Some excerpts: The enraged curling fans, it turned out, were the most abusive and unpleasant complainers (CBC) had ever had to deal with. (Staff) showed me emails that consisted of strings of curses and maledictions, one expletive after another, brutal and angry. The viewers seemed sometimes in such a rage that they fell into utter incoherence.
“You are a pack of s**t-brained idiots. You cut away before the last end! What a collection of ignorant, stupid, ugly, demented, moronic pieces of crap. Death to the CBC. Death!”
The effect was startling. I had no idea that people could be so rude.
“Is this typical?” I asked. “Is this what happens if we have an outage during a hockey game?”
“Oh, no,” they said, “the curling fans are the worst. Far and away the worst. Hockey fans are never as bad. And the old ladies are the worst, far and away.”
John Epping’s upset win over world champion Glenn Howard at the Sun Life Financial Players’ Championship was a very cool way to end the 2011-12 curling season.
There’s one veteran on the team — world champion Scott Bailey, who used to play lead for Wayne Middaugh — and Epping himself has some great experience, but this was still a green team excelling against the odds.
The women’s final featured two also-rans, ie. squads that didn’t make it to the nationals. Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton lost the Saskatchewan STOH final and hadn’t thrown many stones between February and early April, but still managed to win the title. Finalist Cathy Overton-Clapham of Winnipeg, who was awarded the women’s Capital One Cup for Grand Slam victories, didn’t even make it to the Manitoba final; her team was bounced early in the buffalo provincial.
Grand Slam and World Curling Tour events do matter – they provide an essential training ground for national and world championships, a fact that is reflected by their inclusion in the Canadian Curling Association’s High-Performance CTRS (Canadian Team Ranking System). They bring popular names to smaller towns that don’t see a Brier or STOH anymore. And let’s face it, the larger tournaments provide healthy competition for the CCA’s events — and a monopoly wouldn’t do the sport any good.
The last world championship of the season is underway in Erzurum, Turkey. Canada’s Chantelle Eberle and Dean Hicke are up against 26 other nations at the World Mixed Doubles, and selected games are being streamed online daily at http://bit.ly/WCTVyh. The playoffs, including the final, are on Sunday, April 29.
The final World Curling Tour money list sees Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen finishing first with $149,969, Kevin Martin of Edmonton in second at $127,000, and Howard ($100,750), Epping ($70,500) and Edmonton’s Kevin Koe ($61,250) rounding out the top five.
Meanwhile, The Curling News Gold Trail attempts to track every single dollar earned — including skins games, cup competitions and even sport funding. This system vaults Howard into first place with $234,434 earned, ahead of Martin’s revised total of $162,700. Koe ranks third with $163,300, McEwen drops to fourth with $153,969 and Epping’s new total of $75,500 actually drops him into sixth place, just behind Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton ($87,452) and ahead of Brandon’s Rob Fowler ($72,150).
In women’s WCT dollars, Overton-Clapham ranks first with $52,422 followed by Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., at $49,000, Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones at $44,858, Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton at $43,200 and Switzerland’s Michele Jaeggi at $25,492. According to the Gold Trail, however, Jones has triumphed with $113,257, Cathy-O has cashed $101,350, Edmonton’s Heather Nedohin sits third with $93,119, Lawton holds fourth with $68,200 and Middaugh is in fifth at $62,000.
Speaking of The Curling News, their final print issue of the season is now online as a super-sized digital edition complete with links to special photo galleries, webpages and videos. Click on http://bit.ly/TCNdigital to read/watch it.
Global Television’s Players’ TV crew saw Toronto-based sports host/curlaholic Don Landry on play-by-play and Don Duguid of Winnipeg as colour analyst. For the women’s final, Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard also served as an analyst.
Bernard was solid: telegenic, poised and interesting. Landry was excellent, mixing humour with his expertise and respect for the event.
Landry was also heroic in trying to balance Duguid, whose best days have clearly passed him by. The man who won two world titles in the early 1970s was solid on CBC curling broadcasts for many years, but appeared out of touch on the weekend — he miscalled some shots, and even referred to the 10th end of play (the games were only eight ends in length).
“Don is killing me. I never knew I could miss Vic Rauter so much,” tweeted one exasperated viewer.