Ron Burgundy and impecable posture
It's been a great week so far and I will try to make it less about me and more about the Curling, but please indulge me for a moment and trust me, we'll get there...
Day 1 included 13 hours of visiting old friends, their growing kids, and consuming several good beers, fine wines and a scotchy scotch for a nightcap (or two). It also included a brief glimpse at the childhood basement of a curling friend, where much of my teen years were spent frolicing and listening to the smooth sounds of Collective Soul, Beastie Boys, Pink Floyd and Paula Abdul (yes, Ken's tastes were "straight up" eclectic).
How did we fit 128 people into that room?
On Day 1 of the Roar/Trials I ran into several people I had not seen in many years. It amazed me how good they all looked and how, despite age and changes, Winnipeg seems to stay the same. Maybe when the city's own band The Watchmen wrote Any Day Now it was as much about how the feeling of being back in Manitoba's capital takes you to yesterday and makes it feel familiar, as do the old friends and good company, even if everyone is 30 pounds heavier, battling hair loss and raising 2.3 kids. Many great conversations about the Trials, kids, and who got cancer.
On Day 2 the nostalgia came back harder still when I met Rick Loewen, of The 2 Sports Guys.
These guys ran a local cable access show while I was in University and they were brilliant. I even went to watch local tapings (usually along with 7 or 8 other rabid fans). I immediately texted a friend (from Winnipeg) who asked me to remind Rick he still owes him an ugly lamp as a trivia prize. Frightened of another potential 2 Sports Guy Nerd stalker, Rick made a quick getaway.
Winnipeg is also home to many of the curlers here this week. 17 of the 64 starting players are Manitobans of one flavour or another, and that doesn't include Jon Mead who was born in Saskatchewan but grew up in Winnipeg. Six of the 8 mens teams has at least one Manitoban. Dave Nedohin is a returnee who had all of his notable success in Alberta playing for the rival of his now skip, Kevin Martin. Martin is off to a miraculous 5-0 start that could easily be 3-2. Two wins on Tuesday appeared out of nowhere when Kevin Koe, in command at 4-2 with hammer playing 8, coughed up a steal of two, was forced to a single and then surrendered a deuce in 10 to lose. His average Win Expectancy was 94.5% starting the 8th end. Koe has fallen to 0-5 and they seem to be the snakebit team of the week. Very close games, many that could have gone either way, but they landed on the wrong end of the scoreboard each time.
Martin had another miracle comback, this time taking 4 in the 9th end against Howard when they were 3 points down. I'm still so struck by it I can't really remember how it all developed. I hope to review the end as soon as I get my hands on a "PVR recording" (which still feels stranger to me than saying that than
Beta VHS). Howard still had a chance, down one with hammer, but attempted a double raise for two. Some thought he should have tried an angle tap for one but the raise seemed very make-able and he may still get one very often even if he doesn't score two. Likely the right call. Howard's odds to win starting the 9th end, 95.8%. Martins odds of pulling of Both miraculous wins was roughly .23 % or less than 1/4 percent. Ouch.
The draw to the button continues to be an exciting event that they should put on TV. At 0-2, Stoughton came out against Epping and following their first practice, the first 3 players covered the pin. Lead Mark Nichols then put it on the button, and hi-fives all around. Jennifer Jones felt some nerves on her first draw for the hammer (which have clearly subsided as she sits 5-1). On Sunday afternoon in front of a large Burgandy charged crowd she was called for a hogline violation. This could have had major implications as tie breakers at the end of the week rank teams based on head to head wins first and then total hammer draws for the week. I learned that a hog counts the same as missing the house but teams only use 6 of their 7 draws towards the ranking, so they can toss that one out. Phew.
Other early nerves seen from nearly everyone. Homan had a hit for three against Val Sweeting during the 2nd end in the first draw, and gave up a steal of one. That game launched the Sweeting team to a hot 3-0 start, but they have now regressed to 3-3 and need a win tomorrow to ensure a play-off or tie-breaker.
Now that we are nearing the play-offs, let's see how the weekend might shape up for the Women, we'll do the Men's tomorrow...
On the Womens side, Jones has clinched #1 and a bye into the finals with her steal in the 10th end against Homan, who drops to 3-3. Jones will have a chance to move Nedohin to 3-4 tomorrow and possibly keep her out of the weekend, but maybe not.
Carey is the only team with 2 losses. If they beat Middaugh, Nedohin defeats Jones, Lawton loses to Homan and Sweeting loses to Sonnenberg, then we have Carey in second place and a 5 way play-off for teams at 3-4 for the final spot. Only Sonnenberg would be out of play at the end of the Round Robin (my fingers are crossed)
Odds are as follows (I'm going to assume all teams ar 50/50 chance to win. I clearly understand this isn't the case, but it's late, I'm tired and it's close enough):
Odds of 5 way play-off = 6 1/4 % (and Lawton qualifies and 7 of 8 teams make the play-offs, if you consider tie breaker games as play-offs - and I do)
Odds of 4 way play-off is the same 6 1/4%
Odds of 3 way play-off = 31 1/4 %
Odds of 2 way play-off is the same 31 1/4 %
Odds of no tie breakers = 25%
If a 3-3 team wins they are assured of a chance, and that's all anyone can hope for in this grueling event.
So you can come home again, you just can't buy Canadian beer when you do...because the CANADIAN Olympic Curling Trials only offers American brands:
Coors, Coors Light and MGD? Where's my Old Style Pilsner?