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Wednesday, 4 July 2018

2018 #GoldenGranite Awards

#BetweenTheSheets: The 2018 Golden Granite Awards
The annual curling wrap-up awards show takes centre ice


Every four years we hit the apex of a curling cycle when the Winter Olympics rock the sports world and fans around the world become more patriotic and excited to cheer on their athletes pursuit for gold.

The 2017/18 curling season marked that exact apex in the sport with the PyeongChang games hitting the ice this past February. But while the Olympics really took most of the attention on the season there were plenty of storylines, on and off the ice, making this past season one for the history books.

The #TwineTime blog has now created a tradition with hosting a wrap-up awards blog post discussing the high's and low's of the season while handing out a few specific awards based on season results.

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Golden Granite Awards!


As in the fine tradition of the Oscars, Golden Globes and Grammy's, the Golden Granite Awards look back at the past year of curling action and try to summarize the season through a few key award categories. But it is not easy trying to look back on the season and pinpoint the high's and low's. In hosting this blog post the past two years I certainly have a new found respect for those who adjudicate major award shows on an annual basis.

How do you make the call on who was the Team of the Year? How do you place qualifications against a Surprise Team of the Year category? And sometimes we cannot only focus on the positives. We need to discuss the misses and discuss those who are up for Underperformer of the Year award.

If you have been following along with this blog's weekly #PowerRankings, you are familiar with a key element factored into those rankings: consistency, consistency, consistency. Sure one or two strong weeks of play claiming a major championship are great accomplishments. But did the same team exhibit consistency over the season or did they just get red hot at the right time? On the other side of the coin, which teams struggled throughout the majority of the season, even if they did have one great week or claim a title on tour?

It is never easy but hey, what award shows are easy? There are winners and losers folks.

The pre-show is over. Lets head to centre ice for the 3rd Annual #TwineTime Golden Granite Awards!


CATEGORY IS.....MISS OF THE YEAR

2016/17 Winner: Elite 10 Select Team

The nominees are: #FormatFrustrations, #TeamWC Debate, #PyeongChang2018 Drug Scandal, #FreeAgentFrenzy 


And the #GoldenGranite goes to: #FormatFrustrations - Hear me out on this award. The discussion around possible format considerations is not a miss, rather could be considered a hit in some way. The miss here is the outpouring of negative feedback seemed to be a bit ethnocentric and elitist. The argument made saying a 6-6 team doesn't belong in the playoffs at a world championship or expanding the field to include more competing nations or even the format reconfiguration for the Scotties and Brier this year were all slighted in opinion. It would appear those vocally against it were teams/nations who, generally, have repeated success in these events. It is quite easy to have negative comments against change when you are sitting at or near the top of the mountain. It is quite another thing to look at the issue through the lens of others. As the old saying goes, "walk a mile in another's shoes." Do we want to continue the #growthesport movement nationally and internationally? It would be hard for anyone to argue against this. What was really the issue with allowing more teams competing or expanding the playoffs? Every other sport has done so. Besides, records aside, at the end of the day if you are the best your performance on the ice should back it up. Does the top seeded team always win the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup? Nope, very rare actually. But do we "bitch and complain" about the format when a #6 or #7 seed wins or reaches the final? Nope! Sport thrives on the #TeamUpset story. This topic is a miss not because of the subject matter but more in response from many curling fans and athletes. Disagree with a format? Sure. But being negative for the sake of negative gets us nowhere. This very blog posted on this topic back in March presenting a few format options for consideration. Take a quick look back HERE if interested.


CATEGORY IS.....HIT OF THE YEAR

2016/17 Winner: #TeamCanada

The nominees are: #FreeAgentFrenzy, #PyeongChang2018, #SwedishVikings, #GrowTheSport


And the #GoldenGranite goes to: #PyeongChang2018 - No question the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea is the Hit of the Year. We saw two teams emerge with gold medals around their necks and erase monkey's off their backs while silencing critics (in different ways mind you). We saw history when Canada failed to land on the podium in men's and women's team event, including another first in a Canadian team failing to reach the playoffs. The home nation women's team became instant celebrities while the #PACC region enjoyed overall success as the home region for the games. Mixed doubles made its discipline debut and the world erupted with joy for the sport. It was smart to have mixed doubles play out before the Opening Ceremonies, allowing for maximum TV coverage and a perfect primer to not only the team curling competition but the entire Olympic program. Fans around the world salivated over mixed doubles with celebrities and fans engaging together over the sport. It truly was a perfect #growthesport moment. Sure the drug scandal and stripping a team of a medal hurt the sport a bit at first but it certainly has not seemed to have any residual negative effect. The win by Team Shuster lit a spark in the USA where curling became one of, if not the, most talked about sport of the year thus far. The big question mark now is how the World Curling Federation and the member associations can capitalize on the positive momentum and continue to push the #growthesport movement forward into next season and the season after than and beyond towards the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing?!?! The sport is riding a positive tidal wave right now but the sport cannot rest on the success in PyeongChang for long. Pressure is on for next season...lets hope the sport continues to excel and we do not lose this momentum!


CATEGORY IS.....UNDERACHIEVER TEAM OF THE YEAR - FEMALE

2016/17 Winner: Team Satsuki Fujisawa (Japan)

The nominees are: Team Englot, Team Flaxey, Team Saskatchewan (collectively), Team Scotland


And the #GoldenGranite goes to: Team Alison Flaxey (Ontario) - What happened to Team Flaxey this season? After the success the year prior, winning a slam and playing their way into the Roar of the Rings, expectations were high on this team heading into the year. We cannot even say the wheels fell of the train here....because I don't know if the train really even left the station this season. The team qualified in only 2 of their 9 events. They finished a disappointing 1-7 at the Olympic trials in Ottawa. They finished 3-3 at the Ontario Scotties, failing to reach the playoffs. Overall, they finished the season with an underachieving 22-32 record. You have to wonder what the tipping point was during the season when each member of the team collectively knew this would be their final season playing together. Bring on 2018/19!


CATEGORY IS.....UNDERACHIEVER TEAM OF THE YEAR - MALE

2016/17 Winner: Team Rasmus Stjerne (Denmark)

The nominees are: Team Carruthers, Team McCormick, Team Morris, Team Laycock


And the #GoldenGranite goes to: Team John Morris (B.C.) - This was a VERY tough award to hand out, probably the most difficult of the night. And not in a positive way. All four team nominated have equal resumes and claims to being candidates for this award. They each underachieved in an important Olympic year. One team had internal conflict and fighting most of the season, culminating in an almost difficult to watch Brier performance where fans in the stands were asking if they even wanted to be out on the ice together (and no I am not talking about just Team McEwen oddly enough). Another could not live up to their potential in a watered down national system where they should have easily performed better. And another just could not seem to find their rhythm and gel collectively all season. But in the end Team Morris claims the Golden Granite Award for the 2017/18 season. The team played a light schedule this year, and thank goodness given the results. A full schedule would have been tough to swallow. They played six events and qualified in two. They finished a disappointing 3-5 at the Olympic Trials in Ottawa. They had a #gsoc losing streak of 11 straight games spanning three events before finally collecting a W (over Gushue at the National, pretty solid win actually). The bright side to the season was the qualification for the Olympic Trials when they won the first spot at the Road to the Roar in Summerside. But even then they only finished with a 5-3 record. It was a season worth forgetting for the former team members of Team Morris.


CATEGORY IS....SURPRISE TEAM OF THE YEAR - FEMALE

2016/17 Winner: Team Casey Scheidegger (Alberta)

The nominees are: Team Arsenault, Team Einarson, Team Kim, Team Sinclair

Photo Cred: Grand Slam of Curling
And the #GoldenGranite goes to: Team Jamie Sinclair (USA) - Well things have officially come full circle in the three-year history of the Golden Granite Awards folks. At the inaugural award ceremony skipper Jamie Sinclair was collecting a W for the one award most players would not be as excited about winning, Underachiever of the Year. Last year Sinclair poured it on a bit and was an honourable mention in this very category. Now, we stand here presenting her team with the Golden Granite Award for Surprise Team of the Year - Female. Hmmm, perhaps the #TwineTime blog can take credit for adding the small spark to this team turning them into a success and #gsoc champion? Ok, not really of course but we have come full circle here. Sinclair started the season playing in the Tour Challenge Tier II event (losing in the SF) and then came up short at the US Olympic Trials in November, losing the best-of-three final to rival Nina Roth. With Olympic dreams dashed, Sinclair could have rolled over and cashed it in on the season. Instead, she started playing some of the best curling of her career. She won the US Open to kick off 2018, won the US Nationals, reached the bronze medal game at the World Championships and picked up the 1st ever #gsoc title for USA when she won the Players Championship in April. Resiliency is the key to Team Sinclair success this season and this team is very deserving of the Golden Granite Award. Who knows, with the positive momentum coming off this team in the past three years of this award show, could they be eyeing up Team of the Year honours next season?


CATEGORY IS....SURPRISE TEAM OF THE YEAR - MALE

2016/17 Winner: Team Kyle Smith (Scotland)

The nominees are: Team Bottcher, Team Gunnlaugson, Team Mouat, Team Shuster


Photo Cred: Grand Slam of Curling
And the #GoldenGranite goes to: Team Bruce Mouat (Scotland) AND Team John Shuster (USA) - This is a first folks. In the brief history of the Golden Granite Awards we have a TIE. How can you split the difference between these two teams though. The "MiraCurl on Ice" Shuster Show in PyeongChang was one we may not see again in our lifetime. Watching this team go from almost bottom dwellers and fighting with themselves to the remarkable winning streak culminating with one of the greatest #TeamUpset results in curling and Olympic history knocking off heavily favoured Edin for gold....just WOW! NOBODY saw that coming...including them I would imagine. On the flip side, did anyone expect Bruce Mouat and his boys to come out of Scotland and take the tour by storm the way they did? They won a grand slam title (The National), collected a bronze at the World Championships and picked up 5 #wct titles along the way. Oh and remember this is their 1st year together. Sure they didn't play at the Olympics but their consistent results throughout the season came as a surprise to many and they are equally deserving of this award.


CATEGORY IS....TEAM OF THE YEAR - FEMALE

2016/17 Winner: Team Rachel Homan (Ontario)

The nominees are: Team Einarson, Team Hasselborg, Team Jones, Team Sinclair



And the #GoldenGranite goes to: Team Anna Hasselborg (Sweden) - Everything came together for this team in PyeongChang at the 2018 Winter Olympics. After two seasons of coming up just short of standing on top of the podium at major international events, the biggest event of the past four years saw Team Hasselborg celebrate a gold medal triumph. Winning the Olympic gold medal puts you in a prestigious and exclusive club. But it is not just the Olympic success that wins them this award. The runner-up finishes at the European and World Championships are great accomplishments. They also reached 3 other #WCT finals this year and finished the season with a remarkable 77-24 record. The Hasselborg victory in this category also ends the two-year reign for Team Homan, quite a remarkable feat in its own right.


CATEGORY IS....TEAM OF THE YEAR - MALE

2016/17 Winner: Team Niklas Edin (Sweden)

The nominees are: Team Edin, Team Gushue, Team Mouat, Team Shuster



And the #GoldenGranite goes to: Team Niklas Edin (Sweden) - This is a no brainer. The #SwedishVikings retain their Golden Granite trophy from a year ago and do so in commanding fashion. A European Championship. An Olympic silver medal. A World Championship. 3 WCT Titles. What more could be said about their resume this season? The other finalists all put together great results and had great stories but from opening rock to closing rock Team Edin showcased why they continue to be the top team in the world. They also came 7 wins short of winning 100 games this year, finishing with an overall record of 93-31. Wowzers! Consistency and victories combined make Team Edin the winners of the 2017/18 Team of the Year - Male.


Congratulations to all our winner's tonight. Congrats to Sweden as the curling nation wins the prized double, collecting both Team of the Year awards this season. This truly was the season of the #SwedishVikings. The real winner of the 2017/18 season was the sport as a whole though. From the Olympic build-up to the excitement in PyeongChang to the drama unfolding throughout the second half of the season, there were many moments that got curling and non-curling fans alike talking about the sport.

The #TwineTime blog truly is thankful once again for being a voice of the fans for the fans for another curling season. Thank you to each and every one of you loyal rock heads and stoners who continue to support and read the blog on a regular basis. I hope you continue to do so next season...and feel free to share and RT blog posts with other curling fans.

We also added many new members to the #TwineTime blog family this season. Special thank you to the following athletes who took time out of a busy season to sit down and talk curling and more with the blog:


We welcome all of you to the family and wish you all the best in the upcoming season.

A special Thank You as well to the World Curling Federation, Curling Canada, Sportsnet and The Grand Slam of Curling for allowing "the little blog that could" to have an active seat around the media table for another season. While some sports continue to lag behind on inviting non-traditional media to be recognized as an equal voice around the table, curling continues to be an inclusive sport for all while moving forward the #growthesport movement around the world.


For the final end credits to this year's annual awards gala, a reminder of the Special Curling Memorabilia Auction going on RIGHT NOW to help raise funds for Kids Up Front Calgary. Special auction items up for bid include:

  • Team Hasselborg #WWCC2018 Team Sweden jersey - Signed
  • Oskar Erikkson #WMCC2018 Team Sweden jersey - Signed
  • Kevin Koe jacket - Signed
  • Kerry Galusha #STOH2018 jersey - Signed
  • Matt Dunstone #Brier2018 jersey - Signed
  • Greg Smith #Brier2018 jersey - Signed
  • Kirk Muyres #CMDCC2018 long-sleeve jersey - Signed
  • Catlin Schneider #ROTR2017 jersey - Signed
  • Ryan Sherrard #WMCC2018 Team Germany jersey - Signed
  • J.D. Lind Team Japan jersey - Signed
  • Team Binia Feltscher 2 for 1 jersey special - Signed
  • Team Einarson #ChampionsCup broom - Signed
  • #GSOC Goldline Jacket - Signed by many athletes, including now-retired Jill Officer

The auction will remain LIVE until Monday July 9, 2018. Time. Is. Running. Out.

Bid now to own a special piece of curling memorabilia while support an outstanding organization helping kids, youth and families in Calgary while also helping #TeamJames earn immunity for #StrandedWaterValley. Please share the auction link as well with anyone you think may be interested in any of the items available.