So you think you’re a TV curling expert, eh? We’ll see about that.
We’re halfway through the 2012 world men’s championship and there are obvious differences in the live television broadcasts coming from far-flung Basel, Switzerland. Can you list them all?
1. Less Games. Canada’s Glenn Howard and pals are televised only once each day, while in reality they are playing two games daily. This is a huge difference from domestic championship TV coverage and it’s got some fans up in arms. Truthfully, however, fans should be plenty happy with a game a day. It wasn’t too long ago that TSN (and before that the CBC/TSN combo) didn’t bother covering any round-robin games from worlds held outside of Canada, and provided only highlights and playoff coverage. You remember those days, right folks?
2. Less Game. Sharp-eyed viewers will note that TSN’s pile of commercial spots are cutting off live game action. In Canada, TV rules the roost so much that televised “feature” games are put on hold until the commercials are over. That doesn’t happen at world championships held outside of Canada; it’s hurry hard all the time. As such, fans have been missing — on average — about three stones per end, which translates to some 20% less curling action for each 10-end game.
3. Logos. There are some familiar ones in view and there are some strange ones as well. You may also have noticed that the athletes are wearing more logos on their uniforms ... and if you’re a super-savvy curling fan, you’ve noticed that two Canadian team logos — Swiffer and JVC — are the personal sponsors of Team Howard. Those companies paid for the right to display their logos on the team unis, an option that doesn’t exist (replaced by a cash payout) at the Brier.
4. Vic’s Vignettes. TSN used to feature hokey show intros with host Vic Rauter visiting local landmarks, but the network did away with that a couple of years ago. Now, Vic is back with his standups in Basel, which usually air around the fifth end or so. Rauter has Swiss blood so his knowledge is firsthand, and you can see these “Travelogues” as separate video files on the TSN Video On Demand website (watch.tsn.ca).
5. Poor Crowds. Host Switzerland’s miserable 0-4 start didn’t help attendance and there are still hopes that the spectators will show up for the playoffs, which begin on Friday. If they don’t, there will be egg on some faces; Basel has long been trumpeted as one of the few European locales that can draw curling crowds — even if those fans peak at only 3,000 or so.
6. Poor Curling. Team Canada has been crushing the opposition like they are insects, and only a handful of brilliant individual performances have kept two games close to the end. Other sheets have showcased numerous disasters: Switzerland’s hapless play (coaches dumped the skip and replaced him with a 20-year-old), Norway’s inconsistencies, Denmark’s twin losses to blown draws and France running out of time and defaulting a match. In addition, Sweden is playing without their injured skip (Niklas Edin has been benched due to a flaring of his chronic back problems) and is managing to keep pace just behind Canada with the Chinese, Norwegians and Scots. New Zealand, unbelievably, was at 4-3 after Tuesday and can catch a whiff of the playoffs.
GYM, TAN, SKI, CURL
France fourth Tony Angiboust looks to have been training on the slopes rather than on the ice. Angiboust’s annual worlds suntan has been rather obviously compromised by ski goggles, giving him the appearance of a raccoon. Most of the French team work in the ski industry of Chamonix, in France’s northern region.
The next time someone tells you to pay attention to the statistics, consider telling that person to blow it out of his or her ear. In Draw 9 of worlds action on Tuesday morning, the United States crushed Sweden by a score of 10-1 and yet three of the four Yankee players were scored far lower than their opponents — the average difference was a whopping 9%. And consider that the CURLIT stats system being used in Basel is a lot tougher than the Canadian Curling Association system, which has attracted longtime accusations of padding the numbers.
Kevin Martin and Chelsea Carey were the big winners at the popular Victoria Curling Classic over the weekend. Martin won the men’s $22,000 top prize with a 5-2 victory over Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen, while Carey’s Morden, Man. outfit took $8,000 with their 5-3 win over Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink.
Carey scored some measure of revenge over provincial rival Jennifer Jones — the team that beat them in the last two Manitoba championship finals — but Jones wasn’t in Victoria. Third Kaitlyn Lawes skipped the team while the regular skipper is guest commentating for World Curling TV in Basel. WCTV creates the host feed for TSN, Eurosport and other carriers and also provides English audio commentary where necessary. Another big-name skip hired by WCTV is Scotland’s multiple-world men’s champion skip David Murdoch.