December 9, 2009
Edmonton Roars with excitement
By JOE PAVIA, SUN MEDIA
EDMONTON -- The curling culture is different here.
Edmontonians know the Roar of the Rings is here. From the moment one arrives at the airport, to the hotels, to the streets of the Alberta capital, the locals are celebrating the Olympic trials.
The city hold attendance records for the Brier and men's worlds -- and will soon likely have the trials mark as well.
Edmonton also puts its money where its mouth is.
Organizers paid the Canadian Curling Association nearly $1 million to land the Roar. The media is providing extensive coverage. Even the Patch is large -- 5,000 capacity. That's just one; there are three others.
The CCA's Warren Hansen, who manages the country’s premier national events, says curling is more ingrained in western Canada for several reasons.
First, in the early days of competitive curling, western Canadians could form fixed teams, while eastern teams had players selected for them. The western rinks were more successful, and success breeds more success.
Second, just about every town west of Ontario uses its curling facility as a social hub. Curling means more than the game. Large events such as the Brier are seen much more as a social gathering in this part of the country.
Because so many major curling events are staged in the West, politicians know the economic impact and welcome the activity. A nine-day trial is like an NHL game every day.
Young Jason Gunnlaugson and his Manitoba rink are the fan favourites here. Prolonged applause approves the 25-year-old's made shots, while loud sighs greet his misses. Fans shout, "We love you Gunner!" from the stands ... Craig Savill's grandmother Dorothy wears the Howard team lead's Brier-winning jacket to every game "When I wear it, they win," she beamed. The women's final is Saturday at 8 p.m.; the men's is Sunday at 3 p.m. Both will be broadcast on TSN.
Teams moving to the provincial senior championship after winning regional action on Sunday: 1A -- Wally Morris and Cheryl McBain; B -- Bryan Cochrane and Pauline Bakonyi ... Men's Tankard zone winners: 4A — Chris Ciasnocha; B -- Greg Balsdon. Men's zone 1 and 2 are this weekend ... Gore school zone winners: 1A -- Rebecca McPhee and Kurtis Byrd; B -- Nick Thompson and Jennifer Elder.
The Cathy Kerr Memorial Bonspiel for wheelchair curlers took place in late November. The competitive side was won by Team USA, skipped by Goose Perez. The recreational division was taken by Robert Michel's rink from Capital Wheelchair Curling ... Jamie Sinclair's rink won the provincials to advance to the Optimist U18s in Regina in the spring.
Behind the glass
John Morris will be in Ottawa on Dec. 19 autographing his Fit to Curl book at the Ottawa Curling Club from 2-5 p.m. You can also get your photo taken with Johnny-Mo.
Sex and curling
Some area curlers have objected to the OVCA Mixed Bonspiel poster with the "It All Starts With Four Play" slogan ... The U.S. Curling Association is selling "Hurry Hard" condoms on its website to raise HIV/AIDS awareness.
The Scotties regions are in Kingston this weekend.