Category Archives: Curling

Twins 2, Tigers 0

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Twins 2, Tigers 0

Anand recently called me out for not blogging about the game we went to in New York a few weeks ago, and he’s right, and I’ll get to it, but as it’s not the only game I’ve missed out on writing about, I’ll start with the most recent and probably fudge the dates to get these things in chronological order so it doesn’t look like I’ve been the worst blogger in the world.

I spent most of this past weekend (where “weekend” starts on Wednesday) in Lansing, MI for the US Curling Arena Nationals, winning the consolation bracket (and thus a trophy).  However, due to some strangeness of the draw and the fact that we won both games on Thursday, we did not have to play a game on Friday… and the Twins were in Detroit, which was only two hours away.  I was on the fence about making the drive, especially considering that we had to get up early to play on Saturday and that my team insisted we go see Lake Michigan on the western edge of the state — i.e. the wrong direction from Detroit.  But then swalsh‘s team won Friday morning, giving them the evening off and Sarah was determined to join me at this game, as she had never been to Comerica.  And so, my mini-roadtrip across the entire state of Michigan to see the Twins was set.

It had been awhile since I’d been to Comerica and my ability to get there without consulting directions wasn’t quite what I thought it was — but we managed, and with a little detour to see what’s left of Tiger Stadium (a fence and a field).  Sarah commented that Detroit looks a lot like the rougher neighborhoods of Oakland… and then I pointed out that we were in the “good” neighborhood of Detroit.  Eventually, we found a scalper, paid too much money (have to help that Detroit economy?), and entered the stadium… for Polish night, apparently.

Mercifully for our curling schedules, the game itself went quick.  Kyle Gibson was on fire for the Twins, pitching 7 shutout innings on 110 pitches, including getting the always dangerous Miguel Cabrera to ground into an inning ending double play with the bases loaded in the fifth.  Drew Smyly also pitched well for Detroit, but not quite well enough, giving up a homerun early to Eduardo Escobar in the 3rd, which would prove to be all the offense needed to win the game.

It wasn’t the only run scored however.  Late in the game was Twilight Zone time for long time Twins fans.  First, Torii Hunter came in to pinch hit and it’s still bizarre to see him in a Tigers uniform — I had finally gotten used to him being an Angel and not a Twin.  He did no damage, grounding out to third.  Next, former lights out closer for the Twins, Joe Nathan, came in to pitch for the Tigers in the 9th.  I think Joe forgot which team he was supposed to be helping as he actually walked in a run to put the Twins up 2-0.  Glen Perkins, who now holds Joe’s old job as “All-Star Twins closer,” came in in the bottom of ninth and, in classic Glen style, gave up a double to make it interesting, but shut down the Tigers nonetheless to end the game.

And with that, we got back in the car and drove two hours to Lansing to finish off the curling tournament where my team won the aforementioned consolation bracket and Sarah’s won the bronze medal.  The key to taking home hardware from our club is apparently to send your skip to a baseball game.

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Curling!

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Not that I’ve written about it here, but since last October, I’ve spent the bulk of my Friday and Sunday nights out at the Broomstones Curling Club. This past weekend, I took my new found hobby a step further and competed in the Elisabeth Childs Women’s Challenge in Norfolk, CT, a bonspiel for women with 5 or less years of curling experience (that’s me!).
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Smiling is not something I do while throwing a stone
I wasn’t originally going to compete, but a team dropped out at the last minute and I got a call from Tami Gouvais, a member of Broomstones that I knew peripherally but had never curled with. She was attempting to put together a team at the last minute and someone had recommended that she call me. She had been in touch with a woman in Wilkes-Barre, PA and knew of someone else in Philadelphia who were looking for a team. And thus, our rag tag bunch that had never met before was formed.
We wound up doing better than expected — and better than two of the three Broomstones teams that had formed well in advance. (The third team won the whole thing.) We went 2-2 and reached our goal of curling on Sunday by beating a team from Schenectady on Thursday, losing to a team from Utica on Friday, beating a team from Broomstones on Saturday, and losing to another team from Broomstones on Sunday. The Saturday game that kept us alive was by far my shining moment. With the score tied up in the 8th end, I threw a rock that just touched the button and was well protected by guards up front.
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The blue stone was mine!
After I threw the shot, my teammates commented that it got a lot of cheers. I looked up and realized that the entire Norfolk CC warm room and bar was watching our game. I’m glad I didn’t know that before I threw my stones — the pressure was on! But after a few more harrowing shots from the vices and skips, we held on to win and my rock remained shot.
Our prize? We had to buy a round of drinks and get up for a 7:30 AM game the next day. As for that game… well, let’s pretend the tournament ended on Saturday.
(More pictures, including the costume contest and the A event finals, aka the championship game, that was won by a Broomstones team here.)

More curling

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It’s been almost two weeks since I last blogged about curling, so I figured I’d rectify that. Below are some video highlights (taken with my phone) of our second night of the mini-league. (I throw the second stone.) For whatever reason, the sound disappeared when I uploaded it to YouTube (and the video was taken with my phone, so it’s pretty low quality to begin with).

I’ve started to actually get the hang of throwing — I managed to place a guard right where the skip called it, followed by throwing a stone that curled around my own guard and went right into the house near-ish the button. Maybe Sochi 2014 isn’t so far off after all…

My team 3, the other team 1

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Tonight was the first night of the Friday night mini-league, which Karly and I managed to sign up for in the 3 1/2 minutes it took to fill up, as well as signing up Adam, Matt, and Johnny. While I brought the camera, I was too busy skipping to take any pictures. (For the uninitiated, the skip throws the last stone and controls the team strategy — kind of the team captain. Also, the skip doesn’t have to sweep. You can bet I volunteered for that position right away.)
As it was a mini-league, we started by doing some drills under the instruction of a number of club veterans, many of whom had competed at the national level. I still throw too hard, but apparently it’s good takeout weight! After we warmed up and got a better feel for how to throw, we played a mini-game of only 3 ends. (A standard game is 8 ends — 10 in the olympics.)
My randomly assigned team (which included none of the people I came with) managed to beat the other randomly assigned team (which didn’t include anyone I know either). I’d like to say it was because of the brilliant strategy I had, but really, since my strategy was tightly coupled with what the experienced instructors were telling me to do and since none of the shots were going where I placed them, it was more luck than anything else.
Still, I had a blast, and am looking forward to next week. Oh, and also tomorrow when Forrest and I go to the learn-to-curl event. Can one overload on curling? I don’t think so.
Also, as a public service announcement (mostly to the google bots that come by here more frequently than real readers), the Scottosphere has been moved to scottosphere.org from its previous URL. It seems Johnston’s old domain expired without warning and was immediately snapped up by a spammer. (I’ll not mention the old domain name in order to prevent the spammer from getting extra attention.)

Have an ice day!

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ErinCurls.jpgToday, I took my curling obsession to the next level and actually tried out the sport at the Broomstones open house. Accompanying me was a rag tag bunch including Johnston, my coworker Callie, Jeff Roberts, Adam, my roommate Karly, and her friends Matt and Johnny. After making the drive to Wayland and parking in a nearby church, we got on a shuttle bus that drove us to the club and gave us flashbacks to elementary school. Once there, we watched a brief movie about the science of curling before splitting into two groups of four to take the ice: me, Scott, Callie, and Adam vs. Karly, Jeff, Matt, and Johnny. As Michael Scott from the office described it there were no winners or losers, only poetry.
After trying the sport, I made the following conclusions:

  • It’s harder than it looks on TV (which I suspected).
  • The stone was surprisingly lighter than I expected.
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  • I am good at throwing “warm room” shots — stones that would go past the house even off the ice (aka a warm room). I apparently need to learn to tone down my power.
  • Scott and Adam do not have this problem.
  • The pebbled ice has a lot more traction than I’m used to from my broomball playing days. But you can still slip.
  • Yelling “HAAAAAARRRRRRD!” is fun. But with my shots, I should probably just yell “WHOA!”
  • Not only do you yell “hard” when you sweep, but it is hard to do. Really, the hardest part is keeping up with the stone. Unless Johnston throws, then it moves slow enough that I can manage.
  • More sports should have the rule that the winning team buys the losing team beer.
  • There is a mini-league starting this Friday. I’m totally game for it.

I took more pictures here.

Shustered

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The US Men’s curling team lost their final game to China just now, finishing 2-7 in the round robin tournament, well out of medal contention. As skip John Shuster missed yet another shot in the 8th end, he was overheard to say “I’m sick of this stupid game.” Oh, Mr. Shuster… such good taste in baseball teams*, not such good luck on the curling sheet. The word “shustered” was even coined for his style of play. (That style would be missing the big shot in key situations, it seems. Although hey, he’s got a bronze medal from 2006 and you don’t.)
On the plus side for the sport of curling, everyone I’ve talked to who has paid the slightest bit of attention (and, okay, all but one of those people were people I introduced curling to) has joked that they’re going to learn to curl so that they too can go to the Olympics and screw it all up. After all, it can’t be that hard to beat Shuster’s team, can it? (Um, yeah, it probably can.) Even if most of those people never actually pick up a stone, some will (I will!), some of those will stick with it, and maybe even some of those will compete for the US in future Olympics and actually do well.
And so, John Shuster, while you might be sick of this game, the rest of the country is just starting to pay attention.
* If you don’t want to install silverlight, it’s a video of John Shuster talking about how he’s inspired by the Minnesota Twins. Given how the Twins of late have a habit of working hard to make it to the playoffs only to fail miserably once they get there, it’s kind of an apt inspiration.