Category Archives: olympics

Curling crowd getting too loud

The easy joke here would be that having more crowd noise would be infinitely preferable to hearing “HARRRRRRRDDDD!!!!” all the time. (Seriously — broadcasters should consider putting a decibel limit on their on-ice microphones, or just mute them when they’re not talking strategy. Some of us are listening on headphones to avoid irritating the rest of the house, and we’d rather not go deaf.)

But I had started to wonder if the crowd was getting a little out of hand. The Brier (Canada’s men’s championship) is in Newfoundland/Labrador this year — specifically, the beautiful town of St. John’s — and they’re quite excited to see hometown hero Brad Gushue, the 2006 Olympic champion. Gushue is first in the worldwide Order of Merit rankings. (See spreadsheet below.) The next person from the province is 345th.

During last night’s showdown with defending champion Kevin Koe, the crowd wasn’t just cheering the great shots from Gushue and his team. A roar went up when Koe’s team had a rare miss.

(This was a spectacular game, well worth going back and checking out the replay on ESPN3 or seeing it when Curling Canada posts it. If you don’t have three hours to spare, just skip ahead to the 11th end. Yes, 11th. Overtime, basically. And if you don’t understand curling, watch the following …)

So I wondered if it was just me. Nope. Here’s Glenn Howard, for whom “veteran” is an understatement (four world championships and this ridiculous shot): “I’ve never actually seen a crowd cheering as loudly for misses, and I’ve been to 17 of these. This is the loudest I’ve ever seen in my career, for an opposition missing. I’ve never actually witnessed that before so this is new to me.”

Source: Is the Brier crowd getting out of hand? – CBC Sports – Curling

The last round of round-robin play is this morning. This afternoon, they’ll play any necessary tiebreakers to determine the four playoff teams. Then it’s the great Page playoffs:

  • 1 vs. 2: Winner to final, loser to semifinal
  • 3 vs. 4: Winner to semifinal, loser out
  • Semifinal: 1-2 loser vs. 3-4 winner – winner to final, loser out
  • Final: The two remaining teams

Here’s the situation:

Newfoundland/Labrador (Brad Gushue) is guaranteed a spot in the 1-2 matchup. They’re playing Nova Scotia (Jamie Murphy), which can’t advance.

Manitoba (Mike McEwen) will make the 1-2 matchup if they beat Quebec (Jean-Michel Menard). Quebec is playing for their playoff lives — a win would at least get them in a tiebreaker, a loss means they’re out unless Canada (Kevin Koe) also loses.

Canada (Koe), so named because they’re the defending champions and didn’t have to play in the provincial tournament to get here, is playing New Brunswick (Mike Kennedy) and can reach the 1-2 matchup with a win and some help.

Northern Ontario (Brad Jacobs) has finished round-robin play and will at least make the tiebreaker. If Canada or Quebec loses this morning, they’re in the playoff.

British Columbia (John Morris) is also idle and needs Canada AND Quebec to lose to force a three-team tiebreaker.

Northwest Territories (Jamie Koe, Kevin’s brother) and Ontario (Glenn Howard, see above) are playing each other and cannot advance.

Already done: Saskatchewan (Adam Casey), Alberta (Brendan Bottcher).

It all makes more sense if you see the standings. In short:

  • Newf/Lab: 8-2
  • Manitoba: 8-2
  • N. Ontario: 8-3 (done)
  • Canada: 7-3
  • Quebec: 7-3
  • Br. Columbia: 7-4

Meet all the Brier participants, along with the top Canadians who did qualify, below. They’re ranked by Order of Merit standings, which can be a little deceiving because some curlers have other priorities besides chasing points. OOM is computed over multiple years; “YTD” is year-to-date.


Belated U.S. Curling championship preview

The U.S. Curling Championships are underway, and though I neglected to do a preview (in part because I was curling myself on Saturday — literally, in one case I think I threw myself farther down the ice than the rock), it’s actually a good time to look at the stats coming into the tournament and see how the curlers’ form is holding up.

On the men’s side, we’ve had a couple of surprises. Heath McCormick, by pretty much any metric, has had the best season of any U.S. skip aside from the occasional inexplicable loss. Then it’s a tough call between the other two teams in the USA’s High Performance Program, Craig Brown and World Championship medalist John Shuster, with defending champion Brady Clark lurking.

Todd Birr is close behind, and then it’s a bit of a drop to 2006 Olympic medalist Pete Fenson. The next tier has Stephen Dropkin and promising junior (representing the DMV!) Hunter Clawson. Then there’s Darryl Sobering and Alex Leichter, who have played in a lot of top events this season.

Results so far? Shuster is 4-0, including a tight win over McCormick. Birr, Brown and Clark are 3-1, contesting for the four playoff spots as expected. The surprise is McCormick, who opened with 10-2 loss to Birr and has also dropped games to Brown and Shuster. He’s played three of the top five, so perhaps he can make a run in the last five round-robin games, but that’s still not the start we expected.

Clawson also had a tough early draw, facing Shuster, Clark and Brown, but he pulled out a win against Brown to stand at 2-2, very much in the thick of things.

In the women’s competition, Nina Roth is the favorite, but she dropped her first game to fellow High Performance skip Cory Christensen. The other High Performance skip, Jamie Sinclair, is unbeaten but has not yet faced Roth, Christensen or …

… the surprise team, Cassie Potter. You may remember her as Cassie Johnson from the 2006 Olympics, where she and her teammates crashed a lot of web servers. Potter hasn’t been fully active in competition in recent years, but she came back this year and crept up to rank a solid fourth in my stats-based-but-ultimately-subjective rankings.

Next up in the rankings is Potter’s 2006 teammate Jessica Schultz, whose team includes 2006 alternate Courtney George. They’ve had the misfortune of facing Potter, Sinclair and Roth in their first three games. So being 0-3 isn’t surprising, but their stats also haven’t been particularly good.

The World Junior Championships account for a few notable absences here. Annmarie Dubberstein is going to World Juniors, and she took Madison Bear as her alternate. “Team Bear” is still competing in nationals and has a win over Cristin Clark. (On the men’s side, Andrew Stopera upset Clawson to take the World Juniors berth.)

No senior teams entered, nor did any other juniors, so the eighth spot in the women’s field went to Becca Wood, who has been outscored 36-6 in her first three games. But she managed five against Clark, so perhaps she can pull off a good result by the time things are done.

Current standings, along with my rankings:


#3 Shuster: 4-0 (beat McCormick)
#5 Birr: 3-1 (beat McCormick)
#2 Brown: 3-1 (beat Clark, McCormick)
#4 Clark: 3-1
#8 Clawson: 2-2 (beat Brown)
#6 Fenson: 2-2 (beat Birr)
#11 Leichter: 1-3 (beat Fenson)
#1 McCormick: 1-3 (beat Leichter)
#10 Sobering: 1-3 (beat Dropkin)
#7 Dropkin: 0-4


#4 Potter: 3-0  (beat Christensen)
#3 Sinclair: 3-0
#2 Christensen: 2-1 (beat Roth)
#1 Roth: 2-1
#8 Clark: 1-2 (beat Wood)
#7 Bear: 1-2 (beat Clark)
#5 Schultz: 0-3
#23 Wood: 0-3

And YES — you can watch all this.



Curling update: Manitoba showdown, Week 2

Craig Brown and John Shuster each picked up three wins to break even at the triple-elimination Canad Inns Men’s Classic in Manitoba. Brown beat Shuster head-to-head, while Shuster picked up a big win over third-ranked Mike McEwen.

Pete Fenson and the half-his-age team snagged one win. Arizona’s Mike Siggins was shut out.

Brown still slipped one place in my rankings behind Brady Clark (see below). The women’s rankings are unchanged.


Atkins Curling Supplies Classic, Manitoba: Jamie Sinclair and Cassie Potter each posted a 2-2 record in group play, but only Sinclair advanced to the quarterfinals, where she lost in an extra end. Potter, the 2006 Olympic skip, had a 7-4 win over Manitoba’s Joelle Brown, ranked 31st in the Order of Merit. Lysa Johnson also skipped a U.S. team, going 0-4.

Hub International Crown of Curling, Kamloops, B.C.: Short trip for Brady Clark and Cristin Clark from Washington state. Brady racked up five wins, including three in a row to stave off elimination and reach the semifinals. Cristin alternated wins and losses in the women’s event, finishing 2-3.

Rochester’s Brandon Corbett was in action at the Stroud Sleeman Cash Spiel in Ontario, going 2-2 but not advancing to the playoffs.

And Kalamazoo Curling Club hosted a tournament, with Pennsylvania’s Sean Murray defeating Colorado’s Darryl Sobering in the final.

Next week:

Canad Inns Women’s Classic, Manitoba: The three HP teams — Christensen, Sinclair and Roth — face a field that has about half of the world’s top 30 in the women’s edition of last week’s top men’s tournament.

Medicine Hat Charity Classic, Alberta: Jessica Schultz heads northward.

Challenge de Curling de Gatineau, Quebec: Heath McCormick and Alex Leichter test their language skills.

Imperial Slam: Several U.S. juniors will compete in the next stage of the juniors series.

Curling update: McCormick on the move

Most top U.S. curling teams descended on Minnesota over the weekend for the mostly American St. Paul Cash Spiel, giving us a good opportunity to see how the teams stack up face to face.

The answer? Heath McCormick’s new High Performance team is No. 1. McCormick — with HP veteran Chris Plys and recent juniors Corey Dropkin and Thomas Howell — made a great start to the season, taking second in the Oakville Fall Classic for 30.7 Order of Merit points, the top U.S. men’s performance of the season so far.

This week, McCormick rolled rather convincingly through St. Paul, winning all seven games by at least three points.

Second place went to a High Performance team missing its skip — Kroy Nernberger led the team in place of Craig Brown and knocked out John Shuster in the quarterfinals. That’s their second strong showing of the season, and that’s enough to move them past previous No. 1 Shuster in my generally subjective rankings.

Todd Birr, still kicking at age 48, upset Brady Clark in the quarterfinals.

The biggest surprise the other direction: Pete Fenson struggled and didn’t make the quarterfinals. And the lone North Carolina team got more wins (1) than both Arizona teams (0) in the 20-team field (17 U.S., 3 Canadian).

So the rankings show McCormick moving up to No. 1, followed by Brown (Nernberger), Clark, Shuster and Birr. Also moving up: St. Paul quarterfinalists Stephen Dropkin and Bill Stopera, though they’re still behind Fenson (who has to put it together at some point) and Hunter Clawson, who has been concentrating on junior tournaments with no Order of Merit points so far.

Also this weekend, Alex Leichter played in an event in Ottawa in which he was 2-1 in pool play but didn’t make the quarterfinals for reasons not quite clear from the site.

Women: Most American teams were also in St. Paul, where Cory Christensen won for the second straight year. The 21-year-old skip shook off a group-stage loss to Jessica Schultz and beat Jamie Sinclair in the semis and Nina Roth 7-6 in the final. Schultz won a tiebreaker for the other semifinal slot, while her 2006 teammate Cassie Potter was 2-2 in group play. High Performance juniors Madison Bear and AnnMarie Dubberstein won one each.

So Christensen is now No. 1 in the rankings, closely followed by Roth, Sinclair and Schultz.

Week ahead: 

Brown, Fenson, Shuster and Mike Siggins (Arizona) are heading to the Canad Inns Men’s Classic in Manitoba.

Jamie Sinclair and Cassie Potter are also Manitoba-bound for the Atkins Curling Supplies Classic.

Brady Clark and Cristin Clark will travel from their Washington homes to the Hub International Crown of Curling in Kamloops, B.C.

Brandon Corbett is in action at the Stroud Sleeman Cash Spiel in Ontario.

The only webcast I’ve found so far — TESN will be at the Atkins Curling Supplies Classic.

Desk Potato Sports: Live streams for Sept. 28-Oct. 5

The USOC Sports Scene is finally back after an Olympic/Paralympic break. Highlights from the prior week’s action include Brady Ellison’s fourth Archery World Cup Final victory. Consistency.

They don’t have much to offer by way of webcasts this week, though. They’ll have the men’s softball slow-pitch nationals, which is softball but is neither women’s nor fast-pitch and therefore not quite an Olympic sport.

What else is on? Frankly, not much. Silly me, launching this feature in the lull between the Summer Olympics and winter sports. But we did get some good news this week: beINSports has re-launched its apps — that’s particularly good news if you want to watch a ton of La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A.

All weekend

Curling: Yes, curling! Just in time for a couple of changes in the U.S. curling power rankings for men and women. The Stockholm Ladies Cup has no U.S. entries, but you can see Russia’s Anna Sidorova, Scotland’s Eve Muirhead, Canada’s Kaitlyn Lawes and a few good European and Asian teams. Check CurlingZone for the latest scheduleYouTube

Badminton: The Victor Korea Open has a few 2016 Olympic medalists and other top-10 players in the mix. Olympic Channel

Friday, Sept. 30

Soccer: Huge ACC men’s showdown between North Carolina and Syracuse. 7 p.m, ACC Digital (ESPN)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Soccer: Miss Newcastle United? Check them out in Championship play against Rotherham. 9:45 a.m., beINSports 4

Rugby: Watch New Zealand officially clinch The Rugby Championship, the Southern Hemisphere showdown for national teams. Again.

  • Australia at South Africa, 11:05 a.m., ESPN3
  • New Zealand at Argentina, 6:10 p.m., ESPN3

Ultimate: USA Ultimate semifinals. Go Truck Stop! All day, ESPN3 and USA Ultimate — event page has schedule (note Central Time)

Handball: In case you can’t get enough Barcelona, check out their handball team against THW Kiel in Champions League men’s play. Barca includes a couple of players from the Olympic silver medalist French national team. 1:30 p.m., beINSports 7

Sunday, Oct. 2

Ultimate: USA Ultimate finals.

  • Women’s championship, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3
  • Men’s championship, 4 p.m., ESPN3
  • Mixed championship, 11 p.m., ESPN3

Monday, Oct. 3

Tennis: WTA China Open, 2:30 a.m., ESPN3 (and other weekdays ahead)

And your sources for complete listings: