PAISLEY, Scotland -- Here in the birthplace of curling, the very city where the first stone was tossed in the 16th century, you probably would have expected better.
The 2005 world women's curling championship won't go down as one of the most memorable of all time, not for the teams who played here, the fans who came to watch them and especially not for the Canadian players, who went home without a medal.
But despite all the problems with the ice and the time clocks and the lack of any real atmosphere, we'll admit things got much better at the Lagoon Leisure Centre as the week went on.
Considering the Paisley host committee only took on the championship last May after being begged by the World Curling Federation, and considering they had hardly any sponsorship money, the organizers did their best.
The problems faced by women's curling on the world level belong to the WCF and their member agencies. Kinks will have to be worked out for this decision to split the men's and women's championships to be deemed a success.
But that's another matter.
Right now, let's look back on the week that was at the first world women's event since the infamous split.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT
Sweden's Anette Norberg was competing in her seventh world championship and had won four bronze medals and a silver. When her final stone came down in the 10th end Sunday to clinch her first world title, Norberg and her teammates shared a joyous celebration that delighted the audience. Norberg's surgical precision on the ice makes her seem a bit unemotional at times, but she let her hair down for a minute at her greatest moment in curling.
BLUNDER OF THE WEEK
Ice maker Ian MacAulay arrived at the Lagoon Leisure Centre on the second day of the championship to find, well, a lagoon. A problem with a compressor caused several sheets of ice to melt and forced the postponement of a draw.
BLUNDER OF THE WEEK PART II
The Paisley host committee refused to pay per diems to qualified timers, so those officials walked out the day before the tournament was to begin. The round robin was played without time clocks as a result, and that led to marathon games (mostly involving Russia). The longest game of the week was three hours and 52 minutes. As well, the Russians were called on a controversial timing violation (a backup rule, no less) when they were playing Canada.
BLUNDER OF THE WEEK PART III
In Scotland, we didn't hear a single bagpipe until the playoffs began. Sacrilege.
MOST COLOSSAL BAD LUCK
The embattled CBC, already dealing with a firestorm of criticism over its television coverage of curling this season, arrived in Paisley just in time to see Jennifer Jones get eliminated from the playoffs. We're not sure, but somehow we doubt a semifinal between Norway and Sweden and a final between Sweden and the United States will be a ratings bonanza for the Mother Corp.
STRANGEST TEAM CONCEPT
The Russian team has a highly unusual system whereby coach Olga Andrianova is in complete control at all times. When the team arrived in Paisley, Olga Jarkova was listed as the skip and Lucy Privivkova as the fifth. When the games started, Andrianova (the female Victor Tikhonov) had juggled the lineup and inserted Privivkova at skip and Jarkova at second. Later in the week, when Jarkova was struggling, Andrianova yanked her from the ice in the middle of a game and put Tana Nekrassova in at second. Andrianova also made sure the young players did calisthenics before every game and ran laps in the parking lot.
SHOT OF THE WEEK
American skip Cassie Johnson drew through a tiny port to get a piece of the four foot and shot rock with her last one in the 10th end of a win over Canada on Wednesday. The shot left Canada's Jennifer Jones with absolutely nothing to shoot at and the U.S. stole two points for a 10-7 win.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"It's actually curling."
-- Canadian third Cathy Overton-Clapham, while calling to sweepers on a particularly straight sheet of ice at the Lagoon Leisure Centre
QUOTE OF THE WEEK PART II
"We would have gone 2-9 at the Canadians if we played like we are playing here."
-- Canadian lead Cathy Gauthier
FAVOURITE SCOTTISH FOOD
Cullen skink, haggis, neeps and tatties, fish, chips and a Tennents, steak pie, clootie dumpling.
FAVOURITE SCOTTISH WORDS/EXPRESSIONS
Dreich (a dreary, rainy, dull day. This word was used a lot).
Stramash (a fight, which we saw many of on the streets of Paisley).
Thole it (just deal with it).
Blether (a person who talks incessantly ... hope they weren't applying it to me).
Glaikit (someone who is thick between the ears ... I don't get it).
Stirling Castle, Edinburgh's Royal Mile, Paisley Abbey, Glasgow Merchant City, Wallace Monument.
The split of the world men's and women's championships seems to be a failure after the first event, but let's see how things look a year from now after the women's worlds in Grande Prairie, Alta. That will be the real litmus test.