Day 4: Even More Curling!

The morning draw was light with only three teams, so we decided to sleep in. We needed it. On average we’re probably walking over 5 kilometers a day, and we’ve been getting up early. We hung out around the room and then headed out to get some lunch before the afternoon draw.

Sheet View

When we got there the arena was pretty empty, and we managed to grab seats in the lounge area next to the ice. Team Muirhead was set to play Team Nedohin, and this match was going to be televised on Sportsnet. Right next to them Team Edin was playing Team Gushue, so we had a great view for both games.

There were several cameras, some static, some mobile.

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Things are a bit different when the games are televised though. For one thing, they have to wait to start. Also, there is a longer break between ends to allow for commercials.

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They also show the broadcast feed on the jumbotron, which helps to see what’s going on in the far house. I also could see when we were on TV…look close, I was wearing orange so I was hard to miss, ha ha.

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We had our flags again, and I made sure to get them on TV a few times.

One downside was that at times the camera crews blocked our view to varying extents.

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Besides the great view, one of the really cool things was that you could hear the players really well when they were discussing strategy or shots.

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Besides all that, we had a great view for shots coming our way.

Team Edin lost, but Team Muirhead won big. After the match, I managed to get pictures with Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, and Sarah Reid.

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Neil snapped a pic with the front end as well.

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There wasn’t too much time for the next draw, so we walked around outside a bit and went to Tim Horton’s for some coffee and donuts. When we got back, the lounge was pretty full, so we opted to sit back where we had been before. The TV match for this draw was Team Homan vs Team Sweeting, and we were also watching Team Sidorova vs Team Paetz and Team Feltscher vs Team Jones. The great Kevin Martin is now a commentator for Sportsnet, and before the match he was interviewing Val Sweeting, which was cool to see.

Interview

This draw ultimately went on somewhat long, with a few games going to extra ends. What really sucked was that all the teams we wanted to win (Sidorova, Feltscher, Homan) lost. In fact, the Sweeting-Homan match became so lopsided that Sportsnet switched over to the Jones-Feltscher match.

After the draw, we headed out to The Keg for dinner. The Keg is a steakhouse chain in Canada, but a nice one…think along the line of Gibson’s or Ruth’s Chris. We wanted to go there because for one thing we know it’s good, and for another we know a lot of the players go there after games…no, we didn’t want to bother any of them if we saw them there, we just figured it would be kind of cool if we saw anybody. Well, sure enough, as we were finishing eating we saw Team Sigfridsson come walking in. By the time we left about ten minutes later they were already seated, but it was cool nonetheless to see them come in.

At this point we were pretty tired, and it was almost 8:00, so we decided to skip the night draw and head back to the hotel. For one thing, it started earlier than usual (7:00 instead of 7:30), and for another there weren’t any teams or match-ups that we were really dying to see or anything. This ended up being the 3rd draw that we’ve skipped, but with up to four draws a day going to all of them would be a bit much. We did watch the last few ends on TV back at the hotel, which was kinda cool. I mean, other than webstreams live curling is almost never on TV in the US. Even the Olympic matches are usually tape-delayed.

As I write this we’re about to go to bed. We have an early draw to catch tomorrow, we’ll probably skip the noon one, and then we’ll be there for the late afternoon and night draws. With the way the standings re going only a few teams have been eliminated, so at this point it’s still very much wide open.

 

philCPhil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler who even plays from time to time. He often loses on the ice, but he always wins at broomstacking. Would you like to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?

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Day 3: Curling and Rain and More Curling

This is pretty much what I was like leaving the arena Tuesday night:

Thankfully I did manage to get some sleep pretty easily. We’ve been doing a lot of walking, and the beer didn’t hurt either. Nevertheless, we were up early and wolfed down a quick breakfast before heading off to the arena.

We got there just as the teams were warming up. Team Muirhead was playing Team Paetz, and Team Sidorova was playing Team Feltscher…those were the two games we were focusing on. Team Edin was playing Team Bottcher, and Team Jennifer Jones was playing Team Nedohin as well. I took a lot of pictures.

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Muirhead played well, but Paetz made some great shots and won. We tried to see if we could get some pictures or autographs after the match, but they got out of there pretty quickly.

We had decided beforehand to skip on the draw at noon, so we walked back towards our hotel. It started raining pretty steadily and we got slightly soaked. We had also decided to pick up some flags to help us cheer for our favorite non-Canadian teams, and the two (yes, there are two) flag stores near our hotel were closed, so we were checking out some stores nearby to see what we could find. No luck. After some lunch we went back to our room to dry off and catch a quick nap.
Luckily the rain had mostly let up in the afternoon, so we set out for the late afternoon draw. On the way we saw that the flag store was open! We picked up two Scotland flags, as well as a Russian and a Swedish flag.

Flags

Team Sidorova was playing Team Nedohin, Team McEwen was playing Team Bottcher, Team Homan was playing Team Tirinzoni, Team Edin was playing Team Koe, and Team Michel was playing Team Gushue. The Sidorova-Nedohin game was closest to us, followed by McEwen, so those were the two we saw best. We were used to all the action by this point though, so we had a much easier time paying attention to other matches.

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As the matches were winding down, we made our way closer to the ice to get some autographs and photos. The Sidorova-Nedohin game was still going on on the close sheet, so as the players were leaving the ice there wasn’t time for any pictures really. Neil got autographs from Mike McEwen, and all of Team Gushue. We wanted to try and get an autograph from or a picture with Team Homan, but they were clearly in a bit of a hurry and we didn’t want to be bothersome. Sidorova won, and I did manage to get a quick picture with her afterwards.

Me Sidorova

We also managed to meet all of Team Edin, which was really cool.

Edin LeadEdin 2ndEdin ViceEdin Skip

We left the arena to grab some dinner. We ate quickly, as there wasn’t too much time before the next draw. Funny thing though, as we were walking back I saw these four women wearing matching jackets, and I noticed they all had Team GB backpacks on. I quickly realized that Team Muirhead was walking right in front of us! It was still drizzling and windy, so while we were all waiting at a stoplight I leaned forward and said “Why’d you guys bring this weather with you?” Vicki Adams turned around and laughed. Anna Sloan turned around, smiled, and just said “It’s sunny in Scotland.” After that we walked inside and went our separate ways. I contemplated asking them for a picture once we got inside, but they had a big game coming up and I didn’t want to screw with their routine.

Team Muirhead was playing Team Jennifer Jones on the close sheet to us tonight. There aren’t necessarily rivalries in curling, but I think it’s safe to say that this pairing comes close. Of course, the majority of the crowd was going to be cheering for Jones, so we had to make sure our allegiance was known beyond just cheering.

Flags

Honestly, I was so focused on this match I wasn’t paying much attention as to what was going on on the other sheets. The match started out close, Muirhead had hammer but gave up a steal of 1 in the first end. The second end you could clearly see that it was weighing on her mind a bit.

Thinking

Calling line.

 

Shot 1Shot 2

Plotting

Ultimately Muirhead had to make an angle raise to score one, which she executed beautifully.

So, it was tied up 1-1 after two ends. In the third end though, Jones made several mistakes and has some misses, so Muirhead was able to steal 3. Jones had some more mistakes and misses in the fourth end, ultimately allowing Muirhead to steal 2. Here’s Anna Sloan making a great double takeout shot in that end.

Muirhead held Jones to 1 in the fifth end, and scored 3 in the sixth end to make it 9-2. At that point it was handshakes and game over. Neil and I quickly made our way down to the ice, and grabbed a spot in the corner. Eve and Anna were signing autographs and taking pictures, and I managed to get a picture with Eve.

Me Eve

As any of you who know me, or who read my blog posts on here know, Eve Muirhead is my favorite curler. To say that getting to meet her (even if only for a minute) was a big deal for me is an understatement.  Neil got a picture with Anna Sloan too.

Neil Sloan

All in all it was a great day…to say the least.

 

philCPhil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler who even plays from time to time. He often loses on the ice, but he always wins at broomstacking. Would you like to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?

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Day 2: Toronto & Opening Draw

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I fell asleep sometime before midnight on Monday, anxiously awaiting the next day. I woke up around 5:30 and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I decided to get up and get moving. After packing and breakfast we were on the road a little after 9:00. The drive to Toronto was uneventful, other than the increased traffic once we hit Toronto proper. Around 11:30 we parked and hit up the St. Lawrence Market for lunch. It’s a really cool place and definitely worth checking out if you’re in town.

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After lunch we walked over to the Hockey Hall Of Fame. There is a lot to see there, and some really cool interactive exhibits. Of course, no visit would be complete without seeing the Stanley Cup itself.

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I did go up there and check it out. It was cool to see the Blackhawks teams from 09-10 and 12-13 on there, and there even is a blank space for the infamous 04-05 lockout season.

I think my favorite exhibit though was about the St. Louis Blues. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a blank touchscreen monitor that said “PLAY.” When touched, it played the following video:

After that, we went back to the market so Neil could buy some mustard. Seriously, that’s all he’s been talking about since we started planning this trip. I am not joking.

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Anyway, he got his mustard and then we fought through nightmare traffic to get to our hotel. After relaxing at our hotel for a bit, we headed out for dinner at King Noodle, a great little Chinese place near our hotel. The food came fast and we ate quickly, then walked to the venue…well, I practically jogged, because I’m ridiculous and excited beyond reason. We got to the venue a little over an hour before draw time, picked up our tickets from will call, and headed right in. Um…we were a bit early, as this picture from our seats shows.

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Anyway, after awhile players started entering, warming up, and practicing. I got a “what’s up?” nod from Ben Hebert when he was walking in, which was pretty cool.

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There was a small opening ceremony, with all the teams for the draw marching in and being introduced.

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After the national anthem and a short video re-capping the season so far, play was underway. We really wanted to see Team Homan take on Team Sigfridsson, so we moved across the ice to the other side.

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We moved again just to see things from a different angle.

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As you can see, there were five games going on simultaneously. Honestly, it was hard to watch more than one match at a time, but as the draw wore on and things spread out time-wise it got easier. Homan won, by the way.

The curling was awesome, and we were close to the action. Really though, probably the coolest thing was seeing other players and rinks throughout the arena taking in the action. We saw Team Sidorova (Russia), members of Team Paetz (Switzerland), Members of Team Edin (Sweden), and Team Feltscher (Switzerland). Glenn Howard and Jennifer Jones were also hanging around for a bit.

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Players were hanging around in the lounge after their games as well, which was cool to see. We were a little bit starstruck today and didn’t want to be “those guys,” but after seeing how nice and approachable everyone is there’s no doubt we’re going to be getting some pictures and autographs.

I’ve been back in the room for over an hour and I’m still buzzing. First draw is in about 9 hours, and I’m going to get to see my favorite rink (Team Muirhead) play…I’ve been wanting to see them in person for years, so hopefully this beer I’m drinking will help me sleep.

philCPhil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler who even plays from time to time. He often loses on the ice, but he always wins at broomstacking. Would you like to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?

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Day 1: Driving & London

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As I write this I’m drinking Labatt Crystal, which (as far as I know) is only available in Canada. Neil and I are staying in downtown London, Ontario for the night. London is about an hour past the border, and roughly 90 minutes from Toronto.

We hit the road about 9:00 AM (Central) this morning, traffic wasn’t bad at all. We stopped for lunch in Lansing, Michigan at Big John Steak & Onion…with a name and a sign like this, how could you not stop?

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We ate quickly and jumped back on the highway. One more stop for gas, and before we knew it we were through Port Huron, over the bridge, and at the border.

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When it was our turn, we got through in about 90 seconds and immediately hit up the currency exchange.

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A few minutes later and all our American money had been converted into shiny Canadian Money. The exchange rate is about $1.20 Canadian for every $1.00 American, so needless to say I felt a little bit richer heading back to the car…of course, I’m sure I’ll be quite disappointed when I change it back and lose out.

If you’re not familiar, Canadian money looks very different from American money. It’s more colorful, and different denominations have different colors. The coins are similar, but since there are no $1 bills $1 and $2 coins are used instead (known colloquially as loonies and toonies respectively).

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Once we left the currency exchange we had about an hour drive to London. Things looked pretty much the same as the United States…the roads are in better shape, and all road signs/speed limits are in kilometers obviously. Tim Horton’s is everywhere. Honestly it was a boring drive, think I-80 West of I-55 or I-57 South of I-80 for comparison. Eventually we hit civilization…I mean London, and of course immediately hit the beer store at the Labatt Brewery.

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It was too late to take a tour, but we picked up some beer and swag and headed for our hotel. We checked in, and discovered that there was a horse track nearby. Being the degenerate gamblers that we are, we made plans to hit it up after dinner. Speaking of dinner, we had an excellent meal at The Church Key Bistro on Richmond. Excellent food, friendly staff, and great atmosphere. I can’t recommend it enough.

Western Fair racetrack and casino is about a ten minute drive from our hotel. We headed there after dinner to check it out and hopefully get into trouble.

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The casino is just slot machines, so we didn’t really bother (we do like slots, but just weren’t feeling it tonight). As for the races, it’s smaller purse harness racing, so we figured what the hell and watched and bet on a few races.

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We weren’t really winning though, so after about an hour or so we split and hit up a grocery store. After discovering that Pinty’s foods aren’t microwavable, I consoled myself by buying a bunch of candy. My spirits were lifted when I found out that there are Crunchie Biscuits as well as candy bars. I also picked up a chocolate Stanley Cup, which I plan to mail to the Minnesota Wild as it is the only way they will ever get one.

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So, there’s our first day in a nutshell. Tomorrow it’s off to Toronto. During the day we plan to hit up the St. Lawrence Market and the Hockey Hall Of Fame, and then tomorrow night it’s opening ceremonies and the first draw!

 

philCPhil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler who even plays from time to time. He often loses on the ice, but he always wins at broomstacking. Would you like to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?

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Canada Bound!

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First thing Monday morning, my brother Neil and I are headed to Canada for the Grand Slam of Curling Players’ Championship. The event is in Toronto, and it runs from Tuesday the 7th through Sunday the 12th. This is going to be our first time at a major event like this, and needless to say we’re excited. I’ll be posting updates on the Windy City Blog daily (I hope…fingers crossed for good wifi), so stay tuned for updates.

Here is a link to the event website, for schedules and more information: http://www.thegrandslamofcurling.com/curling/playerschampionship/

 

philC

 

Phil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler who even plays from time to time. He often loses on the ice, but he always wins at broomstacking. Would you like to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?

WINDY CITY ON SOCIAL MEDIA