The name was apparently first coined at the 2001 Olympic Trials. If I recall, that was also the year that Rudy, now all grow'ds up (but still looking 16), became Samwise Gamgee and a young Huckleberry Finn became Frodo Baggins in a Tolkien tale of a very similar name. Warning, if you played Dungeons & Dragons or dress in costume when you go to movie premiers, repeat watching of this Frodo/Sam Youtube clip may send you out for extra Scotties tissues to absorb the tears.
Is this a Canadian thing that we always jump on the latest movie craze and name things after it?
I'm going to keep calling it simply The Trials. It may not roll off the tongue like the Roar of the Rings (though the agent from the Delta Hotel in Winnipeg kept stumbling when trying to say it), but "The Trials" more succinctly defines the event. Per Websters, a Trial is:
1a : the action or process of trying or putting to the proof
b : a preliminary contest (as in a sport)
2: the formal examination before a competent tribunal of the matter in issue in a civil or criminal cause in order to determine such issue
3: a test of faith, patience, or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation; broadly : a source of vexation or annoyance
4a : a tryout or experiment to test quality, value, or usefulness
b : one of a number of repetitions of an experiment
You could make a case that all of these definitions apply to the upcoming Trials in Winnipeg. Number 3 perhaps most of all.
I'm someone who likes the fact the British Open is actually The Open Championship (and not the Battle of Tipton "Green" ) and the winner is named The Champion Golfer of the Year. Perhaps the winner of the 2013 Trials could be the Champion Curlers of the Quadrennial?
With Tim Horton's as the sponsor, perhaps it should instead be the Roll up The Rings or Roll up the Rink?
Enough preamble, let's get on with the Preview.
Mens Preview in Part I. Women's Preview coming up in Part II.
Glenn Howard. You could make a case that there are no favorites, and you'd probably get me to agree with you. But who wants an event without putting at least one team on the dart board?
- Howard is historically (all time) 131-72 against this field (64.5%) and 75-38 since 2010/11 Season.
- Looking back to 2009 Martin was 110-66 (62.5%) and 76-35 (68.5%) coming into the Trials for Vancouver. Eerily similar.
- Their record since 11/12 (with a few events the season before) includes the SAME TEAM. McEwen has been together longer and Koe is the next closest.
- Glenn has a winning record against everyone except Martin, and 6-8 against Kevin since 10/11, including a win this years Masters final.
- Has a new third (Dave Nedohin) and has struggled with some health issues. Historical record is still 122-77 (61.3%) against this field and 51-40 (56%) since 10/11. Some could make the arguement that adjusting to a new third drops their chances even lower, but I'm not prepared to count Kevin out. He's shown he can win with different teams over the years and despite limited playing time, they've already shown they can compete and win against the best in the world.
- 2-6 against Epping is a strange number that could be due to randomness or Epping's purchase of a KMart Voodoo doll (made available during the 2010 Olympics).
- 67-71 (48.6%) historical but 58-49 since 10/11 (54.2%) against this field. A winning record since 10/11 against all teams except Howard (6-12) and Koe (8-13).
- 14-7 against Stoughton includes heartbreaking loses in Manitoba Provincials, but on Tour Mike seems to have Jeff's number. Their Round Robin game will have the home crowd cheering both ways I expect.
- 73-92 (44.2%) and 50-58 (46.3%) since 10/11. Take away his record against Howard (3-13 since 10/11) and the percentages jump over 50%. Of course the one game Koe won against Howard in the 2010 Brier final, means more than all the other loses combined.
- A great season in 2012/13, minus the upset loss in the Brier final. Still just 52-58 (47.3%) against this field since 10/11 Season and that includes a 12-7 record against
Cotter/Morris. Take that record out and Jeff drops to 44% (comparable to his historical record).
- 2-5 against Epping. Hmmm yet again.
Based on recent results you could make a case that these next teams are also Contenders. But then we wouldn't have anyone in this section, and that would look odd. If you like to bet curling online, look for good odds on both these teams.
- They have a record of 34-33 since the 10/11 Season, including 5-2 (Stoughton), 6-2 (Martin), 5-1 (Jacobs) and 4-1 (Morris/Cotter). They can beat every team at the Trials but John has still only won one Grand Slam event (Players in spring of 2012) and switching up his line-up at the end of last year may not be the answer.
- Yes, they are the defending 2013 Brier Champions. But this isn't the Brier and their record against this field is 27-38 (41.5%) since 10/11. Remove the 7-2 mark against Morris/Cotter and it drops below 36%.
- Their sample size with John as skip is small. Combined Morris/Cotter is 19-52 (26.8%) since 10/11 against this field.
- With their fine showing at the Road to the Roar, you could argue them to be a Challenger. But like a favorite, every event needs an underdog and this team is it. I give them a much better chance than Gunner in 2009, they have big event experience and an Olympic champion holding the broom.
Let’s examine chances of outcomes. These are based on handicapping analysis I have done. I used a combined weighting of historical and recent (since 2010/11) numbers. I will spare you the details of the numbers, other than to say if you’d like to bet on any games, please let me know.
Howard: Expected Wins(EW) is 4.80 and 6.9% chance to go undefeated (U).
Martin: EW=4.39 U=3.5%
McEwen: EW=3.73 U=1%
Numbers would indicate this event is way too close to call. Also, additions to teams (Nedohin to Martin, Mitchell to Epping, Morris joining Cotter) skew our analysis somewhat. All of the teams at this event have experience and skills to beat anyone in the world. This event may come down to a a handful of shots at the right or wrong moment.
It will be a very gruelling contest which requires absolute focus and concentration while maintaining physical condition. It will be interesting to see if the stamina of the younger teams combined with their recent success will overcome the confidence and experience of the older squads.
I am making no predictions other than I expect at least one tie-breaker and many gasp moments throughout the week.