Do curlers have to be physically fit?

In my youth, the only curlers I knew were the rags my mother used to put in my hair.   I was vaguely aware that my BFF’s brother was a curler, but I cannot say I was interested enough to find out anything about the sport.  In fact, I’m not sure it was much of a sport back then.

My husband was a great curler in his youth, representing his club in the provincial playdowns several times.  His teenaged years were consumed with curling.  His knowledge of and passion for the game, not to mention the numerous trophies that we have in our home, (those were the days when no one but the winner got a trophy) taught me all about the game.  Not just the logistics of the game, but how difficult it is (here in Canada) to be the best team in your club let alone your zone, province, or country.  That degree of difficulty has not changed.  It might be even tougher as there are so many good teams out there.

My two eldest sons started curling at the age of four.  They both curled locally for years,  coached by their father. The younger of the two was not as passionate about the sport as the elder who also went on to curl competitively including representing our area in the provincials.  Unfortunately, much to the chagrin of his dad, his curling days took a back seat to his goal of becoming a civil engineer.  Both sons learned a lot on the curling ice, including leadership, team play, and communication skills.  Both developed friendships that have lasted over the years.   In fact, my eldest son met his new wife within the first few years of his curling career.  They both still curl at the same RCC although she is currently taking a hiatus to give birth to their first child!

Gone are the days, however, where drinking beer (adults only of course) and munching on junk food after the game were the highlights of the sport, at least at the competitive level.   Today, teams and individuals are known for their fitness level, mental endurance, and strategically amazing shots.  Sorry Ed Werenich, but the days of the belly hanging over the belt as you crouch on the ice to throw your shot are long gone.

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Watching the mixed doubles category in the winter Olympics this week, it is obvious that these curlers definitely have to be physically fit athletes to compete at this level today.  With just two (traditional curling has four) curlers per team, they  are throwing a rock, then quickly jumping up to sweep it down the ice towards the house.  I broke out in a (nervous) sweat watching them, especially the gold medal game between Canada and Switzerland.  The pairing of Canada’s John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes were spectacular to watch as they brought home the gold.

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CBC news: Canada’s John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes win Olympic gold in curling mixed doubles

 

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A dogsled, RCMP, snow and Shania Twain

Arriving on the snow-covered field on a dogsled, escorted by (RCMP) mounties, Shania Twain’s Grey Cup halftime show could not have been more Canadian.  The flying snow enhanced the performance, captured here by ESPN…

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Dressed in sparkly pink and red winter wear, Canadian country singer Shania Twain wowed the crowd with her hit songs “That Don’t Impress me Much” and “Life’s About to Get Good”  before closing with “Man, I feel like a woman!”

 

Oh, and the football game was good too, a close nailbiter right to the end.  The underdog won again with the Toronto Argonauts defeating the Calgary Stampeders 27-24  in Grey Cup #105.

 

 

There’s a new mantra in Ottawa tonight

There’s a new mantra in Ottawa tonight.  If you are an Ottawa Senators fan or an NHL lover, you will know exactly what I am talking about.  It goes like this: “PAGEAU, PAGEAU, PAGEAU, PAGEAU….PAGEAU, PAGEAU”  sung to the tune of that other popular NHL chant OLÈ, OLÈ, OLÈ, OLÈ….OLÈ OLÈ

Pageau

 

The Ottawa Senators beat the visiting New York Rangers, 6-5 in double overtime, after being down 5-3 with a little over 3 minutes left in regulation time.  What a comeback, what a game!  The win puts the Senators ahead 2-0 in a best of 7 game series, round two in the NHL playoffs for the Stanley Cup.

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The reason for the mantra is that Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored 4 of the 6 Ottawa goals, including the OT winner.   To be more precise, 4 goals in 4 shots on net.  I would love to know Henrik Lundqvist’s (the Rangers’ goaltender) thoughts as he saw him streaking down the ice towards him in overtime.  Maybe, “oh no, not him again”

The fans serenaded him a few times tonite with the mantra (after each goal) but none louder than during his solo skate as he was announced the first star of the game.  It was absolutely deafening, in fact, you could not hear the announcer declare him the first star.  Not that he had to, we all knew who the best guy on the ice was tonight.

The fans were still chanting as they cleared out of the CTC, to the parking lots and beyond, honking their car horns and waving their flags…

My voice is hoarse; I too was chanting and cheering at the top of my lungs.

New NHL intentional injuries rule called for

I believe that a new NHL rule should be implemented to reduce intentional injuries in hockey.  The rule would apply to those players that viciously injure their opponents putting them out of the game and possibly several games.  The offending player should be suspended for as many games as the injured player is out. Simple. Effective. Fair. Justice.

There are far too many whacks with the hockey sticks (slashing in hockey lingo) injuring players.  I am not talking about incidental nips, I am referring to the intentional slashes at a players hand. Two years ago P.K. Subban of the (then) Montreal Canadiens put Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators out for the season with a fractured wrist from a slash to the hand.

It should not matter if the victim or the offender is the best player in the league or a fourth liner; the rule should be consistent to make it effective.  The quality of player is another can of worms; many believe Sidney Crosby (arguably the best player in the NHL) gets away with much more than the average player because of his elevated status in the game.

Did you see the whack (slash) on Marc Methot’s hand compliments of the great Sidney Crosby last night as the Ottawa Senators played (beat) the Pittsburgh Penguins?  Maybe not the slash, because apparently, the referees did not see that either.  Although it was displayed on the scoreboard for the Ottawa fans at the game to see.   We (viewers at home too) all saw Methot’s bloody finger with the nail and skin hanging off the end.  We all saw Crosby skate off with a bored (no remorse there) look on his face too. No apology was issued either.   Word is if the hit had been higher on the hand, Methot may have lost his finger.

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Marc Methot missing part of his finger thanks to Sidney Crosby

 

Another funny (not really) fact is that high sticks, regardless of whether they are intentional or not, are always penalized.  In fact, the victim tries very hard to produce blood to get an additional two minutes added to the penalty.   The referee even checks the victim over for the presence of blood before deciding to give the perpetrator two or four minutes in the sin bin.

The blood was pretty evident at the end of Methot’s finger, for all to see.  No penalty call from the refs though.  Was that because Sidney Crosby was the offender?  Sure looked that way…

Methot is out for several weeks; Crosby is playing again tonight.  Where is the justice in that?  A new NHL injury rule might help, certainly wouldn’t hurt!

 

Bipartisan hockey fans

There is nothing worse when you go to an NHL game to support the home team and there are more (and louder) hockey fans supporting the opposing team.  This happens alot at Ottawa Senators‘  home games.  It is bad enough watching on TV, but when you are actually at the game it is brutal.  Last night was a great example when the Senators hosted the Montreal Canadians.  If you were listening to the game from a distance (not right in front of the TV) you could not tell which team scored when the commentator yelled “scores!”

I assume this bipartisan crowd phenomenon is because anyone that has moved to Ottawa for work as an adult is old enough to have grown up with another team as their favourite.  On the flip side, anyone younger than 30 years of age living in Ottawa has grown up with the Senators as their home team since the Senators franchise was only revived in Ottawa in 1992, after being off the NHL radar since 1934.

I grew up in Cornwall, Ontario a small city a little over an hour east and south of Ottawa.  In the sixties and seventies, if you lived in Cornwall, hockey fans cheered for the Montreal Canadians or the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The choice was predominantly based on whether you were French-speaking (Montreal) or English speaking (Toronto).  My father was an avid Toronto Maple Leaf fan, so we six children were too.  When I moved to Ottawa and had three sons, as soon as they were old enough to love hockey and the Senators, I was a convert.

However, when I moved to Ottawa and had three sons, as soon as they were old enough to love hockey and the Senators, I was a convert.  It is hard not to get caught up in the excitement of a local team, especially as we live 5 minutes from the Canadian Tire Center, the arena the Senators call home.

Whatever happened to home ice advantage?

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Ottawa United Women’s Soccer team New Zealand bound

The Ottawa United Women’s Soccer team is trying to raise money for a trip to the World Masters competition in New Zealand.

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For more details on how and when you can help them get there, read this STORY  written by Jessica Cunha in the Kanata Kourier-Standard

Mesmerizing Superbowl LI

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photo by belltower.mtaloy.edu

 

Even though I was rooting for underdog Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in Superbowl LI,  I have to admit that the comeback by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots was mesmerizing.  The much less experienced Matt Ryan and the Falcons were winning 28-3 at halftime, a lead that carried them well into the third quarter.  Falcon fans and Brady haters were celebrating everywhere.  Even the Patriots’ cheerleaders looked less than spirited.

It seemed like the Patriots could not get anything right when the extra point was missed on their first touchdown.   However, another touchdown with a two-point conversion brought the Patriots back into the game.  A Falcon fumble and injury in the fourth quarter continued to fuel the train wreck orchestrated by Tom Brady and his offense.

From that point on, it was the Falcons that could not get anything right, especially when committing a few undisciplined penalties, one of which left them out of range for a field goal that might have slowed the Patriot’s momentum and run them out of time.  Instead, the penalty resulted in the game-tying Patriots’ touchdown.

In the first ever Superbowl overtime,  the Patriots won the coin toss giving them first possession of the football.  This meant that a touchdown would win it for them; a field goal would give the Falcons their chance to score. The Patriots needed no further encouragement; they marched down the field and over the goal line, with very little resistance from the stunned Falcons, for a Patriots (and Tom Brady’s)  5th Superbowl win.

Whatever you think of Tom Brady and however tired you are of him winning, it was an awesome and mesmerizing game to watch, at least the last half was.  If you only tuned in at half time to watch Lady Gaga, I hope you watched the rest of the game.   Whether or not Tom Brady upstaged Lady Gaga is debatable; she did perform a spectacular show.

photos by  fantasysportaction.com  and billboard.com