January 17, 2011
Worth its medals
By CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - Was this convincing Continental Cup win by North America a sign of things to come or just an anomaly?
There really is no plausible explanation as to why Team World came out so flat at this weekend’s event in St. Albert.
North America’s 298-102 win was convincing from front to back and this continent’s rock throwers came out on top in all 11 draws to complete the rout.
Sure, this is the first time this event has been held in January, just as teams are starting to peak for their provincial playdowns.
And, there was no last-day, last-draw drama. Yet the history of the event has shown that neither team has been able to put together back-to-back wins.
Canadian Curling Association director of event operations Warren Hansen sees continued value in the original purpose of the event — a showcase for future Olympic medals.
“In certain years, we’re having a talent void in either Europe or North America and it’s making things lopsided,” said Hansen, who figures jetlag may have played a big role this time.
“I’m aware of the fact that all these out-of-country teams didn’t arrive until Tuesday, so they were probably pretty jetlagged. Maybe we have to make an effort next year (in Langley, B.C.) to get them in on Monday. That may be able to help.”
The format remains subject to change, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“There’s a few things I’d like to see us tweak,” said Hansen.
“Overall, the concept that was put together here is still quite solid.”
One of the tweaks Hansen would like to see is renaming the singles to skills. And to traditionalists, he’d like to point out that the singles competition utilizes six of the eight skills that were practised on ice in Scotland 400-some years ago.
When the concept was being bandied about before the first Continental Cup in 2002, part of the reasoning was to make it simple to introduce curling to regions of the world that had not been familiar with the game.
“It’s not without its controversy,” said Hansen. “It introduces a new way of looking at the sport. I look at things like mixed doubles and singles as great activities that can be introduced to curling clubs around the world for people to participate in the sport.”
Traditionalists may turn their nose up at mixed doubles, but the curlers generally seemed to have a lot of fun with it.
One spinoff from the event has been the fledgling world mixed doubles championship started in 2008.
“All those things are good for the sport,” said Hansen. “It’s good in those smaller countries. There may not be four good curlers in those smaller nations, but there might be two, so it’s a different dimension.”
Somehow, curling missed its chance to get more medal events into the 2014 Olympics, but Hansen believes expansion of curling medals is possible in 2018.
“It’s through an event like this that we think out of the box a bit with what we’re doing,” said Hansen. “We broaden the scope a bit of what curling actually is and it’s just something new and different and not the same old, same old.
“Instead of a Ryder Cup, it’s more like an NBA or an NHL all-star game. You’ve got the best players in the sport and they’re displaying their skills in a unique and different way.”