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.