The annual tradition of crowning our national men's curling championship is well under way in my hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan. The games have been a mixture of high quality shot making and lopsided scores. The crowds have been supportive of great shots with an extra feeling of anxiety/excitement whenever #TeamGreen steps onto the ice. And the weather.....oh the weather!
#TwineTime has been in attendance since the Friday Hot Shots competition and taking in every draw, analyzing the shots on the ice and looking at how teams are performing....all with the big red marker at my side.
The blog tradition continues. Time to hand out the midterm grades for Brier 2018!
A: #BigBoys - Heading into the competition, even with the new format, all eyes were squarely focused on the "Big Boys" namely Team Gushue, Team Carruthers, Team Jacobs, Team McEwen (after their wild wildcard win on Friday night). Team Laycock and Team Epping were also in the discussion as playoff contenders. And as we approach elimination day on Wednesday, all of these teams are looking comfortable to advance. Collectively they sit with a 22-6 record after Tuesday morning's draw. Of course most of those losses came at the hands of fellow "Big Boy" competition, as expected. The only outlier was the opening draw loss by Laycock at the hands of Quebec's Team Fournier. These teams are starting to pull away which may add less excitement for the opening pool structure but those championship pool draws on Thursday and Friday are going to be INTENSE!!
D: #FormatFrustration - Now I have been pretty neutral on the new format wanting to see how it plays out and being a change management supporter did not want to quickly dismiss the concept. However I am finding more and more people pushing me into the minority on this topic. Many fans I have talked to are not huge fans of the format. They all present the same rationale responses we have heard since the Scotties and they are valid concerns/complaints. Yes we are seeing some "dud draws" with more blowout games. Fans are getting a bit frustrated early but I think we still need to show some patience here. The Thursday and Friday Championship Pool draws are going to be intense. Blowout games are not unheard of at the Brier. They happen every year. We have seen them even with some of the best teams in the competition fall on the losing side of a lopsided loss every once and awhile. Plus the scheduled is more advantageous for the curlers. In the past there were stretches were a team may play 4 draws in a row. Not under this format. The structure is relatively fixed. Two games one day. One game the next. Never back to back. It seems like this is easier on the curling athlete body and mind....not to mention any player who falls ill during the event. The question should more focus on continued #growthesport movement. Are we doing enough to continue building the sport for the next generation of athletes across the country? Is the current funding model, marketing strategy and long-term vision of the sport working? I am not saying yay or nay quite yet but there are bigger questions in play than simple #FormatFrustrations folks. The potential elimination of all provincial/territorial representatives (as many have been pushing for and suggesting) would cause a greater divide among the sport across the country I still believe. Plus, attending a Brier or Scotties live, one of the best parts is the fans in the stands. The costumes. The signs. The waving of your provincial/territorial flag every time your team steps on the ice. This is just as prominent part of the event as the actual games on the ice. People are taking pictures with fellow fans from competing provinces. It truly is a united front of Canadian curling fans...and this is what I would not want to see change nor go away in the future!
|Photo Cred: Regina Leader-Post|
"Does the N-O on the back of their shirts mean NO you can't beat us"
"Thought the goal was to be Team Canada next year? All these scores are the same. Are they playing the same game?"
"If only Bobby Heanan was alive still. He could be on the bench and manage #TheIslanders"
Settle in folks...these next few days are going to be fun as we slide closer to crowning our 2018 Tim Hortons Brier Champion and the next #TeamCanada.