Month: July 2015

GSOC Expansion & Why Watching Curling Is Better In Person

The Pinty’s Grand Slam Of Curling (GSOC for short) is undergoing some major expansion over the next two years. Starting with the 2015-2016 season, two new events will be added: The Tour Challenge in September, and the Champions Cup in May.  Furthermore, there will now be a women’s division added at The National in November. There will be another as-yet-unnamed event added for the 2016-2017 season, ultimately bringing the total number of events to 8 per year.   Besides more events, the overall prize money is increasing substantially as well. This upcoming season the prize money is being increased to a total of $1.5 million overall. For the 2016-2017 season, there will be an even larger increase, with the overall prize money coming to a total of $2.5 million. That is a 66% increase, with only one additional event! For the full story on the expansion, check out this link. To say that this is huge would be an understatement. For one thing, consider that as recently as the 2013-2014 season there were only four events. This means that the GSOC is essentially doubling in size, at least when it comes to the number of events. This is not to mention the fact that with events taking place later in the spring and earlier in the fall, the curling season is essentially being extended. Couple that with the increase in...

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Phil’s Travels: Players’ Championship Women’s Final

Originally posted to Windy City Curling Blog.   After the semi-finals, I was positively buzzing. I couldn’t have asked for a better result…my two favorite rinks were set to face off in the women’s final. No matter who won, the result would make me happy. Of course, it also dawned on me at this time that one of my favorite teams was also about to lose. To say I was torn would be an understatement.   In my heart, I wanted Sidorova to win. They were underdogs the whole week, and quite honestly didn’t seem to have that many people cheering for them. Curling fans being good sports, they cheered for good shots and what not, but overall there didn’t seem to be much fan support for the team as a whole. Besides that, they were playing very well all week. They had to fight to get a tiebreaker, and then had to fight again to win that game and make the playoffs. Yet here they were, one game away from winning it all…icing on the cake to a great season that included a second bronze medal at the Women’s World Championships last month, a silver medal at the European Championships back in November, and a gold medal at the Winter Universidade in January. Honestly, I’m going to come right out and say it: this rink doesn’t get the respect...

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Phil’s Travels: Players’ Championship Semi-Finals

Originally posted to Windy City Curling Blog. Today was the last day of the Players’ Championship. The morning draw featured the men’s and women’s semi-final matches: Team Jacobs vs Team Bottcher/Middaugh, Team McEwen vs Team Epping, Team Sidorova vs Team Sweeting, and Team Muirhead vs Team Homan. We got to the arena area early, in case there wasn’t much parking. Luckily the lot was empty and we grabbed breakfast nearby. I was beyond nervous, as I was so close to getting to see my two favorite rinks face off in the women’s final. I couldn’t wait to get inside and for the matches to get underway. As usual, I had my flags with me to show my support for Muirhead and Sidorova. Sweeting and Homan are two of the top Canadian rinks, and fan favorites. So we were definitely in the minority. Soon all the teams were out on the ice, and it was obvious they were anxious to get play started. Of course, they had to wait for introductions, courtesy of the always entertaining MC Peter Steski. Being a big TV event for Sportsnet, the broadcast at times will dictate the pace. Such was the case as the teams had to wait for the go-ahead to start playing. McEwen-Epping was the featured match on the middle sheet, so they had to wait a bit longer to get going while...

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Phil’s Travels: Players’ Championship Day 6: (Tiebreaker & Quarterfinals)

Originally posted to Windy City Curling Blog. Once again we were up early to get over to the arena. Team Sidorova had to play Team Middaugh in a tiebreaker for the 6th and final playoff spot. The draw was free, and almost completely empty. We decided to sit right behind their sheet and cheer them on from up close. I took a lot of pics, being that close to the action with little blocking our view. Team Sweeting and Team Homan showed up, taking in a little bit of the action. Kevin Martin was hanging around again as well. ke any good rink, Team Sidorova are excellent at communication. In this video you can hear their distinctive sweep calls. If you’ve ever watched them play, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say SVIIIP!!! Team Sidorova won! This meant that I was going to get to see my two favorite rinks compete to make it to the semi-final round the next day. The next draw was at noon, so we grabbed a quick lunch and headed back to the arena. Team Muirhead was once again taking on Team Nedohin, while Team Sidorova was taking on the reigning World Champions Team Paetz from Switzerland. Again, we got to see two great games. ‘ The highlight of this draw though was this incredible shot by Anna Sidorova. A triple raise...

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Phil’s Travels: Players’ Championship Day 5 (What Else? Curling!)

Originally posted to Windy City Curling Blog. Another early day to make it to an early morning draw. It was really empty, so once again we sat right by the ice. Today was the final day of round-robin play, so most of these games were really important. Early on in the first end, we noticed the great Kevin Martin standing and watching the action, so I took the opportunity to get a picture with him. It was fairly quiet in the arena, so we could hear things really well. Of course we were primarily watching my favorite rink, Team Muirhead, take on Team Feltscher but we were also keeping eyes on Team Sweeting vs Team McDonald and Team Sidorova vs Team Jennifer Jones. Muirhead defeated Feltscher somewhat early, so we moved to get a better view of the Sidorova-Jones match. We moved from the side of the ice to watch the end of the match, as we wanted to try and catch them to get some pictures afterwards. While sitting near our usual seats, we noticed Team Muirhead was hanging out and watching the matches. We also saw Team Feltscher in the stands, watching the remaining games. Team Sidorova ended up winning in an extra end! They were down 1 with hammer in the eighth end, and while drawing for two Sidorova came up short. In the extra end, she...

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