Tag Archives: sports

Men with Brooms: Manitoban’s love their curling

This article was originally published in March 3, 2003 on the website sportshooter.com

Men with Brooms: Manitoban’s love their curling

Dave Hamblin, current World Junior Champion yells directions down the ice while the other team looks on.
Dave Hamblin, current World Junior Champion yells directions down the ice while the other team looks on.
Photo by Robert Dall/Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic

What involves lots of moving around, sweating and yelling hard at the top of your lungs?

Get your mind out of the gutter I was referring to curling . . . Just as rural Texans love their football, Manitoban’s love their curling.

The recent Safeway Select Manitoba Curling Championships were in my fair city last month. They took over the twin pad arena that’s home to our AAA hockey team. In one arena they converted the NHL sized hockey rink into 5 sheets of curling ice made by one of the best ice makers in North America, Hans Wuthrich. The host committee then converted the other rink in a bar of equal size.

Yes, a bar, which is one, reason I like the sport so much, The social side of curling is equally as large as the competition itself. The organizers rarely hold the championship in a major centre because the competition gets lost with in the city. They take it to small town support the local economy and take over the town for the week.

Curling is so beloved because the prairies are cold and ruthless in the winters; the farmers and rural folk need something to do through the cold.

During this years five days curling event it was -25C to -30C outside and yet some one had the bright idea for all 300 staff and volunteers to wear the sportsshooter famed Hawaiian T-shits and lays. They also never dropped a smile from there over worked faces.

Brent Scales of Swan River, yells down the ice. Photo by Robert Dall/Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic

The curling lingo creates barely legible cutlines that can read. “Skip James Kirkness throwing the hammer drew the button and won the end” Why are you using hammers? What are buttons doing on the ice? And why is everyone called Skip?

Curling is about as confusing to understand as cricket, two extremely simple games completely confused by people trying to cover them.

Yet, this is a polite sport where everyone is yelling at each other. When you not yelling your leaning on your broom used for sweeping and everyone sweeps except for the skip who yells and leans and generally freezes their but off because they rarely move. Yes, this is one confusing sport.

Shooting positions weren’t bad with organizer’s giving you full run of the place. When you arrived they give you a chunk of carpet and you find a nice spot and realize why you need the carpet. Your sitting on the hockey ice they didn’t use. Good news, those free liquor tickets you also received can be used while shooting and your drink never gets warm. Bad news, the carpet only minority helps from getting a frozen bottom.

The week ended with well over 1000 people pilling into the bar on the Saturday night to listen to the reunion of the band Double Eagle a once huge country band that got it’s started in Portage la Prairie, MB. While I was learning the social side of curling I saw mid-aged western wearing couples dancing right beside 20-something skater clad boys and their Halter-top clothed girlfriends, dancing in prefect co-habitation. Maybe the world needs more curling. . . With the world curling championships happening a short drive away in Winnipeg, MB this year it should be easy to see the best in the world. All I need to do is find a client and some credentials, any takers . . .

This article was originally published in March 3, 2003 on the website sportshooter.com

The London 2012 Games was a real social sport

When the Olympics were in Vancouver in 2010, I volunteered and enjoyed connecting with other volunteers during and after the Games, mainly via Facebook. People have called the 2010 Games the first social Olympics, and while I agree with that, I think the London 2012 Games were the first to really take hold of the technology and run with it. Pun intended.

I have two stellar examples that demonstrate this.

My father and I were watching the men’s eight rowing from Eton Dorney and we kept seeing a large number of cyclists in the background following the rowers. Dad wondered who they were–members of the audience, judges, or crew members.

Meanwhile, I was wondering how the rowers at the front of the boats could hear the calls of the coxswains at the back of the boats.

Neither of  had participated in the sport, so I searched on Google for answers to our questions. I found more about the coxswains than I did about the cyclists, but not exactly what I wanted. During my search I came across the Twitter account for Rowing Canada and I sent my two queries in their direction.

The next day I found responses to both of the questions waiting for me.

Wow! Answers directed right to me. In the old days you had to rely on the TV announcer to provide everything and if he didn’t mention it you were left to ponder. (It certainly made for more lively conversation around our house about the amount of coaches every team has.) 🙂

The second example left me a little more starstruck.

I was watching the closing ceremonies live and I thought I would send out a thank you tweet to a number of Olympic athletes who were on Twitter and whom I had watched during the games.

Regardless of whether they won medals or not, I just wanted to say thanks for wearing the maple leaf. To my complete surprise, Simon Whitfield, triathlete and opening ceremonies flag bearer, replied back from the middle of the field during the closing ceremonies.


It was the first time I had ever watched a live event of this scale and communicated with a participant in this way. Although the Games were 7,578 km away, I felt a part of them. And even though it was only a small part, it was an exciting moment for me nonetheless.

These two examples show what kind of interaction, what kind of support we can show our athletes when they dedicate the vast majority of their lives to sport, hoping to represent their country in front of the world.

I look forward to the Sochi Games when I will be patriotically watching our athletes represent our home and native land. And knowing they are interacting directly with fans like me.