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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Episode 27 - Lorraine Lang


Lorraine Lang could be considered part of the first family of Thunder Bay curling.  Despite starting later than most, Lorraine has put together a resume to rival her spouse.  While husband Rick had success playing third for Al Hackner, Lorraine appeared in 8 Scotties, including 2 victories as vice for Heather Houston in 1988 and '89. Along with Diane Adams and Tracy Kennedy, they took home silver from their first trip to the World Championship in Glasgow and a gold the following year in Milwaukee.  Lorraine talks about her early years in the sport, the challenges of competing out of Northern Ontario, repeating as Team Canada, and shares tales from the Ontario women's curling scene during that era.  We reflect on her resurgence in the mid-00's when Lorraine joined the young Krista McCarville rink, leading to three more Scotties appearances, and the transition to becoming their team coach following the Olympic Trials in 2009.

For more on the Heather Houston Rink, you can also check out this 10 year Scotties promotional video or the intro video to their induction to the North West Ontario Hall of Fame


Check out the latest episode of Curling Legends Podcast

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Trials of the Pre Trials


That was weird.  Curling Canada decided to change the format for the Olympic Pre-Trials (AKA, Road to the Roar).  In 2009 and 2013, a triple knockout format determined the qualifying teams.  2009 included eight qualifiers (and plenty of TV coverage), and in its last iteration, the triple knockout led to a page style playoff with 8 teams vying for 4 spots.  Everything seemed to work nicely.  

This past week, fourteen teams of each gender (28 total) were placed into four pools of seven teams for round robin play.  Each team played 6 games within its pool and the top 3 in each pool (12 total) qualified for a playoff.  Including tie-breakers, the actual "playoff" became 10 of 14 womens teams and 9 of 14 mens teams.  That means after 72 round robin games had been played, only 9 of 28 (32%) of teams had been eliminated!  This makes the generous playoff formats of the NBA and NHL look quite stingy in comparison.  I could understand the interest to have all of these round robin games for a television audience, but no games were broadcast until the weekend.

In the end, Team Howard went 8-2 and fell short while Team Bottcher at 5-4 is heading to Ottawa in December.  This isn't anything new.  A round robin format with play-offs can always lead to a team with several losses taking victory from an undefeated team.  For example, in the famous 1985 Brier, Pat Ryan was undefeated, but lost the final to Al Hackner (7-4) and could have instead lost to one of several playoff teams with a 6-5 record.  

For those opposed to this strange method of competition, you might want to learn to embrace the insanity.  With the Scotties and Brier moving to smaller pools, the chances of multiple tie-breakers, extended play-offs, and upset victories will only increase.  

I'm not opposed to varying the process that events use to determine victory, but I did like the triple knockout formula for this event and I'm not sure what benefit this new format was supposed to create.  With a longer round robin, there's a better chance to weed out teams and reduce tie-breakers, but then again, that 1985 Brier had half the competing teams extending their play into tie-breakers, so nothing is certain.  I was looking forward to seeing how (if Fleury had beaten Tippin in the final round robin draw) they would arrange a 7-way tie breaker for the Womens Pool A.  Always interesting when those late night games have more people on the ice than in the stands...


 
Couple of other observations...
If you are only going to televise a handful of games, perhaps the first men's qualifier could take place when I'm awake?  Team Morris is (mostly) from BC and their fans had to be up at 5:00 AM to watch their Mens #1 Qualifier game on Sunday morning.  After his loss, Bottcher didn't suit up again until 3:30 Pacific Time.
Team Morris' second Catlin Schneider had a great Movember "Schneider" mustache.


I wonder if he's even familiar with the famous TV character from One Day at a Time.
Jim Cotter's rock clearing runback in the 9th end of that early morning may have been the shot of the game.  Bottcher looked in good shape to force but the triple by Jim sent them into the 10th end tied with hammer.


Morris is Red

Not sure I agree with Howard's call in the 9th end.  Ahead 5-4 without hammer,. and it's third Adam Spencer's last shot of the end. 
Howard is Red

The set-up provides an opportunity to draw around 2 rocks on the centre line and attempt to force Bottcher to a single.  I understand a nose-to-nose runback would be great, and perhaps create a safer result, but they are not likely to make it perfect.  In this case, the runback was missed completely and Bottcher was able to score two points and take the one point lead into the final end, without much difficulty.  I might have prefered to keep the centre guard in play in this situation and create a greater chance for a force (or even steal) even if you increase the chance of a deuce.  Even if you're adding a small chance at a three ender, it may still have been worth the risk. 
Look for more Curling Legends Podcasts this season and my upcoming preview to the Olympic Trials, with betting tips and odds for each team.

Until next time...


Episode 26 - Peja Lindholm


Peja Lindholm began curling outdoors at age 11.  Learning the game with his friends, Peja eventually led teams to three World Junior Championships, capturing gold, silver and bronze.  With his longtime teammates Thomas Nordin, Magnus Swartling and Peter Narup, he captured three World Mens titles for Sweden in 1997, 2001 and 2004. Peja discusses his early days and the development of both his game and that of European curling during the 80's and 90's.  We discuss the transition to the free guard zone and why he had success against Martin and Ferbey, while struggling against other Canadian foes.  Peja shares his thoughts on the Continental Cup and Olympics, before revealing the origins of the plate dance.


Check out the latest episode of Curling Legends Podcast

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Episode 25 - Arnold Asham


Arnold Asham is a curler, dancer, inventor, showman and in his words, an opportunist.  From his early days in Reedy Creek, Manitoba, Arnold dreamed he would be a millionaire in the sports industry.  Curling became his passion and eventually the red brick slider, along with hard work and dedication to what to others deemed a foolish pursuit, led to his financial success.  But there was also a passion to compete against the great teams that wore his corporate logo.  When he teamed up with a young David Nedohin to compete on a fledgling World Tour that he helped keep afloat, Arnold proved he could do battle with the best in the country.   Arnold shares his vision for how the Olympic champions of the future will be developed, and his philosophy of living your passions, which for him include the Asham Stompers dance troupe and helping empower others in the aboriginal community.    
 
You can find Asham Curling at https://www.asham.com/ and information on the Stompers at http://www.ashamstompers.com/

Check out the latest episode of Curling Legends Podcast