curling

The 2017 WFG Continental Cup cont..

The skins matches are underway at the WFG Continental Cup and another full crowd is here at the Orleans despite missing a few Packer fans.

Team North America’s lead heading into this final day seems insurmountable but don’t tell that to the mostly European Team World supporters. They remember the “Meltdown at Medina” and are hoping for the curling equivalent upset. Fortunately for the North American’s there isn’t really a disastrous alliterative term I can think of that works with Vegas.

However, much to the liking of TSN and the Orleans ticket gate there is still plenty to play for. Pride is always good, especially with so many fans still cheering (sans Packer fans). But more importantly each game and end has some cash money tied to it which could seem pretty useful if you curl for a living and spending  your last night in Vegas.

 

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The 2017 WFG Continental Cup cont..

The Scotch is back  for the 9:00 a.m. draw of the Continental Cup.

 

morning-cont-cup

Everyone else seemed to survive the Friday night/morning in Vegas. It’s not as bouncy as last night and the lines for the bloody’s and coffee were 20 deep each, but the athletes are interacting with the crowd and they are playing along, cheering and giggling  with their every antic.

I’d give you score  and shot updates but I don’t understand this strange hybrid of a game that is mixed doubles curling. But it’s 10:30 a.m in Vegas, a perfect time to slot this format and it’s still kind of curling.

 

The 2017 WFG Continental Cup cont…

Follow the Scotch during the WFG Continental Cup all weekend as I live blog during the event.

Team North America (NA) kept their lead in the Continental Cup at two points in the Friday night draw. Team NA won one and had an unexpected tie to keep their lead at 10-8 in this Ryder Cup scoring system.

The full Canadian teams representing NA (NA in Vegas is wrong) of Koe (full point win) and Jones (tie and half point) kept the mostly Canadian crowd happy. A good thing – because if you’re a fan and escaping Canadian winter to spend your time in an ice arena in Vegas, your teams better not disappoint. They didn’t. Even though Jones tied their match she was on point and didn’t take her long to get her feel and get the crowd booming with every made shot. There are many young, up-and-coming Canadian women’s teams around, and Jones ain’t old, but even with a last shot miss, she still knows how to excite a crowd

The only team that dropped a point for Team NA were the Americans, with Canadian Heater McCormick skipping. They had chances versus Norwegians who are still wearing god awful pants.

norway-pants

Side note: I get and appreciate branding.This pants thing has been
a thing for Ulsrud’s bunch since when – Vancouver Olympics? It’s distracting and I’m not a fan. But when you make that many shots and win world titles, I guess you get to wear whatever you want… And of course it’s Vegas, I’ll see a lot worse this weekend.

 The American’s had a chance in every end. They couldn’t capitalize on mistakes and turn good ends into points. There were obviously some key misses on the back end as they were just a bit off. They can definitely play with this team though and while those shots missed in the middle ends will probably haunt them they are in the perfect place to blow off a loss like this. Hard to dwell on a loss too long when there’s a craps table that will gladly take all your sorrows (and money) away.

Glad to be here at the Cup – will be back tomorrow (depending on Vegas things) to cover more for curlingzone.com.

The 2017 WFG Continental Cup Cont..

Follow the Scotch during the WFG Continental Cup all weekend as I live blog at the event.

While the cup is mostly a freindly (futbol term) competition, you couldn’t tell it from the intensity of both the players and the fans. The crowd is full. They’re definitely enjoying the amenities of watching curling in Vegas but still invested in every shot.

The players, while smiling and taking in the moment, are out here to win and make big shots. They are also pretty pissed when they miss. There have even been a couple of broom slams and the Scotch loves a good broom slam!

cont-cup-pano-crowd

It’s a great atmosphere to watch curling on a Friday night. There is no other place in Vegas anyone should want to be.

 

The 2017 WFG Continental Cup – Las Vegas

The Scotch will be live blogging at the 2017 WFG Continental Cup of Curling in my favorite city, Las Vegas, NV.

The arena is mostly full and quite boisterous. They are loudly cheering any time a Canadian makes a good shot, a decent shot, a half shot or if they don’t fall down when they slide.

The Scotch is ice level for the 6:30 p.m (local time) draw. I’m keeping a keen eye on Team McCormick – a Canadian, who skips an American High Performance Team (currently representing  Team North America) vs Team Ulsrud of Norway. The Americans are off to an early 2-1 lead as they will have the hammer playing the third end.

Continued Good Curling – I got here a bit late, but will be blogging for the rest of the weekend, or as much as Vegas allows.

 

The Nationals

The United States Curling National Championship kicks off this weekend in Jacksonville, Florida. That’s right, Jacksonville. FLORIDA. For my Canadian curling friends: if Winnipeg is the curling “Mecca” of Canada, Jacksonville, Florida is its U.S. equivalent [insert sarcasm font here]. 

The United States Curling Association (USCA) brain trust is trying to grow the sport in non-traditional curling locales. And exposing the southern half of the U.S. to curling could increase national exposure, thus benefiting the future of the sport. But they’re trying too hard. By half. At least. There are far better destination cities, ones that are more accessible to the base of curling fans, than the armpit of Florida.

I’m sure the USCA will declare this a successful event. The gate will exceed their extremely low expectations. The stands will look like they’re filled to the rafters… because it’s an elementary school hockey arena that’s been vacant since the Vanilla Ice comeback tour.

This is not the venue to showcase the best curlers in our country–but it is the best venue if you’re trying to hide the complete fiasco you turned the National Championships into.  *Spoiler Alert* to the tens of Jacksonvillians about to watch a week of curling: you’re about to witness a farce. And the National Championship should be of consequence to the tens of Jacksonvillians cheering a sport they’re likely befuddled by already.

Side Note: this is not a condemnation of the athletes (yes, curlers are athletes now), some of whom are my friends. Many of those competing this week are dedicated individuals and playing a sport they love.

Because of the new points system instituted by the USCA, the men’s champion team won their right to represent Team USA at the World Championships in September at the Grand Slam of Curling (an exclusive field). Future Team USA made the semi-finals of this event and secured enough points so that all they need to do now to advance to the World Championships is not die. Over the course of the year, they amassed an insurmountable points lead over any other US team and, because our world representative is decided on total points and not by winning the National Championship game, Future Team USA will be Team USA this time next Saturday.

The fucked up points system isn’t Future Team USA’s fault. In fact, congrats Future Team USA, you had a great year. You’re clearly the best, having the best year, and you had the added bonus of not getting dead between September and today. You still have to show up and place third or higher to be named Team USA, but that’s a feat I’m sure you’ll accomplish. (I just called my retirement guy and had him take out all my money so I can bet on you. It’s booked.)

Again, this is not to take away from the spectacular year Future Team USA had. Arguably, it’s the best an American team has ever had on tour. Sources close to The Scotch say Future Team USA has worked extremely hard all year; they played an extremely aggressive schedule and their effort paid off. The Scotch got to watch a few of their games at the Golden Wrench Classic in Phoenix, AZ. They played better than any other American team. It really wasn’t close.

Another Side Note: The Golden Wrench Classic was a twrench photoremendous event: the top rated teams from across the world didn’t disappoint. The members of the Coyote Curling Club put on a helluva spiel. The hospitality was amazing. The ice was pretty good. Not Grand Slam ice but, for Phoenix, AZ club ice, it was mostly predictable and the speed was consistent. Arizona (of all places) should be the southern state to host a national championship. The Golden Wrench proved that. The club was filled for most draws with every silver haired Canadian snowbird in the Phoenix Valley. They actually had to turn some away at the door, as if it was the 4 p.m. early bird dinner special at the Del Boca Vista.

The Women’s curling side was a similar story. Future Team USA qualified in all of their tour events, earning enough points to lap the rest of the women’s field 6 times over. Congrats Future Team USA on a great year! They also didn’t die and, if they get to the podium this week, will be adorned with red, white and blue at the Women’s World Championships (where I expect they’ll medal, if not win the damn thing).

The Scotch will still watch (with the sound muted) as much of the tournament as possible via the Twelfth End Sports Network live webstream. I love to watch curling that much. However, I shouldn’t already know who our World Representatives will be. They should be determined on the ice next Saturday. Sports fans want drama and the glory. We want to see brooms thrown to the ceiling in pure joy after making the last shot of the game, to hear the roar of those 13 people in the Jacksonville stands. It’s what athletes train and compete for.

The Carolina Panthers are 15-1 in the NFL this year. They have a better record than the Denver Broncos, and yet millions of people will still gather around their giant teevees to watch the game tomorrow. We always want our National Champions to make the game winning shot, to hit the game 7 walk-off homer, to score the go-ahead touchdown in the “Super Bowl.” The USCA brain trust is making a mockery of our sports culture with this system. It’s counterintuitive to everything enjoyable about competing against one another. Devaluing what we love about sports.

Side Betting Note: The Scotch is taking Carolina (-6), the first half under (23), a team will score three times in a row, over 1 times the Golden Gate Bridge is shown during the broadcast, and over 2 minutes and 20 seconds for Lady Gaga to sing the National Anthem.

We still haven’t talked about the USCA’s other brilliant idea: the High Performance Program. Sources tell The Scotch that this very loosely defined “program” is a debacle. It’s a self preserving, unaccountable, unmitigated disaster. Think the Bush Administration during Hurricane Katrina. Only worse.

The High Performance Program holds mock tryouts for an exclusive group of athletes in the summer. They then select teams from this “tryout” and fund them on tour. Most of these athletes are great curlers and great people. And most are dedicated to the sport and make huge sacrifices to follow their dreams. They aren’t the problem. The program is.

The High Performance Program doesn’t coach athletes to be better. There aren’t dedicated team practices where coaches analyze athletes’ deliveries and sweeping techniques. Coaches do berate players after a game about the shots they missed (I’m pretty sure the players already know about the shots they missed). But the off-ice training program is no more than a piece of paper athletes fill out stating that they went to the gym. While lifting a pencil can be a chore, it shouldn’t qualify as an “High Performance” workout.

If the U.S. wants to get to the medal stand of the Olympics and World Championships, the USCA needs to build a program with trained coaches and fitness experts. And it needs to be a truly accountable program, staffed with people who know what they’re doing. Hiring directors that know how to win and have a basic understanding of the American sports dynamic would be a nice start. The director they have now doesn’t fit either of those basic qualifications. His failure as director of the Scotland competitive curling program pales in comparison to the titanic shipwreck he has created here. Donald Trump says he knows how to win and he’ll have more free time shortly—Hey USCA, give The Donald a call.

The U.S. may never be able to consistently win titles on the World Stage like the Canadians can. The numbers just aren’t in our favour. We just don’t have the depth, and plus our youth have too many sports options. But if we aren’t going to win medals, let’s not win medals doing it the right way.

Good Curling.   

Prediction Segment for Entertainment Only (until The Scotch finds a curling sportsbook)

Women:

  1. Brown
  2. Christensen
  3. Roth
  4. Sinclair
  5. Anderson
  6. Lindgren
  7. Meechai

Men:

  1. Shuster
  2. Brown
  3. Clark
  4. Corbett
  5. Birr (in a tie break)
  6. Dropkin
  7. Fenson
  8. McCormick
  9. Clawson
  10. Leichter