Middaugh red-hot on the ice

GEORGE KARRYS, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:47 PM ET

TORONTO - Last February, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan won the Ontario championship and asked rival skip Sherry Middaugh to come along to the nationals as the alternate.

The veteran did play in a couple of games but spent most of her time rinkside watching the Homan show, and contemplating just how good the youngsters are.

As Middaugh told the Sun at the time: “They have a level of game that’s a notch above what we’ve seen in the women’s game. They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with, and I don’t like that.”

Fast forward eight months later, and Middaugh has obviously taken her own words seriously. Her Coldwater, Ont. foursome has thrown down the gauntlet by winning three of their five World Curling Tour events to date — scoring playoff berths in the other two — and they currently sit at No. 1 on the money list with $23,500 in winnings.

And Homan? Her gang of 22-year-olds are back in 21st place.

It’s the second year for Middaugh, fellow veteran Jo-Ann Rizzo and the youthful Leighs, Merklinger and Armstrong, and this squad is red-hot. Last season they played well enough early on but failed to qualify for the provincial championship.

KING KONG CURLING

Those crazy Norwegian curlers. First, they wear outrageous pants at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Now, they’ve gone and made their domestic film version of Men With Brooms, titled Kong Curling (King Curling outside of Norway).

The story centres on retired curling ace Truls Paulsen, an obvious homage to real-life 2002 Olympic champion Pal Trulsen — a former champion who went bananas under the pressure of competition. Now heavily medicated and out of the sport, Paulsen decides that it’s time to reunite the old squad to raise money for their former coach’s surgery.

What is interesting is how both the Canadian and Norwegian curling films had a somewhat persistent drug theme underlying the slapstick silliness. Um, what are you filmmakers trying to say?

BEAR TRAP

One of the odder Canadian coach sightings at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics will be curlers Neil (Harry) Harrison, the legendary lead for Eddie (The Wrench) Werenich, and partner Lino d’Iorio, the founder of the BalancePlus curling development and manufacturing company.

The pair have signed three-year deals to coach Russia’s men’s curling team, and boy, do they have their work cut out for them. And we’re not even thinking about the actual coaching part of it.

A year ago, the Russians hired a gang of young Winnipeg curlers, led by Jason Gunnlaugson, to “move” to Moscow to compete for the country. The deal fell apart over last-minute citizenship wrangling.

The Russians then approached Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey about a coaching gig. The two sides had agreed on the money — six figures a year — but that deal imploded when Ferbey couldn’t bring his own assistant coaches along for the ride.

Previous Russian coaches are well known for bizarre and seemingly pointless lineup changes, among other strange behaviour. Harry and Lino are smart and subtle, but Russian curling is one big bear trap.

SCIENCE!

Speaking of BalancePlus, their newfangled “EQ” curling brush head continues to sell like hotcakes. Using technology developed from Canada’s Own The Podium Olympic research initiative, studies show that the EQ head helps curlers improve their sweeping prowess by a minimum of 30% (for high-performance men) up to a stunning 105% for high-performance women. For Joe and Jane Average, ie. 90% of curlers, the results will be just as impressive ... and it will be fun to see last season’s naysayers using it, too.

BROOM BITS

Tweet of the Week comes from @JKnwt, aka Jamie Koe, the popular Territories men’s skip and younger brother of Alberta’s 2010 world champion skip Kevin Koe. It’s a simple tweet which, for many, summarizes the spirit of the Roaring Game: #timhortonsbrier #memoryloss #thepatch #tokens #perdiemdeficit … Pig Curling is the latest curling-themed time waster for your iPhone, and the jury is split. Launch noisy bovines toward the target and watch the squealers bounce off wood, railings and other stuff. This app has little to do with curling, and no wonder: it was developed in Brazil … but don’t laugh yet, pal, because Brazil has once again challenged the United States for the second of two North American berths into the 2012 world curling championships. The best-of-whatever series will be hosted at Minnesota in January and while the Brazilians will be applauded for their usual pluck, they are certain to be demolished on the ice yet again.

STANDINGS

WORLD CURLING TOUR: DA BOYS

(As of Oct. 18)

1. Kevin Martin, Edmonton $27,000

2. Mike McEwen, Winnipeg $26,000

3. Randy Ferbey, Edmonton $20,000

4. Tom Brewster, Scotland $18,979

5. Brad Gushue, St. John’s $17,887

6. Sven Michel, Switzerland $17,803

7. John Epping, Toronto $13,000

8. Brent Pierce, Vancouver $12,850

9. Niklas Edin, Sweden $12,647

10. Rui Liu, China $12,316

WORLD CURLING TOUR: DA GIRLS

(As of Oct. 18)

1. Sherry Middaugh, Coldwater Ont. $23,500

2. Liudmila Privivkova, Russia $20,100

3. Shannon Kleibrink, Calgary $18,500

4. Cathy Overton-Clapham, Winnipeg $17,950

5. Margaretha Sigfridsson, Sweden $14,844

6. Cheryl Bernard, Calgary $11,700

7. Crystal Webster, Calgary $10,900

8. Eve Muirhead, Scotland $9,764

9. Mirjam Ott, Switzerland $9,684

10. Stefanie Lawton, Saskatoon $8,500

NEXT UP

— Challenge Casino Lac Leamy, Gatineau, Que. Oct. 20-23

Gushue, Hemmings, Jacobs, Menard (M)

— Canad Inns Prairie Classic, Portage, Man. Oct. 21-24

Stoughton, Howard, Koe, McEwen (M)

— Kamloops Crown of Curling, Kamloops, Oct. 21-24

Law, Privivkova, Wang, Mallett (W)

— Manitoba Lotteries Classic, Winnipeg, Oct. 21-24

Bernard, Jones, Holland, Homan, Middaugh, Norberg (W)


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