In curling, as in any sport, timing is key.
In the case of the Olympic trials, it's not just about when to play more aggressively or when to try and keep the house clean. It's about when the games themselves are played.
The U.S. is holding its Olympic trials right now. A number of other countries have already decided their teams for next year in Vancouver.
Canada, meanwhile, won't pick its teams that will go for gold in 2010 until mid-December -- about two months before the Vancouver Games begin. Many commentators and players believe that is too late.
Do countries that choose their Olympic representatives earlier win more medals than Canada? Since curling became a medal sport in 1998, Canada has won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals -- more than any other nation.
Still, many elite Canadian curlers say giving athletes more time to prepare before the Olympics would be a benefit.
In his book Hurry Hard, 2006 Olympic gold medallist Russ Howard complained that the time between the end of the trials and the beginning of the Torino Games was very unsettling for the players and not conducive to preparing for the most important games of their lives.
The Canadian Curling Association counters that the current timetable means Canada's best will be in peak form heading into Vancouver.
The trials end Dec. 13. The first Olympic curling match is Feb. 16. That's 10 weeks. Is that enough time?
Did Mike Harris' flu or a compressed schedule lose Canada the gold in 1998 in Nagano?
Did the schedule contribute to Kevin Martin's heavy draw in the Salt Lake City final in 2002?
Let me know what you think.
A TRUE MASTER
Kingston's Betty Bush is Eastern Ontario's latest provincial champion. She and her teammates Joanne Miller, Joanne Manion and Lil Rynbend ended atop the Ontario Masters round-robin standings at 6-1. Oakville's Bob Edmondson won the men's side. Ottawa's Dave Van Dine finished at 4-3 while Reg Plaster and Bonnie Morris ended the competition with a 3-4 record.
Brockville's Shannon Harrington narrowly missed winning the Gore Schoolgirl provincials by a score of 5-4 against Grimsby's Avery Thomas. On the boy's side, Kanata's Brett Lyon-Hatcher won the consolation round.
In mixed zones, the winners were 2A: Bryan Cochrane; 2B: Steve Allen; 3A: Bill Vance; 3B: Kurt Hahn; 4A: Jonathan Beuk; and 4B: Randy Hutchinson. In senior mixed zones, the winners were 1A: Robert Cousineau; 1B: Serge Denis; 2A: Layne Noble; 2B: Ray Pollock; 3A: Dwayne Lowe; 3B: Roy Vallillee; 4A: Barry Mitchell; 4B: Tim Bakonyi.
CHARETTES COME CLOSE
Western Quebec's Agnes and Pierre Charette (not related) made the semi-finals of the Quebec senior championships on the weekend. On the women's side, Agnes Charette, the defending champion, fell to eventual champion Roland Madore from Chicoutimi 10-5. Pierre Charette won a 6-5 tie-breaker over Buckingham's Jean St. Pierre before losing the men's semi-final 10-9 to the eventual champion from Valleyfield, Mike Carson.
Jenn Hanna's second, Lee Merklinger, is switching to a team skipped by Brantford's Jo-Anne Rizzo. Rizzo is moving to skip because Julie Reddick is taking next season off ... The new second for Rachel Homan's rink is Laura Crocker. She replaces Alison Kreviazuk, who has graduated from the junior ranks ... Alison Goring's teammates have formed their own squad.
The OVCA Men's Bonspiel has 20 spots left in the Open event and six in the Seniors event. Visit ovca.com for details.
CURLING THIS WEEK
Bantam and Junior mixed zones are this weekend, as are Intermediate regions. The Scotties semi-final is Saturday at 7 p.m., while the final is Sunday at 8 p.m. Both games are on TSN.