Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Declining Numbers & the Future of Curling

The chase for the Scotties, Brier and M & M Juniors is well on its way. The last couple of week’s teams across Manitoba have been competing in zone play downs for a chance at competing at the provincials later this curling season. I would like to congratulate all the teams that won their zone.

Now to the unfortunate news, the number of teams competing is down from last year. This may not seem all that crucial but it is very concerning. I can understand at the higher levels of curling why teams are just not competing. The skill gap between the elite teams and club teams is greater than it has ever been. This fact can be a large deterrent for the average Joe who is thinking of competing in the play downs. I just don't understand why juniors are suffering so much. ONLY 11 teams entered the Junior Men's zones & 7 teams for the Junior Women's zones in Winnipeg. There were 3 spots to provincials for both the Junior Men and Women. The numbers have not been strong for a long time but we are told time and time again that the numbers in junior programs are strong. I want proof from someone. Last week on Rock Talk on Sports Radio 1290 we had 2 members from the Elmwood on the program to discuss their club's 100th anniversary celebrations. We asked them how their numbers were in their junior program. They responded and said there were about 100 juniors from little rockers to their competitive league. The kids may or may not being encouraged to compete at a higher level and that’s fine. It is their decision but the future of curling lies in their hands.

Curling is reaching a point where it is on life support. TSN draws a pretty big audience on their broadcasts but their demographic is getting older. Only 10 years ago when Greg McAulay won the brier people were a lot younger. Crowd numbers at the Brier and Scotties have declined over the past few years with a few exceptions in Alberta. Even in 2008 when the Brier was in Winnipeg numbers were not great. Curling has always had trouble attracting the casual fan.

What I think will happen is curling will move to a more defined professional and amateurs sides. With the creation of the Dominion Club Championships club curlers will have a chance at a national championship that will be attainable. Teams at the top are obviously better but are not treated like other athletes in other sports. Could you imagine watching a sports channel and suddenly there is breaking news. Kevin Martin has signed a 2 year extension with Saville Sports Centre for 500 thousand per year. This will never happen in our lifetime. Curling will become the first sport to have 2 levels of completion: amateur and amateur/pro.

Warren Hansen of The Last End wrote an interesting piece which you can read here. In the article he speaks about how things were when the juniors were the National School Boys championship and the decision by the CCA to change the age of juniors twice. He suggests that the CCA should change the age of juniors to 21 and the creation of a juvenile national championship where kids are no older than 16, 17 or 18. I think the age change would be nice change as that would finally synchronize Canada with the rest of the world. Great news for the creation of the national juvenile championship, it already exists. The Optimist International Under-18 Curling Championships was created in 2001 and some great curlers have already competed in it. Kaitlyn Lawes, Matt Wozniak, Daniel Kammerlock, Chelsea Carey, Charley Thomas, Derek Samagalski, Rachel Homan have all competed at the Optimist Curling Championship. The Optimists have done a fantastic job creating a breading ground for juveniles to compete at a national championships but it is time either the CCA or the WCF steps in and sanctions this as an official event. Most provinces already have a play down to decide a winner who gets to go to the U18 championship. Hell, they even provide a banner and jackets to match for the winners. The only thing the U18 does not have is the official sanction. The championship has proved that it can survive and great curlers have already come from the championship. Warren Hansen has some great ideas in his article.

That is enough of my rambling for now. If you have any suggestions or comments please leave them below and I will answer them ASAP. You can catch me Wednesday night on Rock Talk with Resby Coutts on Sports Radio 1290. Email your questions or comments to rocktalk@mymts.net and we may just have a chance to talk about it.

Happy Holidays,

P.S. Here is a picture of my team and I at the 2003 U18 Optimist Curling Championship. Not the greatest picture :D

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship?

As I type this entry of the Last Rock Blog I am in Morris, Manitoba for the Canadian Mixed Curling Championships. Resby Coutts was nice enough to bring me along for the Thursday of this event. Morris has done a fantastic job as a small community to put on such a great event as this one. They are laying the foundation for other small communities to host national championships such as the seniors, juniors and mixed. I am sure the CCA (Canadian Curling Association) will consider Morris in the future if they decide to submit another proposal for another national championship someday.

That brings me to the CCA which has to create a national championship for doubles curling. Canada's representative for the World Doubles Championship is selected from the winning team of the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship. One member of each gender on the winning team will go onto the World Championships later this curling season in St. Paul, MN. I must admit that it is a little strange for two members to be left out of going to the world championships but that is the way it is. Last night on Rock Talk, Resby and I had a chance to speak with Danny Lamoureux of the CCA on how teams decide who will go to the World Championship. Here are the three options:

  1. The team decides
  2. There is a two team playoff between the 4 members
  3. The team decides to have someone on behalf of the CCA
Every team at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship must choose between these three options prior to the event. This is up to the team and I have nothing against what they choose. It did surprise me that one team chose option three. I would never want to be in this situation to be "chosen" to go to a curling championship. At some curling associations around the world each player is hand picked to represent their country. In Canada we have the benefit in depth of skilled curlers. This leads to competition to decide the best teams who earn the opportunity to play at provincial, national and world championships.

I may be splitting hairs on such a small issue where 2 people will be chosen but this is the only Canadian representatives who could be "chosen" to go to the world championships. The CCA has a chance to create a Canadian Mixed  Doubles championships. The world championships are held together with the world seniors championship. What is stopping the CCA from doing the same thing? Nothing that comes to mind. I am sure the provincial curling associations could hold open provincial championships to send winners to a national mixed doubles championship.

Thanks for taking sometime to read my little rant. You can me on Rock Talk with Resby Coutts every Wednesday night at 7pm on Sports Radio 1290. Till next time, have a good one!

Jordan Bauldic

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sean Grassie Interview

Sean Grassie Interview for thecurler.com and the Last Rock Blog

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Manitoba Dominance

Well it has been a few weeks since I have had a chance to post on the blog for various reasons. It is a quiet Sunday afternoon and Manitoba might be back on the map for curling. This past weekend Manitoba had 4 representatives in Windsor for the Grey Power World Cup of Curling. Three of the 4 Manitoba teams made the playoffs and all happened to make the semi-finals. Joining Jeff Stoughton, Rob Fowler and Mike McEwen in the semi-finals was the 4-time defending champion Glenn Howard. McEwen defeated Fowler 7-2 in the semi-final and then for a second straight bonspiel defeated Stoughton in the final of the grand slam event.

I strongly feel that this is a transitional year of curling where we could finally see the passing of the torch in many provinces. In Manitoba there is a definite top 4 teams in Jeff Stoughton, Mike McEwen, Kevin Park and Rob Fowler. There is no real surprise in the teams at the top but all of the lineups feature some type of youth movement. Reid Carruthers has stepped in at second to play alongside Stoughton. Carruthers had the chance to throw third rocks in the grand slam final as Jon Mead was unable to play in the semi or final. McEwen's rink includes BJ Neufeld, Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld. On Fowler's team the front end includes Derek Samagalski & Richard Daneault. Finally Taren Gesell and Brendan Taylor played front end on Fowlers rink. I have had the great opportunity to play with or against everyone just listed in either juniors Mens.  All four rinks are talented top to bottom and could be a force to be reckoned at the Brier later this curling season. It has been a long time since Manitoba's Brier win in '99. I have a feeling that Manitoba might extend its lead over Alberta this year for Brier wins.

Just a reminder for everyone that Rock Talk is on this Wednesday at 7pm CST. Join Resby Coutts, Mitch Terapasky and myself on Sports Radio 1290 where I'm sure we will have some discussion on this past weekend's events. Till next time have a good one.

Jordan Bauldic

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Garth Smith Interview & Rock Talk

Garth Smith took some time to speak with me about his new team, his past and balancing curling with life. You can also tune into Rock Talk with Resby Coutts, Mitch Terapasky and myself Wednesday, October 20th @ 7pm on Sports Radio 1290. If you live in the Winnipeg area turn your radio dial to the AM frequency 1290 and enjoy. For everyone else go to the Sports Radio 1290 website. In a few days I will share my thoughts on Allen Cameron's discovery of Cheryl Bernard's broom "controversy" at the winter Olympics this past winter.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I learned at a young age that there are many different variables that go into forming a team. Obviously how you interact with your teammates will go a long way into deciding how competitive your team is going to be. Will your team be a recreational or an elite level team? Can all four players play at a high level? Parents have a large impact on their child's decisions when growing up. What type of decisions will the child make when there older?

In this day and age of curling the Olympics have changed the face of the roaring game. We all know that only 1 mens and 1 womens team will represent each country at the Olympics. Until the rest of the world catches up to Canada in terms of depth, representing Canada in curling might be the single hardest thing to do in sport. This has forced teams in Canada to take the game to entire new level. A level which you could consider Professional. The only thing lacking to make it truly professional is the money. There just isn't enough money in curling yet to comfortably make money to live on. Teams are training year round like they never have before. It is all about that berth into the Olympics every four years.

In a relatively quite off season Jennifer Jones made the most noise releasing her Third Cathy O and her replacing her with the young Kaitlyn Lawes. Not many people saw this move coming and have condemned Jones for doing so. No one other than members of her team will know the true reason on why they kicker Cathy-O off the team. It has been reported by the media that Cathy-O was blindsided and was given no real notice until the last second. Cathy-O has lost a lot of national funding from the CCA and quite a bit of sponsorship money. Everyone is looking forward to the on and off ice confrontation between these two elite level curlers. I personally hope that the two of them find time to put it behind them because they are two of the best.

Jennifer Jones could have dealt with this situation in  a more diplomatic way. She has kicked people off her teams in the past and as far as I know she has never been kicked off a team. Now I could totally be wrong about this. Jones has burned many bridges in the past and it is only a matter of time until it catches up with her. She has been able to avoid this by her ability to step up her game when its all on the line. We all remember that amazing shot she made at the 2005 Scotties. Cathy Overton-Clapham has skipped teams at national championships before including a national junior title in 1989. Overton-Clapham is heading toward the end of her competitive career but I bet she still has what it takes to get back to the Scotties as a skip. I am certainly looking forward to see this instant rivalry unfold in the upcoming months. We could not have as an audience a better storyline if Jones and Overton-Clapham face off at the Scotties final in February.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Beginnings

I would like to welcome and thank everyone who is going to take their time to read this blog. A big thank you to Resby Coutts of thecurler.com who will act as my mentor this year for my practicum. I am a student at the Academy of Broadcasing in Winnipeg taking their Radio and Television broadcasting course. Resby was gracious enough to accept my services this fall to assist him with his curling show "Rock Talk" on Sports Radio 1290. If you live in the Winnipeg area you can tune in by turning your radio dial to 1290 am or by visiting the Sports Radio 1290 website to stream the show. I will also be writing pieces of work for thecurler.com.

Entries will be made every few days as I will express my thoughts on everything that affects the Roaring Game. Please leave comments below with suggestions and criticism.I am looking forward to meeting and speaking with everyone who has something invested in this great game. Until next time have a good one!!!


PS The official Press release can be viewed here