the teams as many have not even had a competitive game of curling under their sliders this season....but from a fan perspective, sure bring it on!

Ok I know the argument here.  There may be a risk we don't see each team competing at their absolute best given this could be the first event of the season for them.  But come on, these are competitive athletes and many are still in the running for an Olympic berth.  If you doubt their intensity just because it is the opening event of the season, you are being foolish!  I think it will be the opposite.  I think the teams will come out more fired up, more intense and more ready to play a slam this early in the season because it is the Olympic year rather than say next year if this event took place at the same time.  Be ready for some fine ass curling rock heads and stoners!

Monday, 4 September 2017

#PowerRankings W1

#BetweenTheSheets: YOUR Results Are In.....
The 2017/18 Power Rankings are HERE!

The Golden Season of curling has finally left the hack and started sliding down the house.  If this is a long-term game consider this opening weekend of the season the slider warm up part to the game.  This is going to be a long season and teams need to be ready to peak at the right time, gather momentum as the season rolls on and, should the train fall off the track at all, correct the little things as early as possible.

The fun part of the season for fans is to keep an eye on the teams looking to make their mark on PyeongChang.  As we often see in college football and professional sports leagues like the NHL and NFL, weekly #PowerRankings help track those teams on the rise and those trending the opposite way.  This season #TwineTime wants to bring that excitement to the Golden Season of Curling.

Now sure I could have kicked off the season with the same rankings we ended last season with but what fun would that be?  Curling is a sport where the fans feel part of the action on the ice and really are the heart and pulse propelling the sport forward.  Therefore, it only made sense to allow the fans to vote for which teams they believed were deserving of a Top 5 ranking.  After weeks of the #fanvote, the Results. Are. In.

Friday, 1 September 2017

#Curling S1718W1

#BetweenTheSheets: Here. We. Go.
The Olympic season is ready to slide out of the hack

The season preview blog has been said and done.  The warm-ups, training and practice ice times have been completed.  The talk of what your team is going to do to prepare and how your team is going to make this "Your" season has been said, quoted and discussed.  Now.....It's time!

The Golden Season is now here and it's time for teams to not only talk the talk but walk the walk....or slide the slide?  Is that a saying or a thing in curling?  No?  Ok never mind.  You get what I am saying here.  Curling athletes and fans have been waiting for this season since the conclusion of the 2013/14 season....otherwise known as the end of the last Olympic cycle.  And judging by the votes on the #TwineTime homepage (just to your right on the sidebar ----->) fans are overwhelmingly in agreement PyeongChang is on the top of our curling minds this year.

But before we try to start a time warp and jump ahead to February 2018, let's remember we have a full season of curling still on tap and ready to rock out house week in and week out.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

US Open Preview

#BetweenTheBaselines: Welcome to the Big Apple!
We close out the 2017 tennis grand slam season with the US Open

Ok Summer is officially over when we  cast our tennis glare over Arthur Ashe Stadium and get ready to crown the final grand slam winners of the 2017 tennis season.  The US Open is ready to get underway Monday morning and tennis fans are ready for the North America hard court season to bring forth it's ultimate main event.

This tennis season has been an interesting one to follow.  The tone was set from the beginning when we went down under and turned back the clock with Roger Federer winning the Australian Open.  I must admit this was a bucket list item for me, being in Melbourne and watching RFed compete was magical!  Who knew at the time the only slam winners this season on the men's tour would be Federer and Nadal?

And what about the women's tour?  We saw a teenager rise to adulthood in front of our very eyes when Jelena Ostapenko shocked us all taking home the French Open.  And before we could blink Garbina Muguruza was a two-time grand slam champion after her Wimbledon triumph.  Not to mention the return, albeit a short one, of Vika Azarenka and now Maria Sharapova at a grand slam event.  We can also define the 2017 grand slam season as "Expect the Unexpected".

Thursday, 24 August 2017

2017/18 Curling Season Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: The Golden Season Is Coming
Bring on the excitement, drama, pressure...and upsets?

Let this be the official Welcome Back celebration for curling!  The 2017/18 curling season is officially underway folks and this is already shaping up to be the most exciting season yet...perhaps even the Golden Season for a few lucky teams and nations.

Yes, it is Olympic year.  Finally!!  The four-year Olympic cycle is a gruelling one for players and fans.  There are team changes, qualification standards to achieve and national team trials and selections to survive.  One could say playing a 48hr curling marathon match would be easier to survive than the daunting Olympic cycle....but the light at the end of the tunnel makes it all worth it.

But the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea is not the only reason to celebrate the upcoming season.  Although judging by the poll results on the #TwineTime home page (just to your right ---->) it would appear most, if not all, of you are really focusing on the Olympiad.  We have grand slams to compete for.  We have a new tour with new elements to discuss.  We have new teams.  We have favourites looking to continue their dominance from a season ago and perhaps a few new upsets to keep us on our toes.  Yes this may be the "Olympic Season" but there are also many other subplots and story lines to wet your slider for the next 8 months.

#TwineTime is warming up the legs, doing a few lunges to not pull a groin muscle, slipping the slider on and tossing a few rocks at the house to warm up the season.  Lets hope some of these land in the rings as counters and not sail right on through to oblivion.

Monday, 14 August 2017

VOTE - Women's Top 5

#BetweenTheSheets: Queens of the House
Which teams do YOU think will finish at the top of the women's rankings?

The men's vote is heating up the internet as we prepare for the upcoming curling it's time for the women to burn down the house.  I promised all of you an equal opportunity to show your love towards the top women's team on the world curling tour and now is YOUR chance.

As mentioned in the men's vote blog post, very rarely do we get to see curling throw a vote stone towards the fans and allow them the chance to have their voice heard on which teams they think will rise to the top of the curling mountain this season.  And with the 2018 Winter Olympics fast approaching, there are many teams who could make a push for the coveted #1 spot....but who do YOU think has the ability, drive, skill, dedication and (maybe) a bit of luck sometimes to lead the #PowerRankings?

Saturday, 5 August 2017

VOTE - Men's Top 5

#BetweenTheSheets: Who Are YOUR Top 5?
Vote which men's teams YOU think finish on top for the 2017/18 season

It's August!  The curling arena's are starting to lay ice for the upcoming season.  The rocks are being shined.  The brooms are being stacked.  And, hopefully, all of you have cleaned out those curling bags and washed those shirts and socks.  Nobody wants the smell of last season's Lulu pants or Saxx boxers stinking up the lockerroom to kick off a new season!  Heck, technically the season already started this past weekend in Japan.  Competitive curling in August seems a bit crazy?!

As with many sports, the start of the season is usually a bombardment of polls and previews.  But, alas, curling doesn't really present the same kind of build-up to a season like we see in college football or the NFL.  Until NOW!!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Season Wrap Up Awards

#BetweenTheSheets: The 2017 Golden Granite Awards
Who takes home the gold for the 2016/17 season?

The rocks have officially been put away on the 2016/17 season. The curling ice is rapidly melting away as heat waves take over most curling club locations across North America, Europe and Asia. We didn't forget about you Australia and New Zealand and Brazil....we hope you are enjoying your winter months and getting some quality rock throwing in while the official season is on break.

Last year marked the inaugural #TwineTime blog Golden Granite Awards. The awards were a huge success (among the handful of people who followed along haha) and due to popular demand of 3 or 4 people, the rookie idea has now become a blog tradition! Movies have the Oscars. TV has the Emmy's. Sports has the ESPY's. Curling has....the Golden Granite! Tradition is born rock heads and stoners.

Monday, 3 July 2017

#BetweenTheBaselines: Wimbledon Preview
Take me to Church (Road) for SW19 and some #HistoryRepeating?

The grass is green.  The outfits are white.  And the food is red.  Welcome to July and the tradition known as Wimbledon!  The third grand slam of the tennis season hits the historic courts of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for the 131st edition of The Championships and the 50th in the Open Era.

Defending gentlemen's champion Andy Murray looks to defend his crown in front of the home "nation" supporters while defending women's champion Serena Williams prepares for motherhood and will miss her second consecutive slam.  The fight for the #1 will also be on the line for both the ATP and WTA rankings.  Murray, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic are all in contention to claim the #1 ranking by the end of The Championships.  Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova will aim for the title and #1 ranking on the WTA side of the draw.

Friday, 23 June 2017

#BetweenTheSheets with Danielle Inglis
Junior -> CIS -> Mixed...Inglis builds success while also giving back

The #TwineTime family continues to grow rock heads and stoners.  And it continues to grow with the thanks of your dedication and interest in the #BetweenTheSheets blog posts.  With increased interest from sports fans, not just curling fans, in the small "blog that could" more athletes are becoming aware and interested in being a member of the family....all thanks to you!  This blog truly is made by a fan for the fans!

Having said that, this is an exciting addition to the family.  Someone who not only knows the sport inside and out as an athlete but also tracks the online interest and "fandom" of the sport among numerous social media channels.  Welcome Danielle Inglis!

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!

Monday, 8 May 2017

International Growth

#BetweenTheSheets: Sport Development Takes Centre Sheet
The #WMDCC2017 highlights the importance of the #growthesport theme

The curling season has come and gone once again and for many it was a season of celebration, trophy lifting and making some money.  Canada's Brad Gushue and Rachel Homan hoisted the ultimate prize of the year in claiming world championship victories.  Sweden's Niklas Edin hoisted a few grand slam titles and finished the year with the second-largest money haul in the history of the sport.

But championship wins and giant oversize cheques are not the only keys to success within the sport.  And not all athletes and nations competing will get to wrap themselves in the warm glow of championship victories.  For some, just being able to compete on the big ice is a victory in itself while trying to #growthesport back home to keep curling sustainable and relevant.  The sports development model is a work in progress.

The World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships wrapped up over a week ago in Lethbridge, Alberta.  The #TwineTime blog was fortunate enough to attend the event and have some time to talk to a few of the players competing from the "non-traditional" curling powerhouse nations.  Sure we know about Canada and USA and Sweden and Scotland and Switzerland.  We know how the sport is doing in those nations.  But what about other nations around the globe?  Do you know how the sport is doing in Poland or Latvia?  What about the other #TeamGB nations, Wales and England?  And what about the newest challenger in the America's region, Brazil?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

#BetweenTheSheets: Champions Cup Closes Curling Season
Will we see #TeamCanada, #TeamWorld or #TeamUpset claim the final grand slam?

The time has arrived curling fans.  The final event of the 2016/17 curling season is about to slide out of the hack at Calgary's famed Canada Olympic Park (or COP as we call it here in #yyc).  The grand slam of curling takes centre stage as the final tour event with the Humpty's Champions Cup.

Last year marked the debut of this new grand slam event and, if you follow the #TwineTime blog, you will have read my excitement about the addition.  What a perfect way to close a season!  Let's bring back the big tour winners from the year, throw them on the ice of an iconic venue and let's just see who truly is the ultimate Champion of Champions for 2016/17.  How can you not get excited?

Some teams participating this week in Calgary have not thrown a competitive rock in weeks or maybe months.  A few others are just coming from an event in Europe.  And one team has not had a week off in over a month.  The question is which team strategy will prove to be the ultimate best decision?  Do you take some time off to prepare for the final grand slam?  Do you keep playing events hoping to remain in competitive peak performance?  Or do you risk curling fatigue by over-scheduling yourself?  All options have both good and bad possibilities.  And all options can produce a grand slam champion OR an early slam exit.

Friday, 21 April 2017

#BetweenTheSheets: World Mixed Doubles 
Championship Preview
Nations leave it all on the ice for the final stop on the #RoadTo2018
The pressure is mounting.  The competition is fierce.  And, for some, time is slipping away.  39 nations are preparing to take the ice in Lethbridge, Alberta this week for the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.

A world championship title is not the only important thing on the line this week though.  While all 39 tandems will be aiming to take home a world championship, this week also marks the final opportunity for nations to qualify for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.  This will be the end of the #RoadTo2018, final stop Lethbridge!

Mixed doubles will be making it's Olympic debut in Pyeongchang and each nation would love to lay claim to taking home the first Olympic gold medal in the discipline.  We never know what the future will hold for the sport and/or the discipline itself but we do know there will always be in the first duo to ever stand atop the Olympic podium.  Great Britain owns this historic feat on the men's side, winning gold at the 1924 Winter Olympics.  Interesting side note, Team GB dominated the competition, beating Sweden 38-7 and France 46-4.  #Yikes  On the women's side, Canada's Sandra Schmirler brought home the first Olympic gold at the 1998 games defeating Denmark in the final.  Which athlete and which nation can be the first in 2018?  Time will tell...but first you have to get there!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

#BetweenTheSheets with Ryan Sherrard
Canadian-born, German curling champ talks junior pressure, German curling and #TheHat

The #TwineTime blog continues to add an international flavour to the family this year rock heads and stoners.  But this time, our newest member is a bit unique.  No, I am talking about his awesome facial reactions in pictures, like the one shown above, but rather the story of why this Canadian is considered an International.

When this blog found out he was going to Edmonton to partake in the 2017 Ford World Men's Curling Championships as a member of #TeamMedia, the curling stones started spinning.  Curlers from all over the world vying for a world title....curlers fighting to earn their nation a spot in the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics....curlers trying to gain some momentum to help #growthesport back home.  The plot lines were thick and abundant.  But I wanted to also seize the opportunity and really bring home something special.

Enter the lead for the German champions: Ryan Sherrard.  I have been a fan of Sherrard's since his Canadian junior championship run.  When this blog noticed him back hitting the ice this season, it was a special moment.  I reached out to him on twitter offering my congrats on returning to the game and wishing him all the best, hoping our paths may actually cross this season.  Well, 8 months later here we were.  Both in Edmonton.  One competing on the ice.  One sitting on media row.  Both getting a first experience in one way or another.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

#BetweenTheSheets: The Road To Gold
The Players Championship runs gold rings as teams chase gold dreams

How fitting is it to have the curling rings run gold in colour this week for the Players Championship?  Not only is this event the gold standard on the annual Grand Slam of Curling schedule BUT this year there is the added element of chasing the Olympic dream for many of the teams hitting the ice in Toronto.

The Players Championship runs deep with tradition and prestige.  All curling athletes want to be competing in this event and end the week being crowned champion.  But alas only one team can pull off the feat and leave Toronto with a smile on their face.

But prestige and etching your name in the history books is not the only thing in play within the golden rings this week.  We have a few direct-entry berths for the Roar of the Rings in Ottawa, the Canadian Olympic curling trials, on the line.  We also have spots in the season-ended Champions Cup.  What about the Rogers Grand Slam Cup?  Top spot in the race to claim the overall season trophy stills hangs in the balance.  And what about the money?  All that money sitting there right for the taking.  Can do some nice post-Easter chocolate shopping with all the money being handed out this week!

Friday, 7 April 2017

#BetweenTheBoards: Chalk Talk Dominates 
Opening Playoff Round
The Memorial Cup dream still alive for many of the favourites

We started the season with 60 teams across 3 leagues believing in a dream to hoist the Memorial Cup at the end of the season.  When the playoffs came around a few weeks ago, the dreams were dashed for 12 teams leaving us with our 48 playoff teams.  Here we are only a few days later and once again the fat has been trimmed on Memorial Cup hopefuls.

After the opening round of the playoffs, we said goodbye to a whopping 24 teams.  Half of the playoff teams saw their dreams end while another 24 teams enjoyed the celebration of moving on and being that one tiny skate closer to playing for the ultimate prize in junior hockey.

The opening playoff round across the WHL, OHL and QMJHL had some exciting games and a few exciting series going the distance.  But, let's be honest, it was mostly chalk results across the board.  The fun part of playoff hockey is seeing upsets.  Who doesn't enjoy seeing a division champ get knocked out in the opening round?  Ok well maybe their fans don't but for the most part the rest of the league, the opposing players/teams and many fans enjoy seeing a few upsets along the way.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

#BetweenTheSheets: #GrowTheSport Key Topic Of Discussion
The #FWMCC2017 has gold medals and Olympic spots but sport growth also key factor

Reaching the top of the podium, having a gold medal hang around your neck and being the first team to plant your lips against the new Ford World Men's Curling Championship trophy is the dream for 12 nations competing in Edmonton this week.  Only 1 will be able to check off this dream though come next Sunday.

A second dream is in play as well for the nations on the ice, Olympic dreams!  The aspirations of each team competing having the chance to finalize direct qualification for their national association to reach the 2018 Winter Olympics field in Pyeongchang, South Korea is in the back of the minds of many athletes on the ice.  Only 7 nations will earn direct qualification though, with hosts South Korea occupying an automatic spot as hosts (for the complete breakdown on the qualification process check out the #TwineTime #FWMCC2017 preview blog HERE).  For those who do not check off this dream, they will have a last chance qualifier event in December 2017 to continue chasing this dream.

But a world championship and secured Olympic spot are not the only dreams at play this week.  For a few of the nations competing in "The Last Hurrah" at Northlands Coliseum, the push will be there for a strong result to help #growthesport back home.  The #growthesport element has been a key topic of discussion within the #TwineTime blog for a few seasons now and the topic remains a key factor for many nations around the world.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

#BetweenTheSheets: Team Canada vs. Team World vs. 
Team Upset
The Ford World Men's Curling Championships slide into Edmonton

Welcome everyone to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Welcome everyone to Northlands Coliseum.  Welcome everyone to the 2017 Ford World Men's Curling Championships!  How's that for an early 1990's WWF-throwback introduction?

Ok retro wrestling moments aside, the excitement on the world curling stage is at its annual plateau right now.  The World Women's Curling Championships just wrapped up in Beijing and here we are ready to get going on the path to crowning our world men's champion.  How can you not get excited?

This is a huge world championship event.  Not only do we have the added pressure on every team competing to try and bring home a gold medal but this is the final opportunity for nations to earn qualification points for the 2018 Winter Olympics.  For some teams the path is pretty set in stone and only a formality.  For some, there will be work needed over the next week to secure a spot.  And for others, their backs are firmly up against the wall and it will take a STRONG result (perhaps a championship win) to move on the positive side of the red cut line.  But more on that in a moment.

Friday, 24 March 2017

#BetweenTheBoards: The Road To Memorial Cup 2018
The CHL begins the playoff round as teams fight for a spot in Windsor

60 teams.  3 leagues.  1 goal!  The dream of hundreds of junior hockey players is elevated to the next level this weekend when the CHL Playoffs hit the ice across Canada and the US.  The 60 teams that start the season in the Western Hockey League (WHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) have already started the first round of eliminations.  The regular season wrapped up a week ago and we have said goodbye to the dreams of 12 teams across the league.

Bring on 48 teams now.  Still 3 leagues.  Still 1 major goal....The Memorial Cup.  Last year the London Knights from the OHL hoisted the trophy in Red Deer and will look to repeat as champions, something that has not been done since the 2009/2010 champion Windsor Spitfires.  The OHL also has a slight advantage this season with those same Spitfires serving as Memorial Cup hosts.  Although hosting rights does not also equate to an advantage, right WHL (see last season) or QMJHL (2015)?  Both the past two seasons have seen the host league fail to have either of the two teams competing reach the championship final.  In fact the last host league, and host team, to win the Memorial Cup was the Shawinigan Caataractes in 2012.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

#BetweenTheSheets: Switzerland Chasing History!
The World Women's Curling Championships hit the ice in Beijing, China
After a season of #TeamUpset story lines, nail-biting finishes and great shot after shot, the women's world curling season has reached the peak of the mountain.  The 2017 World Women's Curling Championships are underway in Beijing, China.  In the 38-year history of this event, 2017 will mark the first-time the world women's championship will take place in China.  The location selection is a smart one though as Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

But before we get to the 2022 Winter Olympics, we still have the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea to focus on.  And the focus will be heavy during this entire week for many of the athletes competing.  The 2017 event will be the final opportunity for nations to gain qualification points for the 2018 Winter Olympics.  For some nations, an Olympic spot is all but assured while others will find themselves knowing every single win will matter.  And, for a small select few, not competing this week could take them from an Olympic spot down to a qualification tournament spot.  Because the Olympics are such a huge event, let's take a quick look at the qualification standings.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

#BetweenTheSheets: The GSOC vs. CTRS Debate
Call for change to the Elite(-ist) slam?

Is this not the best time to be a curling fan sports fans?  The sport is gearing up towards the 2018 Olympics, one year away now.  We have upcoming world championships for men, women and mixed doubles.  AND fans were just treated to back-to-back Canadian championship finals that brought the house down in St. Catharines and St. John's.

The Scotties and Brier saw very similar results in the championship finals.  Both had outstanding shots and terrific drama.  Both had a home province team looking to take home the Team Canada jackets in front of their close family and friends and fans.  Both had tremendous TV numbers for TSN.  AND both got sports fans, not just curling fans, hitting up social media and water cooler's the next day talking about the excitement resonating from high-energy finals.  As a fan of the sport and the #growthesport movement, what more could you want?

But let's not wear the rose-coloured glasses and praise the sport as being the best of the best with no concerning issues.  Celebrate success, yes!  Become complacent in thinking all is well, not yet!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

#BetweenTheBaselines: World Baseball Classic Preview
Special guest Matt Dunstone breaks down the action in the dirt

Time to dust off those cleats, break out the glove and start hitting the batting cages sports fans, baseball season is right around the corner.  Ok, for most of us living in Canada we look outside our office windows and still see an abundance of snow and feel the crisp cold temperatures when we sprint to our cars in the morning but there is a warm summer glow peaking out from around those clouds, I promise!

MLB spring training has begun in Florida and many of the top players are starting to get in the swing of things, literally.  But the upcoming MLB season is not the only excitement hitting the diamond right now.  The World Baseball Classic (WBC) has also drawn attention from around the world as 16 of the best baseball nations hit the dugout and try to lay claim to the #WBC title.

Now #TwineTime fans, if you have followed this blog since inception you are well aware baseball is not my best sport.  I know enough to get by but I would never declare myself to be an expert or very knowledgeable.  Given the importance of this event, and the fact it only takes place every four years, I thought it would be best to reach out to the #TwineTime family and invite a very special, very intelligent and HUGE baseball fan to join me for the #WBC2017 preview: Matt Dunstone!