Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#Curling on TV: Men's Worlds

Time for the last big international competition of the season: the Ford World Men's Curling Championship!

The event runs from Saturday April 2 to Sunday April 10. Unlike the last world womens which was in Denmark, the world mens is in Canada this year, one time zone over so I might get to watch some of the games! Bring on the live tweeting! I'm a bit sad I can't be there because it is only one province over, but I think I've had enough curling excitement for one season!

Teams are:
Canada: Jeff Stoughton
China: Luan Chen
Czech Republic: Jiri Snitil
Denmark: Tommy  Stjerne
Germany: Andy Kapp
France: Thomas Dufour
Korea: DongKeun Lee
Norway: Thomas Ulsrud
Scotland: Tom Brewster
Sweden: Niklas Edin
Switzerland: Christof Schwaller
USA: Pete Fenson

Some new names, some familiar names. I wonder if The Pants will make an appearance?

Check out the draw schedule and the TSN tv schedule. All the Canada games will be shown and here's the schedule in MT time:

Sat. Apr 2 - 1:30pm (SUI) - 7:00pm (DEN)
Sun. Apr 3 - 1:00pm (GER)
Mon. Apr 4 - 8:30am (KOR) - 7:30pm (USA)
Tues. Apr 5 - 1:30pm (FRA) - 7:30pm (SCO)
Weds. Apr 6 - 8:30am (CZE) - 1:30pm (SWE)
Thurs. Apr 7 - 8:30am (CHN) - 7:30pm (NOR)
Fri. Apr 8 - 7:30pm (PPG)
Sat. Apr 9 - 12:30pm (PPG) - 5:00pm (SF)
Sun. Apr 10 - 5:00pm (F)

PPG stands for page playoff game, yes? The big game will be Thursday night vs Norway I reckon. I'm picking a Stoughton/Ulsrud for the final.

Monday, March 28, 2011

2011 Canadian Wheelchair #Curling Championship: Day 7

Final day today!

Whereas yesterday was relaxing and I got to watch a lot of curling, today was the opposite. Again, there seemed to be a ton of "final day" stuff going on. There were a lot of people running into and out of 'my' office, so while I spent a lot of time not in there working, the rest of the time I was mostly stressing about how I should be in there working, but couldn't be other people were using the space. Of course everyone going into and out of the office was busily working to coordinate take down, or closing ceremonies, or the victory banquet, or transportation to the airport for the journey home.

'My' desk

And of course this was missing and that was lost. Oh and by the way there's a semi final or a final going on and how was I supposed to live update the scores online when I can't get to the computer? Today reminded me of the first day - busy busy busy!!

It was nice to have all the curlers back in though. The morning game was quiet, as attention was divided between the semi final on the ice and the World Women's Curling final on the tv (Canada came in second, good try team Holland!). Everyone came in for the final and the closing ceremonies afterwords, which reminded me of the atmosphere of the round robin. We even had a visit by a couple Mounties, as they traditionally carry out the trophy at CCA events.

One of the most fun couple hours I saw at the club this week happened in between the semi and the final. While the take down crew was busy removing clocks so they could be shipped out on time (they started at the Brier, travelled to us, and will make their way to Regina for the Men's Worlds next weekend), an exhibition game was being played: coaches vs. alternates vs pool players (spares). The coaches borrowed a chair and threw with sticks, and the curlers had a ton of fun! D&C Mobility put $100 out for the winner, and the pool players took it all, handily beating the coaches. So. Much. Fun. This game really summarized what the event was about - teamwork, curling, and fun!

Both the World Women'n Final on tv and the Canadian Wheelchair Curling final on the ice came down to the last rock - and the teams not necessarily picked to win by the crowd won both games. The largely pro-Alberta crowd was heartbroken after Manitoba won the wheelies final over team Alberta, but because we're all nice curling folk, everyone was also happy and congratulatory towards the winners, who worked hard to win the semi and the final that day. The anthem was sung, the trophy handed out and everyone headed to the victory banquet!

Except the take down crew, the photographer and I. We enjoyed an hour of blissful quiet to finish our jobs before heading out to the fancy dinner. This was probably my one and only chance to ever go to a curling event victory banquet, and it was a good time. The food was good, the company was good and it was a perfect way to cap off the event. The top three teams got their medals, the All Star team and Sportsmanship Awards were announced, and everyone got one last chance to say good bye to their new friends. I made a point to thank the officials for all their hard work (and for putting up with my questions all week, I'm not sure everyone gets my humour all the time), and said so long to some new friends.

It was a bittersweet ending. I couldn't help but think from time to time during the event that I was a part of something special. No other event provides such close access to curlers, officials, volunteers and fans. This national championship is unlike most of the others in that we all worked, played and had fun together. Everyone was amazing to hang out with, everyone was pleasant and got along, and everyone was appreciative of all the hard work that went into the event. The Wheelies certainly is something special. I doubt I will get such a chance to work such an event anytime soon, and I am so glad I had the chance to be on the committee and live the event for seven days.

I really enjoyed my job answering phones, sorting out questions, making signage, updating the online curling stats program, organizing photographs, tweeting and facebooking and writing for the CCA. I'm not 100% satisfied with my daily articles, but it was my first go at sports journalism so I think I did a good job for a beginner. Though I have tons of writing experience (a bachelors degree and a masters degree worth of assignments and research papers, two novels for National Novel Writing Month, this blog, and a general passion for words), I am no Larry Wood (CCA) or Mario Annicchiarico (Edmonton Journal, he curled in my league, super nice guy, cool job covering all the curling plus football in the summer). I've received some nice compliments for the CCA and doubt many other people read them so it's all good. If I was to do it again, I'd try harder to get quotes from curlers. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't want to bother the athletes after a tough loss, sometimes they were too busy after the game, sometimes I was doing a million other things and didn't get around to writing until everyone had left for the night!

Final post: Manitoba Wins the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship

Today I woke up, and instantly missed putting on my uniform, heading down to the club, and seeing all the wonderful people I met and worked with all week. It truly was a special atmosphere, a once in a lifetime event, an amazing seven days. I've searched for a place to belong for most of my life, and I always find it during the curling events I volunteer for. Curling folks are fantastic, and I always enjoy hanging around them for the duration of such events. This is why I keep taking my holidays in such exotic locales like the Jasper Place Curling Club.

We did a great job. People enjoyed themselves. And that makes me happy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

2011 Canadian Wheelchair #Curling Championship: Day 6

Today was a mellow day at the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships, for me anyways.

Since round robin was over and play offs were on, there was only one game on the ice - so I actually got to watch some curling. Previously I spent my time running in and out of the office updating the online scoring or taking photos. Today I watch the last half of each end. It was nice to finally watch more than a shot here or there. At one point I actually sat down and watched the curling! Slacker.

The club definitely had a different feel to it today, as there were few teams around in jackets. Yes, many of the other curlers did come to watch the games and the upstairs viewing area was still packed, but it wasn't the same hustle and bustle downstairs in the players area. I missed all the coloured jackets hanging around, but besides the teams playing, everything else was pretty relaxed.

All week people have been calling me @1CathyC's daughter, as I do look very similar to @ErinCraig11. Well, "mom" was nice enough to take her "daughters" out for lunch!

Pictures of the day:

1 vs 2 game: NS vs AB 

Big crowd again!

Last shot! AB wins it!

3 vs 4 game: MB vs BC

MB clinches the win, will met NS in Sunday's semi.

Day 6 article for the CCA's website: Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba still have a chance to win the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship

They rocked it out this evening too, with a band playing in the club lounge. What happens in the club lounge stays in the club lounge, but I was told by the boss to put this on youtube:

2011 Canadian Wheelchair #Curling Championship: Day 5

Today marked my record for longest stretch of big event curling volunteering. I did 3 days (plus 3 days of spectating) at the Roar of the Rings, and 4 days at the Continental Cup this past January. Today was day 5 at the Wheelies.

Two important things that were saving me from insanity this week were the fact that there were no morning draws, and I was getting fed regularly on the meal plan. That all ended on day 5.

I'm not going to lie: I was grumpy. Tired. Annoyed. I know I wasn't the only one, and it was to be expected after spending 5 days in close quarters with the same people. [Do not ask me for a pen. The pens are in the same place they've been for the past four days. You've seen me get a pen to give you from that same place for the past four days. You know where the pens are. Don't not ask me for a bloody pen!] My grumpiness wore off throughout the day and was replaced by me talking to myself like a lunatic. And then I started getting numbers mixed up - not a good think when you're inputting line scores live to the internet.

This was also probably not the best day to bring to my attention the fact that I'd a) spelled someone's name wrong (which I got from the program so it really wasn't my fault or b) gotten a curler's position wrong (totally my fault) in my online articles I've been writing for the CCA. A for effort, F for fact checking. A sports journalist I am not. Yes, I read a couple textbooks, but neglected to take notes so it's not like I remembered anything. Writing those articles for the CCA has been fun, but a bit stressful as it's really outside my comfort zone. I hope it's been going over ok. Doubtful many people are reading them anyways.

And this was probably not the best week to put an offer in on a condo and go through all that time sensitive condo-pending stuff like getting a home inspection, talking to a lawyer, signing my life savings away for a small shoebox with a cracked balcony and shrinking hardwood.

Ah well.

Kudos to the CCA folks who do this for four months straight! Fortunately none of the curlers noticed, and things ran smoothly as usual. Our volunteer team is wonderfully amazing and have been working so hard all week! And I've heard nothing but glowing comments from the curlers, coaches, volunteers, spectators etc about how the event is running so far. That makes everything worth it!

Day 5 was the last day of the round robin. It was a bit tense as teams were fighting for playoff spots. It was also a bit sad. Despite all I've written in this post so far, I've really loved working at this event. Today was the last day all the curlers were in and playing on all the sheets and I shall miss that tomorrow as we go into one-game playoffs. I knew where everyone sat, could expect people to be in certain places at certain times and now it's done. Bitter sweet.

More photos:

Last day of round robin.

More media in today.

Coaches on the ice for practice.

Northern Ontario moose mascot!

Big crowd again today.

Coaches watching games.

Queen Elizabeth High School (my old high school!) in helping clean rocks.

After two games today, playoffs are set. Time to get serious!

Day 5 CCA article: Playoffs Set At Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship

Friday, March 25, 2011

2011 Canadian Wheelchair #Curling Championship: Day 4

Another busy day at the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship!

The day ran smoothly, like yesterday. The officials finally clued in that I've been doing online line scores. Not sure what they thought I was doing for three days, running back and forth with my notepad but whatever, they seemed to be appreciate it. We also had a visit from a CCA representative - everyone was on their best behaviour for about 30 seconds, and then status quo resumed.

I took a few more photos for y'all:


Good crowd of spectators!

Timekeepers keeping busy.

Player gifts from the host committee - by artist Colin Vince (awesome stuff!)

Our on-ice helpers rock!!

Only a few more days! We just keep on rolling...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2011 Canadian Wheelchair #Curling Championship: Day 3

Tiring day today. Just like at work, I go go go until the night is over and then wonder what I did all day!

Today was full of more facebook photo uploading, picture tweeting, live scoring, article writing, quote finding, Timbit eating, email checking, sign making, and chatting to people. I did manage to post up some local media articles for people to read, as well as the ones I'm writing, on the windows of the office. We've got some good coverage, short articles in the papers, spots in the sports segment on the news, radio shout outs. I took a complaint that the paper isn't printing the standings, but hey, without connections we do what we can.

Oh, I also took a video! I love the sound of curling, and wheelchair curling has it's own particular sound as there's no yelling of the sweeping. Have a listen:

It's not fabulous, but decent, from my camera. There was only one place I could stand, right behind an official, so it was hard to get more than a couple sheets. 'A' for effort. If I have a minute I'll take some more later this week.

Besides chatting to lovely curling folks, my favourite part is zipping around the club, taking sneaky photos to post on twitter! Here's the best of the day:

Dinner! We had more high school curlers helping out today.

Our fearless leader tackling the media.

View from the lounge.

Best wheel cleaners in town!

I love the bright colours of the jackets against the white ice.

Northern Ontario's pin hat. I bugged them a lot today - thanks for putting up with me!

Where all the magic happens.

We're also posting photos to our facebook page, and the CCA has finally posted the official photos to their website. They look great! Our official photographer, Bevan Sauks is a non-curler, but he's been doing a super fantastic job at getting great shots of people. My officemate Kevin Malinowski has been taking all the photos we put on facebook, as well as the ones I use in my articles, and I'm doing the twitter ones. So far that's working good, except we're not getting the right credits sometimes, but we're nice people so we don't mind, as long as the curlers are getting their moment to shine!

Day 3 post from the CCA website: Alberta and Nova Scotia undefeated at the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship

2011 Canadian Wheelchair #Curling Championship: Day 2

Another busy day at the Jasper Place Curling Club. It's amazing how time flies when you have a million things to do!

Again, I arrived at the club for lunch, and then got busy working. There were 2 draws today, so that was 2 games of stats to update, double the draw sheets to post up on the walls, double the photos to upload, double the tweets to send out. And at time it seemed like double the phone calls to answer and double the volunteers to troubleshoot for.

Artwork by Colin Vince we are raffling off. Come buy a ticket! It's awesome!

We had another exciting visitor - this time a City Inspector came to say hi. Seriously, what's up with that timing! The club got the green sticker of approval and the event carried on. And wouldn't you know it, not an hour later did I receive a phone call from the Fire Alarm Inspector wanting to book an appointment to come test the fire alarms! Two in one day! Thankfully the club manager put them off until next week. The curlers were on the ice for the afternoon game, so it was just the coaches and alternates that had a good laugh!

There was also a lot of media in the club today at various times. We've been visited by all the major news networks in town, and most of the print newspapers have come to write stories or take photos. We received a couple phone calls about the interviews appearing on the news - and one couple even said they specifically came to watch after seeing the reports! How exciting! I got to talk to a sports guy on the phone, and hey that was pretty cool because he sounded exactly like he does on tv!

Two days in, and we're starting to get routines going.

Me: Eat, post out yesterday's CCA website article, check emails, post links to new content on facebook and twitter, answer phones, troubleshoot volunteer stuff, take some photos to put on facebook and twitter, live score the game using the CCA's curling software, tweet, talk to photographer, put up draw summaries, update standings posters, chat to lovely curling folks, tweet, track down interesting quotes, write summary article for CCA, repeat.

Curlers: Eat. Practice. Play. Eat. Practice. Play. Mix in socializing and team meetings in there, and that's what the curlers seem to be doing at the club. I saw one team napping upstairs in the corner, and I'm sure other teams are going back to the hotel to do the same. As usual, everyone is super nice and happy to chat or joke around. I seem to see the coaches more as they stay in the players area during games to keep stats etc. I pop out of the office every end to jot down scores to update, and try not to bother them too much, but they are very nice as well.

As are all of the officials. And the other volunteers. Two days in, and we're getting volunteers offering to come in tomorrow or the next day to get more shifts because they're having a good time. How lovely. We had a high school curling team in today to serve lunches and be on ice helpers, and after speaking to one of the skips he noted the curlers really appreciated that.

Official timekeepers

Yes, I like to live in that world where everything and everyone is happy. So far I haven't heard too many complaints so I'll assume it's all good.

Here's the second article from my go at sports journalism:
Day 2: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia in a four-way tie for the lead

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2011 Canadian Wheelchair #Curling Championship: Day 1

Wow. What a way to kick off the 2011 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship!

Come join us! $5 a draw to watch talented curlers!

I got to the Jasper Place Curling Club about lunch time. All the curlers were downstairs in players area and the place was busy busy busy as lunch was being served. Eventually I found my uniform (red hoodie for all volunteers, blue jacket to identify organizing committee), and grabbed lunch. I decided to buy a meal plan (same as some of the curlers/followers/volunteers) which was one of my better decisions this week: the food was great and I don't have to sort out two meals on my own.

My partner in crime showed me what's what and I settled into my new home for the week - the club manager's office. @kevinmalinowski and I are working from the office all week - me updating the online line scores/facebook/twitter/website and him taking photos, sorting out volunteer stuff, troubleshooting other things, doing computer stuff, tweeting etc. I also became a the de facto secretary as I think I answered a dozen phone calls, while also answering questions, showing people around etc. It was hard work! Plus I made a few runs up and down the stair to the bar for various reasons, one of which was to chat to @ErinCraig11 while she was holding the fort in the lounge. This is pretty much what we did until dinner time, with a Tim Horton's field trip in the middle to get coffee/snacks for the volunteer room.

A good chunk of this pre-game time was spent setting up and learning how to use the online curling statistics program. Not lying, there were a few glitches, but eventually we got it working alright - thanks to a couple phone calls to Super-CCA-Web-Team-Guy who was a star and helped us out a ton!

Somewhere in between there, the curlers got a surprise visit from Kevin Martin! He was awesome, so friendly! He posed for photos, signed autographs, generally chatted with people and was an all round fan-freakin'-tastic ambassador for the sport. If you read this blog you know I'm not quite Team Martin's #1 fan, but despite his on-ice 'Old Bear' persona, Kevin Martin is super nice in person. I was trying very hard to not be a fan girl, but @1CathyC and @kevinmalinowski made sure KMart didn't leave before I got a photo with him! And I'll even break my no-posting-pictures-of-me rule because it was so awesome:

So cool! This was a highlight of the day for sure.

Dinner time, then opening ceremonies. There was a piper piping out the curlers, a brass trio to do O'Canada, and then the Canadian Women's Deaf Curling team threw out the ceremonial rock. Jackie Rae (local radio personality, big curling supporter) was the MC and she was super funny as always. It turned out pretty well in the end.

Canadian Women's Deaf Curling Team

Game time. What a fleury of activity! I spent the next few hours going from the computer to the viewing area to input all the line scores. Between that, I was uploading photos to our Wheelies facebook page, and tweeting from our Wheelies twitter account as I'd been doing all day. I was also working on an update for the official Canadian Curling Association website. This was the part I was most nervous about, but I uploaded some photos and wrote up a short run down of the day's events. I hope to get some quotes from the teams over the coming days for these daily posts, but I think I did alright for my first real sports journalism gig:

Day 1 at the 2011 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship

This was posted on the CCA website/twitter/facebook page, and I'm not going to lie - it's kinda cool being published!

Ready to roll!

Big crowd, loud and rowdy!

It was pretty late by the time the games were over and everything was locked up/lights out. It was a busy day, but a super fun one. People (friends, colleagues, volunteers, strangers) always give me a funny look when I tell them I took a weeks holidays to work at this event (or any other curling event I happen to be volunteering for) - but it's always worth it. The people I get to work with, meet, talk to, watch curl on the ice, are always amazing, super friendly folks who I love hanging out with. I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the event.

Best. Holiday. Ever.