February 25, 2006
Kudos to the CBC
Coverage of Gushue's gold-medal win a real treat to watch
PERRY LEFKO

The gold-medal victory by the Canadian men's curling team from St. John's became the Miracle on Ice.

By blending the technical aspects of curling and the personalities of the players, CBC turned the historic win into a three-hour drama that will be replayed for years.

CBC added its own personal touch before the game by interviewing Bob Cole, a competitive curler from Newfoundland well before he became the voice of hockey in Canada.

Then came a moving portrait of skip Brad Gushue and his mother Maureen, who was stricken with cancer last August and couldn't make the trip to see her son in the Winter Olympics.

CBC's curling trio of host Don Wittman and analysts Mike Harris and Joan McCusker set up the game by noting that Finnish skip Markku Uusipaavalniemi -- also known as M-15 -- would not be a walkthrough for Gushue's foursome, or so it seemed. The announcers provided interesting tidbits about the Finnish skip, who had become so serious about the game he put up his own money to build a curling rink in Helsinki.

When Wittman noted Uusipaavalniemi once put together a Rubik's Cube in 25 seconds, it coincided with the first of many risky moves that went awry for the Big Finn.

"He's a smart man, but I don't think this is well thought out," McCusker said when Uusipaavalnieimi attempted a tricky hit in the third end instead of trying a safer draw shot.

The trio offered insight into the strange ice conditions that seemed to be playing havoc with the rocks and the amazing performance by Canadian third Mark Nichols, who made difficult shots look easy.

The commentators had fun talking about Russ Howard and his penchant for yelling and his lack of sweeping prowess. The 50-year-old Ontario native, now living in New Brunswick, was added to the team of 20-somethings in October for his expertise in calling the game.

In the sixth end, when the Finnish skip missed his final shot to allow the Canadians a chance to blow the game wide open by scoring six to lead 10-3, Harris said: "I think the party can start on George Street."

After the Finnish skip surrendered, Wittman proclaimed: "A gold medal for Canada. Let the party begin."

What followed became a audio-visual example of the beauty of miking curlers. Gushue called his mother on a cell phone and CBC picked up the conversation.

"I love you, mom," he said.

Interviewer Bruce Rennie turned an emotional interview with Gushue, who wept when asked about his mother, into some fun when he spoke to the team and wondered about their diverse musical interests.

He ended the interview with a gem by saying: "Great Big Sea in Newfoundland today stands for Canada."

BITS AND SOUNDBITES

Quote of the day goes to Harry Neale, who said: "The only thing sharper than a Gillette Blue Blade is the Finnish hockey team." ... Covering the Olympics must be a tough assignment. TSN's James Duthie has a splint on one of his pinky fingers ... It has been days since the Canadian men's hockey team was ousted and Ron MacLean wants us to know "nobody should worry about Canada or its hockey."