Tuesday, 25 June 2019

#MenOfCurling 2020 Picks

#BetweenTheSheets: The Men of Curling Calendar Edition
The blog makes recommendations for who should strip it down in 2020



They're baaaaaaccckkkk! The Men of Curling calendar will make its return in 2020 rock heads. It is official. After the success of 2014 and 2018, 2020 will bring forward a fresh new batch of ripped athletic muscle for your viewing pleasure. Not to mention an actual calendar devoted to curling where curling events are listed each month. And of course, the real reason we support this initiative is the numerous charities and causes each selected athlete chooses to donate their fundraising dollars to.

Muscled, half-naked (or more?) men? Check!
The sport of curling highlighted? Check!
Raising funds for outstanding organizations? Check!

What more could you ask for curling fans?


Past #MenOfCurling models have included studs like Niklas Edin, Thomas Ulsrud, John Morris, Mike McEwen and Kirk Muyres. Oh yes there are a few #TwineTimeFam members who have shed some clothing for a few great causes.

The 2020 Men of Curling calendar website is even up and running. Did you know you can join their mailing list to receive instant updates on when the athletes are announced, when calendars go on sale and which charities/causes have been selected by the athletes? Check out the website HERE.

Now the #TwineTime blog has absolutely no idea who will be gracing us with their *mostly* covered form over the 12 months of 2020 BUT that does not mean we cannot have a little fun and speculate. Heck we can even put forward a list of top curling athletes we would love to see slide across out sheets over the calendar year. The blog went out on social media last week asking fans to name their top dudes. Will some make the blog cut? Will some make the actual cut?

Take note, not everyone could make the list. There are MANY outstanding male curlers across our globe who would be great ambassadors for the sport within the pages of a Men of Curling calendar. But there are only 12 months a year folks. If your top guy isn't listed below, don't @ me. Blame Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582.

Each day this blog post will be updated with the next month selection. Remember, this is just for fun and is in no way connected with the REAL Men of Curling calendar. Some of the athletes listed in this post MAY be part of the calendar. All MAY not. But, either way, we can still feel the heat of curling.

Ready to reveal which guys #TwineTime thinks can melt the ice? Tarps off boys....

MR. COVER: CURLING CALENDAR PROTOTYPE MODEL

12 months. 15 gentlemen. How do you decide on one cover model? To be honest, you cannot just pick one of these guys to grace the cover. So why not create the curling calendar prototype model from all 15 guys? Think of it as a melting pot of studliness if you will. We take a top feature from each guy, throw them in a pan, bake at 350F and BOOM....we have ourselves the perfect curling calendar model. But now the question is which part of the prototype is allocated to each athlete in the calendar? This was quite difficult as each of the guys nominated for the calendar have multiple positive physical appearances. And yes, this is all about the looks folks. This is the cover after all. Here is how our prototype model could break down:

Hair - Oskar Erikkson (Mr. April)
Eyes - Marc Muskatewitz (Mr. October)
Smile - Korey Dropkin (Mr. January)
Jawline - Zsolt Kiss (Mr. February)
Beard - Joel Retornaz (Mr. March)
Chest - Rylan Kleiter (Mr. September)
Abs - Alexander Eremin (Mr. May)
Arms - Team Mouat (Team December)
Legs - Valentin Tanner (Mr. August) and Geoff Walker (Mr. November)
Back - Greg Smith (Mr. June)
Butt - Catlin Schnieder (Mr. July)

What say you rock heads? What would your curling model prototype look like? Agree? Disagree? Would you make some changes? Share your thoughts on social media using #MenOfCurling.

Photo Shoot: The cover is going to steal an idea used later in the calendar. As we are blending each of our calendar models together into one prototype we need the perfect pose and imagery to properly capture the theme. Why not use the Vitruvian Man pose on the cover? This way we can accurately grab the front and back of our curling calendar prototype model....and something to see from all angles for those interested curling fans (you are welcome!). Now we also need to highlight how truly international the 2020 Men of Curling calendar is. Based on the selections 9 different nations are represented throughout the year: USA, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany and Scotland. How cool is that? If you are familiar with the original Vitruvian Man image  you know the man stands within a square surrounded by a circle. Perfect opportunity to highlight our 9 nations with portions of each flag serving as the backdrop within the square and circle. We can have our North American flags (Canada, USA) split across the square while our European flags (Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, Germany, Scotland) equally blended into the circle. Put it all together and we have a pure international curling calendar prototype model. Happy 2020 Rock Heads! Now if only this was a real thing and not just a blogger dream.



TEAM DECEMBER: TEAM MOUAT (SCO)

The blog had been debating which guy from Team Mouat to put in the calendar and then the skies opened and the answer was clear. One guy? F that...why not put all four? Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan Jr. are equally deserving of their time to shine and what better month to do so than December. I guess we would call this our Misters December? Naw lets go with Team December? Plus this is becoming perhaps a tradition with the actual calendar. We saw Team Ulsrud do a collective shoot in 2018 so why not continue the trend? Team Mouat may have just wrapped up their sophomore season together but they are quickly padding the resume with impressive stats. Year One they won a #gsoc title (The National) and took home a world bronze medal. Year Two they win their first European Championship together in their first appearance. Not to mention they also reached The National final trying to #DefendTheIce. And they reached the playoffs at the world championships. If you just look at the #gsoc resume, in two years they have competed in 10 events, qualified in 7, reached the SF in 5, made 2 finals and collected one trophy. In two years folks! Resume-wise, put these boys in the calendar. Of course we also have to hope the boys stick together and/or Scottish Curling does not separate them. This team easily could be Beijing-bound for 2022. Now what about the eye test? It is a calendar after all. Hard to argue against any of the Scottish lads. All four are good looking dudes and really offer something for everyone. You have Mouat (a #TwineTimeFam member and known as Bru-Mo) with a boy next door smile and those amazing eyes. Hardie, while sometimes looking the most serious on the ice, has the mysterious demeanour look going for him. Everyone loves a good looking blond which Lammie easily checks off. And McMillan Jr.? He seems to have the most fun out of everyone, always laughing and down for a party. Chalk up that college/frat boy look, which can always be an attraction too. What better way to slide into 2021 than with Team Mouat as Team December? Between the four of them there is guaranteed to be a Christmas present to unwrap for everyone.

Photo Shoot: Christmas. New Years. Exactly the theme you would think about seeing for a December calendar shoot right? Well how about we mix it up a bit? In November 2018, Team Mouat celebrated their first Euro title. Can you imagine the celebration in the locker room after the huge win over defending champion Team Edin in the final? Four guys under the age of 27 (heck Lammie is only 22) winning a European title? When you were 22-27 years old, how would you have celebrated? The locker room party after the victory would have been something to see. Why not re-create the victory and make it a locker room celebration photo? The guys laughing, celebrating and enjoying the moment. Pop some champagne, sticking to a bit of a NYE theme too. Have a Scottish flag hanging in the background of course. And each guy can be in different stages of dress (or undress if you prefer). Maybe tarps off for two of the guys. The curling pants come off for two guys as well. Maybe one of the guys is celebrating in his Saxx (why not try to get another sponsor here). And maybe one guy is still fully dressed even. There are numerous options for the dress and look of the photo. But the bigger picture is just four friends celebrating together. And in the month of December, is that not what we all do anyway? We get together with our closest friends and family and celebrate being together. Of course we all keep our clothes on....I hope?!? We need to raise funds here boys so maybe rock, paper, scissor for who strips down the most? The real winner? Curling fans!



MR. NOVEMBER - GEOFF WALKER (AB, Team Gushue)

November is one of my favourite times of the year. It is a month where we are right in the middle of the Fall to Winter transition for weather. We still get nice sun. We could get some snow. The temperatures are still tolerable where you can be outside and not get frost bite. Plus it is my birthday month, something I have in common with our 2020 Mr. November, Geoff Walker. After teammate Brett Gallant dropped the clothes for fundraising in the 2018 calendar, it seems to make perfect sense to see the "Meat" from the "Meat and Potatoes" front-end combo do the same. And we must not forget Walker's wife, Laura Walker (a #TwineTimeFam member of course) also graced the 2019 Women of Curling calendar. So what are you waiting for Geoff? Time to lose the tarp, drop the pants and get your fundraising on. Walker has the cute, boy next door type of look to make him an instant eye catcher on the ice too. What sport says "boy next door" more than curling? But the friendly smile and nice bod are not the only reasons why Walker earns this honour. He is a two-time Brier champion (2017, 2018). He is a world champion (2017). And he is a two-time world junior champion (2006, 2007 as alternate). Walker also happens to have won 10 #gsoc titles in his career. In a sport where the skips and vice's seem to earn the most credit, get the most interview requests and get asked for more autographs and pictures from fans, we should not forget the importance of front-end players. Walker is one of the best leads to play the game. He delivers his shots on point to start an end, often setting up the boys after him for success, and sweeps his ass off for 6 consecutive rocks....for 8 to 10 ends a game. How is that for a cardio workout? No wonder he has the body ready for calendar display.

Photo Shoot: Walker may curl out of Newfoundland with Team Gushue but he is 100% Grade A Alberta beef. He was born in the small town of Beaverlodge, Alberta (Pop: roughly 2,500) and resides in the capital of Edmonton. For his photo shoot we need to see him bring the meat and leave curling fans drooling saying "I 💛 Alberta beef!" Now get your minds out of the gutter rock heads, we aren't suggesting he go full Walker on us and put the "meat" on full display. This is for charity after all but this meat can still be tasteful. I know the whole cooking idea has been done to death for this calendar but what if we take Walker back to Beaverlodge for some smoked meat? I mean literally, Walker outside next to a smoker cooking up some tasty Alberta beef. Did you know Beaverlodge also has a Giant Beaver statue in the town's park? What a perfect backdrop for a good old fashion community BBQ. The photo shoot could serve as a coming home type of celebration with Walker hosting the BBQ showing off his Alberta meat in front of the Giant Beaver. And what would Walker be wearing? Well I think the whole chef's apron idea seems a bit too obvious and unoriginal. I say Walker just cook away in a pair of "I 💛 Alberta beef!" boxershorts. When you have the bod, you show it off. And of course he would have to be rocking a beauty 'stache given we also want to recognize #Movember. Alberta beef boxers around his waist, the meat in his hands with a beaver behind him. Sounds perfect! (Yup jumped the shark on the sexual puns here folks. My bad...but it was just too easy)



MR. OCTOBER - MARC MUSKATEWITZ (GER, Team Muskatewitz)

The only way to honour and celebrate the world-famous Oktoberfest is to name a German curler as our Mr. October. Welcome Marc "Mukki" Muskatewitz to your curling family rock heads. If you watched this past season's European Championships you should be quite familiar with the German skip. Mukki led the German men into the playoffs and, eventually, a 4th place finish. This result marked Germany's first Top 4 finish since 2010. Mukki would skip the German team at the world championship as well earning an 8th place finish, the nation's best result since a 6th place finish back in 2011. And 2019 marked only his second appearance at a world championship, previously playing second in 2016 (finishing 12th). At the young age of 23, Mukki is quickly becoming the next fresh face of German curling. And with recent results trending up, the German Curling Federation would be wise to nurture his growth as a leader for the national team. And of course we cannot forget the obvious fact Mukki is eye candy for curling fans while on the ice. He has the perfect calendar smile. And that hair....oh that beautiful hair. While hanging out with him and the German team at the European and World Championships this season I would bust his chops on occasion over his hair...but his flow is magnificent. Maybe a few jokes here and there about hairs being out of place while playing and he would humour me back by always fixing it right away. But this is the kind of guy Mukki is. He is fun-loving and has great positive energy to be around. How can you tell a person is being genuine? They look directly into your eyes while having a conversation with you, showing they actually are invested and interested in whatever you are talking about. This is Mukki. When he talks with you, he looks you directly in the eyes and at times you get lost in just how handsome of a man he is. And lets not forget he is smart too. Not just looks and athleticism on this young man folks. He is the triple threat, making him a perfect addition to the 2020 Men of Curling calendar brotherhood.

Photo Shoot: Ok I realize Oktoberfest actually starts mid-September but is always ends the first weekend of October (usually around October 3 - German Unity Day) so having Mukki as Mr. October is still staying true to the Oktoberfest celebration. On average Oktoberfest serves over 7 million litres of beer each year, enough to fill almost 3 Olympic-sized swimming pools. We need to have a photo of Mukki in the middle of all the fun. And if we are going to honour German tradition we must ask Mukki to don traditional Bavarian clothing right? Lederhosen it shall be! Now I also know Mukki has a pair of lederhosen because he and the team wore this to the closing banquet at the world championships in Lethbridge. Toss Mukki in the middle of a large Oktoberfest party in Munich, wearing some lederhosen and a massive stein (or two) of beer in his hand(s) and you have yourself the perfect Mr. October photo. And to keep our tarps-off theme, no white shirt for Mukki. Dude you have to go shirtless like the rest of our guys, it is only fair buddy! But you have the upper body and muscles for it (trust me he is in great shape rock heads)....and flash that perfect 10 smile. Time to sing "Ein Prosit der Gemutlichkeit".



MR. SEPTEMBER - RYLAN KLEITER (SK, Team Kleiter)

September may be one of the most important months in the calendar because it is officially the start of a new curling season. One could say there is more pressure put on the athlete selected for this month because of this. Who can withstand the pressure? How about a dual-threat athlete? A true up and coming young buck in the sport? Someone who is a proven winner on the ice and on the field. Someone who can handle pressure situations and turn them into victories. Welcome Mr. September: Rylan Kleiter. Kleiter is part of the #NextGen movement in curling and a new addition to the #TwineTimeFam last season. Kleiter is the skip of the #3peat winning Saskatchewan junior curling champions (2017-19) and last year acted as the alternate on Team Tardi, the world junior curling champions. Prior to winning the Sask junior title Kleiter also rocked the #3peat title winning three straight Sask U18 provincial titles (2015-17). Maybe his lucky number should be 3! But Kleiter is not only proving to be a winner on the ice, he has had great success on the field. He is a member of the Saskatoon Hilltops, the most successful junior football team in history. The Hilltops have won 21 Canadian Bowl titles, including the past five years. Kleiter has been a member of the Hilltops winning tradition for, yup you guessed it, the past three seasons (2016-18). The trend continues! Who better to represent a month where football and curling are entering their new seasons than an athlete who competitively plays, and wins, at both? Plus just look at the guy. He is an attractive young man. Now it is hard to discuss the looks of a guy as young as Kleiter (who turns 21 on Thursday July 4 btw) BUT we mean it in a complimentary way and in a manner that would raise funds for charity of Kleiter's choice so it seems a bit less weird right? Maybe it is the hair though that really makes the rock heads swoon? I have to admit, he does rock a nice flow. And we did discuss this very topic in his #TwineTime interview. Kleiter is also a humble guy. Again, a pure Sasky boy at heart. A nice guy. A good looking guy. A dual threat athlete. What is there not to love? And it is worth mentioning the similarities Kleiter has to another calendar pick, fellow Sasky boy and football/curling stud Catlin Schnieder. I mean even the beach pictures are almost identical, no? LOL We just couldn't let Schnieder have all the love here. Welcome Litterbox 2.0 perhaps?

Photo Shoot: This is a tough one. We talked about this in the interview. What would be the scene for a Men of Curling calendar shoot for Kleiter? Should he rock the football long hair? The shorter curling hair? Can we somehow blend the two? Do we go with Kleiter rocking the football pads and jockstrap (similar to past calendar model and fellow Sasky athlete Ben Hebert) but on the ice delivering a stone? That would be quite the image. Or do we go the opposite and side with Kleiter in curling pants and Saskatchewan champion jacket on the football field punting a football (he does place Special Teams after all)? Sex does sell and technically he would be 21 by the time the shoot happened and the calendar was published so the football gear on curling ice seems to be the better picture. But the humble Sasky side of him might want to go a bit more conservative on the clothing (or lack thereof) and choose Option B. What do you think rock heads? Either option would be good and Kleiter would be a great addition to the curling calendar brothership.



MR. AUGUST - VALENTIN TANNER (SUI, Team De Cruz)


We celebrated last month's Mr. July with a Happy Canada Day theme, naming Canadian Catlin Schneider as our pick. We have a similar theme for Mr. August and national pride. Did you know August 1 is Swiss National Day? How else would we celebrate the founding of Switzerland back in 1891, while keeping with the truly international theme of the 2020 Men of Curling calendar, than by naming a top Swiss stud as Mr. August? Welcome to the calendar Valentin Tanner. Tanner has two important qualities in a calendar athlete: Loyalty and Looks. While he is the current lead on Team De Cruz, he has been loyal to his skipper since his junior days in the sport. He won a world junior title with De Cruz (2010) and made the final the following year, coming up just short (vs. fellow Men of Curling nominee Oskar Eriksson). Tanner even forewent his final year of junior eligibility to stay with De Cruz and moved to men's play when De Cruz aged out. The rest is history folks! Tanner has competed in 4 European championships, with a best result being silver in 2015. He has competed in 3 world championships, winning bronze each time. And he competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics, again winning a bronze medal. Take note future athletes, sometimes loyalty pays off. As for the second quality, looks, well how much explanation is needed here? Just look at the pic. When we talk about pure masculine jawlines, Tanner has to be considered as having one of the best in the world. He also has this sexy looking grin that would look great in a calendar pinup photo. Plus the dude is built. He has the upper body. He has the ripped biceps. What more do you want out of your Mr. August rock heads? And he did receive a few votes from fans when asked who they would like to see in the next edition of the calendar. Oh and he worked as a bartender folks. We all know how high that profession ranks on the "sexy job" rating system.

Photo Shoot: Swiss National Day. Swiss stud athlete. How could we not head out to the Swiss Alps for an outdoor photo? The alps are one of the most iconic natural features not only in Switzerland but around the world. The photos of the region, anytime of year, are stunning. Now take a guy built like a barn with a sexy smile posing on the side of the Matterhorn or even on top of a mountain with the stunning mountain side and Swiss country side in the background, well take your breath away right there! Now it is August so maybe we can convince Tanner to drop the pants, toss on a pair of red and white CK's to celebrate Swiss National Day and pose like a champion (obviously tarp off of course but you already knew that). I say we could even toss the Olympic bronze medal around his neck...but maybe you rock heads would not want anything blocking any part of Tanner's chiseled upper body. Either way, this would be an epic photo for the calendar. #HoppSchwiiz



MR. JULY - CATLIN SCHNEIDER (SK, Team Dunstone)


Happy Canada Day! July is a month of celebrations. We celebrate Canada Day on July 1. We celebrate the end of school and the start of summer.  A month of summer festivals, patio evenings, beach getaways and camping excursions. July also celebrates Calgary Stampede, one of the the world's largest rodeos. So you may think we tag an Alberta boy for Mr. July. Wrong rock heads. We can keep with an outdoor living, country theme but go one province over to the true home of prairie living: Saskatchewan. Did you know one of the largest country music festivals happens in Saskatchewan every July? Previously known as the Craven Country Jamboree, this music festival is pure country fun. And to celebrate this festival we need a Sasky country boy as our July model. Welcome Mr. July: Catlin Schneider. Schneider, our second #TwineTimeFam member in the calendar, is quickly becoming the next fresh face of the curling ice. It was only two years ago curling fans got their first glimpse of Schneider at the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier, representing #TeamGreen and receiving a First Team All-Star Award (which this very blog had a vote for and did cast for Schneider). Fast forward to this past season and joining Team Dunstone, Schneider had his best #wct season to date. The team picked up 3 tour wins and won the final leg of the Curling World Cup. Schneider has also become a dual threat in the sport at mixed doubles alongside partner Shannon Birchard. But his on-ice resume is not the only reason he is 2020's Mr. July. Did you know Schneider comes from a curling-rich family tree? His father, Jamie, played at the Brier (1990). His sister Lorraine competed at the Scotties (2017). And his cousins Kim and Tammy won the Scotties (2011). Plus Schneider comes from rural Saskatchewan with White City as his hometown and family roots in the small hamlet of Kroneau, population 209 (Canada 2006  Census). If you know your rural Sasky boys you know they all have a secret talent....country dancing. Have you been to an event and seen Schneider on the dance floor? Gentlemen, keep your ladies close as Schneider will dance circles around you while spinning, flipping and gliding his dance partners all over the floor. He has skills to pay the bills (or at least score a free drink or two). And, since this is a calendar after all, lets be real between you and me. Schneider is a good looking dude. He has the smile. He has the body. And luckily he doesn't usually read these blog posts so I can get away with pumping his tires a bit and not worry about it going to his head. Nor him finding out I called him good looking. We can keep that between us, right rock heads? But #Litterbox, as we have learned to be his nickname, also has the personality and nice guy persona where girls want to hang out with him and dance the night away while guys want to chill and grab a beer with him. He is pure definition of Sasky living and a perfect representative of Mr. July to celebrate Canada Pride.

Photo Shoot: This is a tough one. Do we try to go a bit Sasky rustic and a bit country here? Find a beautiful outdoor barn setting with a suns out, guns out type of photo? It would fit the prairie identity and Sasky image. Or do we go outside the box and have Schneider in a different element? Did you know he is an avid lawn bowler, having found some championship success on the greens? Maybe we go to a different sporting background and take the curler out of the winter arena and onto the summer green grass for a July pin-up. And while Schneider has some swag and does not lack confidence he is also humble. Yes he has a great body but you may be surprised to know he is not a show-off about it. Tarp off, sure. But sorry ladies and gents, the pants are staying on for this photo. I don't see Schneider dropping trow here. It just wouldn't fit the Sasky prairie image. I think we do go country though. Saskatchewan has some stunning prairie field shots. While the province may be the punchline of a lot of jokes, drive through the country roads and see some farmer fields with the sun out and the image can be quite stunning. Maybe we place Schneider in pure Saskatchewan farm life. Middle of a canola field on a picturesque sunny day (google search 'Saskatchewan canola field' if you don't believe me on how great of a picture this can be). Shirt off. Jeans on. Maybe we get a little local sponsor love having Schneider wear the "comfy balls" boxers from 22Fresh, a Regina owned and operated apparel company. Hands in the pockets. Flexing the muscles. Maybe a more serious look or one of Scheider looking slightly to the side just soaking in the calmness of a prairie afternoon. Of course this means you rockheads would not get a shot of one of Schneider's greatest ASS-ets...but you cannot have it both ways folks. You either get him from the front or the back LOL



MR. JUNE - GREG SMITH (NL, Team Smith)

Happy Pride Month! This past season I wrote a blog post asking whether curling has found its social conscious and if the sport is really doing enough to embrace equality and support the LGBTQ+ community. We see other sports, including the Big 4 (hockey, baseball, basketball, football), on-board with social inclusion. Heck we even see many athletes embrace the Pride Tape on their equipment. Yet where is that on the curling ice? The perfect month to welcome our first #TwineTimeFam member and Canadian athlete into the calendar. When this blog welcomed Greg Smith into the fam we had a great discussion on this very topic. Smith has been a strong advocate of LGBTQ+ rights and equality. The perfect representative for Mr. June! Now I know what you may be thinking, how stereotypical. Well burn your rock right there. Stereotypical for Smith to support Pride Month in a calendar? Or a slide out of the hack to show the sport is supporting Pride Month and Smith helping wave the flag as a leader? And Smith did not seem to be against the idea in our interview. But there is also so much more to Greg Smith. When Smith had his "coming out" party (excuse the pun) on national ice at the 2018 Brier, fans were instantly drawn to him. As the skip of Newfoundland and Labrador, or as this blog dubbed them #TeamEnergy, Smith brought a new sense of excitement, electricity and energy onto the ice each game. From the loud yelling to the acrobatic jumping on the ice to the dance moves in The Patch, this is exactly what the sport needs more of. Smith is unapologetic for being himself....and people love him for it. Smith is the perfect Mr. June not just for Pride Month but because he exudes the exact definition of pride in himself, in the sport and in the LGBTQ+ community. Plus have you seen the guy over the past year? He is putting in the work and looking in great shape. He is ready for his close-up.

Photo Shoot: Ok lets be honest, as discussed in the interview with Smith, who wouldn't want to see Smith rock his drag personna Deloris for his calendar shoot? Smith curls out of the famous Bally Haly Curling Centre, where he also works as a curling instructor, so naturally this might be a perfect backdrop. Have you watched RuPaul's Drag Race? In season 7 the remaining queens were challenged to walk the runway in a Half Man, Half Queen look. One half the male side. The other half the female drag side. The results produced some stunning and iconic runway looks of not only the season but the series. What if Smith accomplished the same idea? One half Greg Smith. One half Deloris. And imagine if the outfit Deloris was wearing paid tribute to the Pride Flag, perhaps even an outfit made completely out of Pride Tape? I know where we could find a willing sponsor. Now I know there are some stunning views in Newfoundland we could highlight as well but I am sticking with my theme here of curling needing to do more on supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Saying "we are inclusive" and "we support all athletes" is nice but when someone part of the community watches other sports have Pride Nights and Pride Tape on equipment and doing so much more than just saying it, you have to start to wonder. Mr. June (with a slice of Ms. June) could be the perfect icebreaker with a photo shoot right on the Bally Haly ice.



MR. MAY - ALEXANDER EREMIN (RUS, Team Eremin, Team Moskaleva/Eremin)

May 9 is the largest annual celebration in Russia, known as Victory Day. The day is to commemorate the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945. Victory Day has become THE popular culture holiday in Russia for decades. While one Russian athlete had a lot to celebrate on May 9 this past year. Alexander Eremin enjoyed a breakout curling season in 2018/19, picking up notable victories along the way. His season started with skipping Russia to a bronze medal at the World Mixed Curling Championship in October. The team picked up 7 victories in the RR (7-1), defeated Turkey in the QF before suffering a defeat to Spain the SF. Eremin would lead his team onto the podium though with a bronze medal win over Norway. The bronze medal would be Russia's second medal at the event, after winning gold on home ice in 2016. The victories would continue for Eremin on the mixed doubles circuit. Teaming with Anastasia Moskaleva, herself a strong Women of Curling calendar contender for 2021, the duo picked up 3 tour wins and reached another final in only their second year together. They also represented Russia at the Curling World Cup - Leg 2. Eremin had many victories on the ice to celebrate this season. But do you follow the guy on instagram? If not, you should. You will see why he is the perfect calendar model. Heck, most of his IG pics could literally be used for this calendar right now. The dark hair, dark eyes and shredded muscles make him an instant eye-gazer for fans. Plus, when he lifts that shirt to show off the 8-pack.....how is this guy not a model? Eremin hits the gym on the regular and works hard to get the perfect body so props to him. But he also gives back. He has recently been coaching Russian junior curlers this past month. And he is great at interacting with fans through his IG account. Many may not be familiar with Eremin yet but they should be. And he is an early 2022 Winter Olympic mixed doubles medal threat with Moskaleva.

Photo Shoot: If you do already follow Eremin on IG you are familiar with his passion for cars. Why not have his photo shoot be with his passion? May often has some beautiful weather and those Spring sunsets are picturesque. Toss a beauty car set in a mother nature background just at sunset. Maybe a black and yellow lamborghini or a black and orange bugatti. Although he does like the red Audi so maybe we just let him have that as his prop? Have Eremin just chilling against the side of the car leaning against the hood or arm resting on top of the car. Of course Eremin would have to be shirtless but we can let him wear his fav red shorts and red kicks we often see him showing off in many IG pics. Dude, you crush the gym for that 8-pack you better be tarp off and showcasing the gun show. Flex away good sir! Or maybe we just use the pic from his IG attached to this posting. Seems calendar worthy already wouldn't you say?



MR. APRIL - OSKAR ERIKSSON (SWE, Team Edin)

April is not just the Easter month anymore folks. You know how Reggie Jackson became known as Mr. October because of his clutch hitting in the postseason and helping lead his teams to pennant and World Series wins? Well in curling the time to come up clutch is April when the World Men's Curling Championship hits the ice. Hello Oskar Eriksson, curling's present day Mr. April! Eriksson has represented Sweden at 9 world championships and has landed on the podium 8 times. He is a 4-time world champion. He has won 2 silver and 2 bronze medals. He has played in 3 straight world finals, winning gold the past 2 years. But 2019 may have been the year Eriksson really cemented his legacy as Mr. April when he won the World Men's Curling Championship (with Team Edin) AND World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship (with Anna Hasselborg). Eriksson is the first curler to pull the double world championship gold in the two disciplines. Start April 2019 with a world championship win + End April 2019 with a world championship win = Mr. April!! Not to mention Eriksson is VERY easy on the eyes. Every curling event I have attended, whether a #wct event or #gsoc event or international event, I always come across curling fans, of all ages/genders/races, commenting on how attractive they think Eriksson is. The smile. The eyes. The hair. The little scruffy face look. I have heard it all, right down to compliments on Eriksson's legs when sweeping or butt during his delivery. Basically when Eriksson is on the ice, most eyes are on him. Where on him, that is a whole other story! But we also must comment on Eriksson being another one of those genuine curling "good guys". He is always willing to take photos with fans or sign an autograph. He has the fun personality, successful resume and killer good looks needed to make him a standout superstar. Plus he even donated a signed jersey to this very blog last year to help raise funds for Kids Up Front Calgary.

Photo Shoot: 2 Winter Olympic medals (silver, bronze). 8 world championship medals. 8 European championship medals (including 6 gold). 2 world junior championship medals (including 1 gold). 1 world mixed doubles medal. 1 Winter Universaide medal (silver). Do you remember the iconic Sports Illustrated cover of USA's Michael Phels after the 2008 Summer Olympics where he won a record 8 gold medals? How about a similar image of Eriksson with all his international medals? Perhaps we see Eriksson standing in the Vitruvian Man pose (google it folks). The world gold medals around his neck. The remaining medals distributed one each arm. And in each hand he is holding a curling rock: one blue and one yellow to represent the #SwedishVikings. Now we cannot have the full Vitruvian post of Eriksson naked (or can we?) but perhaps we loosely hang the Sweden flag over him to just cover the important man parts. Or, if we want the Vitruvian illusion, we toss on a pair of skin color boxers and nothing else. We all know Eriksson is rocking the body to go for as full nude as allowed anyway...and we know people would love to see as much as possible. For charity of course.



MR. MARCH - JOEL RETORNAZ (ITA, Team Retornaz)

When you ask curlers competing at international events like the world or European championship to name a most sportsmanlike player on the ice, a name you will often hear is Italy's Joel Retornaz. Retornaz has a reputation for being one of the genuine "nice guys" on tour. Having met him at various world championship events and at the 2018 European Curling Championships, I can attest this statement to be 100% factual. Heck after winning bronze in Tallinn, Estonia, his first international podium finish, he actually bought me a drink. Who does that? Now of course he had just defeated the team I was hanging out with, Team Germany, and actually bought their entire team and coaching staff a drink but I was included in the group. This is not just a testament to the comradery we know in curling but to the high-degree of sportsmanship Retornaz has built a career off of. This was his moment. After competing in the sport for many years and failing to win an international medal, this was his time to soak in a career moment, which he did by also celebrating with his opposition. Retornaz also happens to be "The Guy" of Italian curling. Remember the 2006 Winter Olympics? This was when the curling world first met Joel Retornaz. Italy was the host nation. Torino the host city. But it was in the town of Pinerolo where Retornaz made his coming out statement. Italy had no curling identity entering the games. They were competing in the sport because they were the host nation. And the rest is history. Retornaz led the Italian team to a very respectable 4-5 record, good for 7th place, and picked up massive #TeamUpset victories over eventual gold medal winner Canada (Brad Gushue), bronze medal winner USA (Pete Fenson), Germany (Andy Kapp) and New Zealand (Sean Becker). The stunning results helped elevate the sport of curling in Italy and the nation is now considered a regular contender at European and World Championship events. Overall Retornaz has represented Italy at 2 Winter Olympics, 6 World Championships and 11 European Championships.

Photo Shoot: So the 2006 Olympics were held in February. You may be asking why isn't Retornaz Mr. February? Good question rock heads. The historic results may have happened in February but the positive carry-over for the sport started in March 2006. People started talking about curling because of Retornaz. Plus, did you know Italians celebrate the Unification of Italy in March? March 17, 1861 to be exact. What a perfect month to highlight not only the success of Retornaz but the celebration of Italy as a nation. The photo needs to capture the celebration of Retornaz's career and milestone of really creating a curling culture in Italy but also a celebration of his home nation. The initial stereotype may be to have Retornaz in a kitchen-theme, making pizza or pasta. But that seems too simple! Did you know Retornaz has a second passion? He breeds and races quarter horses. Hmmmm, what about a great shot of Retornaz on one of his horses with the Italian flag drapped over the mane of the horse? What would Retornaz wear you ask? Why not get a bit punny here? Go for the full buff shot sitting on the saddle. A play on the "riding bareback" idea. Get it? Although we may have to convince Retornaz to grow back his iconic beard. It was LE-GEN-DA-RY! Everyone talked about it. Everyone loved it. Ok, well not everyone since his partner was the one who convinced him to shave it off. She may not have been a fan but maybe she would be ok with it growing back just long enough for one awesome Men of Curling photo shoot. It is for charity after all?! And it is not like Retornaz is unfamiliar with the model spotlight. Did you know he has also appeared in Italian Vogue? Name another curler who has appeared in Vogue, from any country?



MR. FEBRUARY - ZSOLT KISS (HUN, Team Palancsa/Kiss)


What does everyone want in February? A Valentine's Day "Kiss" of course! Curling can make that happen for you rock heads with Mr. February Zsolt Kiss. The 30-year old Hungarian may fly a bit under the radar with curling fans, gaining notoriety as a mixed doubles specialist, but check out the chiseled jaw line and body built like a barn and you will instantly agree Kiss is deserving of the Mr. February title. Kiss hit the curling ice for the first time in 2004 and by 2011 he won his first Hungarian men's team championship. In 2012 he swept the Hungarian championships winning national titles in men's team, mixed team and mixed doubles. He would replicate this feat not once but twice more, pulling the triple championship in 2015 and 2016. Oh and lets not forget he happens to be a two-time world mixed doubles champion (2013, 2015 with Dorottya Palancsa). The duo put Hungary on the curling sheet with their surprise world championship win in 2013. Consider Kiss the #GentleGiant on tour. He stands over 6'4 and weighs around 220lbs! The term "built like a barn" comes to mind when looking at Kiss...or standing next to him. I have only met him once, in Lethbridge at the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship, and during our post-match interview he was a gentle talker often having Palancsa speak first and adding a few short lines to the responses. Shy? Quiet? Reserved? Perhaps all of the above. Talented? In shape? Good looking? Most definitely. The Men of Curling calendar "features all-star curling athletes from multiple nations" but can also be a great opportunity to introduce some new faces to curling fans. Hungary is not considered a traditional curling powerhouse but Kiss can certainly help put the European nation on centre sheet with results on the ice and a jawline you can shape a curling stone with off the ice.

Photo Shoot: This could be a great opportunity for Kiss to really play up the "punniness" of his last name with the month of February. Go all in here. Be campy. Be funny. Bring back the heart-shaped bed covered in rose pedals. Bring back the over-the-bed large mirror. Bring back the black boxers with red and pink hearts. Bring back the oversized heart-shaped box of chocolates. Bring it all back! With a name like Kiss, Zsolt could play it up. Take the photo looking up at the large mirror and Kiss laying on the bed in the boxers with rose pedals around him and an open box of chocolates next to him. Maybe he puckers up the lips a bit? Maybe he is biting into a chocolate? Has it been done before? Sure. Is it a bit stereotypical? Most definitely. Does it fit perfectly with the theme and his name? Absolutely. Sometimes the right shot is the most obvious. Why re-invent the wheel when you have the perfect stone in front of you?




MR. JANUARY - KOREY DROPKIN (USA, Team Fenner, Team Anderson/Dropkin)

Born in Massachusetts, curling out of Minnesota, USA's Korey Dropkin is a natural winter-weather type of guy. Who else would be the perfect guy to slide out of the hack first on our Men of Curling calendar as Mr. January? Plus, lets just call a spade a spade here, Dropkin is a good looking dude. I can admit it. You are thinking it. The curling world is starting to take notice as well. In fact Dropkin received the most votes on social media when this blog asked curling fans who they would want to see in the calendar. But do not let the perfect hair, friendly smile and chiseled body fool you. Dropkin is a beast of an athlete. Follow him on social media and you will see first-hand the work out routines this guy puts down in the gym. Catch him live in action during the season and you can literally see the sweat beads drip down his forehead from how hard he sweeps every time. At the young age of 24 (he did just celebrate a birthday in June btw), Dropkin is starting to really come into his own on the competitive curling tour. The past few years have seen him really shine in mixed doubles (with partner Sarah Anderson) and his men's team (Team Fenner or The Young Bucks as they call themselves) had a great rookie campaign this past season. This blog went on record a few years back saying Dropkin would represent USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics. I firmly stand by this prediction. If 2020 is going to be the year he makes his stride towards Olympic dreams, why not start the calendar year with him?

Photo Shoot: We need to see him in the natural winter environment but also bring out the fun-loving side of him. When I first met Dropkin, I will admit, I was a little intimidated and actually thought he wasn't a big fan of me or the blog. But then you have a few conversations with him and see what an actual nice guy he is. Maybe we kick it a little old school to back in the day when we were all kids enjoying a big snowfall and playing outside. How about Dropkin making a snowman or having a snowball fight or doing snow angels? Of course he needs to show off that body he works hard on though so, sorry Korey, tarps off even in winter. Doesn't he go for midnight runs in his boxers already? That was a instagram video awhile back wasn't it? Besides, if you have met Dropkin at events you know he is a fun guy to be around. Out doing snow angels in his boxers flexing the muscles and showing off the abs doesn't seem that far of a fetch right? And we know the fans would LIVE for this!

2 comments:

  1. I'd hope you'd support out and proud curlers Bruce Mouat and John Epping instead of homophobic ones. One of them in particular on this list is not gay friendly at all.

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    1. This blog has been very supportive, I think at least, of moving forward the LGBTQ message into the sport. In fact there is an entire blog post on the You Can Play movement calling for more inclusion at all levels of the sport from last August. Bruce is a member of the #TwineTimeFam as is Greg Smith. As for a member on the list who is not LGBTQ friendly, please consider sending me a private message to discuss further. While the blog tries to balance personal vs. professional when discussing curling athletes, diving into the personal lives of athletes is not always a top consideration. But, on the flip side, I am always willing to hear feedback from fellow fans on topics like this knowing the conversation would remain confidential.

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