Monday, 22 March 2010

Speedy Creek Welcomes the World

Hi from the hospitable south west corner of Saskatchewan where, arguably, the best from among the curling women of the world are here, hitting and missing on thier way to the final four.  There is one draw left and it is Monday, so by now, everyone has their ice legs on, even the newbies from Latvia, who upset USA yesterday to score their historic first win at the Worlds.

The venue is well decked out and everything is under one roof at the Iplex.  The Swift Current Bronco fans are none to happy about being put out of their home ice as they succumb slowly to domination by the Wheat Kings, with no hope of home ice advantage to help them salvage the series, but who would've thought this would be their year.  It doesn't matter.  The curling fans in Swift Current are very well informed about the game, (compared to the Olympics curling audience).  Today, When Latvia took a 3-ender away from Jennifer Jones who curled over 90% in that game, the fans cheered heartily for a tough shot well made and points hard earned after Jones had spent a time-out and another several minutes pondering how to protect her lone stone on the button.  Canada took the game but Latvia has become the darling of the bonspiel.

There is international media here, in full force, dominating every element of the game.  In the Cda Latvia game, a TSN camera was completely in the scrum of Latvia's time out.  Yesterday, after China was crumbled 14-4 by Scotland, the Japanese media crew had a rep from the the Chinese coaching crew on the ice being inteviewed.  He was genuinely all smiles during the interview, with the ice crew in the background, working between draws.  I wish I could find out what they asked him.  World Curling TV is here too.  They are selling their games across the pond, and maybe to Asia.  The media crew is a dominant force here.

There have been a few quaint miscues, but they add charm to the event, just the way, the failure of the fourth arm to rise added charm to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  Word was that the volunteer in charge of national anthems, was really stresssed out that he'd have a technical glitch when playing the anthem for a "team of the day".  And it was indeed, a self-fulfilling prophecy.  And again, it was the Latvian team on the short end of the stick.  They were welcomed, the audience waved the free Latvian flags they received when they came into the arena, and the announcer gave the "all rise", alas, to silence.  We all willed the women to sing, and later when I asked them, they said they thought about breaking out in the Latvian anthem, but no, they were marched off, and went on to win thier historic game.  They were lined up at the beginning of the next draw, and the technician succeeded this time, played the anthem to honour them.  The unfortunate thing was, that I guess there is actually a pause in their anthem, but the WCF provided the committee with a truncated version, so, on the record, the first ever playing of the Latvian anthem at the World Curling Championships will go down as, "incomplete".

Yesterday, The Keith's Patch, which features the same dog and pony show as every STOH  or other world curling event that has been staged over the past 5 years, featured two curlers from Saskatchewan's Marj Mitchell team and two from Sandra Smirler's team, in "Up Close and Personal".  You can ask them whatever you want!  But folks weren't very forthcoming with their questions.  Nobody asked them what they thought about whether the international game should go to eight ends.  If that happens, it will just be announced without discussion.  I'm thinking of asking that question.  Jan Betker was on the couch for the chat session.  On Saturday, she threw the ceremonial first rock for the event, and put it right on the button.

There have been some fantastically curled games and some wild and woolly episodes.  Yesterday, Sweden played a split for four in the 10th to defeat Switzerland.  Feltscher seemed to be over-punching adreneline  in the 10th end of her games, but managed to finish off Russia this afternoon, in an extra end.

I'm not usually one to predict, but for the final four... I'll call Cda Sco Swe and in tiebreakers Chi USA and DEN.  I was predicting that Wood and Muirhead would be bad chemistry at Skip/3rd, but they seem okay.  And I like the Danes' chemistry, but they play the Jones style, but with less talent, so they can really blow games in a dramatic way.

I hope to post again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Nancy
Appreciate your behind-the-scenes coverage...Yeah Jan Betker!
Hope your having a good time out there
Wanted to let you know our girls won the 4th event on Sunday...Go Team!! Robin