Itís been one rockiní year

GEORGE KARRYS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

As The Roaring Game gives way to NHL playoff hockey, itís worth remembering this head-spinning 2010 Olympic season as the year that curling finally grew up.

Best event

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics was, hands-down, the most important curling tournament ever hosted.

The packed crowds were boisterous, the rings and dťcor were vibrant in colour, and the playing conditions were top-notch.

The result was a near-perfect showcase for curling, resulting in unprecedented media exposure and wide acceptance of the sport as athletic competition. The question is: Can curling keep this momentum going?

Best team

Edmontonís Kevin Martin, in a walk. Itís one thing to create a new squad (four years ago) with a particular goal in mind.

Itís another thing to cruise through all opposition, go undefeated at the Olympics and win your last 32 games in a row. And we thought Martinís previous teams were good!

Best skip

Canadaís other Olympic hero (heroine).

Calgaryís Cheryl Bernard went and changed it all up in her 43rd year, throwing out the mental-strength book she herself wrote a few years ago and changing her approach to the game.

The result ó both on the ice and off ó transformed her into a curling superwoman, who just did fade away at the ultimate moment of victory in the Olympic championship finale.

And if one thinks those last two slips have tarnished her crown, consider how many saves she provided to her team along the way.

Best game

The Tim Hortons Brier final in Halifax was a spectacular slugfest that went to an extra-end, dramatic final shot.

Albertaís Kevin Koe not only came back from an opening deuce, he made a last-ditch 10th-end throw to save his bacon against a frustrated Glenn Howard of Ontario.

The fact that no team had ever won the Brier out of the third or fourth-place playoff position was only slightly overshadowed by the fact that Koe had previously never beaten Howard in his career.

Wow!

Hard luck

Howard and his mates, including Pickeringís Richard Hart, lost both the Olympic Trials and Brier finals, the latter after going undefeated up to the finale.

They then lost their Capital One Cup title by crashing out of the Playersí Championship in the quarterfinals.

Almost any other team would celebrate such a grand season but, for this foursome, itís going to be a long summer.

Pop-culture promo

Among those who tried curling in 2010 while surrounded by flashbulbs were The Simpsons, jazz crooner Michael Buble, NFL superstar Vernon Davis, Sports Illustrated scribbler Rick Reilly, retired Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis, Calgary 1988 bumbler Eddie (The Eagle) Edwards, Hollywood actor Vince Vaughn and superfan Stephen Harper.

The Prime Minister finally threw his first stones in mid-April with Team Bernard, and his son, Ben, is, apparently, a natural.

Weirdest month

April takes the cake, from the drug smuggling arrest of Paralympic champion Jim Armstrong to the shocking dismissal of World Curling Federation president Les Harrison.

The final event of the season ó the combined world mixed doubles and world seniors championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia ó were plagued by the volcanic air-travel disruption.

It took Canadaís Mark and Heather Dacey a week to return home from an event they never made it to ó ditto for their coach, who did make it there, only to turn around and find a week-long way home again ó in what seemed to be an April Foolís joke that lasted a full month.

But then, curling has always seemed a bit strange. Even in an Olympic year.

George Karrys can be reached at curlinguru.com


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