Before I get into the events and games themselves, some random thoughts.
1. The Alberta event was held in a curling rink and we got to hear the sounds and see the "classic" curling score board. It appears complex, so for those that have never seen one, this will help explain:
The numbers put up on the board (black above) are the ends and the points (red numbers) are fixed on the board. You place the end in the row of the scoring team, placing it above or below the total score for that team. In the sample above, Blue scored 2 points in he first end, Yellow scored 1 in the second, Blue scored 1 in the third (now totals 3), etc.
Such a simple design that must have been invented by the soberest of Scotsman, who realized that it was difficult to keep boxes of numbers handy at the end of the rink. If anyone knows the true origins of this simple yet brilliant invention, please let me know.
2. New careers are launched. The need for many broadcasts across the country at the same time required the need of many curling commentators. Ontario coverage had RJ Broadhead and Danielle Inglis. Danielle was actually in the event but, unlucky for her team but lucky for her broadcasting career, she managed to lose out prior to the weekend. Appears she has the background for this gig and actually has a job as a blogger with the CCA (you mean people get paid to do this?). Manitoba had Roger Millions and seasoned vet Joan McCusker. Alberta was covered by Don Landry with Paul Webster (CCA stalwart) and Tara Slone appearing as the side-"bar" reporter, seen being served a caesar during her introduction.
So what did I make of the new talking heads? If I say they were great I might never get my chance to replace them when one or more is sacked. If I say they were terrible then it would make me look like a disgruntled blogger who yearns for a true spot in the media limelight. The truth is my Tivo allows me to watch in fast forward and I rarely listened to much of the jovial banter that was sure to be heard. If there was less curling to watch perhaps I'd have time enough to savour the entire experience of SportsNet and make more futile attempts to poke fun at those who are attempting to watch, talk, inform and entertain the curling viewer. It is not an easy task to cover curling and everyone (regardless of their level of skill) should be applauded. I may not be in that limelight, but I am part of the fastest growing Curling Podcast on iTunes today (going from 2 to 6 listeners is a 200% increase!). You can join our half dozens of fans by checking out "Around The House" and subscribing to our show.
3. Alberta Womens curling is ridiculous. There was a graphic shown on SportsNet of the top 12 ranked Womens teams in Canada. Seven are from Alberta! And the winner of the 2013 Alberta Scotties, was NOT ON THE LIST! You could start calling Alberta the SEC of Womens Curling, but they need more Championship finishes (none are in the top 4 of the rankings) and coaches with personality to earn that moniker. They'll have two cracks at another Canadian Scotties with Team Canada's Heather Nedohin squad from Edmonton and Alberta champ Kristie Moore, who played with Heather for many years and recently left the team she beat in the finals, Renee Sonnenberg.
4. Jeff Stoughton won a Grand Slam. This seems like no big deal, there's 4 every year and Jeff is clearly one of the top 4-5 skips in the World the last 15 years but he hadn't won one of these in 7 years! His last was the Canadian Open during the 2005-06 Season. He was zero for his last 23. I expect you could win a few drink tickets placing that bet in the Brier patch. Even I was surprised it had been that long. Stoughton's squad also put a butt-kicking on their Manitoba rivals Team Mike McEwen in the finals, giving the young up-and-comers-who-are-already-here something to mull over before the upcoming provincials.
5. Points without hammer on the rise? I was discussing recently with Gerry Guertz of CurlingZone that we should investigate the odds of steals. I was wondering if the number of stolen ends in Grand Slams was in decline, based on improved play of the top teams. I wasn't considering games where a team is gambling to come from behind, but in games that were close (tied or within one point), I speculated over time these numbers will decrease and wondered if they already had. Naturally, at the National, there were 6 ends stolen during the quarterfinals, and 3 more during the semi-finals. That's a percentage of 28% of close ends stolen during those 6 games.
Detailed Strategy and Game Analysis...Coming soon in Part 2...
(I know, I still haven't done Part 2 on How to Play Howard, I thank you for your patience).