Watching Curling: World Women’s Curling Championships




The World Women’s Curling Championship will take place in Sapporo, Japan, from March 14th-22nd. The field consists of twelve teams, with each team playing each other once in an 11-game round-robin format. Barring any ties (which will be decided by tiebreaker games), the top 4 teams will advance to the playoffs, which use the standard page playoff system. Medals are then awarded to the top three teams.


Here is the field for 2015:























United States



Team rosters can be found here:


World Women's Curling Championship Trophy

World Women’s Curling Championship Trophy


Without a doubt, the favorites for this event (in alphabetical order) are Canada, Russia, Scotland, and Sweden. Japan is a dark horse to make the playoffs, and the fact that they’re playing in front of home crowds will most certainly give them a boost. That being said, don’t count any team out in this event. All the teams have fought hard for the right to represent their country, and none of them are going to go down without a fight.

Of course, at the end of the day there can be only one champion. Here are my thoughts on how the top four teams will finish, in reverse order:


Russia-  For such a relatively young team, they have a lot of experience, and they’ve been playing together for some time now. They had an excellent run in the round-robin last year and ended up winning bronze. Since then, they’ve played well in several tour events, won silver at the European Championships back in Novemberm and most recently won gold at the Winter Universiade last month. I think they’ll have a solid run in the round-robin, but will ultimately find themselves playing for bronze and unfortunately coming up short.


Sweden-  This team can play, but often flies under the radar. After winning a silver medal at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, they’re playing a more relaxed schedule this year. It hasn’t seemed to hurt them any as they’ve had a solid year on tour and continue to play to top form. Experience, consistency, and skillful shot making should have them easily making the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if they won the whole thing, but I think they’ll end up taking bronze.


Canada-   After winning the gold medal in Sochi, they’ve had some ups and downs this year. Of course, all of that seemed to come to a halt at the Scotties last month where they came out on top at the end of the round-robin and ended up winning gold. No strangers to playing on a world stage or under pressure, this team can make shots and win games. Coming off their Scotties performance I expect them to be fired up and coming out swinging from the get-go. I would be surprised if they miss the playoffs, but I just don’t think they’ll win it all.


Scotland- After winning gold in 2013, they missed the event in 2014 due to a scheduling conflict…the Scottish Championships conflicted with the Sochi Olympics, so they weren’t able to qualify. To say the least, skip Eve Muirhead was upset with being unable to defend her title and has been determined ever since to reclaim her title. Like Jones (Canada), they’ve had some ups and downs but have been playing at the top of their game the past several months. They took bronze at the European Championships in November, won the Canadian Open in December, and most recently they won the Scottish Championships last month. Given their skill, experience, and motivation I have a feeling that they’ll be the dominant team all week and end up at the top of the standings at the end of the round-robin. I don’t expect them to let up in the playoffs either, and while it won’t be easy I think they’ll best Canada and come home with gold.




Unlike events in Canada or the United States, watching World Women’s live will require dedication and/or an alarm clock for some of the games. Sapporo is in the Japan Standard Timezone, which is 15 hours ahead of Central Standard Time. The World Curling Federation will broadcast a featured game from each draw, as well as full coverage of the playoffs via their WorldCurlingTV YouTube channel. TSN will broadcast all of Team Canada’s games, and the playoffs as well. Presumably the TSN coverage will be available on ESPN3 in the United States.

World Curling Federation Broadcast Information:



Draw Information & Schedule:




Phil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler, and he has too much free time on his hands. Rumor has it that he also actually curls every now and then. Do you want to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?


Curling in Shorts Can Help Your Game

So, I'm not in shorts here ...  but the article needs at least one picture.

So, I’m not in shorts here … but the article needs at least one picture.  And yes, Elvis was the alternate for our team.

I started curling here in Chicago around April.  I picked up curling shortly after the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and found a learn to curl southwest of Chicagoland at Waltham Curling Club.  I immediately fell in love with the sport.

My third-ever curling experience was at a curling club that will remain unmentioned.  It was a pick-up game, and I curling with several people with a lot of years of experience.  When I mean a lot … well, yea.  Anyway … there are a few ho-hum experiences that I’ve come across:

  • Getting in a fender bender on my way to curling (ended up costing about $2,500)
  • Totally choking in front of a pretty woman at an important game
  • Getting grief for dragging my knee and causing imprints in the ice from this one guy

As a new curler, I’ll admit my form was a bit to be desired.  Now, keep in mind, the other curlers were trying to help me out and pointing different things that I was doing.  This guy was just an angry man, muttering under his breath the whole day.

Fast forward to May.  Just a little bit of a back-story, I am the Marketing Manager at Raging Waves Waterpark … and May is my busy time.  I spent most of the day working to get the park ready for opening day, so I was in shorts.  I would leave the park to head off to curling, just grabbing my windbreaker.  And, the first time I did this … I didn’t even think about it.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 5.24.06 PM

Another picture that really isn’t related … but blogs need photos!

I pull into the club, and realize that all I have to curl in are shorts.  But, with the temps being warm and being outside all day.  I figured, why not?
Honestly, it wasn’t that bad either.  I have about 15 years of hockey experience under my belt as well, so I’ve spent plenty of time on the ice.

The one thing I noticed, I wasn’t dragging my knee.  It was almost instinctive, I didn’t want to set my kneecap down on the ice.  Even popping myself up after a delivery, I wasn’t setting my knee down.  My delivery improved, and I was getting better at the game.  I did it for a few weeks, until the waterpark was officially opened (and I spent more of my time in the office in dress pants).

The bad habit was broken!  I kept delivering without dragging my knee.

If you want to try breaking this habit, and don’t mind the cold, try this technique.  See if it works for you!

Dan Mulka is a member and guest blogger for Windy City Curling.  He’s also a member of Chicago Curling Club.  He’s found out that its a lot less painful to curl than taking pucks to the head as a 15-year-plus amateur beer league hockey goalie.

We will be holding a FREE Open House on Saturday, April 4 from 5:30pm to 8:00pm.  Come learn more about the sport of curling, including your chance to get out on the ice!  Click here for more information and to register.  LIMITED SPACE AVAILABLE!


Watching Curling: The Brier


The Tim Horton’s Brier is the Canadian Men’s National curling championship. Held annually since 1927, The Brier is often viewed by curling fans in Canada as the premiere event of the season, and is a big draw both for in person attendance and on television. This year the event will take place in Calgary, Alberta, from February 28 to March 8.

As with The Scotties, The Brier field consists of 12 teams, representing their home provinces as the winners of their respective provincial playoffs. In previous years, there was 1 team from the territories, 2 from Ontario, and 9 from the rest. This year, however, the format has changed and is more in line with The Scotties. There are still 12 teams, but for the first time the winning team from the previous year earns an automatic bye and will compete as Team Canada. For the remaining 11 teams, 10 have earned entry based on ranking with the 12th spot being determined by a four game play-in round-robin prior to the start of the main tournament.




After the play-in round-robin, the 12 teams will compete in an 11-game round-robin. At the end of the round-robin, the top 4 teams will advance to the playoffs. If there are any ties, tiebreaker games are played to finalize the playoff field. Teams face off following the page playoff system. The winner of the final game will then go on to represent Canada at The Ford World Men’s Curling Championships.


The Brier Tankard, awarded to to the winners.

The Brier Tankard, awarded to to the winners.


Now that we’ve covered the format, let’s take a look at the field for this year. We’ll start with the eleven teams that have already qualified.


Team Canada: John Morris, Pat Simmons, Carter Rycroft, Nolan Thiessen



Team Northern Ontario: Brad Jacobs, Ryan Fry, E.J. Harnden, Ryan Harnden



Team Newfoundland and Labrador: Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker



Team Manitoba: Reid Carruthers, Braeden Moskowy, Derek Samagalski, Colin Hodgson



Team Saskatchewan: Steve Laycock, Kirk Muyres, Colton Flasch, Dallan Muyres



Team Alberta: Kevin Koe, Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing, Ben Hebert



Team Quebec: Jean-Michel Ménard, Martin Crête, Eric Sylvain, Philippe Ménard



Team Ontario: Mark Kean, Mat Camm, David Mathers, Scott Howard



Team British Columbia: Jim Cotter, Ryan Kuhn, Tyrel Griffith, Rick Sawatsky



Team New Brunswick: Jeremy Mallais, Zach Eldridge, Chris Jeffrey, Jared Bezanson



Team NWT: Jamie Koe, Mark Whitehead, Brad Chorostkowski, Bill Merklinger



The following three teams will be battling it out for the twelfth and final spot in the main tournament:


Team PEI: Adam Casey, Josh Barry, Anson Carmody, Robbie Doherty



Team Nova Scotia: Glen MacLeod, Peter Burgess, Colten Steele, Rob McLean



Team Yukon: Bob Smallwood, Wade Scoffin, Steve Fecteau, Clint Ireland




This year the field is stacking up to be one of the most competitive in years.

Team Northern Ontario (Jacobs) won in 2013, but missed last year due to the 2014 Winter Olympics, where they dominantly won gold. Since then, they’ve been playing solid on tour and show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Team Alberta (Kevin Koe) won the Brier last year, but opted to part ways with his rink after Worlds. The new Team Koe has had some ups-and-downs on tour, but they’re four great players with a lot of experience under their belts.

Team Canada (Morris) hasn’t played all that much this season, but they’ve done pretty well. Consisting of the members of Team Kevin Koe from last year and skip John Morris, this is another team stacked with skill and experience.

Team NL (Gushue) has had an outstanding season on tour.  Gushue and Nichols won an Olympic Gold Medal in 2006, so here is yet another team loaded with talent and experience.

Team Saskatchewan (Laycock) have done well on tour, but have yet to make noise in a Brier. This could be their breakout year for sure.

Team Manitoba (Carruthers) beat number-one ranked Team McEwen twice to win their provincial final. They’ve also had a solid tour season, but have never played in a Brier. They could definitely make something happen though.

And those are just the favorites. Getting to The Brier in and of itself is an accomplishment, no easy feat by any means. There is a lot of talent and experience in the rest of the field, and quite frankly you never know what is going to happen.




As with The Scotties, viewers in the US can watch The Brier thanks to a partnership between TSN and ESPN3. There will be a featured game for each draw, and full coverage of the playoffs and finals.

A full draw schedule can be found here:

ESPN3 Streaming:


philCPhil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler and has the TSN Curling music stuck in his head from watching The Scotties. He’s also been known to actually play from time to time. Want to hear more about curling, whisky, or horse racing? Are you Eve Muirhead?






Watching Curling: The Scotties and USA Nationals

“Oh boy is this great!” – Fred “Flounder” Dorfman, Animal House

That about sums up how I feel about the next two months when it comes to curling. From now until mid-April there isn’t more than a week or so where there isn’t a major curling competition taking place. Both the Scotties and the US Nationals start this weekend, the Brier follows soon after, then Women’s Worlds, then Men’s Worlds, and then The Players Championship! Are you as excited as I am?

Ok, you probably have no clue what I’m talking about. So, let’s start with what comes first: The Scotties.


The Scotties Tournament Of Hearts (known as simply “The Scotties” for short) is the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship.  There are 12 teams overall, comprised of the winners of the provincial curling championships and the winning team from the previous year. Provincial champions play as representatives of their respective province, while the reigning champions play as Team Canada. The format is a basic round robin, which is followed by the playoffs to determine the winner. The winner of The Scotties will then represent Canada at The World Women’s Curling Championship.


So, hopefully that should give you a pretty good idea of the basics. Now, let’s take a look at some of the teams you should watch out for this year.

Team Canada – Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney, Lisa Weagle


Reigning two-time Scotties Champions, they’re looking to make history with a three-peat. They only lost one game in 2013, and went undefeated in 2014. Not having to play provincials means they’re rested, but this could also work against them as the other teams have the momentum of a provincial victory on their side.

Team Alberta – Val Sweeting, Lori Olson-Johns, Dana Ferguson, Rachelle Brown


Last year they lost to Homan in the final, so they have experience playing under pressure. Furthermore, they’ve been having a great season on tour and only seem to be getting better as time goes by.

Team Saskatchewan – Stefanie Lawton, Sherry Anderson, Sherri Singler, Marliese Kasner


They’ve been in the playoffs four times previously, and bring a lot of experience to the table. They’re also playing on home ice, which would make a win even more meaningful.

Team Ontario – Julie Hastings, Christy Trombley, Stacey Smith, Katrina Collins


This is their first trip to the big dance. However, they’ve been playing together as a team for twenty years, so you never know what that combination of team chemistry and desire to win may produce.

Team Manitoba – Jennifer Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer, Dawn McEwen


Four-time Scotties Champions, they’ve also won their provincial championship ten times. They missed it last year, but had a good excuse as they were busy winning an Olympic Gold Medal in Sochi.



Round-robin play begins this Saturday the 14th and runs through Thursday the 19th. Playoffs start on Friday the 20th with the final taking place at night on Sunday the 22nd. TSN is televising the whole event, with a featured game for each round-robin draw and full coverage of all the playoff matches. Thanks to a partnership between TSN and ESPN, if you have access to ESPN3 you’ll be able to watch all of this online in the US.



At the same time The Scotties are occurring in Canada, the 2015 USA Curling Nationals are taking place in Kalamazoo, Michigan. While following a similar format as The Scotties, there are several differences. First and foremost, USA Curling Nationals includes both men’s and women’s teams, ten of each. Furthermore, teams qualify for the event in a variety of ways and do not represent a specific state: two teams gain entry based on their order-of-merit standings, two teams are selected via the high-performance program, the winners of junior nationals gain entry, and the remaining five teams qualify from challenge round events.

One of the biggest differences is that the winning teams are not automatically selected to represent the USA at women’s and men’s worlds. The USCA determines who will go to worlds based on a points system. Teams earn points at eligible events leading up to Nationals, but to earn enough points to win a berth to Worlds a team will need to place at Nationals. This may sound a bit confusing, so I’ll provide an example looking at the men’s field this year. First, second, and third place Nationals finishes are worth 45, 35, and 30 points respectively. The top three teams in the field come into the event with 40.4, 38.6, and 30.2 points. So, if either of the top two teams win they will go to worlds, but if the number three team faces and defeats the number one team in the final the number one team will still go to Worlds…by .2 points.

Ok, enough math. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I am not nearly as familiar with American Teams as I am with Canadian and European Teams. That being said, I’m making an effort to follow US curling more closely. Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the teams to watch for in Kalamazoo.


Team Roth: Nina Roth, Jamie Sinclair, Becca Hamilton, Tabitha Peterson

Roth rink_600

They’re coming into Nationals leading in points with 34.66 points. If they finish in the top two they’ll guarantee themselves a berth to Worlds. A third place finish would still qualify them provided that Team Sormunen doesn’t win.

Team Sormunen: Aileen Sormunen, Tara Peterson, Vicky Persinger, Monica Walker

sormunen rink

They currently have 27.35 points. If they win they’ll go to Worlds. A second or third place finish could get them into Worlds provided that Team Roth finishes lower than third.

Team Erika Brown: Erika Brown, Alex Carlson, Becca Funk, Kendall Behm

e brown

Coming into Nationals with 9.2 points, two-time Olympian Erika Brown is skipping a new team. The math is against them to earn a berth to Worlds, but it’s not impossible. Curling is such a mental game, especially at this level, and there is something to be said for experience.

Team Debbie McCormick: Debbie McCormick, Courtney George, Emilia Juocys, Stephanie Senneker


Right on the heels of Brown, they currently have 9.1 points. A four-time Olympian, McCormick is also skipping a new team, and also has a lot of experience under her belt. Points-wise they’re facing essentially the same situation as Brown…difficult, but not impossible to get to Worlds.



Team John Shuster: John Shuster, Tyler George, Matt Hamilton, John Landsteiner.


Three-time Olympian John Shuster currently is leading the field with 40.4 points. A win guarantees them a trip to Worlds next month, as does a second-place finish if Craig Brown wins. They could qualify with a third place finish as well, as long as they finish ahead of McCormick and Brown.

Team Heath McCormick: Heath McCormick, Chris Plys, Joe Polo, Colin Hufman


Right behind Shuster with 38.6 points, McCormick will also secure a berth to Worlds with a win. They could get there with a second or third place finish as well, provided Shuster and Brown finish behind them.

Team Craig Brown: Craig Brown, Kroy Nernberger, Sean Beighton, Jared Zezel


Rounding out the top 3, Brown has 30.2 points. If they win and McCormick takes second they’ll go to Worlds, but if they beat Shuster in the final his rink will earn the spot by a mere .2 points. Second or third place finishes could get them there as well, depending upon where other teams finish.

Team Korey Dropkin: Korey Dropkin, Tom Howell, Mark Fenner, Andrew Stopera

Team Dropkin

A juniors team, they only have 12 points at the moment. That being said, they’ve been playing well this year, and it’s a long week. It’s a longshot, but if things go the right way they could win a trip to Worlds with a win.




Round-robin play also begins on Saturday the 14th, lasting through Thursday the 19th. Playoffs begin the same day, and end with the finals occurring on Saturday the 21st. While not technically televised, there is live streaming coverage of Nationals. Twelfth-End Sports Network is handling the coverage, thanks to the generous gifts of donors. Like the Scotties, there are featured games for each round-robin draw and coverage of the playoffs.

So, there you have it. For more information, or for access to webstreaming you can check out these links:

2015 Scotties:


2015 USA Nationals:

Nationals Webstreaming:


philCPhil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler and has entirely too much time on his hands. Want to hear more about curling, whisky, and where to get those sweet pants? Are you Eve Muirhead?



How Curling Stones are Made? Video

Let’s talk about rocks.

OK, not those rocks. Stones, curling stones.

Here’s the wikipedia entry for curling stones.

The curling stone (also sometimes called a rock in North America) is made of granite and is specified by the World Curling Federation, which requires a weight between 38 and 44 pounds (17 and 20 kg) a maximum circumference of 36 inches (910 mm) and a minimum height of 4.5 inches (110 mm).[15] The only part of the stone in contact with the ice is the running surface, a narrow, flat annulus or ring, 0.25 to 0.50 inches (6.4 to 12.7 mm) wide and about 5 inches (130 mm) in diameter; the sides of the stone bulge convex down to the ring and the inside of the ring is hollowed concave to clear the ice. This concave bottom was first proposed by J. S. Russell of Toronto, Canada sometime after 1870, and was subsequently adopted by Scottish stone manufacturer Andrew Kay.[9]

The granite for the stones comes from two sources: Ailsa Craig, an island off the Ayrshire coast of Scotland, and the Trefor Granite Quarry in Wales.

Ailsa Craig is the traditional source and produces two types of granite, Blue Hone and Ailsa Craig Common Green. Blue Hone has very low water absorption, which prevents the action of repeatedly freezing water from eroding the stone.[19] Ailsa Craig Common Green is a lesser quality granite than Blue Hone. In the past, most curling stones were made from Blue Hone but the island is now a wildlife reserve and the quarry is restricted by environmental conditions that exclude blasting. Kays of Scotland has been making curling stones since 1851 and has the exclusive rights to the Ailsa Craig granite, granted by the Marquess of Ailsa, whose family has owned the island since 1560. The last harvest of Ailsa Craig granite by Kays took place in 2013, after a hiatus of 11 years; 2,000 tons were harvested, sufficient to fill anticipated orders through at least 2020. Kays has been the exclusive manufacturer of curling stones for the Olympics since the 2006 Winter Olympics.[20]

Trefor granite comes from the Yr Eifl or Trefor Granite Quarry in the village of Trefor on the north coast of the Llŷn Peninsula in Gwynedd, Wales and has produced granite since 1850. Trefor granite comes in shades of pink, blue and grey.[21] The quarry supplies curling stone granite exclusively to the Canadian, Canada Curling Stone Co., which has been producing stones since 1992 and supplied the stones for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

A handle is attached by a bolt running vertically through a hole in the centre of the stone. The handle allows the stone to be gripped and rotated upon release; on properly prepared ice the rotation will bend (curl) the path of the stone in the direction in which the front edge of the stone is turning, especially as the stone slows. Handles are coloured to identify each team; two popular colours in major tournaments being red and yellow. In competition, an electronic handle known as the eye on the hog may be fitted to detect hog line violations, the game’s most frequent cause of controversy. This electronically detects whether the thrower’s hand is in contact with the handle as it passes the hog line and indicates a violation by lights at the base of the handle. The eye on the hog eliminates human error and the need for hog line officials. It is mandatory in high-level national and international competition, but its cost, around US$650 each, currently puts it beyond the reach of most club curling.

So, now that you know about curling stones.  Let’s see how they are made!