Curling, Curling And More Curling

Kirk Muyres
Kirk Muyres skipping Saskatchewan’s team at the Brier. For more, please see Page 5. (Curling Canada Photo)

The best curling event in the world, bar none, is the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings. At the event, Canada’s Olympic berths will go to the last women’s and men’s teams left standing. 

The competition is tougher than the Olympics, although far less prestigious. It is better than a Scotties or Brier, where the field is watered down — in a good way — because of the participation from all provinces and territories. Having truly national events is a good thing.

The format for qualifying for the trials is somewhat complicated, but in the end there are likely to be nine teams on the women’s and men’s sides. Curling Canada hasn’t released the format for 2019.

Getting to the point, the Olympic trials are coming to Saskatoon in 2019. 

We were “supposed” to get them in 2017, but they somehow ended up in Ottawa. Curling is as political as minor hockey.

Volunteers will do a bang-up job here, as they do with every event that comes to our city. Congratulations and thank you to those on our bid committee.

Robyn Silvernagle did us proud at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last week with her third-place finish. With a shot here and a shot there, she might have won the thing. 

One of the many things that impressed me was the calming influence third Stefanie Lawton brought to the team. Stefanie has been to four Scotties as a skip, and her experience rubbed off on Silvernagle, second Jessie Hunkin and lead Kara Thevenot. It was a joy to watch them play.

A selection committee of 31 named Saskatoon’s Vera Pezer the ninth best curler of all time. Had I been on the committee I would have ranked Vera ahead of young whippersnappers such as Kaitlyn Lawes and Rachel Homan. 

In fact, Vera would have been in my top three, along with Sandra Schmirler and Jennifer Jones. Vera won four national championships in a five-year period, including three in a row — 1971, 1972 and 1973 — as a skip. Last week I said I would pick Schmirler over Jones as the top skip of all time; Vera wasn’t on the list of choices as far as I could tell. 

Vera would no doubt credit her team of Sheila Rowan, Joyce McKee and Lee Morrison for the three national titles she won as a skip. The core of the team also won in 1969 with Joyce skipping, Vera playing third, Lee playing second and Jen Falk at lead.

I loved watching them play.

In keeping with the sports theme, congratulations to the Saskatoon Blades, which will be making their first appearance in the Western Hockey League playoffs since 2013. Here’s hoping the team has a long playoff run, and people get out and support them.

I was sad to hear of the passing of Bob Adams last week. Mr. Adams lived less than a block from where I grew up. All the kids in the area were pretty darn proud and impressed that one of our neighbours had participated in the Olympics. 

I can still picture this tall, distinguished man walking from his home to Aden Bowman Collegiate, where he taught physical education, coached basketball and track and field, and later became the vice-principal. 

As a rookie reporter in the late 1970s, I had the opportunity to interview him. I was as nervous as all get-out, but it was a privilege.

Ned Powers and Mr. Adams met in 1952 and became friends. Ned shares his memories of that friendship in a column on Page 3.

Retired Saskatoon teacher and long-time acquaintance Barry Rusnell took me up on the offer to send in celebrity deaths that hit us particularly hard. Here’s Barry’s: “1. Elvis: I heard about it waiting at a red light at the top of the Broadway Bridge on the car radio.  2. John Kennedy: It was noon hour and I was sitting in the living room getting ready to go back to school when my dad came out of the basement and said, “Bear . . . they shot the president.”  I was stunned.  3. Lennon: I was watching the NFL game — Miami vs the Patriots — when Howard Cosell broke the news.  It was my birthday. To this day I struggle to deal with it.”

Here’s something I found interesting: “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.” So says Robert De Niro. I think he captured it pretty well.

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