It’s not as though three-time world champion Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., competes with one hand tied behind his back.
Sweeping would be sort of difficult if that was the case.
But he does have certain disadvantages compared to many of the rinks against which his team competes.
For one thing, Howard’s teammates are spread throughout Ontario, meaning that practising as a team is a rare luxury indeed. His lead, Craig Savill, lives in Ottawa. His second, Brent Laing, is in Horseshoe Valley, and his third, Richard Hart, is in Pickering.
“It’s definitely not an advantage,” said Howard, with a laugh, during a break from his duties yesterday as a manager at The Beer Store in Penetanguishene. “If I had my druthers, we’d no doubt play more together. If we all lived in the same town, it would be so easy to get together and practise and maybe play in a league. The team practices we’ve had together you could definitely count on one hand. Maybe one or two a year, max.
“But it works,” Howard added. “We just go and practise on our own and if there are any problems, we’ll try to get to the ‘spiel early and work on it.”
Howard is hoping that his rink will get a little more time to practise together this fall and winter because there is so much on the line this season. The big prize, of course, is the Olympic Winter Games, which begin Feb. 12 in Vancouver.
SPOT IN TRIALS
Howard, 47, has clinched a spot at the Olympic trials in Edmonton, Dec. 6-13. But qualifying for the Games will be a tall order. It has been said that winning the Brier or the Canadian Olympic trials is more difficult than winning the world championships, or Olympics, which his brother Russ, who is based in Moncton, N.B., accomplished in 2006 in Turin as part of the Brad Gushue rink.
Still, Glenn Howard does dream of representing Canada in Vancouver this winter.
“Absolutely, I think about it often,” he said. “And the closer it gets, the more I think about it. You get a warm and fuzzy feeling thinking of competing in the Olympics, thinking: ‘Geez, that could be me, throwing the last shot to win the gold medal.’ It’s like when you’re 10 years old, wishing you could play in the NHL.”
Howard plans to take an extra week or so off this fall to prepare for the trials. Part of his preparation also will include taking part in the Grey Power World Cup of Curling, which will be held Oct. 21-25 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.
Confirmed Canadian entries in the event include 2010 Olympic hopefuls Howard, Gushue (St. John’s) and Edmonton-based skips Kevin Martin, Kevin Koe and Randy Ferbey.
A number of international teams that already have qualified for Vancouver also will take part in the Mississauga event, including 2007 world championship silver medallist Andy Kapp of Germany, who lost to Howard in the final at the 2007 worlds. Howard drew Kapp in the opening round.
Glenn Howard and his rink from Coldwater, Ont., have emerged as top seed in the major international pre-Olympic curling showdown in Canada.
Howard and Canada begins the bid to defend the 2006 men’s gold medal won by Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue in the Capital One grand slam of curling later this month.
The draw schedule for the Grey Power World Cup October 21-25, 2009 and the women’s Three Nations Cup were published Tuesday.
The first leg of the men’s 2009-10 grand slam series will take place from October 21-25, 2009 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont.
The Grey Power World Cup is an elite 14-team international tournament featuring the world’s top Olympic qualifiers.
Bob Ursel usually wins the Twin Anchors Houseboat Curling Classic and then enters a few other cashspiels to fill up his winter schedule.
A busy father and Kelowna mountie, the 44-year-old doesn’t rack up quite the curling air miles as some of the game’s heavyweights.
However, he’s always considered a contender. Backed by Jim Cotter of Vernon and Kelowna’s Kevin Folk and Rick Sawatsky, Ursel chases a three-peat as the $60,000 Twin Anchors cashspiel opens Thursday night at the Vernon Curling Club.
“This is a great spiel,” said Ursel. “The ice is always good and it’s close to home.”
Ursel started the season two weeks ago in Edmonton by stopping former world champion Randy Ferbey of Edmonton 5-2 in the final of the Saville Shootout. Ursel pocketed $4,500.
The Vernon cashspiel is an Asham World Curling Tour event so offers valuable points towards entry into the 2009 Road to the Roar (Olympic Pre-Trials) in Prince George, Nov. 10-14.
Glenn Howard (2007 world champ), who has already qualified for the eight-team Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto, Dec. 6-13 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, plays Vernon’s T.J. Perepolkin in Thursday’s 6 p.m. draw.
Kevin Koe of Calgary, Mike McEwen of Brandon, Blake MacDonald of Edmonton and Ursel earned berths to the Pre-Trials.
“We’ve been gearing up for three years at a shot at going to the Olympics (Feb. 12-28),” said Ursel. “I think we’re all a bit more dedicated this year. We’ve got a legitimate shot. If it’s our week, we can get there.”
There are 16 men’s rinks playing for $24,000. Also entered are: Jeff Richard, Brendan Willis and Tyrel Griffith, all of Kelowna, Brian Windsor, defending B.C. champion Sean Geall of New Westminster, Jay Peachey, Team Russia, Corey Sauer, Brian Moore and Richard Brower.
On the women’s side, there will be 24 teams competing for $35,000.
Four rinks – Miriam Ott of Switzerland, Angelina Jensen from Denmark, Moe Miguro of Japan, and Lidmila Privivkova of Russia – are guaranteed spots in the Vancouver Winter Games.
Kelly Scott of Kelowna and Shannon Kleibrink and Cheryl Bernard, both of Calgary, will play in the Pre-Trials or Trials.
Kleibrink won a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics in Italy, while Bernard is the defending Alberta champion.
Back after a brief hiatus is Kelley Law of Richmond, a bronze medalist at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and 2000 world champ.
Jen Gerow of Vernon was a last-minute replacement for Calgary’s Diane Foster.
Perepolkin is pumped for his opener.
“We have had excellent reactions from the public already in anticipation of this game and hope to have as many local supporters out as possible,” said Perepolkin. “We are very excited to be playing our first game of the year against one of the best teams in the world, and have been out practising as much as possible to make sure we put up our best fight.”
The Peace Curling Association announced the development of the Pomeroy Inn & Suites Peace Curling Tour on Saturday.
The league is being introduced with the intention of helping promote and rejuvenate curling in the region.
“It’s all about development of curling for the 28 teams that the Peace Curling Association sends out each year to represent us at provincial championships,” said PCA co-chairman Colin Griffith.
The tour will consist of the three major super leagues in the area – Grande Prairie, Sexsmith and Dawson Creek/Fort St. John. Teams will accumulate points by competing in their respective leagues as well as the three major cashspiels that take place in Grande Prairie, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek over the winter.
The tour championship will take place in Sexsmith on Jan. 22-24.
“I am totally thrilled that this is happening up here in the Peace Country,” tour director Renne Sonnenberg said. “It’s kind of like bringing the World Curling Tour home.
“It fits the Peace Country. We don’t have enough men’s teams to have a men’s division. We don’t have enough women’s teams to have a women’s division. Now we can put them all together and they can choose the level of play that they wish to compete at and develop curling in the Peace Country and that’s what it’s all about.”
The tour will be divided into three divisions.
The Sun Life Competitive Division will be for teams that have represented the PCA in the past at provincial or national events.
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Challenge Division will be for teams that have not yet competed at a provincial or national level, but are looking to play competitive curling.
Finally, the CanWest Group Benefits Junior Division will be for teams with members 20 and younger. Junior teams will be able to play in the other divisions if they feel they can compete at a higher level.
Curling season is a mere two weeks away and members of the 100 Mile House Club can’t wait.
The rink doors open on Oct. 13 and greeting them
will be a refurbished lounge area, complete with a new beverage cooler.
Club president Mel Dodge says the cooler had recently packed it in and the new one came as a stroke of luck on their part and through generosity on the part of the 70 Mile Store. Store owners donated the used piece of equipment when they recently did their own renovations.
“It would have been very expensive for us to replace it otherwise, and we don’t have a lot of spare cash”
The lounge gets heavy regular use from members, Dodge says, adding it’s even heavier when the club hosts several bonspiels throughout the season.
Registrations for the new season take place on Oct. 2 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the curling rink.
Programs offered this year include $5 drop-in sessions on Monday nights for players at any level of experience. Dodge says there will be people on hand to help newcomers.
Tuesdays, after school, will feature the juniors program. Dodge says it has seen a lot of growth during the last couple of years.
Tuesday evenings will be set aside for mixed league and on Wednesdays, the ice will be used by the men’s league.
Thursdays are ladies’ night.
“If curlers want to put together a fun league or start
something else up, Fridays and Saturdays are open. We’d like to see the rink kept busy.”
Curling is a great winter social and physical activity, Dodge says, adding walking up and down the ice during
one game is the equivalent of doing a two-mile hike.