Curling gains popularity in Russia

JIM BENDER

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

VERNON, B.C. -- The Olympics are coming, the Olympics are coming ... to Russia.

It was announced a while ago, but because the 2014 Winter Games will be held in Sochi, curling has gained even more popularity there.

"After (the 2002 Olympics in) Salt Lake, lots of people became interested in curling and in development of curling," Russian coach Olga Andrianova said yesterday. "After Turin (2006 Olympics in Italy), more. Now there are lots more people interested in curling because the 2014 Olympics will be in Sochi, Russia. Lots of people want to play curling and maybe go to the Olympics.

"We play the Russian championships with 16 men's and women's 16 teams now."

That's a far cry from the handful of curlers who had to borrow equipment and received some financial aid from Winnipeg's Arnold Asham in the mid-1990s.

Liudmila Privivkova, who is skipping the Russians here, also skipped a team in Turin. Third Olga Jarkova skipped Russia in the 2002 Olympics.

"The last two years, we got lots more teams because our government has created a special competition, like a small winter games," said Andrianova, who is also president of the Russian Curling Federation. "It has developed curling so the future there will be more curlers because it's a very interesting game."

PENALIZE PLAYERS: Dave Merklinger, the icemaker here, has suggested any competitive curler than leaves marks on the ice from either knees or hands should have his or her rock removed as a penalty.

"Just like going over the hog line," he told the Eye Opener, the CCA's in-house newspaper here. "They should pay the price."

Alberta third John Morris, who was blamed for spoiling the ice during the Brier final in Winnipeg, is the worst offender, Merklinger said.

Merklinger, by the way, is the regular icemaker at the Vernon Curling Club.

PAISLEY PROFIT: Although the 2005 world championship in Paisley, Scotland, continues to be dumped on -- with some justification -- word is it turned a profit of $165,000. Not only that but there may not have been a 2005 women's world championship if Paisley had not stepped to the plate.

BITERS: Although the plan was to use the MCA rocks here, they did not arrive in time after being used at the Brier in Winnipeg the week before. So the women are using the same rocks Jennifer Jones used to win the Canadian crown in Regina. ... Apparently, the unnamed developer who offered condos to the Canadian team and its families hails from Steinbach.


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