Big shots will leave even casual fans in awe

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:34 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- So you're one of those sports fans who can take curling or leave it.

There are times when you like it and other times when it just doesn't cut it for you.

But as a sports fan, you'll watch an event when the best of the best are participating because you know you'll get to see more of what you like than what you don't.

Then this Brier is the one you want to see.

The hard-core curling fan is going to be in rock heaven until next Sunday with the Brier at the John Labatt Centre.

But those fans won't make the difference in whether the event is successful or simply good enough.

The difference between successful and good enough will be made by the casual fan and the fan who might never consider going to a curling event but are attracted to this one.

Even the most casual fan knows how difficult curling is. There is no hiding for anyone. When you miss a shot, it's out there for all to see.

But by the same token, the most casual fans know when someone has made a great shot.

They may not understand the intricacies or plan-ahead strategy but they know when someone manages a tough, double takeout or corner freeze or hides a shot behind a tight guard.

That's the beauty of what's going to happen this week.

With the lineup at the 2011 Brier, there are going to be an awful lot of good shots made.

It is one of the deepest Brier fields in recent memory. The usual suspects, or should I say suspect, is favoured to win.

That would be Alberta's Kevin Martin. A major championship without Martin in the final has provided a major upset.

That said, it's a minefield out there for Martin and there are any number of rinks good enough to win the national championship should Martin's foursome not be at the top of their game.

Ontario's Glenn Howard has the most experienced rink at the Brier. He hasn't had much luck head-to-head with Martin, losing six times in succession.

That streak has to end sometime.

The team that survives the hell that comes from trying to qualify out of Manitoba must be a rink with the potential to win. Jeff Stoughton is in his ninth Brier and has won twice.

Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario was third last year. Saskatchewan's Pat Simmons and Newfoundland's Brad Gushue could all take home the big prize because they have Brier experience and are great shooters.

More than a half-dozen teams can win, along with another two or three that might surprise. That's a lot of talent in one spot.

These guys will provide a level of play you won't see anywhere else. Not even the world championship produces the overall quality of curling you'll see at the Brier because the world championship doesn't have the same number of quality teams.

With so many good teams, fans, casual or otherwise, will be served up an assortment of outstanding shots. It is the one mesmerizing aspect of curling that will capture the casual fan.

It's the shock shot.

This isn't about putting the rock in an eight-foot white ring. It's about putting it to the inch in an eight-foot ring.

It isn't about getting to a rock that's fully buried behind another rock and moving it out. It's about getting to a rock that's fully buried behind another rock, moving it out and being precise enough that you will remain fully buried.

It isn't about attempting an angle-raise, tap-back takeout against three for the win. It's about making an angle-raise, tap-back takeout against three for the win.

It's what makes this Brier more fascinating than others.

There are so many skips here who are about to do it.


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